Things to Do
As Vietnamese New Year, called Tet, usually takes place in January or February, February is definitely the most festive month of the year. Visitors to Hanoi in February are really lucky because there are numerous festivals as well as special dishes to try.
Without the searing heat and humidity, it’s recommended to do outdoor activities rather than indoor ones. Therefore, experiencing the activities of Tet, strolling around Hoan Kiem Lake, and touching the soul of Vietnam in the Old Quarter are good options.
Explore the Silence During Tet
As well as enjoying the jollification of Tet, from the preparations to the celebratory fireworks, you can’t miss the beauty of its silence. It is the best chance for contemplative travelers to enjoy its silent beauty with a camera since Hanoi’s streets are deserted from the evening of December 30th to January 3rd (according to the lunar calendar).
Walking along the silent street, looking at the auspicious hangings, and listening to the local people"s New Year songs, you will be immersed in the atmosphere of the Vietnamese New Year.
If you don’t hesitate due to the cold, bustling climate with occasional mud and rain, and the sharp increase in prices, you will be well rewarded with an exciting festival there.
During this period, the large number of Vietnamese traveling home for the holidays makes finding space on buses, trains, and planes very difficult. Many museums, mausoleums, shops, and restaurants will be closed.
Stroll Around Hoan Kiem Lake
When talking about Hanoi, the first impression in your mind may be Hoan Kiem Lake. A visit to Hanoi would be incomplete without a wander around Hoan Kiem Lake, which is the centerpiece of the city and synonymous with relaxation.
Hoan Kiem Lake is the perfect place to get away from the noise and frenetic pace of the city, and worth visiting several times at different times of day. The best time to visit is after dawn. At that time, you can watch the locals do their morning yoga and tai chi.
Peaceful and quiet, there is a small island with a stone pagoda as well as a bright red wooden bridge with a view of the lake. It’s said that this lake is inhabited with giant turtles and if you see one it’s good luck.
Touch the Soul of Vietnam in the Old Quarter
There’s an old Vietnamese saying, “Hanoi has thirty-six streets and guilds — Jam Street, Sugar Street, Salt Street…”. It’s Hanoi"s Old Quarter, the eternal soul of the city.
Near to Hoan Kiem Lake, packed with gorgeous colonial architecture as well as Buddhist temples and pagodas, the Old Quarter is a major commercial district in Hanoi.
The Old Quarter is a dream come true for the traveler who savors the bustling crowds, piles of merchandise, and street cuisine. It is similar to Bangkok"s Khao San District but is still largely undiscovered.
Your trip to Hanoi will not be complete if you don’t try some food from the street vendors there. Modestly located on the sidewalk, food vendors offer you high quality local street food for a cheap price. However, if you are a foreigner, bargaining is a must.
Crossing the streets is a challenge that you learn to overcome quickly, as there are rules that govern the seemingly chaotic motion.