Can Hanoi, an ancient royal capital that has been invaded and ruled by conquerors repeatedly over the centuries, find peace and prosperity as a world city at the start of its new millennium?
It is in many ways the ideal 21st century city—eminently walkable, friendly, entertaining, hip, young, tolerant, and inexpensive. Its old neighborhoods are a Jane-Jacobs triumph of mixed-use economic dynamism and eyes-on-the-street for safety. Retail, restaurants, and business services squeeze into the narrow ground-floor street fronts while residents live in the wildly assorted houses above.
Except for a few hours between midnight and dawn, Hanoians seem constantly on the move—eating, drinking, making things, selling things, playing badminton and chess, laughing, talking, hustling—pretty much all in the same space.