Attractive, historic, and definitely interesting, Vietnam's capital city of Hanoi is a joy for visitors to explore. Hanoi city is found in northern Vietnam on the banks of the life-giving Red River, and it is not only the political capital of the country, but also its cultural hub. Hanoi travel, like Vietnam travel overall, has been increasing in recent years, and the city makes for an excellent base if you wish to visit the mountainous northern reaches of the country. In contrast to some of the other larger Vietnamese cities, Hanoi is relatively slow-paced, though with over three million residents it is by no means dormant. Traces of modern Vietnam are apparent in parts of Hanoi city, where new shops, hotels, and cafes are springing up, yet you can still find a good many historic vestiges here. The Old Quarter, for example, has narrow streets, as well as pre-colonial and colonial buildings, making it an excellent spot for sightseeing.
If you are heading to Vietnam and want to visit both Hanoi and the country's largest city of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), you should know that the two are some 1,100 miles apart. In other words, you will definitely want to think about flying. If you can't make it south to Ho Chi Minh City to experience its urban sprawl, you will still get a more than satisfactory urban feel from Hanoi. Just be sure to bring the right clothes for the season, as winter here can see temperatures in the low forties (Fahrenheit), while summer can see them soar over 100. Once you get here, you'll likely seek out your hotel if you've already booked or found one. If you haven't, you'll be glad to know that the Hanoi city hotels present options for a range of budgets. After you have settled into your hotel and stashed your stuff, perhaps a walking tour of the city's Old Quarter will be in order. Hanoi's history is too long and varied to cover here, but suffice it to say that the city has changed hands various times in the past. The Old Quarter boasts a nice collection of French colonial architecture, which speaks to just one of the city's historical periods.
Should you enjoy a tour of the Old Quarter when taking your Hanoi vacation, there are some key attractions to seek out during your adventure. Near the Old Quarter is the city's most renowned lake, and in a city known for its lakes that's saying something. Hoan Kiem Lake is found in the heart of the city, and as such, it is often used as a landmark for directions. During the day, Hoan Kiem Lake is busy with walkers, as well as folks who are getting out to enjoy other recreational pursuits, such as tai chi and martial arts. Various merchants and artisans set up shop the Old Quarter, so you can peruse a number of goods to see if there is something that catches your eye. For a really interesting shopping experience in the Old Quarter, you can head to its center where the large Dong Xuan Market is found. Besides souvenirs, clothing and food can be bought at this market, which is only open on the weekends.
Perhaps no Hanoi vacation would be complete without a visit to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. Found in the Ba Dinh District of the city, this is where the body of the country's one-time President can be found embalmed and on display, much like the body of Lenin in Russia. Those whose Hanoi travel plans include seeing the body of this prominent historical figure will want to make sure to arrive before 11 a.m. Not far from the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is the Ho Chi Minh Museum, which provides wonderful insight into the leader's life. If you are really interested in the life and times of Ho Chi Minh, you can also visit his past residence, which can be found behind the city's Presidential Palace. Other top Hanoi city attractions include the One-Pillar Pagoda, which was first constructed in 1049, and the Temple of Literature, which was founded in 1070 and is one of the country's best examples of Chinese/Vietnamese architecture. Also interesting is the Hoa Lo Prison Museum, which is also known as The Hanoi Hilton. The French jailed many Vietnamese natives here during the fight for independence, and it was also used to house American prisoners of war during the Vietnam War.
Hanoi Vietnam is full of interesting things to do, and the friendly people here help to make a Hanoi vacation a wonderful experience for most. Since the city is the cultural hub of the country, it is a great center for the arts, so when you're not moving about town seeking out attractions, you might take in a show at the Hanoi Opera House, or take in a water puppets performance, which is truly something to behold. When day becomes night in Hanoi, you can head toward the largest lake in the city, which is called West Lake. For those who are looking for some nightlife, the clubs in this ritzy section of town might just be the best in the city. For interesting Hanoi side trips, there's always Halong Bay, where you can kayak amidst rising isles, and Cat Ba Island, half of which is a National Park. Hanoi travel is full of all kinds of fun activities, so plan your Hanoi holiday today and see for yourself just how interesting a Hanoi vacation can be. Perhaps you might simply stop over for a few days before or after visiting nearby China. It is definitely worth it!