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Hanoi – no bragging rights included

People travel for a whole host of reasons but one of the most common and most miserable reasons is to have the bragging rights that come with having visited the unusual or far flung.

Hanoi and Halong BayI have to admit that sometimes I do the heinous “that’s good but it isn’t as good as the sashimi I had in Fukushima several years ago which really sadly you won’t ever be able to try” or that “that pho is nowhere nearly as good as the pho I had in a little village outside HCMC at the hands of a 90 year old blind peasant woman“.

Hanoi and Halong Bay
The best of a bad bunch - a kind of fry up with chips banh mi

Well fortunately I won’t be doing this after my trip to Hanoi as I got everything wrong. Hanoi is fairly well accepted to be in Vietnam. Vietnam is almost legendary as a place you can’t eat badly. Every dish, every meal, every taste is fresh and effective.

Hanoi and Halong BayIt is therefore impressive that in our evening in Hanoi I managed to stumble between four restaurants and not clutch a meal nearly as good as any of the crappy takeaways in London. As we jumped from street stall, to hole in the wall to local restaurant my intuition magnificently misfired each time.

Then it came time for drinks, and I tried to lead us to get some Bia Hơi or Vietnamese fresh beer. However, the venue I had chosen had shut down or moved. And so had the second venue.

Hanoi and Halong BaySo I gave up, went expat, and off we headed to the Sofitel Metropole Grand – the big daddy of Vietnamese hotels and one of the most renouned hotels in the world to drown our sorrows in cocktails. Except the cocktails were missing two vital things – taste and alcohol – 3 martinis in I felt like I was drinking in some mocktail land of nightmares.

So Hanoi, I’m sure it’s great and everything but it didn’t work for me. But at least that stops me bragging.

  • Price – empty calories


  1. Sometimes even the greatest places on the planet do nothing for you.

    • Interestingly I have had a few people say they have also had so so experiences in Hanoi.

      I actually took my dad there as well and he stayed on 2 weeks to get to know it a bit better and do a bit of slow tourism. He was moderately impressed but def preferred HK.

  2. I don’t think I’ve ever gone somewhere so that I could brag about it; what a bizarre idea.

    Shame about the bad luck in Hanoi – how deeply irritating.

  3. Tim

    My friends have been living there for a couple of years and theyre still pretty unimpressed w/ the food

    • oh well – maybe then I wasn’t so crazy after all. I’ve just always had great food in Vietnam and assumed Hanoi would be more of the same!

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