Fun things to do in Hanoi

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    Overview
    by Assenczo
  • The presidential palace in Hanoi.
    The presidential palace in Hanoi.
    by cachaseiro
  • The Ho Chi Minh museum.
    The Ho Chi Minh museum.
    by cachaseiro

Most Viewed Things to Do in Hanoi

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    Pho

    by Assenczo Updated Feb 18, 2014

    The Pho, a staple Vietnamese soup of mixed French-Asian origin is an institution in Viet Nam. The origins are traced to northern part of the country and the ingredients vary according to history, geography and taste. Pho can be found in the streets, the upmarket restaurants and Wikipedia too. Generally speaking, it has many ingredients as good soups always do thus increasing the possibility to be liked by many people. Pho is mostly noodle and some sort of meat plus veggies and seasonings. The northerners have concentrated on beef, in a very French-oriented style while the southerners have blasphemously corrupted it to include chicken instead. Nowadays such ideological rigidities are out of fashion and one can enjoy the whole spectrum of phos in one geographical location. As any foreigner, one might notice how noodles eaten with chop sticks can influence the Book of Manners in certain direction. It is quite obvious that with such imperfect apparatus, one quickly has to resort to slurping and smacking in order to keep the contents of this watery substance flow from bowl to mouth. This “handicap” is widely spread throughout Asia and makes some people from other corners of the world shivery with goose bumps. The Vietnamese popular contribution to the Book of Manners is the addition of spitting the indigestible residue or bones directly on the ground between their legs. This curious activity is followed by getting up and leaving the compostable material to be dealt with by the street vendors or dogs. No little wonder the pavement around the improvised street eateries is as black as the opposite side of the Moon. Bon Appetit!

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    The citadel

    by Assenczo Updated Feb 11, 2014

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    The Citadel is a huge complex of buildings with representational /military functions in downtown Hanoi just off the enormous expanse of Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum. It consists of some very Chinese looking buildings, no little wonder considering that Chinese influence has been present in Viet Nam for one thousand years, to quote Ho Chi Minh himself. Today the grounds of this former Vietnamese glory are used for more refined activities. A competition for the best ikebana in town was underway with some specimen incorporating sculptures made of wood or stone. No less thrilling contest was taking place on the only surviving gate with married couples posing for the best pictures they could muster in the smoggy afternoon. Some ladies did not even have male partners at all – they were on their own in front of some very keen photographers posing away their confidence and beauty clad in traditional costumes. All this little theater must have a background just as in China, where in no time there were advertisements in at least two different media outlets of photo session trips to famous landmarks in the world. Apparently this vogue must have crawled southwards and the less fortunate had to replace a photo in front of the Bastille with one on the Hanoi citadel. On a more serious note the citadel has reportedly fulfilled its military duties during the war with America by hosting the headquarters of the air defence of the city in one of the basements of the adjacent buildings.

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    V. I. LE-NIN

    by Assenczo Written Feb 10, 2014

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    The main flag bearer of Hanoi is the tower just south the imperial gate. Across the street from it a small park renders a nice prelude to the diplomatic quarter of Hanoi. In the park, facing the citadel a statue of Lenin still stands undisturbed. Unless of course one does not take into account the countless attempts of the local children to climb up the back of the pedestal in order to have a great ride downwards on their buttocks. The statue has been a magnate for grown-ups as well. They seem to find that this is the best place to learn how to tango. Lenin – Castro – Che Guevara: this must be the connection! Or is it, considering that some very American-looking “cool” youths polish their skating skills there too. So the sequence may be the following: Lenin – perestroika – hoodies!

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    B-52 End Game

    by Assenczo Updated Feb 10, 2014

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    Hanoi has its official grandeur in the face of Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum. Then it has some not so obvious gems that take effort and time to investigate and find. One such secretive place is the spot where one of the B52 stratofortresses met its macabre fate. The problem in finding it is as much its location amidst a labyrinth of small alleys as the existence of a museum where another B52 plane, this time lovingly reassembled basks in the tropical sun, hence the confusion in the minds of potential helpers. They might know of the existence of only one of the sites and send you to the wrong one or simply do not know which one you might prefer. You definitely want to see the one with the plane in the water albeit the museum piece has its virtues too.
    The site is inspiring with its bizarre setting within what appears to be a well-to-do area in a pond (replacing a square in a European town) that is so rife with algae and other organic material that it resembles and smells like pomace/marc worthy of the finest grappa and last but not least with the fact that the hardware is still around. Considering Viet Nam as of year 2014 one ponders why it was shot down in the first place; most probably to plunder the pallets of coca cola, the boxes of blue jeans and some Hollywood blockbusters. Apparently, the healthy dose of democracy was left to ferment on the bottom of the pond for the future generations to enjoy.

