City Slicker

A year ago this month, President Bill Clinton lifted the US trade embargo on Vietnam. The liberation of foreign investment laws and relaxation of visa regulations for tourists in Vietnam has finally oiled the hinge of the door towards the gaping pockets of the West.

Ubiquitous item of clothing: In an average temperature of 38C, the men take enormous pride in their defined crease-in-sleeve, sweat-stain- free shirts. A few women stand out from the smart majority by flaunting a tinsel style popular with Barbie dolls in the Seventies, often while perched on a Russian moped.

Drink of the moment: Try the local rice wine if you've got a metal palate. Otherwise, there are Saigon Lager and Saigon Export (where it's exported to is anyone's guess). These are almost half the price of imported brands.

Eating out: There's an abundance of eating places and the variety of Vietnamese cuisine is awesome, whether in a hotel restaurant or on a kerb- side stool in a back-street alley. If you want to be a culture-pooper, grab a bite of French bread and cheese from one of the small eateries or have a scrumptious steak and chips at Le Loft on Hang Bai Street.

For the adventurous, try the Cha Ca Restaurant at 14 Cha Ca Street, where you can sample a lump of turtle dipped in "nuke mom" (fermented fish sauce) while enjoying the view of pickled cobras in their glass jars.

The meeting place: The Pastry and Yogurt Shop on Hang Bong Street oozes with Westerners who catch up with each other over pain au chocolat and about the only decent coffee in Hanoi.

Latest fad: For the residents of Hanoi, karaoke is taken as seriously as jumping on the bandwagon of free trade. A place to practise with privacy is in a karaoke booth at the VIP Club in the Boss Hotel at 60-62 Nguyen Du Street.

Song on everyone's lips: Boney M's Daddy Cool. Western Music offers a Seventies night every night.

Customary habits: For all those who don't trust an East Asian wake-up call, particularly if you stay at a bottom-of-the-range hotel like the Hong Ha, you'll be reassured to know that religiously at 5am, the surrounding neighbourhood provides a cacophony of raucous attempts to cough up phlegm.Investigating the inhabitants of one another's hair is a personal habit brought to your attention wherever you go.

Entertainment: For a taste of Vietnamese culture, try the water puppetry at the Kim Dong Theatre. Imagine a stage of puppets water-skiing in time to clashing cymbals and the shrill whine of stilted chords. It's a cross between Sooty at the swimming baths and Tarzan of the jungle - ideal for the hard of hearing but rather sore on the eyes, even with goggles.

Arts and Entertainment
Wonder.land Musical by Damon Albarn

Theatre

Arts and Entertainment

Film review

Arts and Entertainment
Innocent victim: Oli, a 13-year-old from Cornwall, featured in ‘Kids in Crisis?’
TV review
News
Northern exposure: social housing in Edinburgh, where Hassiba now works in a takeaway
books An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop
Arts and Entertainment
Terminator Genisys: Arnie remains doggedly true to his word as the man who said 'I'll be back', returning once more to protect Sarah Connor in a new instalment

 

film review
Arts and Entertainment

festivals
Arts and Entertainment

Final Top Gear review

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat perform at Glastonbury 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Richie performs live on the Pyramid stage during the third day of Glastonbury Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

    Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

    Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
    Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

    'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

    Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
    Compton Cricket Club

    Compton Cricket Club

    Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
    London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

    Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

    'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

    It helps a winner keep on winning
    Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

    Is this the future of flying?

    Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
    Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

    Isis are barbarians

    but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
    The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

    Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

    Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
    Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

    'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

    Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
    Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

    Call of the wild

    How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'