There are few places in the world like the Old Quarter of Hanoi, Vietnam. Two distinct cultures come together here to create its own flavor and demonstrates a place where the West can meet the East. It is one of the oldest parts of the city that grew because of its proximity to many lakes, but as the city grew, so did the design and flavor of this area.
At one time, the French came into this part of the world, and controlled it. The stories about their rule are not always kind, but they did leave some things behind which have made Vietnam what it is today. Many of the buildings that were built in the Old Quarter have more of French architectural design to it. This is the reason that balconies hang over the crowded streets, but there is still another altogether feel to this section of Hanoi.
Even though the architecture is French, the flavor of the city is distinctly southeast Asian. From the shops on the ground level to the lights that hang from the roofs, you will know that you are in Vietnam. It is the reason that this part of Hanoi is always packed with people.
And if you wander far enough, you will come across one of the many lakes in the middle of this maze. This is where the people really congregate to drink egg coffee, stroll around its shores, listen to various bands playing, some traditional, some with western influences, and to enjoy the authentic Vietnamese experience.
No matter what part of the world you come from, the Old Quarter is one of the first places you should visit if you come to Hanoi. It does not matter if you feel more comfortable in a western or eastern setting, you will find yourself home in its cozy streets.