Increasing number of hostels are offering free walking tours in and around the Old Quarter of Hanoi and there are also many tour operators who bring those curious travellers to sights and spots to explore the city’s vast range of foods and hidden gems.
One of the most popular sights people visit is the Long Bien bridge. For it is where many fascinating Instagram photos are born. This place receives constant flow of both local and foreign visitors to take that shot on the railway. And there are wedding photoshoots done on this very spot quite often as well.
You can visit this railway from Long Bien train station located in the Old Quarter. If you go here, you’ll notice that this bridge consists of railway for trains, roads for motorbikes and narrow pedestrian roads on both ends. So if you feel more adventurous and eager to discover real hidden gems of Hanoi, you can now start your journey from the Long Bien train station.
Take either side of the pedestrian street on the bridge and go for a somewhat audacious journey. I say audacious because of the gaps under your feet through which you can see the river far below you and the quivering moments when motorbikes pass by can be pretty daring. But all this is worthy for what’s to come on the way.
The walk on the bridge is very rewarding because of these definitely unique and picturesque sceneries to appreciate its beauty and tranquility of Red River. In the evening, there are many young local couples who park their bikes and rest on the bridge enjoying romantic moments looking over the glittering river from the lights of buildings from both sides.
It can be quite a long walk until you reach the middle of the bridge, where there’s a rather steep staircase down to the jungle below the bridge. So it’s a good idea to bring a bottle of water with you especially if you’re here during summer. Another wise thing to prepare is bug spray to avoid or reduce the risks of getting hundreds of mosquito bites while walking around under the bridge.
There are agricultural fields where locals are working on and you can freely wander around the area. I’ve seen some group tours on motorbikes or bicycles with travellers cycling around the area (like above in the picture). So if you prefer the comfort of riding on a bike, you could search and book group tours. But walking here is also 100% feasible and has its own charm.
One last thing to note especially for ladies is to beware of the spots where some clubs of Vietnamese men are swimming, playing badminton and relaxing naked in the river. I stumbled upon some of these men (from far) when I visited here and it was a great shock because there was no sign whatsoever!