Hanoi is a real Asian metropolis. The appearance of which combines modern high-tech architecture, the socialist heritage of the 20th century, the flavor of a former French colony and ancient national traditions. In a few days in the capital of Vietnam, you can visit different eras, for example, see the city from the 65th floor, have a snack at a bar on the railway tracks, photograph a military plane that fell into the lake and spend an evening in a unique water puppet theater. The city’s attractions are concentrated in several areas, so you can see a lot in one walk.
What to See
Locations Near the Lake of The Returned Sword
As a rule, tourists planning to spend only one day in the capital of Vietnam begin their exploration of Hanoi from this area. Here, within walking distance of each other, there are popular museums, theaters and the old quarter with an interweaving of colorful streets. Today, Hoan Kiem, the lake of the returned sword, (Hồ Hoàn Kiếm) is organically integrated into the urban landscape, and the area around it is a popular holiday destination. Legend has it that once upon a time, a sacred golden turtle lived in the mysterious green waters. In the 15th century, she gave a warrior a sword that helped liberate Vietnam from Chinese rule. After the victory, the man returned the sword to the turtle.
Above the surface of the lake, the characteristic humpbacked red Huc Bridge (u Thê Húc) floats on stilts, creating one of the most popular postcard views of Hanoi. It leads to the island where the 18th century Jade Mountain Temple is located. The mummy of a 400-year-old turtle is kept within its walls.
The cultural life of the metropolis is concentrated around the lake: there are several large museums and theaters here. For example, you can spend the evening at the famous Hanoi Opera House, built during the French colonization of the city. The building has the architectural features of the Parisian Grand Opera. In the 19th century, European stars performed here, and since the mid-20th century, a Vietnamese troupe has been performing on stage, whose repertoire includes performances by Vietnamese and Russian playwrights. But you can immerse yourself in the national flavor and see a truly unique show at the Puppet Theater on the Water. The traditional art of such performances dates back to the 11th century. In this theater, the stage is turned into a small pool, over which puppets float. They are mounted on rods that are underwater, so they are invisible to spectators. The performance is accompanied by folk musical motifs.
A few blocks east of the Puppet Theater, the Hanoi Ceramic Mosaic Mural stretches almost 4 kilometers along Duong Hong Ha Street. The colored mural on the concrete wall has been created by Vietnamese and foreign artists for several years. Its plot tells about the history of the country’s development from ancient times to the present. The work was included in the Guinness Book of Records.
One of the most visited areas of Hanoi by tourists is the Old Quarter, which is sometimes called the “thirty-six streets of Hanoi,” although there are already many more of them. Crooked narrow alleys weave into a colorful tangle of colonial houses, Asian pagodas, transport, retail outlets, catering, hotels and workshops. After sunset, you can enjoy a kaleidoscope of twinkling signs, garlands and lanterns. Among the most visited streets are P. Ta Hien Street and Hàng Gai. And those who appreciate a non-tourist atmosphere may enjoy the Dong Xuan street market (ĐồNg Xuân) and the fish stalls at the Hang Da market.
One of the most unusual streets in the city is located on the western edge of the Old Quarter. The width of Hanoi Train Street is barely wider than the rails laid here. It seems that the walls of the houses are about to squeeze a passing train in a vice. The first floors of the buildings are occupied by bars and cafes, on the verandas of which tourists will spend their time in anticipation of a breathtaking spectacle.
A couple of blocks south is the unusual Hoa Lo Prison Museum (other names are Maison Centrale and Hanoi Hilton). During the era of French rule, opponents of colonization were held here, and during the Vietnam War, captured American pilots were kept here. Their memories of torture and terrible living conditions within the walls of the dungeon became widely known. In the 1990s, part of the complex was demolished. And in the surviving buildings today you can learn the history of the prison and see scenes from the life of prisoners.
Part of the exhibition at the Vietnam Museum of Military History tells in detail about the wounds Vietnam received during military operations in the mid-20th century. Samples of local and foreign military equipment, documents, photographs, uniforms and other exhibits are presented here. On the territory there is a monument made from parts of downed American planes. In total, the museum has more than forty halls dedicated to the development of the country’s weapons and army over the centuries. The museum occupies part of the Hanoi Citadel (Hoàng thành Thăng Long). This is a UNESCO architectural monument. A notable object of the complex and a symbol of the city is the Banner (Flag) Tower (CộT cờ Hà NộI) – one of the few buildings of the early 19th century that survived the colonial wars.
While in Hanoi, take time to relax. That’s the whole purpose of holidays. The city offers fast internet connection. It’s easy for you to enter your favorite online casino and play book of dead free for hours.
Locations Outside the City
If a visit to Hanoi takes more than a couple of days, then popular places outside the city can be included in the tourist program. Visiting them will take the whole day.
Ha Long Bay (Vịnh Hạ Long) is a world-famous natural attraction of Vietnam with beautiful landscapes and landscape views. Rocks covered with greenery surround the blue surface of the sea bay, from where islands and cliffs rise. According to legend, a dragon that came down from the mountains began to beat its tail on the ground, and the resulting cavities were flooded with water. They say that the snake still lives in the bay. One of the most popular entertainments in Halong is a trip on modern boats and antique-style sailing boats. There are areas for recreation and swimming around the bay, where local residents also come. From Hanoi to the bay it is approximately 170 km, part of the road passes through mountainous terrain. The best seasons to visit Halong are from April to May and September to October. But in summer there can be rain and fog. The bay is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.