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Ways to Experience Hanoi Free Local Tours
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Reviewed 4 weeks ago via mobile

We only had one full day in Hanoi and were enthusiastically guided by Vu and Ha. We were a family of 8, two sets of grandparents and 11 and 12 y.o kids. Enjoyed the walk albeit hair raising at times negotiating leftover bits of sidewalk. Lots of information about vietnam culture and history which was the reason why we chose this tour. A lovely and insightful tour.

Thank Yas S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 4 weeks ago

We had Thao and Mandy as our tour guides - two college going girls. This was the fascinating part. We found this initiative of Hanoi Free Local Tours extremely good. In fact, we thought something like this would be great for our 17 year old daughter too when she would go into college.

But Thao and Mandy - both were not fluent in English. But, they managed to communicate nevertheless. But what I liked about them is that they were very nice people and did their job of tour guide very sincerely. So much so that we paid entrance fee at the Ancient House. Later on the guides found that entrance fee is already included in the tour fee. So, they actually returned the amount in cash to us. Frankly, we didn't know that entrance fee was already included. We would really like to thank both of them for their good and sincere work. Thankfully they agreed to have a round of coffee with us at the end of the tour.

First, Candy from Hanoi Free Local Tours got in touch with me on Whatsapp the moment I booked the tour. She sent me a nice presentation on the itinerary. She said that she is supervising the tour and not our guides. Later 1 day before the tour, Thao got in touch with me on Whatsapp and set up the meeting time and location. So, this was very smooth from their side. We are a family of 4 (two daughters 9 years and 17 years of age). Candy was smart enough to check if my 9 year old daughter would be ok to walk for 2.5 hours. Must say good attention to detail! We were just spending 1 day in Hanoi so we thought it is best to take up a short tour of Old Quarters area. Hanoi Free Local Tours also has a Street Food tour of Old Quarters. Candy did check with me if we would be interested in the same. But, we refused as we are not too interested in street food.

About the tour:

- The tour started at 2.30 pm and ended at 5.30 pm.
- The tour guides are very punctual. So, since they are young college kids, we also ensured that we reach the meeting point on time.
- Our tour covered the following - 1. Ancient House (please see my separate review of that. 2. Long Bien Bridge or the old railway bridge. 3. Dong Xuan market (local market in Old Quarters). 4. Hang Ma Street (where you get to see shops selling decorative lamps). 5. Phung Hung Street Art. Please see brief descriptions and experience of each below. They also have Hoan Kiem Lake in the itinerary but we did not go for it because we had already visited the late in the morning hours on our own.
- We requested the 2 tour guides to have coffee with us at the end of the tour which they agreed. They finally dropped us back to our hotel and we said goodbye.
- It was very cold outside during December. So, please carry adequate warm clothes if you are going to Hanoi in December.
- Yes, walking for 2.5 to 3 hours can be tiring. My younger daughter got tired. But somehow she managed to complete. So, please wear adequate footwear for walking. Also, if you have kids then you need to manage their expectations and ability. So, should carry mobile drinking water and maybe some munchies will also be good. But there are enough cafe's in Old Quarters in case you want to stop by for a while and take a breather.
- You have to be ok with guides who will not speak English fluently. So, sometimes it is difficult to communicate. But, it is ok because they are college going students.
- The tour guides are pretty knowledgeable and they try to give you as much information about the history of Vietnam and the descriptions of the places you visit. They are very friendly and will easy going and can adapt to any family very well.
- the coffee shop where we went to did not accept credit card. VND is the preferred currency here for the small coffee shops.
- we also saw a shop selling dog meat. Was kind of awkward as we just begun to keep a pet dog at home!!
- the roads of Old Quarters are literally infested with motor bikes. They are all over the place like ants. We as Indians are quite used to such scenarios in India where roads are full of motor bikes. But, Hanoi Old Quarters is more interesting because the roads here are so narrow and you have everything on the roads here - from poeple, to rickshaws, to motor bikes to cars and finally buses. You have to be very careful when you cross the roads. But, the big tip to not get run over by a motor bike is that you should just cross the road steadily without stopping under any conditions. If you do that then the motor bike riders know exactly what you are doing and can predict your movements. Then they will go around you accordingly!

