Alternatives to tourist attractions - Hanoi

Now that my season in Hanoi is officially over (for now), I thought I'd do a wrap up of the day to day places and things that I did while I was there that I think were pretty cool. While most of these things are centered around West Lake (Tay Ho), where most of the expats live, they aren't tourists so you're not going to be bombarded by street vendors. You'll find a good mix of people living their daily lives here and most staff in the area speak English.

Lunch and Dinner

My favourite pizza in town is from Pizza Belga, their Napolitano style bases are just how I like it. They also have a very delicious white wine by the glass. The pizza is also a great option for ordering in. Use the Vietnammm (pronounced with a long M at the end by Westerners but by locals Vietnam-em-em - I chuckle every time) app. If you go this route, Pizza Belga's delivery takes ages so order around 45 minutes ahead. It's worth the wait.

Gon bites and veggies was our favourite place to order in from (on Vietnammm). Their meals are super cheap and healthy. Their best dish is the veggie noodles. They come in a chicken option too.

Also worth mentioning is the newly opened, Bao Wow. The vibe is great and their veggie bao’s are making my mouth water as I think of them.

Drinks

Skip Ha Tien street if you want an authentic Bia Hoi experience. This is most likely any spot where you see a tiny plastic chairs, a keg, recycled looking glasses and some locals. You shouldn't expect to pay more than 8 000 for a beer.

For a good view over Westlake, head to 6 Degrees for sun downers. Usually the best tables have a reserved sign but on weekdays the people are most probably arriving way after sunset so just ask what time the reservation is for. Be persistent and say you will move if the people come earlier.

Sweet things

I often went to Orriberry for a slice of their amazing banana bread. They make a good Banh Mi too and the rooftop is a lovely spot to start your day. It's also a good spot to get some work done.

My weakness in life is croissants and banana bread - St Honore created Amy heaven when they made their banana croissants. Imagine an almond croissant filled with moist banana bread. YUM!!! Although I always smashed one on my own, they are quite rich so sharing one is almost better if you want to avoid that sugar lull.

For a real spoil, try any of the pastries from Maison Marou. Their dark chocolate slabs are pricey but worth the try if that's your thing.

Activities

To get some work done my favourite spots were Clickspace and Joma. While Clickspace does offer a co-working membership, you can work for free in the café downstairs if you order something, get there before 10am to take advantage of the Banh Mi special. There is no AC at the Space Cafe so it gets pretty warm. For AC, head to Joma just up the road.

On those hot summer days, head to Thang Loi for a swim. It's an 80 000 VND entrance fee. I recommend getting their later in the day and staying to watch the sunset over the lake. The same venue also has a driving range where you can swing some balls into the lake.

Sidewalk and Dockers both have open mic nights on a Thursday. Usually they kicking off around 9pm. It's an awesome vibe with loads of talented artists.

Treat yourself to a few appointments in the comfort of your hotel room. Susu's Nails and Hue Pham will drive to you to get you beautified. They offer a great service for a very reasonable price. Contact them via Facebook to book an appointment.

For a massage look no further than Omamori Spa. There team of therapists are mostly visually impaired so you’ll be supporting a wonderful cause at the same time. Honestly my first massage here with Hai Anh was the best massage I’ve had in my life. Their style of massage focuses a lot on the upper back, where I carry a lot of tension so it’s just perfect for me. I asked to customize the 60 minute Omamori full body to a back, neck and shoulder only and it was no problem.

If you're keen to get a work out while you're there, The Fitness Village offers a 4 free day trial. You can sign up on the same day you want to break a sweat. They have an amazing range of classes and as a bonus, you'll have free access to the pool for 4 days.

If you get to try any of these places let me know what you think in the comments below and if you love this post, why not share it with others using the Pinterest thumbnail below.

Cover Photo by Alessio MumboJumbo on Unsplash