If you are visiting Hanoi for several days then congratulation, you’re going to discover and experience one of the world’s most ancient and charming capital.
Hanoi offers you so many interesting sites that you may be confused about where to go. This article is not a detailed day by day initiative, but a list of recommended places for you. Fortunately, they are quite near each other, so you can easily arrange a trip that fit to yourself.
- Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Complex
This is a very important place, where keeps the body of Vietnam’s first president. To many Vietnamese, a pilgrimage to Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is something must do at least once in their lifetime. You can discover a long part of the country’s history through “Uncle Ho” life stories, who founded the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. Source: Internet
The complex consists of Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Presidential Palace, Ba Dinh square, Ho Chi Minh Museum, Uncle Ho’s House on Stilt and One Pillar Pagoda.
One Pillar Pagoda. Source: Internet
Chock-full things to see and do, the vast complex would never disappoint you.
- Temple of Literature
Aside being a place dedicated to Confucius, the Temple of Literature is also the site of Vietnam’s first university. You will be able to appreciate the nation’s education and culture since 11th century.
Today, the site provides the experience of a lake, Turtle Steles, the Well of Heavenly Clarify, Courtyards and Pavilions.
Turtle Steles inside Temple of Literature. Source: Instagram
Every year, thousands of students come here pray for good grades, while the pagodas, gardens and ponds make ideal backdrops for student yearbook photos with “Ao Dai”.
The Temple of literature is ranked as one of Hanoi must see.
- Tran Quoc Pagoda
Set on an islet within West Lake, Tran Quoc pagoda is the oldest of its kind in Hanoi. The pagoda was the country’s religious center during Ly and Tran Dynasty. This is perfect for someone seeking a place of peace and a spiritual space.
Tran Quoc Pagoda. Source: Internet
It’s also a site of worship, so you are advised to dress conservative out of respect for the monks and locals.
- Hoa Lo Prison (Hanoi Hilton)
Another destination recommended for history lovers is Hoa Lo prison, which was built in 1896, by French colonial Government. The vast prison complex intended originally to house political prisoners, but later was used to keep American pilots who had been shot down and captured after Vietnam Government take control of the jail. So Hoa Lo is also called facetiously “Hanoi Hilton” by American pilots.
Hoa Lo Prison. Source: Instagram
Today, one corner of the original jail has been preserved as a museum. You can now walk through the cells that has been the scene of so much suffering.
- Hoan Kiem lake
The lake is located in the center of the city. Its name’s based on a legend of a turtle taking a sword from Emperor Le Loi. The story goes that the Emperor had been given a magical sword to smite the Chinese Ming Dynasty.
After successfully fending off the invaders, he was boating on the lake at that time called “Ta Vong” when a giant turtle rose up and snatched the sword from him and disappear.
Hoan Kiem lake by night. Source: Internet
In fact, for many recent years, the lake was home to Hanoi’s giant turtle. In the middle of Hoan Kiem lake is a small stone pagoda that you can only look from far away. However, you can surely get into another bigger one in a small island by going over a bridge named “The Huc”. That 18th century Buddhist pagoda’s name is “Ngoc Son”, which means “Jade Mountain” in English.
- The Old Quarter
If you look for a place of cultural activities, Hanoi Old Quarter is somewhere you should never miss out. The Quarter is made up of mainly 36 streets, whose names were based on what have been traded most popularly hundreds years ago, for example Silver Street, Sail Street,… Today, you may still find people sell these products as the streets’ names, but many of them have changed to become adaptable.
A corner of Hanoi Old Quarter. Source: Instagram
The Old Quarter provides you unforgettable experiences with traditional products, ancient architecture, Cathedrals, Communal House, local markets and local foods and even music.
Pho, must try in Hanoi. Source: Instagram
Taking a walking tour around 36 streets, trying awesome foods at local stalls, and looking for fabulous souvenirs are must try here.
- Vietnam National Museum of Ethnology
As you may know, Vietnamese people is made up of over 54 distinct groups. It is absolutely amazing to explore the unique aspects of these groups including their languages, lifestyles and cultural heritages. And Vietnam National Museum of Ethnology is perfect for you to do so.
Tradditional house in Vietnam National Museum of Ethnology. Source: Instagram
Located only 6 km from city center, you can easily get to the Museum by bus or a taxi, then have a chance to immerge yourself into a very new and interesting world.