Now hear goes brief description on each stop:

1. Ancient House - please see separate review of mine on this.

2. Long Bien Bridge (old railway bride) - This was built by the French when they colonized Vietnam for 96 years. This bridge is a metallic bridge which is quite long (it actually connects the city of Hanoi to the suburbs). It has a railway track in between and narrow roads on both sides. Something strange was that on this bridge, the road vehicles were using the left side whereas in whole of Vietnam it is left hand drive which means people drive on the right side of the road. But, besides that the bridge is nothing great to visit. We coming from India have seen enough of these old metallic railway bridges being made by the Britishers. But, yes, this bridge is lit up in the night and we got a lovely view of it from Diamond Sky Bar when we went for dinner that same evening (please see my separate review of Diamond Sky Bar).

3. Dong Xuan market - this is a huge multi level local market (some 3-4 floors). It has many things for local people. But, nothing much to see or buy. The market looks like selling cheap Chinese goods. But, our tour guides told us that people come early in the morning for the wet market. We tried buying a karaoke mike, but our guides advised us not to saying that it is not of good quality here. So, we moved on.

4. Hang Ma street - this was a street with many shops selling decorative lamps. We were not interested in buying any decorative lamps but the shops were beautiful and great to click pictures with them as a colorful back drop. That's it, we clicked a few photographs and moved on. You get similar roads with shops selling lanterns in Hoi An. But Hoi An is much more beautiful compared to this.

5. Phung Hung Street Art - this was nice. A street where there is a flyover and on the side of the flyover was many street art. And what was amazing was that each street art item showed one facet of Vietnamese history or culture. It was very nice and once again a great place to click pictures. It has also got nice benches on the pavement to sit and admire the art. We spent the maximum time here and at the Ancient House.

6. Hoan Kiem Lake - we did not go here as a part of the walking tour but earlier on our own. The lake is beautiful and it has lovely garden all around with with walking and jogging pathways and many benches to sit. The lake also has an ancient bridge going over it which we didn't go to as we saw they were taking entrance tickets and we thought it is nothing great to pay for. But otherwise the whole lake area is beautiful to do a nice walk in the cold December and cloudy Hanoi days. We also found hawkers selling raw mango with salt. So we had one portion which was very nice. But this is a must visit area of Old Quarters. There are cafe's and eating joints all across the road going around the lake.

We would like to thank Candy, Thao and Mandy for making this a memorable walking trip. Their service was very good and we have no complaints whatsoever. But the itinerary was nothing great. We found the places a bit boring and after a while when you get tired too, you feel like saying let's end it now. But then the service given by the guides are very good. They are very enthusiastic and make best efforts to tell you many things and make you enjoy the tour.

Date of experience: December 2019
2  Thank PappanMajumdar
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 4 weeks ago via mobile

We went on a walking tour of the old quarter with 2 university students - they took us to all the most important sights, and were friendly, enthusiastic and relatively informative.

The only criticism would be that they didn’t really have good knowledge of everything they were showing us .e.g. the length of the ceramic mural and who the artists were, the age of the old fortress gate, so a little more homework would be useful.

But generally we would recommend the tour.

Date of experience: January 2020
Thank DellaPUk
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 5 weeks ago via mobile

We loved it. The guide was lovely and we had a great personalised walk around the city, dropped into a couple of spots we wouldn’t have gone in had it not been for the suggestion of the guide. Recommended!

Date of experience: January 2020
Thank mammakitteh2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 5 weeks ago

"My" (my guides name) took me on a culinary tour of the old quarter of Hanoi and it was a terrific way to accustom to Vietnam's signature dishes. We experienced everything from sticky rice to beef noodles and mixed fruit. My was knowledgeable and full of information that explained how and where and why of things. I had a fantastic time and now can do better with eating a wide variety of dishes rather than just the same old tired tourist menu.

Thank youi so much My.

Date of experience: January 2020
1  Thank plightstone
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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