Hanoians start their days early in the morning, from 5.00am hundreds of locals at all age are playing badminton or Vietnamese hacky sack around Hoan Kiem Lake, while many farmers are trying to sell their flowers and vegetable in the markets and along the awakening streets. See the lively Hanoi at dawn is not only an interesting good morning tour for foreign travelers, but it is also an excitement for other local people, especially photographers.
While you are in Hanoi, learn and discover the city when it wakes up. Start your tour from the hotel at 5.00am when your tour guide come with your rickshaw drivers, hop on the historical cycle rickshaw and be pedaled to the Independent Square for the flag rising ceremony. The flag hoist ceremony is a national ritual of the country, which is performed every day at 6.00am in front of the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. A soldier holding the military flag leads 34 other soldiers, representing the first 34 soldiers of the Vietnam People’s Army, to walk to the melody of the song “Move under the military flag” moving to the flagpole. Learn about the area from your guide before moving to the flower market, where you will see almost all kinds of fresh flowers on display.
Walk around the flower market and see how early the stalls open up, watch the buyers from local restaurants, retail shops and bicycle vendors who you will see roving across the city bargaining for the best deals of the day. This is the busiest flower market in Hanoi, it really gets going from midnight till 6.00am when you will be amazed at the volume of fresh flowers being packed onto single motorbikes. Such as sunflowers, roses, chrysanthemums, orchids, gerberas, lilies, hydrangeas and various kinds of greenery.
Head back to the Old Quarter streets and order a bowl of Pho Bo (beef noodle soup), Hanoi’s iconic breakfast, and a Vietnamese caphe sua da (iced coffee with condensed milk). Eating on the side walk of the street is a very typical activity for Hanoians, which makes up an important part of the city’s culture. Sit on a plastic stool like the local and enjoy the sights, the sounds and the aroma from the getting hustle streets.
Traditionally eaten for breakfast in Hanoi, it is now an “any time” meal and its popularity is decades old. Pho originated in the early 20th century in Nam Dinh province in the southeast of Hanoi, brought to the city in 1925 then has been the favorite dish ever since. Pho actually refers to the flat white rice flour noodles rather than the name of the soup, of which it comes with chicken or beef.
Return to your hotel when the locals are heading to their works, prepare yourself for your next exploration of the day knowing that you have discovered a different Hanoi when the city was open its doors. Knowing that you have seen the real Hanoi at dawn, met the hard working people when they begin their day.