One of Asia’s most atmospheric cities, Hanoi can be explored on a half day city tour, a full day tour or even just with the use of a good guide book for those who prefer to go it alone. We have included below some of the highlights that will be included in our tours, however please note that not all can be visited on a half day tour so do let us know if you have any preferences.
Hanoi is certainly one of our must visit destinations and a visit here should always include some time exploring the buzzing maze of the Old Quarter; steeped in history, pulsating with life and rich in exotic scents, a place to get lost and soak in the culture of Vietnam. This area is explored by foot, walking through charming Hang Be Market and around Hoan Kiem Lake. This bustling area of narrow streets and alleys is home to literally thousands of small businesses and shopkeepers. It’s a wonderful place in which to get lost and photo opportunities abound.
One of the other top sites to explore in Hanoi is the Temple of Literature. In 1076 Quoc Tu Giam, Vietnam’s first university, was established within this temple to educate Vietnam’s royalty, mandarins and members of the elite. The university functioned for an incredible 700 years and its gardens and well-preserved architecture provide a fascinating glimpse into Vietnam’s past. Visited next is the ‘One Pillar Pagoda’, founded by King Ly Thai To in 1049. This structure is one of Vietnam’s most iconic temples.
Close by is the mausoleum of the father of modern Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh (it must be noted that it is closed on Mondays & Fridays). Its a rather surreal experience, shuffling past the embalmed body and do make sure appropriate reverence is shown. After the mausoleum itself visit the former leaders stilted house, where he modestly lived from 1958 to 1969. From here it is an easy stroll to the Military History Museum or the Fine Arts Museum (additional time is usually needed to fit these in, so allow at least 2 nights in the city if you fancy making the most of any of the museums).
Tay Ho (West Lake), lies to the North of the Old Quarter and is ringed by upmarket suburbs, as well as some fantastic seafood restaurants. On the shores of the lake visit the sixth century Tran Quoc Buddhist Pagoda.
If time permits during your stay head to fascinating Ethnology Centre (closed Mondays), which is both a research centre and a museum showcasing the ethnic diversity of Vietnam. As well as – or as an alternative – you should also look to visit the highly acclaimed Vietnam Women’s Museum (again, closed on Mondays). The museum is located near Hoan Kiem Lake and offers insight into the lives of Vietnamese women – displays highlight Vietnam’s vast cultural diversity and educate on the significant role Vietnamese women play in Vietnamese society. Learn historic and modern-day traditions centring around birth, weddings, motherhood, spirituality and more.