Hanoi is probably my favourite city in Vietnam, out of all the places I visited here and the last one I would be visiting. This city has a lot to offer. From the beautiful lakes, to the Interesting streets of the old quarter. It also boasts several interesting touristic sites, that will help you learn more about the culture and history, here in Vietnam. As well as this you have access to the beautiful Halong bay, with the many tour operators offering tours from Hanoi. You can read more about this in my previous blog here
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
The Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum is rather a strange experience. If you choose to go in, you will not be able to take any camera or video equipment inside, as filming of any kind is not allowed. They will store your belongings for free and they will be returned to you at the end.
Being guided to the entrance of the Mausoleum in a rather organized fashion. We formed a line, of two pairs and followed our way around to the entrance.Standing at the entrance, were two armed Vietnamese soldiers, guarding the entrance of the Mausoleum. Once inside, we made our way round to the main room. Stepping inside, I felt a sudden temperature drop. I guess this is for the preservation purposes. Then there lying inside a glass box in the middle of the room, was no other than Mr Ho Chi Minh himself. I’ve never experienced something like this before and it’s an Image I will never forget. Walking around the outside of the room, people stopped briefly to pay their respects. But not for longer than 5 seconds, or they were ordered to move on, by the guards. As we left I tried to take in what I had just saw. Ho Chi Minh, is the father of the Vietnamese people. So it’s no surprise, that they built such a place for him.
While this was a slightly odd experience. I think it is worth going to see for yourself. Ho Chi Minh is a large piece of Vietnamese history and for me it was pretty cool to see him. I was also very Impressed with how well they have preserved his body over time.
Opening hours are Tuesday to Thursday & weekends from 8am to 11am
One Pillar Pagoda
The one pillar pagoda built by Emperor Ly Thai Tong, who ruled from 1028 to 1054, is said to represent a lotus flower growing up out of the water. The original pagoda was actucally destroyed by the French before they left and then re built by the new government. This pagoda not only draws tourists here, but also many local people. As I was walking around and admiring the rather Interesting structure. I noticed how many people were coming here to pray and share offerings, while waiting behind queues of tourists taking pictures. But as you can see from the picture, its a beautiful little structure and it makes for some really nice pictures. I didn’t go up the stairs inside itself, as I was not keen on queuing behind lots of tourists.
Open daily from 08:00-17:00. Entrance is free.
Ho Chi Minh Museum
The Ho Chi Minh Museum hosts an interesting mix of Vietnamese history and culture, inside a very Impressive modern building. When you first walk into the Museum, you are greeted with a host of Historical photographs and newspaper articles about Ho Chi Minh himself. This floor is pretty much dedicated to Vietnams historical figure. There is a lot of interesting information to read about here, specially if you are a bit of a history Buff. I found it nice to walk around looking through all the old photographs, imagining what it must have been like in those times.
Making my way upstairs, there stood a huge bronze statue of Ho Chi Minh. The structure itself is very Impressive and again it shows just how Important this man is, to the people of Vietnam. After admiring the statue, I moved into the next room, to discover the next floor of the museum. Now this room is a completely different contrast to the first floor. I guess the first floor feels more like a standard museum, this floor feels a lot more modern, with so many beautiful displays.
The museum contains many interesting displays that you would probably not expect to find in a Vietnamese museum. Walking around some of these displays, made me forget I was in a museum. Making it feel more like some kind of art museum.Specially with the modern displays ,about the French Revolution and US capitalism.
The museum is incredibly diverse and unique and should not be skipped, when visiting the Ho Chi Minh complex. I honestly did not expect to see such incredible displays in this museum. You can see how much effort and detail they have made, into making this place. Even if you are not interested in reading about the history. Coming here just to see the Impressive structures and displays will just be enough. With the entrance fee being only 10,000 VND, you really can’t complain.
Opening Hours: 8am to 11am & 1.30pm to 4pm. and is closed on Monday & Friday.
The Temple of Literature
This is a truly beautiful tranquil place to walk around away from the hectic streets of Hanoi. The temple of literature dedicated to Confucius (Khong Tu) , is the site of Vietnams first university and honors Vietnam’s finest scholars. The garden is made up of 5 courtyards and around the outside of the courtyards, there are rows of stelae’s (Which are like tombstones). These were placed to record the achievement’s of the various scholars that studied here. At the very back includes Confucius’s own alter, which is still actively used for worship. As I was walking around there, I saw many locals come in here, to do just that.
Although I didn’t know to much about the temple, I really enjoyed walking around all the different courtyards here. You can hire a guide here, who will explain a bit more about the history of the place. But I highly recommend coming here, it’s a really beautiful place to walk around and with the entrance fee being only 20,000 VND.
Opening Hours: Daily from 8am to 5pm
Trấn Quốc Pagoda
Trấn Quốc Pagoda, located in West Lake, Is one of my favourite places to go to in Hanoi. Out of the way, of the rest of the attractions, this place is really peaceful. The Trấn Quốc Pagoda, being the oldest Pagoda in Hanoi, is considered a cultural symbol of Vietnamese Buddhism. So if you are going to visit any pagoda in Hanoi, it should really be this one. After visiting the pagoda, I also highly recommend taking a walk around the west lake after visiting the pagoda. It’s really nice to sit here and relax for a while.
Admission to the Pagoda is free, but you need to be dressed suitably. No tank tops or shorts. Mon – Sat: 11 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. – 6 p.m. Sun and holidays: 7 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Hoa Lo Prison ( Hanoi Hilton)
The Hoa Lo Prison is another great place to learn about Vietnamese history. Built by the French colonists for political prisoners and later on by the North Vietnamese, for U.S soldiers during the Vietnam war. It is quite a dark place to visit. The prison still has some of the original cells inside the prison. As well as a dark reenactment of prisoners shackled together in stocks. Although there is a slightly brighter side to the visit. In the upstairs are two rooms, dedicated to the period of the imprisonment, of the US soldiers. It shows photos of the soldiers playing sports and relaxing inside They also have john McCain’s original flight suit and parachute on display, which was really cool to see.
I found this place really interesting. I learnt a lot of new things, I never knew about the political prisoners during the French colonization. So if you are here to learn more about the history of the country, I highly suggest this place.
Open daily 8am – 5am and entrance fee is 30,000VND
Go explore Hanoi
Hanoi offers a great selection of things to do here. Specially if you are into learning more about the history and culture in Vietnam. These are just some of what Hanoi has to offer and what I personally had time to see myself. If you want to learn about, how to make the most of Hanoi on foot, check out my previous blog here
Let me know in the comments, if you have visited any of these places, or if you have your own tips about things to do in Hanoi. Let’s share the knowledge. Keep exploring.