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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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€.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Cat Ba Island is the largest outer island of Ha Long Bay area. The island has a town with schools, a hospital, shops, local communities,restaurants, hotels, and etc. They developed this island as one of the tourist attractions in Ha Long Bay area.
They transferred us to a smaller boat to visit Cat Ba Island. They stopped us at a fish village for lunch. We had a great time as we had lunch on the boat viewing at those stunning stones and Islands. They dropped us at Cat Ba National Park, and walked around Viet Hai Dock area and visited a local farmer village. Then the tour guide drove us to Cat Ba tourist area along the coast and left us at the Hotel. We explored ourselves the Cat Ba area including the beach, school, and community.
A bridge between two centuries,
Started 1898 finished 1902
The bridge is 1680 m.long.
Walking on the bridge on a sunday is quite a great experience, we observe daily life.
On the other side , you cross the RED RIVER.
The train to LÀO CAI crosses the bridge .
See twenty plus planes and helicopters in an outdoor exhibit. The local students treat it as a "hands on exhibition" and they are fun to watch climing all over the planes.
The museum is open 8.00 - 11.00 am and 1 - 4 pm (and to 6.30 pm on weekends). CLOSED on Fridays.
If you go out the gate and turn left twice you will hit Quan Bia Hai Xom, a very large (outdoor & indoor) bia hoi restaurant with excellent food. It is at the end of the large street; the address is 86B Le Trong Tan.
There are many good trips outside Hanoi, ranging from one day to a few days. These can be easily organised by the many tour operations in Hanoi, especially in the Old Quarter area. Walk around and compare prices, the company which I joined was ODC Travels (recommended by several VT members) which I found to be good and of reasonable price, Their website is below for your reference.
Trips that are worth considering are:
Ha Long Bay - The scenery here is very beautiful and one of the most famous in Asia. This is also an UNESCO world heritage site. Best is to spend at least 2-3 days here. More information and photos are at my VT Ha Long page.
Sapa - Sapa is a very picturesque town located in the mountains of northern vietnam close to china. You need to take a night train to reach Sapa. It is a very popular tourist attraction in Vietnam and you need to spend at least 2-3 days here to enjoy. More information and photos are at my VT Sa Pa page.
Perfume Pagoda - This famous pagoda can be reached via a day trip from Hanoi. It involves going through a picturesque river before doing quite a tough climb up to the pagoda.
Tam Coc - This place is known as "Halong Bay of the Land", consisting of many beautiful limestone hills, rivers, caves etc. It can be done via a day trip from Hanoi.
Village visit - There are also day tours for you to visit various villages near to Hanoi to experience the life of the local people, handicrafts etc.
Hashing in Hanoi is a unique experience. Every Saturday afternoon you climb aboard the Hash culture bus outside the infamous Spotted Cow Pub and in forty-five or so bone-shaking minutes you have left the turmoil of Hanoi for the tranquility of the rice fields, where water buffalo quietly go about their daily chores, donkey carts carry firewood and ladies in conical hats irrigate their paddies. Kukini Nui will be going to this hash in September 2006 prior to the 2006 InterHash in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
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