First order of business in Hanoi (as in every new city we visit), food, food, food. Have no fear, food stalls are near.
No food is more perfect than a bun bo, braised beef noodle soup, on a rainy day. We ducked into this noodle place as it poured.
You can't be in Hanoi and not be tempted by the fresh BBQ pork being grilled complete with fans to stoke the fire. Right on the corner near our hotel was a bun cha stall: BBQ pork, rice noodles, fresh herbs, a hearty broth and spicy, garlic-y vinegar to sprinkle over the whole concoction.
But there's also choose your own BBQ. Pick a few skewers, take a seat and down it all with a bia hoi Ha Noi.
At Cha Ca La Vong, you can taste Hanoi's signature cook-it-yourself fish dish with loads of tumeric, fennel and chives.
When you need some sweet cold treats, head to Kem Trang Tien. Just follow the motorbikes that park right at the counter. There's also no need to decide which flavor, there's only one - a light, milky coconut in a super thin, wafer cone.
Then there are street sweets. Call over any vendor and check out what's in a basket. This time it was sticky rice balls filled with sweet ginger syrup.
That's just for starters. Turn the corner and who knows what else you'll find.