Hanoi offers so many different sights and sounds. Remains of French colonization is evident in their architecture but given a more authentic flavor by incorporating Vietnamese aesthetics. Hanoi is a perfect blend of East-meets-West allowing tourists to go home with unique memories.
The Old Quarter is the hub of most tourist attractions. Just a few minutes walk or cab ride and you will reach famous landmarks. Also, one need not worry about spending too much money for entrance fees as most of these are free. Or if not, it is very affordable.
Here are some of the places we visited:
- Temple of Literature - for fans of Confucius and Confucianism, this is a highly recommended place to visit. There is an entrance fee of 20,000 Dong (which is about $0.95) - pretty affordable, I should say. This is also where I managed to see a legit monk for the first time in my life. Yup! I'm not sure if I have seen one before so I am taking this as a first. The place overall is just mesmerizing. With the architecture and landscape of the area, this should definitely be included in the itinerary of anyone visiting Hanoi. Be warned though that the Temple is packed with
- Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum - entrance is for free - or should I say, visit is for free. Visitors are not allowed to enter the mausoleum itself. It is highly guarded and protected. But taking pictures outside is okay. There is also a museum nearby where you can find out more about the iconic Ho Chi Minh and his contribution to the country. If you're lucky, you will also be able to witness the changing of guard ceremony.
- One Pillar Pagoda - unfortunately, this was under renovation when we went there. But, we were able to manage to see the exterior - or what remains of it.
- Hoan Kiem Lake - this famous lake is just 5 minutes away from our hotel so we decided to visit a few hours before our flight. The view of the Bridge of the Rising Sun at night is also captivating. Lucky for us we decided to visit in the evening (we were on a red eye flight). But we didn't manage to see the Turtle Tower because it was already dark and we were tired from all the shopping we did so we opted to just relax by the lake and take in the beauty of the bridge and how its lights illuminate the lake at night. If you want to know more about this lake, click here.
- Water Puppet Theater - this I am deeply saddened I wasn't able to go in. We didn't know we had to buy tickets in the morning for the evening show as they sell like hotcakes. They run out of tickets really fast so we should have bought our tickets first thing in the morning. This is one of the reasons why I really wanted to go to Hanoi. I have seen so many documentaries about this before and there is just something about puppets that draws me in. Plus the fact that they move on water makes the experience even more magical. Thus is also one of the reasons why I really, really want to go back to Hanoi. Next time, I'll be sure to buy my ticket early. To learn more about this, click here.
So with this, I end my posts about Vietnam. And I can't wait to go on my next adventure. January 2015, please come faster! :)
Have a lovely week ahead!