(CNN) — Hanoi might be famous for its impenetrable walls of Vespas, but the city isn’t quite as chaotic as it’s chalked up to be.
Wandering about the capital of Vietnam, travelers expecting a wild urban adventure might be pleasantly surprised to also find quiet, leafy streets and hidden coffee shops.
One of the most charming aspects of the city is the plethora of restored neoclassical and Gothic architecture — a holdover from the city’s stint as a French colony from 1883 to 1954.
It’s easy to romanticize the era, given the beautiful remains, but it’s worth remembering that this was a difficult time for Hanoi, afflicted with opium addictions and oppression.
Despite the turbulent history, the resulting architecture is worth admiring. One way to experience it is with a stay at one of the city’s many boutique hotels.
Located in Hanoi’s Old Quarter — a network of 36 streets, organized by trade — these quaint addresses combine modern amenities with historic atmosphere for an authentic base while exploring the city.