THE PHO HORIZON
Often called the Paris of the Orient, Vietnam’s charming capital, Hanoi, echoes with belle epoque villas, Indochinese temples, tree-lined boulevards and the din of motorbike horns.
Vietnam Airlines introduced direct Sydney to Hanoi flights last year, in addition to services via Ho Chi Minh City, and the route has become popular for Aussies wanting to explore the capital and nearby Halong Bay. A new highway, opened in September, has cut travel time to the UNESCOlisted bay in half, to 1½ hours.
“Everyone should go to see Hanoi if they go to Vietnam,” says local guide, Nguyen Manh Cuong (aka David), who recommends exploring on foot and trying street food. Pho (beef noodle soup) and egg coffee are renowned local specialties, but David says they’re just the beginning of what you’ll find in the markets.
“Street food in Hanoi is very special,” he says. “They have many different dishes to try, from bánh cuon (steamed rice rolls with fish sauce and local ham) to deep-fried spring rolls. Or you can have roast fish in a fish noodle soup place. Every corner of the Old Quarter gives you something local.”