Showcasing sweeping boulevards, tree-fringed lakes and ancient pagodas, Hanoi is Asia’s most atmospheric capital. Just don't expect a sleepy ambience. It's an energetic city on the move, and Hanoi’s ambitious citizens are determined to make up for lost time.
As motorbikes and pedestrians ebb and flow through the Old Quarter’s centuries-old commercial chaos, hawkers in conical hats still ply their wares while other locals breakfast on noodles or sip drip-coffee. At dawn on the shores of Hoan Kiem Lake, synchronised t’ai chi sessions take place beside goateed grandfathers contemplating their next chess moves. In Lenin Park, choreographed military drills have been replaced by chaotic skateboarders, while Hanoi’s bright young things celebrate in cosmopolitan restaurants and bars.
Real estate development and traffic chaos increasingly threaten to subsume Hanoi’s compelling blend of Parisian grace and Asian pace, but a beguiling coexistence of the medieval and the modern still enthrals.