Laundry places in the French quarter of Hanoi were non-existent. In the old town, there were quite a few. I used one at 24 Ta Hien. About $1/kilo for washing, drying, folding. Very reliable!
Alternatively, you could always let the Sofitel or Melia do your laundry for $5 a shirt.
On your wanders around Hanoi, you will come across many street vendors, selling all kinds of goods.
Sometimes, the fruit vendor, may let you try a piece of fruit.
If you decide to buy, remember to bargain, as the price will be higher than norm, because you are a tourist.
Sometimes, before you know it, you will have a fruit carrying basket plonked on your shoulders, with them wanting to take a photo of you, OF COURSE, FOR MONEY!
It all happens very quick.
Beware of the Thit Cho
Ok I may be bias on this one, but I'm the proud owner of 3 wondeful dogs, Baxster, Ginger, and Zeus. So when I was walking in the market place in Sapa and saw the decapitated head of a dog with its tongue hanging out being sold for dinner, I have to admit I even had to look away. But be respectful and just move on. Eating dog in Sapa is common. If you see a sign advertising Thit cho, pass on it unless you want to be eating fido for dinner. I did see a sign in Sapa that I found quite amusing. Outside one of the many restaurants that sell dog there was a sign with a picture of Pluto from the Walt Disney Cartoons that said "Yum Yum".
Finally, a place where I won't get bother by prostitutes and too many young expats or backpackers. Toilet Bar made me feel at home. One of the reasons why is cause upon entering the place one might think they just walked into a coffeeshop in Amsterdam with the great scent of marijuana . People are relaxed listening to Hip Hop music (DJ isn't that good but still better than that noise from New Century). Drinks are about 2 euro for a beer though one can get pretty much anything at place. Whatever, anything is cool
Rent a Van for the day
Renting a van in Hanoi was one of the smartest things we did. It only cost us $40 for the entire day ($8 each) and it came with a full tank of gas and a super friendly and efficient driver.
Hiring a car w/driver in Hanoi makes getting around faster, because all you have to do is point to the map and show the driver where you want to go next and hop off and back on again. No need to hail a taxi cab and paying the driver with each cab ride. With the van you can leave all your shopping bags as you continue your sightseeing or more shopping!
We hired ours at the Sinh Cafe on Hang Bac st.