A visit to Hanoi will provide you with a fascinating blend of East and West. The city provides an amazing variety of busy street life, old Asian arqitecture, communist block building and French Colonial relics. Hanoi truly is a place for the adventurous travelers that like to get amazed by unique attractions.
Temple of Literature
This temple is one of many build for Confucius. It was built in 1070 and its purpose was to honor all scholars. The temple was also build to replicate Confucius’ birthplace, with five courtyards and various other temples. At the temple you will find a series of 100 carved blue stone turtles, which honor the names of all who pass the royal exams. These make the temple a unique place, which is worth a visit for sure.
Hanoi Hilton (Hoa Lo Prison)
The Hoa Lo Prison, also called the Hanoi Hilton; was originally built by the French to house Vietnamese political prisoners. The prison now mainly serves as a museum after two third of the prison was rebuild in order to make way for the Hanoi Towers and has now become one of the most popular tourist attractions in Hanoi. In 1999 when the real Hilton Hotel opened its doors it was strategically called the Hilton Hanoi Opera Hotel in order to avoid being connected with the prison.
Vietnam Museum of Ethnology
Next to the Hoa Lo prison museum there also is the Museum of Ethnology. This museum shows there amazing diversity of ethnic groups living in Vietnam. The country is actually a coagulation of 54 different and officially recognized ethnic groups. This makes Vietnam one of the most diverse ethnic countries in the world. The museum gives you a better understand of the different groups by displaying combinations of art, everyday objects and historic artifacts that each tell the story of the many unique cultures.
Hanoi’s Old Quarter
The quarter is market place with a great mix of the modern new and the old antique. This area in Hanoi also offers a unique mix of French Colonial architecture and ancient temples, and sits along the shore of Hoan Kiem Lake. The quarter is considered to be the center of all attractions in Hanoi. As the quarter was designed around the market, you will find that the streets here are all named for the kind of products that were once sold along its sidewalks, from wood to silver to paper and delicious local food. You can find some great local Vietnamese dishes and travel hotspots around this area as well.
Hoan Kiem Lake
As mentioned in the previous tip the Hoan Kiem Lake offers a lot more then just an amazing view. Known as the lake of the returned (or restored) sword, this lake marks the historical center of ancient Hanoi. Every morning at around 6am local residents practice traditional t’ai chi on the shore. The lake also houses Jade Island, home of the eighteenth century Temple of the Jade Mountain. The island is reachable via the red-painted and picturesque Morning Sunlight Bridge.