This is the continuum of a long and promisingly unsolvable debate. The original motion is that Ho Chi Minh City deserves your precious holidays more than Hanoi.
Well, no matter how convincing Thu Ngo's defence for Saigon - her home city is, Duong Nguyen - the opponent of the motion proves otherwise with all her vigour and pride of Hanoi.
1. Romantic classic beauty:
The classic beauty of Hanoi is certainly the first thing that pulls tourists back to the ancient capital. The way the city is shaped and glued together is so charming that the only thing you could do is to keep your eyes on the road and contemplate the intoxicatingly traditional, cultural and ancient feel of Hanoi. You will definitely be charmed by the antique narrow streets of the Old Quarter which seem to stay unchanged for hundreds of years, and excited about the history of each street and every alley.
While the shores of Hoan Kiem Lake are unparalleled for tourists watching, wide boulevards to the west of the Old Quarter with fanatic French colonial architecture could thrill you as you find yourself cornered in the old times. The tranquility of Hanoi with tree-lined streets and ancient houses will bring you to peace, which might be a luxury for those coming to Ho Chi Minh City. An array of traditional and cultural attractions in Hanoi is waiting for you to discover.
If you come to Vietnam in the autumn or the winter, you should not miss a chance to enjoy the cool or even sometimes bitter cold weather in Hanoi. Wandering around Hanoi, feeling the cold sneaking into your clothes and your hair, then dropping by a street vendor to enjoy a toasted corn on the cob, you would wonder if anything is more unique.
Meanwhile, you will soon unconsciously be lured by milk flowers infusing the cool air of the autumn with a tart-sweet fragrance exclusively belonging to Hanoi. For people who are in love with dynamic and buzzing life, cold days in Hanoi in their eyes are perhaps a little bit boring and lacking in vitality; yet, in fact, staying in the country a little longer, they are bound to treasure such days in a growing Hanoi. Only in these days can they savor a different Hanoi, a Hanoi with a sense of nostalgia.
Reaching Hanoi in hot summer days is not a bad idea either. When it hits the peak of the summer, the scorching hot of Hanoi may discourage the enthusiasm of the most passionate tourists about wonderful sightseeing trips. But definitely you do not have to wait so long for a sudden heavy shower, coming fast and leaving even faster; contemplating Hanoi after the rain is an amazing experience, rest assured.
3. Food vendors and Coffee
Where in Vietnam that you cannot walk down the street without encountering a food vendor? It must only be here, in Hanoi, the city of gastronomy and street vendors. Perhaps in other cities, there is no lack of delicious cuisines but only in Hanoi, you could enjoy specialties of three regions of Vietnam, not to mention the interesting way to savor these appetizing dishes. Who would come to Vietnam for an international banquet anyway?
Crouching down on stools several inches off the ground to relish delicious foods, sniffing the smell of stuffs in the making while contemplating the daily life of the local people, you could once again find peace of mind. That cultural flavor you could never get when eating at a proper table and chairs in a restaurant.
Also, the habit of drinking coffee of Hanoians could convey a subtle nuance of the capital city. The coffee culture here is totally different from other places. Full of ice in a black or a white coffee is a typical glass of coffee in HCMC, but in Hanoi, you could enjoy the darkest, strongest coffee and sip it for a long time while watching people travelling back and forth.
4. Take it Slow - Take it Easy - Take it Beautifully
With a population of 7 million, the pace of living Hanoi has the feel of a small town, quiet and peaceful, totally different from other emerging cities. Although the life in Hanoi is getting more and more hectic, you could easily find the silence in the noise. Hanoians live more slowly, willing to spend hours for a glass of their favorite coffee, idle chats and even for daydreaming.
5. Cool beer
Is there anyone crazy enough to waste two months of salary coming to a South-east Asian city just to enjoy nice and cheap cool beer in a corner of ancient streets? Hanoi itself has such power.
A long time ago, Bia Hoi is considered one specialty of the capital city, a reason for nostalgia of many Hanoians living far away from the city. And when tourists are flooding to this peaceful city, the antique street named Ta Hien is getting more famous, gathering a rendezvous of people from all walks of life.
Foreign tourists bring here a lease of life with informal handshakes, streams of cheery laughs, and “no-border” wishes. A cultural feature of the so called “foreign street” has gradually formed, contributing to the beauty of a Hanoi full of vitality. Further from an ideal place for cool beer, Hanoi is the place of cultural convergence, cultural exchange and mutual understanding. As a phrase many of our posts contain, "Try it, and LOVE it".