Saturday, May 25, 2019

Vietnam Diary - Train Street in Hanoi and Vietnam Tips

Hello there, hope you're all having a fantastic weekend so far. I took some time today to write this last blog post about Vietnam. It's always a bit sad for me to stop posting about a place I've travelled to because it feels like I'm still there while posting about it. However, I'm also looking forward to posting about things I do here on Mallorca again so here's my last post about Vietnam with more travel tips and recommendations.

Last Day and Train Street in Hanoi

Our last day in Hanoi was a pretty quiet one. We started our day with a fantastic breakfast at the Hanoi Social Club. After having mostly rice noodle soup for breakfast during our three-week trip we were looking for some more European breakfast on our last day. I'm so happy we found the Hanoi Social Club, a super cozy cafĂ© hidden in a side alley where you can enjoy avocado toast, yogurt bowls, porridge and other delicacies. 

After indulging in our breakfast we went for a little town walk, bought some more souvenirs for our loved ones and went back to our homestay to relax for a bit because at 3 pm we wanted to check out a special place in Hanoi.

One great attraction in Hanoi that is very popular on Instagram is the so called 'train street', a narrow residential street with houses on both sides and a railroad track running right through the middle. It was the last thing on our list that we wanted to see before leaving Vietnam so we got there around 3 pm. The train street is located between Le Duan and Kham Tien street near Hanoi's train station Ga Ha Noi. The exact lane the train passes along is called Ngo 224 Le Duan. Twice a day, at 3.30 and 7.30 pm, you can come watch and feel the force of the train passing through the narrow street only a few centimeters separated from your body. A real wow experience that makes you gasp, I highly recommend it! Be careful though, do not take any risks crossing the railroad tracks while the train arrives to get a great shot. That's simply stupid and dangerous.

What I loved most about Vietnam

To finish this last post I've included some details I loved about Vietnam and also added some travel tips below for those who'd love to visit the country one day.

One thing I loved most about Vietnam, besides its amazing nature and culture, were the people. The Vietnamese are very friendly and humble. With tourists they are more reserved, almost timid, rather than annoying or aggressive like in other countries I've travelled to. The locals were always very helpful and even though most of them didn't speak English we always found a way to communicate with them.

Another thing I utterly enjoyed seeing was that men and women seem to be equal in this country. I saw both women working on the street and fields as well as men carrying babies and watching their kids or cooking.

I also really loved exploring the local markets, their sounds, the lights, the smells, snacking on street food (each place had its own typical delicacy) and shopping artisan souvenirs.

Another thing I enjoyed when travelling through Vietnam was the sense of safety. I didn't see any police in none of the places we had visited and it made me feel like the police was simply unnecessary. Our own experiences just confirmed this feeling. We didn't have any issues with robbing, harassment or scam during our trip.

Last but not least, I adored the spirituality of the Vietnamese. When visiting the country for the first time one thing will immediately draw your attention. People take off their shoes when entering a home, which I think is a beautiful gesture of respect. I asked a local why people don't wear shoes at their and other homes and was told it has a spiritual rather than a religious meaning. If you travel to Asia for the first time, like me, you will also notice all the little temples and Buddha statues that people decorate their homes with. A very special experience for me was also the visit of the Bai Dinh temple complex. I was truly astonished by the huge temples, pagodas, Buddha statues and the devoted people bringing offerings and praying in peace.

Transportation in Vietnam

We used so many different kinds of transport in Vietnam and were happy with all of them. From scooter and bus to bicycle, boat, ferry, plane, train, taxi and private car, we really tried it all. Vietnam is a very well organized country and we never had any problems when getting from A to B. Most often our hotel's or homestay's receptionist booked our bus, train or ferry tickets as locals get them cheaper.

The scooter is the most common transportation in most Vietnamese cities. We rented an own scooter several times and always felt very safe driving around. Local people are honking all the time but don't worry, they're just announcing their presence. The traffic is incredibly well coordinated, everyone is cautious and friendly. We haven't seen anyone angry or shouting at other people for crossing their way. The scooter and car drivers simply make their way through the crowd bit by bit and somehow it works, the traffic flows.

I have listed some helpful transportation websites for you below:

What else to see in Vietnam

Here are some more great things to see in Vietnam that we had on our list but left out because of lack of time:
  • Red sand dunes in Mui Ne
  • The Hai Van pass and abandoned waterpark in Hue
  • Ban Cioc Waterfalls
  • Sapa
  • The Golden Bridge near Da Nang: After finding out the bridge was part of an amusement park and also located way farther out of town than we thought we decided not to visit it because we didn’t have any spare time. It must be a great photo spot but during our last travels I’ve learned that I’m not going to see places only because they look cool on Instagram.

I hope you find this post interesting and helpful. I warmly recommend visiting Vietnam and spending at least three weeks there to experience different parts of the country as the climate, landscapes and culture change so much from area to area. All parts of Vietnam we have visited were incredibly beautiful, exciting and unique. Travelling to Vietnam was such an enriching experience, it has broadened my horizons in many senses and taught me that there are millions of different humans, lifestyles and cultures on this amazing planet. And I can't wait to get to know more!

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