Hanoi remains the capital of Vietnam, although visitors are often surprised by its old-worldliness and small-town air. While there’s always a buzz in the air here, there’s a quaint charm to this city that comes from the French colonial architecture, small streets and peaceful central lake. It’s a great place for shopping and exploring. Here’s our low-down of the most luxurious places to spend time while in Hanoi.
Eating and Drinking
While Hanoi has a very casual air, there are a number of fantastic places to dine and drink, especially around Hoan Kiem Lake and in the French Quarter. Bobby Chin’s in Ba Trieu Street, specializing in organic Vietnamese dishes, is always packed with expats and visitors. Sit by the windows for great views over the lake. If you’re there at the right time, the chef owner will stop by your table for a chat.
Club Opera is another refined place to dine. The grilled fish with dill is simple but delicious. To do some good with your wallet, why not pay a visit to Hoa Sua – a restaurant school that helps disadvantaged children, the food here has a strong French influence and you can eat in the dining room or on the pretty patio. Desserts are to die for.
There are some fantastic hotels in Hanoi. One of the best is the Intercontinental Hanoi Westlake, located in one of the city’s best spots by Ho Tây Lake and the famous Golden Lotus Pagoda. Some of the rooms are located in lakeside pavilions and are among the largest in the country. The Sunset Bar on its own island is a great place for cocktails and the hotel as a whole is a beautiful blend of Vietnamese and French influences. There’s a swimming pool, fitness center, spa and steam room on site too.
Many visitors don’t leave Hanoi without taking a trip out to nearby Halong Bay. One of the greatest natural wonders of the world, the towering limestone rocks of this beautiful bay were said to have once been pearls spat out by an angry dragon. Booking a reputable tour company is important to really get the most out of this destination.
One of the most luxurious cruises is aboard the Halong Violet – a traditional junk ship furnished in 1930s Indochine style that’s a floating work of art. With only six cabin suites on board, you’ll be treated to a really intimate experience and get the chance to appreciate the calm beauty of Halong Bay’s islands, caverns and waters. The spacious suites boast air-conditioning, a private balcony, four-poster beds, marble en-suite bathrooms and a personal butler. Freshly caught seafood is served in the elegant dining area.
The Vietnamese love shopping, and global brands can be found in the five-storey Grand Plaza – the largest high-class shopping centre in the city. Elsewhere, art is a good buy. There are many private galleries selling oil, soil, water colours and traditional lacquer paintings. Many places sell copies of famous Vietnamese art works, but some will sell original pieces. Bargaining is a must, but make sure you can get your purchase home before you hand over cash!
Hang Bac Street is the place for silver and jewellery. Silver goods are produced here according to secret methods that have been passed down through generations since the 13th century.
Article courtesy of Exsus Luxury Holidays and Honeymoons