But there are a lot of ways to discover this magnificent city, and you may get lost in finding a perfect way to really get to know about this place. So let me tell you a great way that can make your trip to this city more memorable than ever. That’s by cyclo, or Xich Lo.
Visiting Hanoi without a cyclo ride is much like failing to get on the old-time electric car in Paris. Either way, your trip will be unfulfilled. In fast-changing city of Hanoi, the slow-moving cyclo seems to be a reminder from the past of a town that was once ancient. That tricycle is called “Xich Lo” in Vietnamese.
A journey around Hanoi by cyclo
“Xich Lo” is a Vietnamese derivation from the French word of cyclo. Up till now, how the vehicle came about is still a debate. Both the Japanese and Americans claim that they invented the cyclo in the mid 1800s. But the cyclo has never been a popular means of transport in Japan, America or France. Instead, it has been used widely in some colonies of France including Vietnam. It first appeared in Saigon, Southern Vietnam in 1939 when Vietnam was still under the French colonial rule. It was then a luxurious transport means for the upper class in Vietnam including French and wealthy Vietnamese. Over time it has become a common and affordable service for all people regardless of their social ranks especially in Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam.
Xich Lo is in fact a tricycle with two wheels in the front and one in the back. Like the bicycle, it is leg-powered but the driver seat is in the back while the passenger seat is up front. This design is intended to enable passengers’ unobstructed sight-seeing. The front seat is comfortable for enough one person plus some luggage while in fact two persons can also fit in it. Xich Lo is fairly small and therefore it is perfectly suited for narrows streets and alleys. Running fueless and quiet the Xich Lo does not cause any noise or air pollution like most other modern vehicles. Its slow speed is an upside for leisure sight-seeing but against the practical demand for urban inhabitants who need to move fast in their everyday life. This is one reason why the Xich Lo is no longer serves the purpose of personal transport in the time of motorbikes and cars.
You can find that traveling by this transportation is a perfect way to satisfy your passion of photography
For many people in Hanoi, the Xich Lo stands for a symbol of nostalgia. In the memories of Hanoians being away from their home city, there is the Xich Lo along with the fragrance of milk flowers and other things. There is one thing about the Xich Lo that has not changed in the face of time. It has always been an indispensable part of an important rite, the hand asking. To ask for a girl’s hand, the man should lead an entourage with offerings all on a feet of Xich Los. And on these Xich Los they go in a single line to the girl’s home. One can spot a hand-asking procession from ways off because of the Xich Los.
For foreign tourists, the Xich Lo can be a very practical means of transport for Hanoi day tours. More than being cheap and comfortable, the Xich Lo gives tourists a uniquely pleasant experience of cruising around the city in the fully relaxed mode. In the front seat of a Xich Lo, a tourist can enjoy the sight of streets, people, architecture, trees, lakes and sky. He can take photos or shoot videos in all directions. He can listen to the sounds of life, smell the fragrance of the milk flowers or feel the cool wind blowing while leaning back. For many tourists from developed countries, a Xich Lo ride is a whole new delightful experience, which is hard to forget.
An old cyclo driver
Nowadays, the rudimentary and simple Xich Lo is honored and loved by not only Vietnamese but foreign tourists as well. It is now mainly for tourists in Hanoi but its cultural beauty will increasingly valuable over time.
However, the ancient Hanoi is not the only tourist spot that cyclo is a favorite chosen transportation, Ho Chi Minh City is also a place that you can easily find a cyclo with the driver, who can also be your professional guide, for an unforgettable tour around the city.
Tags: Hanoi tours in Vietnam