Asia, Hanoi, Vietnam

Crossing the Road: Hanoians’ Style

November 29, 2012

Are you sick of hearing about Hanoi yet? I just have one last post and I’m done! #sorrynotsorry

I can’t go through my time in Hanoi without mentioning the crazy chaos that’s constantly happening on its streets. No, no, that would be a great disservice! With non-existent sidewalks and a lack of proper crosswalks and , the Vietnamese took the term jay-walking to a whole different level (you reading this, Julie??). Needless to say, Claire and I adapted with the practices and by the end of our stay, we were crossing those streets like nobody’s business!

So, if you end up in Hanoi and you find yourself needing to get on the other side of the street for that bowl of pho, take note! I’m going to break down the steps of crossing the street in Hanoi. A disclaimer, though, please don’t forget to use your common sense along with these steps! Obviously it’s not very smart to step onto the path of an oncoming truck that’s zooming at you at a really high speed (duh!).

Without further ado, Crossing101:

1. Check both your left and right side. You will see unending swarms of motorbikes with the occasional taxi cabs, trucks, or buses. No need to hyperventilate just yet, this is normal.

2. Wait until the path is clear. By clear, i mean that you see a steady swarm of motorbikes, but no other large vehicles (i.e. cars, trucks, and buses). You’ll be waiting for a LONG time if you’re waiting for the streets to be completely empty – it’s just never going to happen!

3. Once the path is clear, take a deep breath and confidently walk across the road. It’s extremely crucial that you don’t start panicking here and run the rest of the way; that will probably get you killed. Don’t worry about the motorbikes. You just have to trust that they’ll swerve around you and avoid hitting you (and they will).

4. Continue walking – slow, steady, and with confidence – until you reach the other side of the street.

5. Once you reach safety, congratulate yourself for making it across in one piece. Better yet, give yourself a high-five or a victorious pat on the back!

Go and get that bowl of pho, you brave soul, you deserve it!

A bowl of pho with deep fried fish and watercress. Cheap and delicious!


  • Reply Amsterdam: the City of… | lem0nandlime March 19, 2013 at 4:01 pm

    […] it was no surprise that we saw A LOT of bikes while we were there. It reminds me of the motorbikes in Hanoi. Everybody bikes everywhere, and rightly so, as the city is laced with extensive bike lanes with […]

  • Reply Vivianne January 21, 2015 at 9:57 pm

    I’m currious why Hanoi instead of Saigon? I thought Saigonese are friendlier people, better food closer to the southern greatness, warmer beaches, etc. I know it’s been awhile since you’ve seen Vietnam.

    • Reply Pauline February 1, 2015 at 3:02 pm

      Hi Viviane, you’re absolutely right in that Saigon would be the more popular choice when people visit Vietnam. We chose Hanoi simply because we really wanted to see Ha Long Bay and Hanoi is the closest base for it. I would go to Saigon next time I visit Vietnam though. Good luck with your planning. Let me know if you need an itinerary to look at – I can forward you mine.

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