Eating Out in Hanoi

Hanoi - Vietnam

Eating out in Hanoi’s Old Quarter

Hanoi, in common with most modern capital cities, offers a wide range of gastronomic experiences and dishes to suit most palates and pockets. Although local Vietnamese cuisine is dominant, and offered in a variety of forms, restaurants of all the major international food purveyors are well established: Chinese, Thai, Indian, Japanese, Italian, and even an Irish pub for those who favour a lunch of the liquid kind. Cuisine in Vietnam is underpinned by more than 70 years exposure to French culture so one can be sure of good basic standards and being served crisp freshly baked bread.

Hanoi is a
city of lakes and two are of special interest. Located at the centre is the lake of the redeemed sword (Ho Hoan Kiem), home of a famous giant turtle. Circled by roads and narrow strips of parkland, it is the social centre of the city and a place where many people congregate in the evenings and at weekends. For the tourist, it is a number-one priority and an excellent place to first sample Vietnamese food. One can choose between eating on a terrace at the lakeside or on a balcony several storeys high, enjoying a panoramic view across the lake. To the north of the city lies the West Lake (Ho Tay), much bigger than Ho Hoan Kiem and the home of fair-sized ships. Here one can experience a romantic dinner on an evening cruise and afterwards sit at a lakeside terrace enjoying a drink accompanied by live music.

Hanoi is full of towering office and apartment blocks, some combined with shopping malls, cinemas and swimming pools. In one such commercial complex to the west of the city known as ‘The Garden’, is a good Italian restaurant which also offers some Mexican dishes. In the more central district of Dong Da, just off Thai Ha street, is a highly recommended restaurant offering sushi and other Japanese dishes.

For those on a limited budget, looking for an alternative to American fast foods, one can recommend the numerous small restaurants offering the typical Vietnamese dishes of beef noodles (Pho Bo) and chicken noodles (Pho Ga). For a price of about one dollar one can purchase a tasty and satisfying meal, often with hot or iced green tea included. Some noodles restaurants also offer alternative inexpensive dishes of fried rice.

However modest one’s budget, one should take care to eat at a properly established restaurant on a busy street where one will find tables with chairs or stools of normal height, and a generally clean and airy environment. It is best to avoid the cheapest establishments in alleyways with low stools and tables, where standards of hygiene may not be to international standards. Rest assured that following these few guidelines, eating in Hanoi is as safe as anywhere, and one can be free to enjoy the full range of gastronomic delights that Vietnam has to offer.

John Powell

John Powell weaves a tale of tension and intrigue into the lives and loves of the Mainu family and their friends, against the rich social, cultural, economic and political background of the first four decades of Ghana’s independence, in his two novels: The Colonial Gentleman’s Son and Return to the Garden City.

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Koh Rong Island Cambodia

Cambodia may be widely known as the home of the magnificent ancient Angkor Wat Complex; but a number of travelers do not know that this Southeast Asian country also has an absolutely gorgeous archipelago with miles and miles of white sand beach, which has remained undeveloped and untapped.

Koh Rong is the name given to the main island and the whol


Cambodia – Tropical Paradise!

e archipelago around it. It is also referred to as the Monkey Island, known among locals for its folkloric tales and air of mystery. Although it has gone under the radar, travelers are starting to realize that the 78-square-kilometer Koh Rong has all the potential to be the next big island destination in the Southeast Asian region.

If your ideal vacation is leisurely relaxing on a beautiful sandy stretch most of the day, Koh Rong is the perfect place for you. The island has seven major bays and plenty of beaches. But the interior region of the island has barely proper roads. That is why, when you are going from beach to another, you usually need to trek or take a boat.

Long Set beach, just north of Koh Touch is considered to be one of the best beaches on Koh Rong in terms of scenery. The white coral sand Seven-Kilometre beach at edge of Sok San village is also very idyllic. Although it does not have much modern infrastructure, there are still activities in Koh Rong that will keep you active. There are nice diving and snorkeling sites around the island. Fishing is also a great option as well as trekking through the island’s thick rainforests.

Perhaps the most prominent village and beach in Koh Rong is Koh Touch. This is where most of the late night bars of the island are located, so some people choose to come here for the party scene. Koh Touch is especially popular among backpackers and divers. But if you are looking for beaches that are quieter and more secluded, you can easily find them. They are the types of places where the sounds of nature dominate the evening and induce visitors to go to bed early.

But major changes are about to come to Koh Rong in the coming years. There have been reports of major developers planning to make the island a top commercial eco-resort. So if you prefer the stripped down natural version of Kong Rong, make immediate plans and you will most likely not regret it.

Most places on Koh Rong have collections of small rustic resorts with bungalows. Aside from Koh Touch, the sleepy village of Sok San has the biggest number of accommodation. This is where you can find over-water stilted bungalows in addition to the usual basic beach huts. However there are also options for people who seek the ultimate luxury. One of those viable options is the Song Saa Resort, which is located on the northern part of the island and is said to be the chosen hangout for millionaires.

Koh Rong’s seclusion is the main reason why there are no ATMs and internet cafes on the island. These days, some bigger hotels may offer free WiFi. The island’s electricity comes from generators, and most of them are shut down at a certain time at night. You can reach Kong Rong by taking a boat from the town of Sihanoukville. There are also faster privately-run boat services that take you directly to the key sections of Koh Rong.

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