Hanoi, old and new

ha noi xua

Hanoi, a city which a 1000-year history, is a picturesque place that combines old and new. The Old Quarter is the city’s cultural centre and a place that never fails to dazzle visitors. It’s a place I love, as a local, as much as the visitors who come here. The bustling atmosphere makes me feel alive, and foreigners who come here always have a strong impression of the hectic traffic – for some the scene is so unusual that they are scared to cross the street. But visitors never fail to dive into the street life to explore it further.

To better promote Hanoi, we should introduce the city’s streetlife instead of focusing on the same old things like water puppetry. It’s the streetlife, the real living part of Hanoi, which always excites visitors. Hanoi is special because everything happens in the street: people relax, bargain, eat and shop on the street. There are street markets, street food and street vendors walking around selling fruit from baskets hanging from a bamboo pole balancing across their shoulder. In the Old Quarter there are so many winding streets that visitors can get lost – but that’s part of the fun, to loose yourself in the local culture.

It would be innovative to introduce the Old Quarter’s streetlife and shopping by better promoting this aspect of the city on the internet. There are some tourism websites about Hanoi but they don’t provide enough information about what makes Hanoi special. Just imagine how exciting it would be for a foreign visitor to get a taste of the Old Quarter by taking a ‘virtual walk’ through the streets in a website similar to ‘Google Earth’. This would be an innovative way to introduce the city, allowing visitors to experience a network of streets that are a shopper’s paradise, filled with cafes, bars, hotels, clothes stores and music and DVD shops as well as traditional silk shops, artisans and the people who live here and keep the past alive, if they’re lucky they may even see a Vietnamese girl riding by on a bicycle wearing a traditional ao dai, an elegant, long and flowing dress that is a symbol of Vietnam.

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