A peaceful city of lakes with leafy boulevards, Hanoi lies at the heart of the northern Red River Delta and somehow reflects a European feel. Especially the streets of the Old Quarter preserve age-old customs, where trade takes one back half a century, and temples, pagodas and monuments reflect the historic character of Vietnam. In this area, there are many hotels which have been recently refurbished with special care to traditional architecture and design. Hanoi Hotels are surprisingly modest but preserve a unique charming environment.
Some of them are set in historical buildings: the Ritz Hotel for example or Joy Hotel Return Hotel, the Pearls hotel, the Old street Hotel, Y Van Riverside Hotel, Hanoi Plaza hotel and Hanoi Queen Plaza. They are all front serene Hoan Kiem lake and – quite surprisingly for the standard they provide-, the prices are extremely cheap. Spending a night in any of these Vietnamese hotels will cost you from around 3,5 euros per person up to 15 euros per person. Although Hanoi, and Vietnam in general, have been absorbing a tourist boom since 1993, which of course has seen an infiltration of western-style food and fashions into the once inaccessible city, Hanoi has retained its appealing sense of the old world.
This means that the city provides many services for tourists as nice boutique hotels, internet cafés and restaurants offering a wide range of food. Do not forget that tourism has, in general, a bad influence in the way local people live, too often being responsible for changing their tastes, habits and underlining economic gaps and unequal access to resources. So forth, each one of us must make a difference in the way we wish to live in the city.
Respecting local traditions and habits is important, from the way of dressing to general behaviour while in public areas, to gender differences roles. Regarding shopping, for example, do not indulge in mass tourist souvenirs. Sometimes, the best way to take home part of the spirit is taking a good shot, or buying some spices, or typical things that a local person would buy. From a notebook to a normal pen, or a traditional t-shirt or a votive candle or a dolly used by Hanoi girls. This will help much more the local community than anything else.
Editor’s note: The hotels listed above are also Vietnamese run and your money will not feed some Western Fat Industries. Think about it.