Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital, is located in the central of northern Vietnam. The famous Red River runs through the city, which gave it the name “Hanoi” - meaning the city inside the river. With the population of over 8 million people, Hanoi is the second largest city of Vietnam, next to Saigon.
The city is well-known for its thousands year of history, colonial buildings, and friendly inhabitants, as well as delicious foods. Famous colonial buildings include Hanoi Opera House, Presidential Palace, and the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hotel.
You can start your Hanoi city tour with an exploration at the Presidential Palace and the historic Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, an imposing monument - lavishly built using marble and granite to preserve the body of President Ho Chi Minh. At the same spot, you will visit One Pillar Pagoda, which is said to be the most iconic Buddhist pagoda in Vietnam. The pagoda was built on one pillar and shaped like a lotus flower dedicating to Goddess of Mercy.
Continue onto the Temple of Literature, which is also known as the first university of Vietnam. The temple was founded in 1070 by Emperor Ly Thanh Tong to honor Confucius and scholars. The site is now an island of tranquility in a busy city.
You may not want to miss out the famous Hoa Lo Prison, which was sarcastically known to American prisoners of war as “Hanoi Hilton”. The colonial French built the prison in 1896 to house Vietnamese political prisoners, then used by North Vietnam government to keep the POWs from 1964 to 1973.
After lunch at a local authentic Vietnamese restaurant, visit the oldest pagoda in Hanoi - Tran Quoc pagoda, which was built in 544 on an island in the west lake. The island offers a great view to the Ho Tay, Hanoi’s largest lake. Then you would love to enjoy an hour rickshaw tour around the old quarter, where shops, restaurants, café, street vendors, motorbikes, cars are on both sides of every street.
It’s ideal to end your day with an ice-cream in the famous Trang Tien’s ice-cream factory, or an egg coffee at one of the oldest coffee shop in Hanoi before heading back to your hotel.
- The mausoleum (where the body is kept) is closed on Monday and Friday, in September and October for preservation.
- Rules regarding dress and behavior are strictly enforced by guards, long shirt/blouse is required (long enough to cover shoulders, legs), no shorts or miniskirts are allowed. Visitors must be silent, and walk in two lines. Hands must not be in pockets, nor arms crossed. Smoking, photography, and videotaping are not permitted anywhere inside the mausoleum.