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    B-52 Corps(e)

    by Assenczo Updated Feb 10, 2014

    Hanoi has its official grandeur in the face of Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum. Then it has some not so obvious gems that take effort and time to investigate and find. One such secretive place is the spot where one of the B52 stratofortresses met its macabre fate. The problem in finding it is as much its location amidst a labyrinth of small alleys as the existence of a museum where another B52 plane, this time lovingly reassembled basks in the tropical sun, hence the confusion in the minds of potential helpers. They might know of the existence of only one of the sites and send you to the wrong one or simply do not know which one you might prefer. You definitely want to see the one with the plane in the water albeit the museum piece has its virtues too.
    The site is inspiring with its bizarre setting within what appears to be a well-to-do area in a pond (replacing a square in a European town) that is so rife with algae and other organic material that it resembles and smells like pomace/marc worthy of the finest grappa and last but not least with the fact that the hardware is still around. Considering Viet Nam as of year 2014 one ponders why it was shot down in the first place; most probably to plunder the pallets of coca cola, the boxes of blue jeans and some Hollywood blockbusters. Apparently, the healthy dose of democracy was left to ferment on the bottom of the pond for the future generations to enjoy.

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    One of the last statues of Lenin.

    by cachaseiro Written Apr 14, 2013

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    In Hanoi you have one of the last standing statues of Lenin.
    It's staning in the french quarter on the road called Dien bien Phu.
    It's in a little park and you will most likely drive past it if you are going up to the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum or the one pillar pagoda.
    Whether you like the guy or not then i think it's worth making a quick stop to see what is in a way a bit of a historical statue these days where you do not have many of them left.

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  • A Wonder to be hold maybe next time

    by katherin810 Written Aug 27, 2012

    We were offered the 4 day Hanoi – Halong cruise package by our hotel in Hanoi and glad we booked it. The cruise would be a completely enjoyable experience if not for the storm. The first day we still had crystal sunshine for some times and other times, we had to play the hide and seek with the cloud to catch a sight to be hold. The second day however, we were waken up very early due to storm warning and no ships were allowed to depart. The staffs informed us to gather our stuffs for returning to Hanoi hotels. It was our luck to book the package, which meant we had a place to return. Other guests were very frustrated, making all effort to contact their agents for solution. An important tip: avoid the August if possible as it is the storm season in Halong. Ask for a hotline contact with the hotel/agent you booked your cruise in case of emergency. Still, I am looking for another trip to Halong maybe next year.

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    Sailing in a Vietnamese Junk Ship

    by wilocrek Updated Jun 19, 2012

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    No visit to Hanoi and Ha Long Bay would be complete without experiencing the magic of sailing on Vietnamese Junk Ship through the emerald waters of Ha Long Bay. The ships vary in size but they all maintain a initimate atmosphere, the ship I was on had about 12 rooms and four levels. The rooms while small, were very comfortable with a queen sized bed and a full bathroom (no televisions...sorry folks) The main deck had a beautiful dining room with plenty of windows to view the bay while enjoying the incredible 12 course meals that are freshly prepared. All sorts of Vietnamese delicacies are served from fresh salads to perfectly spiced seafood and other meats.

    The top deck provides the best views of the bay and there are plenty of reclining chairs to sunbathe on, and if your really lucky they will let you jump off the top deck into the cool waters! I was able to experience two different junk ships and found them both to be equal in character and service. At first the incredibly low price of the tours made me suspicious but I was pleased to find out that the expericence and service was worth five times what I paid. Do not miss out on experiencing Ha Long Bay on a Junk ship!

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    Sightseeing in Hanoi

    by White-sandy Written Apr 23, 2012

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    Located in the northern part of Vietnam, Hanoi boasts of a population of 3,058,000 people. Hanoi was the center of politics of Vietnam from 1010 to 1802. It was the capital of French Indo-China from 1887 to 1945. It was the capital of North Vietnam from 1945 to 1976. Located on the banks of the Red River, Hanoi boasts of a rich culture and history. History shows that Hanoi was known by different names. After its emancipation from the Japanese clutches in 1945, it became a major seat of governance of the country. The city became the capital of North Vietnam amidst a longstanding tussle between the French and the Vietminh forces. Its communication was severely disrupted during the Vietnam War. Hanoi became the capital of united Vietnam on 2 July, 1976. Hanoi has been on the road to development in recent times. Hanoi is regarded as the cultural capital of Vietnam, absorbing traits of the various dynasties that ruled this land. The cultural and historic remains are huge attractions for tourists and locales alike. Sightseeing in Hanoi is a major attraction for tourists thronging the city in droves.

    You can catch amazing sights of the ancient buildings rich in history and culture on sightseeing tours in Hanoi. The serene Hoan Kiem Lake is a major attraction of Hanoi. Ngoc Son on the banks of the lake is another major attraction of Hanoi. The Old Quarter with its 36 winding streets is a lively center located at the north of the lake. The remains of Hanoi Hilton or Hoa Lo Prison is a must see on sightseeing tours in Hanoi. Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum, Ho Chi Minh's House and Museum and the tiny One Pillar Pagoda are huge draws for tourists. Several museums are found scattered across the city. Vietnamese National History Museum, the National Museum of Ethnology, the National Museum of Fine Arts and the Revolution Museum are the most notable museums of Hanoi. All museums remain closed on Mondays and some remain closed also on Fridays. You should also visit the major attractions of Hanoi like he Temple of literature, Bach Ma Pagoda, Dong Xuan Market, Lang Pagoda, Lien Phai Pagoda, President Palace Memorial Site, Quan Thanh Pagoda, St. Joseph's Cathedral and Tran Quoc Pagoda, on sightseeing tours of the city.

