Frantically alive along the right bank of the Red River, Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, leaves an unforgettable memory to any traveler who visits it. A tour of Hanoi is strongly recommended: it is a blend of ancient traditions, French (Paris) influence and modern Asian way of live. Frenetic, chaotic, vibrant, filled with architectural and natural attractions, can be, in a near future, an example of eco-friendly city. Japan Ministry for the Environment, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism is seriously interested in building a new, ecological and sustainable district in Hanoi. After American occupation, a Japanese invasion is on the way, but this time, hopefully, for a pacific, green-oriented initiative. In the mean time, the city of Hanoi welcomes you to discover its ancient history, enjoy (or survive) its frenetic life, taste the glorious Vietnamese cuisine and chase the smell of baguettes to find French bakeries and caf?s.
Moving around in Hanoi
Motorbikes are the most popular vehicles for Hanoi citizens, always struggling in the bustling streets; traffic is a part of the city, lives in symbiosis with it and at first glance, could be intimidating; for this reason, using a bicycle is not recommended, while it is preferred to go around by bus, which are the cheapest option after your own feet. For any eco-minded traveler, the best way to be sustainable and respectful toward the environment is walking.
There are three main bus stations in Hanoi: Kim Ma Bus Station in Central Hanoi, for northwestern destinations; Gia Lam Bus Station for northeastern (Halong Bay, Haiphong, Lao Cai and Lang Son are among them); Giap Bat Bus Station serves destinations south of Hanoi.
Eco-tour and activities in Hanoi
Breathtaking sceneries, culture and tradition of Hanoi can be lived through sights, smell and sounds of a modern capital, ready to show a well preserved past just around the corner. Urban Adventures offers an assorted bunch of Hanoi eco tours: Hanoi Sunrise, when visitors can watch the city come to life along with sun, have a Vietnamese breakfast and visit the morning market; Citadel, Karsts and Cycle consists in a 10 hour full immersion in a mix of history and beautiful Hanoi surroundings. One of the main attractions is the ancient capital of Vietnam, Hoa Lu, while a bike ride will guide you through scenic backroads and lime karsts; Village Discovery matches the a sustainable tourism with the desire of getting in touch with locals. You will be guided through villages to observe their traditional handcrafts and explore a traditional Vietnamese community house.
You are short on time Hanoi and Halong Experience eco-tour is an excellent option to visit Hanoi and marvel at sight of the stunning Halong Bay.
Green accommodation in Hanoi
Hanoi is not swarming with eco-friendly accommodation, but family run hostels and guesthouses do the job anyway; at least as far as sustainability of local economy is concerned. But an a city eco guide can't list not even an accommodation with green awards.
So, here is Melia Hanoi, a sustainable hotel with a luxury flavor, provided with the EarthCheck certification. It consists in lower emissions, local staff employment, waste disposal and water conservation.
Vegetarian restaurants and organic food
Vietnamese cuisine is predominantly based on vegetables, so it is easy to find vegetarian or vegan food at many street vendors; some recommended ones are Xoi Yen in Nguyen Huu Huan Street, Pho Tu Lun in Hai Ba Trung street or Pho Thin in Lo Duc Street.
But if you are looking for a proper restaurant, Com Chay Nang Tam (79A Pho Tran Hung Dao) has a good reputation, as well as Hong Gia Vegan House.
Photo Credit: Martino's doodles