QUANG BA FLOWER MARKET
Hanoi residents love flowers and, while streetside stalls and bicycle-bound florists are a common sight in the old quarter, it’s a treat to visit the Quang Ba Flower Market early in the morning — and by that we mean at sparrow’s — to see an astounding display of fresh blooms.
BA DINH SQUARE
Visit Uncle Ho’s final resting place inside the monolithic marble mausoleum beside Ba Dinh Square, where his body occupies a glass sarcophagus in the basement for nine months of the year. Afterwards, venture into the neighbouring to see the humble house the Vietnamese leader occupied before his death in 1969.
It seems like there are stalls on every other street in Hanoi’s Old Quarter but those looking to experience something extraordinary — and not be bothered to buy souvenirs — should venture to Long Bien Market in the afternoon. Observe the local chefs who hit the wholesale market to buy ingredients for the evening’s menu.
Water puppetry is a loved Vietnamese tradition that dates back centuries, starting in the waterside villages dotted around the nearby Red River Delta. Today’s travellers can watch the ornate puppets dancing on the deep during shows at the famous Thang Long Theatre beside Hoan Kiem Lake.
Thank the French for this Vietnamese culinary classic which started as a colonial-era breakfast in the1950s. The crispy French bread is packed with meat, pate and pickled veggies, and seasoned with herbs and chilli. For the cream of the crop, head to Bánh Mì Tram, Banh Mi Pho Hue, or Banh Mi 25.
The Vietnamese love their caffeinated beverages and a northern variation on the typical barista-made brew is the unique egg coffee. Described as part hot drink, part dessert, cafes dotted around the Old Quarter create this curious concoction that’s crowned by a whisked egg.