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    The Hanoi "Hilton". Hoa Lo prison.

    by pfsmalo Updated Apr 22, 2012

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    With a couple of hours to spare after the Women's museum, the old French prison is a a 10 minute walk away, so we decided to have a look. A very poignant reminder of what life was like behind the colonial bars. I say there "colonial" because what is shown of the Vietnamese treatment of the the Americans held here is totally different from that suffered by the Vietnamese during the French colonial period. Photos shown here show the Americans always smiling, well shaven, playing sports in the courtyard, being given souvenirs as gifts, which is in complete contrast to all other reports inc. Wikipedia about the prison.
    First built by the French from the late 1880's to the end of the century to house 420 political prisoners, it was further expanded in 1913, but was never designed to hold the 2000 prisoners that it finished its colonial role with, in sub-human conditions in 1954. Today two-thirds of the prison has been demolished and the rest inc. the famous " blue room" left as a museum.
    Rather sinister but not too harrowing-The pics below show nothing disturbing.
    Open every day from 8.30 until 17.00, closing for a lunch break, it costs 10.000 VND (0.40€) for entry inc brochure.

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    Museum of Vietnamese women.

    by pfsmalo Written Apr 20, 2012

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    This is a "must-do" for me, a real surprise and very understated and unknown. Set up in a building 10 minutes from Hoan Kiem lake there roughly 7 floors of exhibits all on different themes : Women at home, women at work, womens clothes etc etc. But the one that startled and engrossed me was the floor given over to women at war. Has to be seen to be believed. I know that there may be a fair bit of propaganda involved here but after seing the exhibits I thought to myself "With women like that it was impossible for the French and then the Americans to win". Some of the exhibits are permanent but there is another room in the courtyard given over temporary exhibits.
    The museum had been closed for a while for renovations but is now open every day except Monday from 8.30 to 16.30. Cost currently is 30.000 VND, just over 1€.

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    Something strange to eat

    by White-sandy Written Apr 3, 2012

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    Walking around Hanoi, I am sure that any locals or guide book will take you to Hanoi Cathedral nearby the Sword lake. However, it is not the church but the very narrow street next to it can make you feel excited.

    Don't surprise if u see at the beginning of a little alley there are some women waving a fan, they are inviting you to their "restaurant" :) It just some plastic chairs, no table but trays on a upset chair to put food in. Especially, food is on a banana leaf to keep it warm and clean. Hopefully, they wash the leaf carefully.

    The main food of that street side store is "nem chua", a kind of fresh meat. They keep it to ferment in several days and then grill it right on the coal. It is rather sticky but strange and its smell is really good. It can combined with icy lemon tea and some kinds of fruit like unripe mango or guava.

    Especially, the price is quite cheap, with $2 you can get about 10 skewers of nem chua to enjoy.

    Just try it and feel a litle Hanoi.

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    Small monument for John McCain at the silk lake.

    by cachaseiro Written Nov 13, 2011

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    By the silk lake (right next to the west lake) there is a small monument where senator John McCains plane was shot down during the Vietnam war.
    John McCains plane landed in the Silk lake and he later spend a long time in vietnamese prison before being send back to America where he persued a political career.
    The monument is, according to my vietnamese friends, more of a peace monument than a war monument actually and it´s a small humble thing sitting by the lake on the pavement.

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    Kayak Halong Bay and Trekking Sapa

    by stevebruce Written Aug 9, 2011

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    We had a really great holiday with the right measure of activity versus rest days. Initially we had a concern about being at the older end of your clientele as we are both 60 but this proved unnecessary as not only were we able to "Keep up". This kept us perhaps more active than we might otherwise have been. (We were the oldest in the group of nine though but possibly a being reasonably fit helped.)

    No special memories as they were all special in their own way. It is important to be prepared to not always get your own way and go with the flow however and from time to time to do your own thing. Whilst our group was great all having experienced this sort of holiday before it would have been a pain if one our two had been selfish in their requirements.

    Hai our tour leader was first class and very very knowledgeable and helpful we would love to have him again if possible. You will see us again of that there is no doubt.

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    Maison Centrale

    by cal6060 Updated Jul 26, 2011

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    Maison Centrale is a prison museum located at French Quarter area. This museum has good displays of several prison history. It was a French prison for Vietnamese prisoners who were agitating for independent. During Vietnam War, it was a base for North Vietnamese Army to house for torture and interrogate captured servicemen mostly American pilots shot down during bombing raids.

    Opening hour: 8am-11:30am, 1:30pm-4:30pm, Tuesday- Sunday, closed on Monday.

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