Julie is the author of a number of guidebooks, including 'Melbourne's Best Bush Bay and City Walks' & 'Melbourne for Dogs' (with RSPCA). Read more of her adventures at her walks blog: walksmelbourne.com
Published March 15th 2014
A gentle stroll and respite in downtown Hanoi
The beautiful old quarter of Hanoi is a maze of tiny streets and alleys full of narrow buildings staggering on top of street front shops. It's a wonderful place to get lost in, to stop at tiny cafes for a bowl of pho soup, or a crunchy baguette, or to shop in the fashion stores and silk shops of Hang Gai Street.
But when the mayhem and noise gets too much, head out for some respite in the fresh air with a stroll around nearby Hoan Kiem Lake, at the very centre of the old town.
Bridge to temple island, Hoan Kiem Lake, hanoi
With its picturesque little island housing Ngoc Son temple reached by a traditional arched bridge, there is a lovely circuit walk around the island, which will take a leisurely half hour, with plenty of seating on the way to stop and admire the view.
Take time to admire the many engaged couples who come here to have their photos taken, or watch the older folk practice their stretching or just passing the time of day.
There's also a lakeside restaurant beneath the bending willows on the water's edge, where you can stop for a meal or a drink. Just at the front of the restaurant is also a window which sells cold drinks and refreshing ice-cream cones on hot days.
The walk around the lake will take you past some major landmarks, including the old central post office, and the water puppet theatre, but most of all it will just give you space to breathe and rest, amidst the magnificent mayhem of Hanoi.