Most streets in Hà Nội, as in all Việt Nam cities, are very busy with vehicles, bicycles, and pedestrians. In Hà Nội, many of the streets are narrow like this one in the Old Quarter district.
There are many quiet streets within the blocks formed by the wider streets in Hà Nội.
Wider streets like this one are more typical in the districts away from the Old Quarter, like the Hoàn Kiếm district south of Hổ (Lake) Hoàn Kiếm.
The districts of Hà Nội are punctuated and defined by lakes. This is a typical lake park in the Quận (District) Hai Bà Trúng south of the central Quận (District) Hoàn Kiếm.
Hồ Tây (West Lake) is the largest lake in Hà Nội and lies north of the central districts of Hà Nội. Many large hotels, villas, and up-scale restaurants line the lake.
Hồ Hoàn Kiếm is the central lake in Hà Nội, between the Old Quarter and the central district of Quận Hoàn Kiếm.
This street is typical of the narrow streets of the Old Quarter, filled with pedestrians and motor bikes. Each street in the Old Quarter was originally devoted to some market item, such as shoes, and the street names designate the speciatly of the street. Since the market items have changed over time, the street names no longer correspond even though the streets tend to have shops of the same kind of item, such as shoes.
The Quan (District) Ba Dinh is west of the Old Quarter beyond the Citidel, the headquarters of the Vietnamese military. This district is the home for almost all of the national government facilities as well as the primary monuments and museums. Many expatriates live in this neighborhood.
This district south of the Old Quarter and Ho (Lake) Hoan Kiem features wide streets, leafy trees, and larger blocks with many office buildings , hospitals, and villas. This is the business center of Ha Noi, with many of the large hotels, but the district does not look like the typical large-city central business district.
Located in the Old Quarter, this neo-Gothic cathedral is the primary Catholic cathedral in Ha Noi. It was built in 1886.
This primary example of French Colonial architecture in Hà Nội is a venue for classical music and ballet, including local symphony orchestras. It is located just west of Hồ (Lake) Hoàn Kiếm.
As in most Vietnamese cities, there are many French Colonial buildings from the early 20th century that are now most often used as government buildings such as this one by Hồ (Lake) Hoàn Kiếm.
The Old Quarter is home to over 100 budget hotels such as this one. Although they are often called "backpacker" hotels or guest houses, most tourists in Việt Nam use these hotels.
This is another example of a budget hotel or guest house in the Old Quarter neighborhood.
Many colonial buildings along the narrow streets of the Old Quarter have been adapted for commercial boutiques at the street level.
Many of the old French Colonial villas in neighborhoods like Quan Hoan Kiem have been restored for small offices, restaurants, apartments, or residences.
Many new hip restaurants are being established in Hà Nội to cater to the new Vietnamese middle-class as well as expatriates.
Since property used to be taxed (and may still be) based on the width of the property at the street, land was subdivided into very narrow and long parcels upon which correspondingly long buildings were built, called "tube houses". Most of these buildings in Ha Noi and other cities in Viet Nam are usually four stories tall. See this posting for a description of such a house in Ho Chi Minh City.
This new building in a suburban area along Hộ Tây (West Lake) follows the "tube house" model and is highly decorative like almost all buildings in northern Việt Nam.
This is another "tube house" example in the Old Quarter.
The villages around Hà Nội also feature four-story "tube houses". This village is northeast of Hà Nội along the highway to Halong Bay.
Motorbikes are the primary means of transportation in Hà Nội as well as all of Việt Nam. It isn't easy for pedestrians to cross the streets.
As seen from the balcony of our hotel room in the Old Quarter.
It is very difficult to photograph architecture or streetscapes in Vietnames cities due to the density of overhead utility cables.
Even though the streets are noisy with honking motorbikes, Hà Nội is very beautiful with its canopy of trees.
This street along Hố Tây (West Lake) is seeing new construction or renovation of villas.
Restaurants and bia hòi (fresh beer) places are always very busy in the Old Quarter.
Numerous roving street vendors offer fresh fruits, vegetables, and souvenirs.
Many street-side stands offer nuòc mìa (sugar cane juice) -- the sugar cane stocks are shoved through a mechanical press and the liquid is collected and cooled with ice for a refreshing drink. See stickyrice for a colorful explanation of this and the results.
This bird stall is along a street full of pet bird vendors (distinguished from the market where live birds can be bought for food).
This is a street in the Old Quarter where all of the stores specialize in motorbike seats.