The Old Quarter in Hanoi is very much like a provincial town in France. The French greatly influenced this city and it can be seen in the architecture and layout. Many of the streets are narrow and filled with interesting shops and restaurants. The city used to be full of street kids selling postcards, ladies with flowers hawking their products, but these have been moved from the lanes and alleyways as the city begins to modernize. Make sure you spend some time walking around the Lake. You'll discover a lot about the city and its people by a few hours at Hoan Kiem Lake. The Lake is also a useful reference point if you get lost in the jumble of streets and lanes.
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