'Sommelier' pairs up Hanoi's classic locations

Hoan Kiem Lake and ice cream

The prevailing summer image at the lake in the heart of Hanoi is dozens of teenagers, hand in hand, backpacks on, holding half-eaten ice creams. Not far from the lake, an ice cream shop has stood the tests of time, managing to attract generations of fans and raising itself to something close to a cult status. The shop here bears the name of the street on which it is located, Trang Tien. All generations of Hanoians know the brand name 'Kem Trang Tien' (‘kem’ meaning ice cream), and many still choose it as the place to be on Hanoi's hottest nights. Only a few flavors are offered by the shop, including coconut, young green rice ‘com’, chocolate and vanilla. Each one of them carries a unique taste, and when eaten with the wind drifting off Hoan Kiem Lake, they taste ten times better.

One ice-cream costs less than 50 cents.

West Lake and coconuts

When a body of water is so big, it feels almost like a sea. To Hanoians, West Lake is more than just an urban element to help reduce the heat of a mega city. It’s a natural pool, a place to fish, to try out aquatic sports, and most importantly, a place to relax. The wind that whips up off the lake makes for an ocean-like experience. And to make up for the lack of sand and salt, a coconut is the best choice. The tropical thirst-quencher is the last piece of puzzle you need to sit back and enjoy the lake breezes.

A coconut here will set you back around $1.5.

Ta Hien Street and beer

Nightlife at the heart of Hanoi, the Old Quarter, is among the most touted trademarks of the capital. The nocturnal activity of choice for most of the city's youth and its guests is heading to the Old Quarter, grabbing a beer and exchanging stories. In response to the love people have for the Old Quarter, Hanoi has turned the most crowded part along Ta Hien Street into a walking street at night, guaranteeing a vehicle-free experience.

Three beers here sell for $1.

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