Shuichi Moriyama / Marubeni Corporation Hanoi Liaison Office
Capital of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, Hanoi is located in the northern part of the country, comprising a 1,700-kilometer territory running north and south, and it is the city with the second highest population in the country—some 6.6 million.
In addition to being located at the northern tip of Southeast Asia, Hanoi has an exquisitely blended culture and cityscape that was formed under the influence of rule by both China and France. For example, the preserved area known as Old Town Hanoi—which was the center of industry during the Yin dynasty in the 11th century—is interspersed with shops and temples, rows of cathedrals, French colonial restaurants and hotels, as well as a municipal theater that is modeled after the Paris Opera House, located right next to Old Town Hanoi. This is likely the reason that there are so many tourists visiting from Europe in particular.
The motorcycles in downtown Hanoi are an unforgettable sight. The roads overflow with motorcycles during the morning and evening commute hours, and you can witness riders managing to avoid crashing into each other by way of the unique rules that are akin to employing telepathy (these rules are different from the traffic regulations).
You can also enjoy a cruise featuring mysterious rock formations and rare mountaintops at the World Heritage site of Ha Long Bay, which is located some three hours from Hanoi by car. The vast scenic area is dotted with limestone caves, and the boat tours around the cave tours are very popular. Many of these tour boats include accommodations and I highly recommend that you stay a night on one of them.
On the other hand, I think that a great many people—including myself—are drawn by the food. There are countless delicious Vietnamese dishes—including fresh spring rolls, Pho (noodle soup), cha ca (fish cakes)—but the one that I highly recommend is bun cha, a dish of grilled pork over white rice noodles with a side of dipping sauce. If you use the special Nuoc mam fish sauce-dipping sauce to eat the bun (white rice noodles) and fried spring rolls, you will surely feel blissful. The sauce includes charcoal broiled hamburger and pork, and the delicious flavor is addictive, so everyone here on assignment absolutely gets hooked! Although Vietnamese food has a healthy image, the amount you eat increases when you pair it with delicious local beer, and because it is reasonably priced, so gaining weight is unavoidable when you are on assignment here! There are also a lot of famous places and local shops that are not listed in guidebooks, so be sure to come visit!
Marubeni Group magazine "M-SPIRIT" VOL.79 (January, 2014)