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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Radio 4's Today programme host Evan Davis has been announced as the new face of Newsnight

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams performing on the Main Stage at the Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park, north London

music
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Mathison returns to the field in the fourth season of Showtime's Homeland

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Crowds soak up the atmosphere at Latitude Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Meyne Wyatt and Caren Pistorus arrive for the AACTA Aawrds in Sydney, Australia

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rick Astley's original music video for 'Never Gonna Give You Up' has been removed from YouTube

music
Arts and Entertainment
Quentin Blake's 'Artists on the beach'

Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beach

art
Arts and Entertainment
MusicFans were left disappointed after technical issues
Arts and Entertainment
'Girl with a Pearl Earring' by Johannes Vermeer, c. 1665
artWhat is it about the period that so enthrals novelists?
Arts and Entertainment
Into the woods: The Merry Wives of Windsor at Petersfield
theatreOpen-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Arts and Entertainment
James singer Tim Booth
latitude 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Lee says: 'I never, ever set out to offend, but it can be an accidental by-product'
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe judges were wowed by the actress' individual cooking style
Arts and Entertainment
Nicholas says that he still feels lucky to be able to do what he loves, but that there is much about being in a band he hates
musicThere is much about being in a band that he hates, but his debut album is suffused with regret
Arts and Entertainment
The singer, who herself is openly bisexual, praised the 19-year-old sportsman before launching into a tirade about the upcoming Winter Olympics

books
Arts and Entertainment
music
Arts and Entertainment
Jon Cryer and Ashton Kutcher in the eleventh season of Two and a Half Men

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

film
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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.

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

    A land of the outright bizarre
    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
    Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

    The worst kept secret in cinema

    A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
    Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

    The 'scroungers’ fight back

    The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
    Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

    Fireballs in space

    Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
    A Bible for billionaires

    A Bible for billionaires

    Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
    Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

    Paranoid parenting is on the rise

    And our children are suffering because of it
    For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

    Magna Carta Island goes on sale

    Yours for a cool £4m
    Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
    Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

    Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

    Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary