As the capital of Vietnam, Hanoi has an endless number of interesting things to see and do. The city has been around for over 1000 years and the buildings and monuments tell the story of the city’s history including the war years and the period when the French occupied the city.
Start your exploration of this city with the Old Quarter-Hoan Kiem District where you can see the Hanoi Kiem Lake Park, Hanoi Opera House and the National Museum of Vietnamese History. The museum is in a 1932 French colonial building and covers all periods of Vietnamese history. The One Pillar Pagoda appears to float on a lotus pond as the wooden structure balances on one stone pillar. The present pagoda is a replica of the original but just as stunningly beautiful. The Bach Ma Temple, may be the smallest but is also the oldest temple in Hanoi, here you can see a statue of a horse. For a glimpse at the body of Ho Chi Minh you can visit his mausoleum, continue to the attached Vestige or to the nearby Presidential Palace. Alternatively visit the Ho Chi Minh Museum to learn about the Vietnamese War and this iconic leader. For more on the war try the Army Museum or Air Force Museum.
The Temple of Literature is also a must see when you travel to Hanoi, originally built in 1070 and later underwent several renovations and additions. There are 5 courtyards the most beautiful of which is the 3rd with the “well of heavenly clarity“. The complex is large and contains many fascinating buildings and gardens. For some down time from the busy city relax in one of Hanoi’s parks for example the Indira Gandhi Park where you can see the Ly Thai To statue or the park on Nguyen Thai Hoc Avenue where you can see a statue of Lenin. Take in some culture while in Hanoi by seeing a performance at the Thank Long Water Puppet Theatre. For some shopping stop by the bustling Dong Xuan Market or visit the nearby Night Market. You can also try the 6 floor Hang Da market for absolutely everything! Also sample some traditional local cuisine like cobra or dog meat!
Hanoi, Vietnam is a wonderful city and the capital of Vietnam. It’s bustling streets and hundreds of merchants keep you on your feet and there is always more to explore. The city of Hanoi is a great place to spend a few days; walking around Hoan Kiem lake early in the morning is a personal favorite. The city is so alive in the morning, merchants about selling their wares, people exercising along the lake, Tai Chi classes on the streets, foot badminton on the corner; cars, scooters, motorcycles, bicycles and people working hard to cross the streets and avoid oncoming traffic. It is an experience I hope everyone can try.
The city of Hanoi celebrated it’s 1000 year anniversary in 2010, from 1010 up until 1802 it was the most important political center of Vietnam. There is so much history and culture in this city it is an experience in itself. The old quarter is a wonderful shopping destination, hundreds of merchants compete for your business and negotiating is a fun part of the experience. T-shirt merchants run around looking to sell you a $5 shirt, fruit vendors are walking around selling fresh mango’s and whatever else they may have on hand.
The french have also had a heavy influence on Vietnam and you will always find fresh bread and baguettes for your enjoyment. Sit down at a portable restaurant and have a bowl of Pho, the soup Vietnam is known for. These portable restaurants consist of a merchant usually with her cooking utensils and bowls and a selection of small tables and chairs set on the sidewalk for guests to sit down and quickly enjoy a lunch.