Hanoi was the first stop on our big adventure, and what a way to start! This city feels like it never stops and has something new around every corner. Be prepared to be swept away by the amazingly colourful streets and not to mention the speed of life (and the traffic!) If you manage to cross the roads you may want to check out some of these places… Here is what we think you must see in Hanoi!
Temple of Literature
The temple of Literature is an ancient place of learning. When we visited we witnessed a graduation/ passing exams ceremony. Its beautifully symmetric gardens and old walkways are a pleasure to walk around. Which explains why it is one of the most popular attractions in Hanoi.
Imperial Citadel of Thang Long
The citadel was originally built by the Chinese when they occupied Vietnam. Beautiful yellow buildings all around that range in uses from temples to war bunkers. The citadel was used as a hub for the communist north in the Vietnam war with the USA. You can venture down in to the bunkers and enter the rooms where meetings were held with some of the most important men on the communist side.
In Hanoi you will notice that each street sells similar things. Well these streets are also named after what they sell. But, there is also what is called ‘Train Street’, no cars drive down there and only the occasional bike. The street is basically train tracks with houses just metres away from them, all the locals know the times of the trains that come in and out of the station and make sure to retreat inside as they pass. The train street lies on a small street between Kham Tien and Le Duan, the exact lane the train passes along is called Ngo 224 Le Duan. It is one to check out just for the shock factor!
The old quarter of Hanoi really does live up to the hype. It was suggested everywhere that we check this part of town out, so we decided to stay in it. The hustle and bustle of the small streets surrounded by trees and motor bikes, you can’t help but just be swept up in it. The old quarter is quite a large part of the tourist hub but if you know where to look you will get great food that is oh so cheap! We recommend just wondering round the streets and see what is happening, it was one of our favourite pastimes while in Hanoi.
Hoan Kiem Lake
Being right next to Old town and the French quarter this lake is a large hub for tourists and locals. Walking round in the day you will see so many locals sitting next to it chatting away and walking their dogs (there are plenty of cute dogs to spot in Hanoi.) At night there are street performers and small pop up street food resutants. When the night market is on at the weekend the roads next to it get cut off and you can enjoy an array on entertainment from magic to traditional music. definitely a worth a walk round it even if it just to get your bearings.
Ngoc Son Temple
Located on Hoan Kiem lake, Ngoc Son temple was actually the first place we visited in Hanoi apart from the hotel. An oh so jet lagged Alice and Grace wondered round admiring the asian beauty of the temple. Its amazingly calm for how busy it is and the fact that it is located in a city that never seems to sleep.
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
Unfortunately when we went and visited Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum he was away for restoration, every October and November they send him away to Russia to be cared for as it is low season, so the building was closed. But it is one place that you must see as it is a place of great importance to the Vietnamese and their history.
Hanoi Opera House
Within the French quarter the Opera house is a beautiful French colonial style building that managed to survive the Vietnamese was against the USA. It also held several political events after the French left Vietnam and was the location for street fighting in the fight for Hanoi. A gorgeous building and right next to a beautiful park and some great coffee shops.
The Night Market
Unlike a lot of places in Vietnam the night market in Hanoi is not every night! It is on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday each week. The roads nearby get closed off and the roads become crowded with people instead of cars. There are plenty of street entertainers and street food sellers around that all your senses seem to become engaged. It is something to witness!