Asia,  Destinations,  Travel Diary,  Vietnam

Two walking tours in Hanoi’s Old Quarter

Walking tours are my favorite way to get to know a new city, particularly if they focus in one one specific neighborhood. GuruWalk is a good resource for finding walking tours run by locals, especially if you’re on a budget. Most of the tours offered are “pay what you want,” as the tour guides work for tips rather than a set fee.

Journal date: November 1-2, 2023

Hanoi has lots of free GuruWalk tours available, focusing on different kinds of topics. I wanted something general, to get a quick overview of the city and northern Vietnam as a whole.

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I signed up for a 3 hour small group walking tour through Hanoi’s Old Quarter with Sang. We learned about the history of Vietnam and a little of how Hanoi developed through recent years during the Vietnam War and up until the recent economic boom.

Sang showed us local temples, two markets, some fascinating old buildings and some important landmarks.

We also tried an egg coffee! Absolutely delicious and I highly recommend getting one if you come to Hanoi. We got ours at Cafe Dinh, which is run by the granddaughter of the fellow who invented the egg coffee in the 1940s.

Overall it was a fun tour and I enjoyed getting to explore Hanoi with a small group. We did have to pay for entrance tickets and food, but it wasn’t much (under $10 USD, I think).

After the tour, I went to a banh mi (sandwich) place with two Australians from the group and tried a spicy chicken sandwich. Tasted absolutely delicious, and the conversation with my tour group mates was fun, too.

Old Quarter Walking Tour

I was going to take it easy and just wander around on my own, but at the last minute decided to sign up for an AirBNB Experience and do another walking tour in the Old Quarter.

If you’ve never done an AirBNB Experience, it’s a separate part of the AirBNB website where locals can post tours and classes on offer for tourists. I’ve always found them to be a very good value, as they’re usually small groups with highly skilled people leading them.

This Experience focused specifically on architecture and food in the French Quarter. It cost $24 USD and included snacks. This was much smaller than the tour the day before; we had five people total including the tour guide, Kien.

What a wonderful tour! Kien explained the history of Vietnam/Hanoi very succinctly and then took us around the neighborhood to see lovely old buildings and important sites— mostly different ones than I’d seen in yesterday’s tour, too. We stopped several times to get drinks or a small snack, and Kien even took us across a huge traffic circle in the style of a local Vietnamese walker. Very fun, and I highly recommend this tour in particular.

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Anastasia is a former librarian turned digital nomad. She's been traveling the world full time for two years and has visited 18 countries so far! Just Gone Wandering is a travel resource for solo female travelers on a backpacker's budget-- or slightly more-- and highlights amazing places to visit as well as providing tips and tricks for traveling smart and frugal. Read more...

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