5 Bizarre Things in Hanoi You Should Know!
5 Bizarre Things in Hanoi You Should Know!
I love Hanoi as a travel destination. I stayed there for a couple of days and enjoy the city. As much as I enjoy the weather and the places of interest in this city, I discovered 5 bizarre things that you might not know in Hanoi.
You have to play chicken if you are planning to cross the road in Hanoi. No one seems to bother about traffic lights in Hanoi. The cars and bikes move even its red and you wonder why is the traffic lights are there for?
If you plan to cross the road, you can close your eyes and walk across and you might be safe. Or you can look at the opposite direction and cross the road, if they are close enough to hit you, they will honk. If you think cars or bikes will stop for you, you can dream on.
Look at the locals on how they cross the road and try to copy them.
It takes a lot of courage and guts to cross a road in Hanoi.
Tell me a city without scam (except North Korea). I stumbled upon a few scams in Hanoi and they are taxi scam and the toothpick student scam.
Even though they can’t beat Malaysia as the worst taxi drivers in the world but they do have some tricks under the sleeve. As usual, they will not charge on meters or they will turn big round to reach your destination.
In Hanoi, remember to activate your phone and let the taxi driver talks to the hotel front desk. Reason being because there are many hotels in Hanoi and sometimes they will take you to the wrong place.
Taxi Meter Scam
Hanoi is a weird place because the meter reads differently depending on the size of the taxi. Smaller taxis charge cheaper while big taxis are pricey. Strangely in one of my journey, the taxi meter trips faster than my heartbeat. I know something is not right so I asked the driver to pull over immediately and took another taxi. Be alert when you take taxis in Hanoi.
One of the most trusted taxi companies in Hanoi is the green colour Malinh Group taxis. They use smaller taxis but honest and very reliable.
Toothpick Student Scam
I encountered this scam on my last few days in Hanoi. Young English speaking Vietnamese girls will approach you on donation for welfare homes or blind homes. I did some research online and apparently some girls said it is for Red Cross. In return they will give you a pack of toothpicks.
The scam starts when you agree to donate and they will let you to write your name on a small booklet. Of course before that, she will show some IDs and some pictures. After you write down your name, she will demand you to donate at least US$ 50 dollars! She will keep on forcing you to pay the money since you have written down the name. I never heard of forceful donations so I parted with US$ 5 dollars. She wasn’t happy and so do I.
These young female students usually hit on tourists at tourists spots around Hanoi. Yes, they are going to give a Hanoi a bad name, shame on you!
After days of exploring Hanoi, there is one thing I find very bizarre. There are no beggars!! Seriously, you might imagine Hanoi is a third world city, you might consider that thought. There are no beggars in Hanoi.
I’ve seen quite a few in many countries I’ve travelled (except Japan) but Hanoi surprised me. Thus, the streets are clean even though they enjoy eating by the road side.
You gotta respect the local folks in Hanoi as begging is not part of their lives.
You heard so many stories about dog meats in Vietnam and they are true. Dog meats are available in Hanoi too. I’m not joking, picture is included.
It is not hard to find dog meat in Hanoi. I saw a group men happily waiting for a hot pot by the road side and I felt something amiss. My instinct was right and they were having dog meat.
I was told that these dogs are farmed for chopping boards but there are also many illegal imports from Thailand. I have no business to judge or question their custom or culture but I do not eat dogs. Dogs are man’s best friend and not suppose to be on the table as food in my own opinion.
Remember, ask what you eat or you might end up having dog meat for your dinner. You will be either enjoys it or traumatised for your entire life!
I didn’t notice the discrimination until I reached home in Malaysia. Apparently, there are not many fat or obese people in Hanoi. It’s true I didn’t see any locals with similar size like me or fatter. They seem to take lots of pride on how they look.
At one time, while having coffee with my wife, there was a couple was looking at me and laugh. Thus, I was told that a mutual friend was laughed till she cried because she is fat.
Pointing fingers are common in Hanoi and this is an unspoken truth. If you never heard of it, you do now!
(No fat people in Hanoi, seriously)
Despite the 5 bizarre things in Hanoi, I will still recommend everyone to visit this unique city. Going there at the end of the year or early of the year will enjoy the winter breeze.
Read: Other stories on Hanoi
Stay at Hoan Kiem (the Old Quarter) as most of the places of interests are there and can be reachable by foot. There are also many cafes and restaurants in Hoan Kiem.