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How to see Hanoi: unusual tip
If you have a week in any city, I can only recommend staying in two or even more Airbnbs. You get to see different parts of a city, visit different homes, have different views, experience a few local neighbourhoods. I hadn’t considered travelling this way until I was in Hanoi, but it really worked. It made a week feel like a month because of all the different daily experiences I now remember. It also reminded me of my first two years in Berlin where I lived in six different flats. Moving in Hanoi was easier though: I only had my RiutBag X25 on my back to carry.
Best Airbnb for 1 or 2 people in modern Hanoi
My favourite Airbnb was out of the touristic old quarter in Hanoi. After a few days in the old quarter, I got the gist. I moved west towards lake Ho Tay, near Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum and the main government buildings. If I ever move to Hanoi I'd move here. Calm, spacious neighbourhood: real life in modern Hanoi.
It's just a great residential part. https://abnb.me/EVmg/i9Ah2Qy1mH The host, Hang, was great. She works for a startup, is really curious about people’s stories from around the world and speaks fantastic English. I ended up spending the afternoon with her and she showed me round all her favourite restaurants. It was a treat after the intensity of the old quarter. This was my favourite place to stay.
Why return to Hanoi?
After 4 days in Sapa, I headed back to Hanoi. I was in search of a home to live and work. In the first weeks of October there were typhoons making their way through northern Vietnam so I thought it best to stay put in the city and wait until the storm blew over. In the news, people were injured in the mountainous regions of the north and on the coast in the storms but the city just experienced super heavy rains. So I found myself a more comfortable Airbnb - one I was happy to stay inside, you know with windows :) that I totally recommend - and made myself at home.
My travel gear: secure hand luggage
On my 30 days through Vietnam I'm living in my RiutBag X25
- secure backwards laptop backpack - in expanded mode as my main luggage with a waist strap to help carry the load. Tucked inside is my RiutBag Crush
, a secure backwards super light daypack that I use for short trips. Between these two, I have all my travel needs covered for 30 days. And, I'm not paying for checked luggage - everything is carry-on safe.
Here, when I looked out of the window I didn’t see the left overs of French colonialism. It was modern Hanoi. At the base, collections of cafes and restaurants, a large lake around which especially older people walked energetically in the evenings whilst children played at the edges, then trees and hotels at the mid level and finally jutting skyscraper cutting themselves a decent skyline.
Returning to a place I've travelled to already is an almost indescribable joy to me. It’s knowing your way out of the station, crossing the streets with nonchalance, not having to look at your phone as you head through the city, noticing the things around you because you already know where you’re going. It’s realising how different parts of a place new to you are connected as you recognise sites you’ve already been past. It’s losing the tourist in you.
Next stop: a DIY journey to Bai Tu Long and Halong Bay. I'm not paying $130 minimum to get on a tour to these places. I'm stubborn and convinced I can do it for less myself.