Hanoi is a big attraction for me. The city breathes Asia with a French twist, so unique buildings, sculptures, and even basic houses are constantly shocking you. Yet it is possible to identify a number of important sights in Hanoi. I told you earlier what fun things you shouldn’t skip and now I’m showing you what sights I really enjoyed. During a visit to this beautiful city, you can not miss this.
Hoan Kiem Lake
I’m a big Hoan Kiem Lake fan. There is not much more to do here, in truth, than to walk along the water and visit the temple in the middle of the lake. That’s so much fun for me: you get a taste of the Vietnamese people’s normal daily life here. Friends are sitting on a bench, street vendors are trying to sell you their sausages and sometimes the fishermen get a fish out of the water. It is definitely worth a visit to the temple. The entrance costs practically nothing (15 cents converted) and while it can be crazy, it’s nice to look around here.
Throughout their stay in Hanoi, the vast majority of visitors sleep in the Old City, and this is not without reason. As the name suggests, the Old Quarter is the old part of Hanoi where Vietnamese street life meets French architecture. In every lane, a different product is sold. We slept at the Hanoi Symphony Hotel, for instance, and it was at the corner of a road which sold only paint. They just sold sunglasses a little further on, and a road further you find shops full of air conditioners. It’s fun to wander around in the Old Quarter, have something to eat and enjoy the street life of Vietnam.
Hao Li prison
To fragile beings, this is not an attraction. The Hao Li prison was once designed by the French to be used to imprison the rival, or the Vietnamese, during the invasion. The Vietnamese used the jail itself after the French left to lock up American soldiers during the Vietnam War (then it was renamed Hanoi Hilton sarcastic). Now it’s a museum where the first period’s horror stories are told. What torture the inmates had to endure and under what terrible conditions they were held in a cage as animals are stated quite clearly. Impressive, but a must-visit in my opinion. You will thus know a little better what this country and its people have undergone.
Museum of Ethnology
I was most impressed by the Ethnology Museum during our trip to Hanoi. This trip was not scheduled, but they suggested going here during our morning with Hanoi Children. I’m very happy that we’ve been with 2 Vietnamese girls because they’ve been able to tell us everything and tell us extra stories about it all. This museum is beautiful without a guide, but I think you’re missing an essential part. I would therefore strongly recommend that you walk through this with a guide at all times. This way you know as much as you can about Vietnam’s 54 minorities.
The presidential palace and home of Ho Chi Minh
We didn’t include Ho Chi Minh’s presidential palace and house in our plans, so we didn’t even know what it was when we passed it. We were curious to pay for the entrance and then we were treated to a beautiful garden with a magnificent palace that was obviously designed by the French. It contrasts sharply with the palace in terms of size: it was enough for him to have a small one-story house without excessive luxury. These grounds are perfectly peaceful and just strolling around here is really relaxing.
Chua Tran Quoc
This Buddhist temple is a stunning walking spot along the West Lake. It’s not huge, and little can be done, but it’s good to see. Please note that at lunchtime it is closed so check in advance when the temple is open. Therefore, with long pants and covered shoulders, you can only go inside.