Sorry for the delay. We are experienceing power failures at the moment.
Before leaving for Hanoi we spend a little time at the beautiful Hai Van Pass. It is a beautiful drive and at the pass itself there are structures of strategic importance that was left by the Cham people, then the French, and then by the Americans. Prepare to be told how beautiful or handsome you are. The gals with the shops in the pass are real salespeople. You can find a lot more information on the Hai Van pass here.
It is a long way to Hanoi, so we elect to go by air. I have heard there is a nice stretch to see by train, but the time saved by flying fits our schedule. An interesting thing though…. Flying and taking the train is about the same cost. The extra baggage chare was not too big, and sometimes they just let it go, so that worked well also. An hour and a half and we are in Hanoi.
The main Hanoi sights seem less important in this old French colonial capital than absorbing the atmosphere of a city on the move.
The main attractions are found around the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum complex which lies some 3km away from the Old Quarter where you’ll probably be staying.
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
This cold, grey block of marble is Ho Chi Minh’s final resting place where, in spite of his wishes to be cremated, his body lies in state similar Lenin, Stalin and Mao, other great communist leaders before him.
Presidential Palace & Ho Chi Minh’s Stilt House
Take the path that leads behind the mausoleum and enter grounds where you’ll come to the large, yellow Presidential Palace which was the former home of the Governor General of Indochina.
Next you’ll come to a pond stocked with carp before arriving at the stilt house which was reputedly the home and workplace of Ho Chi Minh from 1958 until his death in 1969.
One Pillar Pagoda
Still within the complex continue beyond the gift shop and you’ll come to Hanoi’s One Pillar Pagoda which dates back to the 11th century.
Fine Arts Museum
The evolution of Vietnamese art is shown on the three floors of this former French Ministry of Information building.
Temple of Literature
Directly across the road from the Fine Arts Museum is the back wall of the Temple of Literature which is a haven of peace away from the incessant traffic and attention of cyclo riders. It is architecturally interesting and was the site of Vietnam’s first university.
Hoan Kiem Lake dominates the centre of the capital. A stroll around the water edge is a welcome break from the chaotic and claustrophobic streets of the Old Quarter. Cross the wooden at the northern end of the lake which takes you to the Ngoc Son Temple.
The art form of water puppetry dates back over 1000 years when it was started by rice farmers in North Vietnam. The Hanoi Water Puppet Theatre has performed their art worldwide. Well worth an hour of your time.
Thanks to The Vietnam travel guide for some of the material. After finishing up our city tour, we are off to book a tour through one of the many tour companies that can be found in the old quarter of Hanoi. It is a difficult choice because of how many there are but a little research on the company names in the hotel lobby computer helps make the decision easier.