Hanoi is electrifying chaos. The intensity of sight and smell makes it impossible for you not to be completely in the moment in Vietnam’s capital. But, don’t forgot to look behind you, into the evocative past of the city. It is truly astonishing and shapes present culture.
Hanoi Old Quarter is packed with colonial architecture, Buddhist temples and pagodas and vibrant market stalls. This area is the soul of the city, once the bustling area where merchants and artisans gathered to sell their products, it is still the perfect area to discover a traditional gem. The energy of the city is most prominent here, dodging traffic and bicycles is part of the fun. Number one advice for the city, and the Old Quarter in particular is to eat your way round. Spring rolls, Pho, Banh Mi and fresh seafood and soups are just some of the sensational options. Pull up a colourful stool and enjoy.
Expect a shock to the system as you step off the plane into Hanoi. The city is a sprawling, overwhelming riot of sound, colour and smell. Blaring horns, colourful road side stalls, bustling streets with tasty food on every corner and a deeply rich culture. Hanoi is densely populated and rapidly advancing, with a fascinating of harmony of old and new increasing daily. High-end restaurants collide with traditional street eats, glitzy fashion malls meet bustling markets with knock off goods and the history of the city emulates in its every day and political life.
It’s impossible to engage in city life without understanding the wild history of Vietnam. The American invasion is certainly the most famous in Vietnam, but for centuries this country has been defending itself from outsiders. Explore the Vietnam Military History Museum hosting a vast collection of weaponry and vehicles, in its courtyard, from the front line and also captured from enemy forces. Inside the war is traced through exhibitions of artefacts, films, art, propaganda posters and technology. The North-South divide is documented interestingly throughout to present a view from the perspective of the northern Vietnamese on their life during war. The Hoa Lo Prison museum offers another look into the war that took over the city. Ironically nickname the ‘Hanoi Hilton’, this prison was used by the French colonials in Vietnam for political prisoners and later by North Vietnam for prisoners of war during the Vietnam War. Exhibits are rather chilling, including shackles, whips and other instruments of torture as well as tiny confinement cells.
The Vietnamese Woman’s Museum is another must- visit. The exhibitions are a colourful tribute to the woman of Vietnam across the ages, documenting work, family life, clothing, marriage and fashion. Video tributes explore the heroic mothers during war time and their impact on society. A reminder that behind the male-orientated war, were essential women standing strong. The Vietnam Museum of Ethnology is another important point of call. The collection relates to Vietnam’s ethnic minorities and displays tradition village houses, art, artefacts and other interesting cultural things to see. Full-scale replicas of a variety of Vietnamese homes line the tranquil outdoor area, representing a number of unique architectural styles. There’s also a traditional water puppet theatre that should not be missed for exceptional entertainment.
Saint Laurent deliver season after season. These round frames feature in a classic Havana and are finished with a luxurious gold temple and bridge detail. Ideal for exploring the colourful sights of Hanoi.
The incredible life and influence of Ho Chi Minh is a prominent feature of Hanoi. Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum is one of the most visited attractions of the city and the ques are often enormous. The final resting place of Ho Chi Minh is a monumental marble structure in Ba Dinh Square. Known to his people as ‘Uncle Ho’, here you can pay respects to his outstanding life. To learn about his position, head to the Ho Chi Minh museum, which explores his life and the big events of the 19th and 20th centuries. On display is the narrative of the political and economic forces of the past two centuries, including the impacts of Marx, Lenin, modernism, the French Revolution and US capitalism.
Tranquility surprisingly can be reached in Hanoi. At the Hoan Kiem Lake the madness of the roads and intense bustle of the streets seem far away. The lake surround the Ngoc Son Temple which sits magnificently on a small island in the centre. Grab a book and a picnic and relax in the peaceful scenery. For more scenes of grandeur, rise to the Lotto Tower observation deck and soak up the best views of the city. This vantage point offers scenes of the old quarter and dazzling lights of the city alive at night. Another offer of peace, a green space nestled into the heart of the city, is the Temple of Literature. Dedicated to Confucious (Khong Tu), the beautiful complex honours the finest scholars and men of literary accomplishment. If you’re lucky then current student graduations can be seen here as the students pose for pictures in front of the pagoda in their vibrant dress.
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Enjoy the quiet corners and the bustling streets of Hanoi. Why do you love this vibrant city?