By Joshua H. Liberatore
Hanoi
Vietnam
Photo gallery
One of the most dynamic and fascinating cities in Southeast Asia, Hanoi beckons travelers with its native bustle, excellent culinary scene, and cultural value as the hearthstone of modern Vietnam. First-time visitors will be immediately impressed by the boisterous commerce and incessant activity prevalent on Hanoi’s densely packed streets. Life in Hanoi starts incredibly early, with street vendors and shopkeepers setting up as early as five o’clock. Soon after, bicycle and automobile traffic clogs the main thoroughfares, with drivers honking their horns repeatedly – in the local custom – to indicate not frustration but merely their presence on the road. Soup stalls shovel out bowl after bowl of steaming noodles, garnished with fresh greens, bean sprouts, and lime wedges, to breakfast customers. Fresh baguette and first-rate espresso are available next door. In this juxtaposition of French and Chinese influences, Hanoi delights the open-minded omnivore at every turn.

Hanoi is laid out in a tight grid, with an attractive old city clustered around its picturesque Turtle Lake. The market district – alone worth hours of wandering – is organized by product, giving its streets names such as Flower Street and Pottery Street. Even if you aren’t actively seeking a purchase, EscapeWizard.com's strong recommendation is to explore these streets and just absorb the unmatched entrepreneurial intensity on display. You’ll see remarkably large cargo – huge plates of glass, medium-sized appliances, tall racks of eggs – carried by motor scooter. Vendors will be engaged in the time-honored clamor of careful price negotiation and shrewd barter. No other city in the region commands such singular focus on trade, which will surprise some Westerners harboring stereotypes of socialist central planning and government-owned enterprise.

Hanoi is host to many fine hotels and family-run guesthouses. Book rooms directly through EscapeWizard's hotel search tool (www.escapewizard.com/hotels.php?flag=htl). Many accommodations include breakfast, offering either authentic local fare or international options (typically eggs and toast), both served with excellent strong coffee.

According to EscapeWizard.com, at least one day in Hanoi should be spent wandering the historic market district, enjoying the sprawling public park that encloses Turtle Lake, and sampling various street food options, from classic beef pho – rice noodles in rich broth, served with various garnishes – or fresh bun, which is a similar arrangement of noodles, meat, and fresh vegetables, but without the broth. The Vietnamese have adopted the French baguette with great profit, serving up sandwiches that combine local cured meats, grilled beef or chicken, with fresh cucumbers and cilantro, jalapeno peppers, and a light dressing of fish sauce or sweet syrup. The result is delicious, and you can snack on these for the equivalent of a quarter or so all over Hanoi. Another food favorite, which, like many Vietnamese dishes, is a Chinese borrowing, is hot pot. Alight at one of Hanoi’s many hot pot joints and choose your protein, usually thinly sliced steak or seafood, and let your server show you the ropes. Vegetables and mushrooms will be added to your personal pot of boiling stock, while fresh ingredients can be dipped and flash cooked for immediate consumption. As always, fragrant white rice and mounds of fresh greens accompany the entrée.

Hanoi runs a famous water puppet theater, which warrants a visit. You can purchase tickets during the day for evening performances (they sell out regularly, so plan ahead) and take in a historical or folk narrative, usually of agrarian theme. EscapeWizard.com suggests the entertainment as truly one of a kind, and set designers and technicians are at pains to conceal the operational secrets of their dancing figures strutting around in three feet of water. The theater is darkened to enhance the effect, and photography is prohibited. Master puppeteers endure years of training to perfect the craft. Puppets are operated by long poles with elaborate controls and their masters stand in water for the length of the performance. A show is not to be missed.

Hanoi figures as an excellent base camp for regional excursions in Vietnam’s visually stunning north. EscapeWizard.com notes that the hill-tribe oasis Sapa requires a longish night-train ride from Hanoi, but rewards visitors with breathtaking views of the terrace agriculture that surrounds the sleepy town as well excellent local hotels and charming hospitality. Sapa’s Red Dzao women merchants are among the most aggressive salespeople you will ever encounter. Bargain low with them at your peril. Sapa's winding streets feature excellent cafes, food establishments, and craft shops for the browsing. Another destination recommended by EscapeWizard.com is the world-famous Halong Bay, a section of the South China Sea studded with huge limestone karst formations. You can arrange a two-night “cruise” on a modified Chinese-style junk, all inclusive of transportation, meals, and activities, in downtown Hanoi.

Hanoi is served by Hanoi Airport Vietnam (HAN), routing flights through regional capitals and major cities the world over. From the airport, taxis are easy to arrange, but price haggling can be vicious, so a prearranged pickup through your Hanoi hotel is the recommended route. Visit EscapeWizard.com (www.escapewizard.com/flight.php) to book your flight to Hanoi, Vietnam, today.
Hotels in Hanoi
By Sara Falardeau
Sheraton Hanoi
11 Xuan Dieu Road, Tay Ho District, Hanoi, Vietnam
Photo gallery
If you’re preparing for a visit to the bustling capital city of Vietnam, the Sheraton Hanoi is an excellent place to make base. This comfortable, modern hotel is just 10 minutes from city center, so you’re only ever a few miles from your desired destination, and self-service kiosks make checking in and out fast and easy. Whether you’d rather wander the streets of the famed open-air Doan Xuan Market, visit the breathtaking limestone formations of Ha Long Bay, or take in a show at the unique water puppet theater, the hotel’s 24-hour concierge service is ready to exchange currency, schedule a reservation, or reserve a car for you.

Rooms are designed for travelers’ comfort with a standard or king-sized Sheraton Sweet Sleeper™ bed, individual climate control, fully-stocked mini-bar and a 32-in flat-screen LCD television with satellite channels. Business travelers will appreciate the complimentary local newspaper and telephone with international direct dialing, and the in-room safe lends a sense of ease to any visitors with valuables to protect. While there’s a fee for Wi-Fi in your room, it is complimentary in the common areas, and the hotel has a myriad of these shared spaces for both business and relaxation.

In a center of industry and technology like Hanoi, travelers won’t too surprised to discover the unique Microsoft “connection destination” in the hotel lobby ­­– a space that offers computer terminals with Ethernet data ports, internet workstations, free printing and more. There’s also the club lounge, where business travelers can work in a peaceful atmosphere and enjoy light refreshments. When you’re ready to unplug, head to the Lilly Relaxation Centre on-site for a spa treatment, or sunbathe by the stunning outdoor pool surrounded by beautifully-curated gardens.

With an array of creature comforts and modern, time-saving amenities, EscapeWizard.com recommends the Sheraton Hanoi to any traveler. When you’re ready to experience the unique and diverse charms of Hanoi, let EscapeWizard.com handle the details of booking your room at this great hotel (www.escapewizard.com/hotels.php?flag=htl).
Hotels in Hanoi
By Sidney Wilson
Hilton Garden Inn Hanoi
20 Phan Chu Trinh, Hoan Kiem Distri, Hanoi, Vietnam
Photo gallery
Welcome to the Hilton Garden Inn, the Hanoi location!  Feast your eyes upon the exquisite chandelier, high ceilings, and dark cherry wood fixtures, which are all minor details in the lobby of this hotel.   This hotel is located in the center of Hanoi city, only a short drive away from Noi Bai International Airport, about a 2 mile drive and you will find yourself in the old French Quarters,  one of the top tourist attractions! In just 1 mile you can have a night of romance at Hanoi Opera house. More of a history buff? Just 2.5 miles from your hotel, you will be able to see historical artifacts at the Ho Chi Minh museum. 

In every beautiful room at the Hilton Garden Inn, there is a king size bed, complete with a Serta top mattress. There are crib and high chair options for the children as well. There is a safe with electrical lock capability, iron and ironing board, office chair and desk as well as a desk phone with data ports. Each room has all of your electronic needs, such as HDTV, High speed internet and Wi-Fi capabilities. If you have a late night craving, you have 24 hour access to a microwave in the pavilion, as well as the snacks to go along with it! The Hilton Garden Hotel has also included 7 days a week newspaper that is complimentary to each room.

 On those days where you just want to stay inside you will be impressed with the amount of amenities available to you just steps from your room. There is a 24 hour fitness room with free weights, yoga mats, and cardio equipment.  Other 24 hour amenities include, a laundry facility, a business meeting room, with audio and visual rentals, fax machines and free printing and a pantry with microwave and snacks.  Breakfast is prepared and offered daily, There is also a full bar that offers, light appetizers and drinks. During your stay, try PHO, a traditional Vietnamese noodle dish, offered at the Garden Grille.

Check in time at the Hilton Garden Inn is 2 p.m., and check out time is 12 p.m.   Please visit the hotel's site for all of your booking needs at (www.escapewizard.com/hotels.php?flag=htl). On behalf of EscapeWizard.com, we wish you an amazing trip and thank you for coming to us for all of your travel guides and information!
Hotels in Hanoi
By D. Gregory Perrin
InterContinental Hanoi Westlake
1A Nghi Tam, Tay Ho, Hanoi, Vietnam
Photo gallery
The InterContinental Hanoi Westlake is an outstanding in the city that offers an entire slue of services for travelers. The hotel is located minutes from downtown Hanoi but out of the city enough that allows for supreme relaxation. There are 359 guest rooms as well as 36 suites, that travelers can check-in to at 2 p.m. or after on the day of arrival into the city.

The rooms have all the features of any modern hotel. Guests can select from a variety of bedding options based on the size of their party. Each room has color television with cable channels, DVD players, and videos can be rented. There is high speed internet for a small fee per night so guests can stay connected to their emails, etc. The hotel provides an in-room safe that is large enough to hold your laptop while sightseeing in the city. Other features of the rooms include, microwave, miniature refrigerator, mini bar and others.

The InterContinental has an amazing fitness center to help promote a healthy lifestyle for all of the guests. They have cardiovascular equipment as well as free weights for strength training. The hotel also offers Yoga, Taichi, Pilatte, and other aerobic classes available to help give guests a variety of options. After a good work out, vacationers can take a swim in the outdoor pool, or head to the spa for a steam bath. Business travelers can utilize the business center that is open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., here they can access computers, print, fax, rent mobile phones, and more.

Travelers have various options to eat in the hotel. There are 3 restaurants available. First, the Saigon Restaurant on the first floor and is open for both lunch and dinner. Here they serve Vietnamese cuisine and other Asian dishes. Second, the Café du Lac offers French cuisine and is open for all three meals of the day. Lastly, the Milan Restaurant offers Italian delicacies and is only open for dinner.

The InterContinental Hanoi Westlake is just the right hotel for you on your next vacation in South East Asia. EscapeWizard.com invites you to book your hotel experience by following this link (www.escapewizard.com/hotels.php?flag=htl).