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Hanoi, Vietnam: 1000 Years of Heritage

Updated on April 27, 2013

A City of Lakes

Hanoi is well known for its many lakes. One of the most well known would be Hoan Kiem Lake which seems to be the centre of the city. On my first day there, I took my time walking around the lake, venturing off once in a while when something caught my eye. If you walk slowly, it would probably take about 30 minutes. 

Many locals were relaxing on the benches there, enjoying the cool breeze in November and some were reading books. Definitely fits my definition of a holiday!

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in Hanoi

One of the most visited places in Hanoi.
One of the most visited places in Hanoi.

Farther away from Hoan Kiem Lake

Venture away from the Hoan Kiem Lake, and you will find yourself in the French Quarter. If you are interested, visit the St Joseph Cathedral, the Opera House and the majestic Sofitel Hotel. Similar to the French Quarter area in Ho Chi Minh City, the top brands are also invading this area.

Even farther away and closer to Ho Tay (another huge lake) is what I call the Embassy area. I found Malaysia's embassy here when I was on my way to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. Just next to it, is the Presidential Palace. Behind the Mausoleum is a botanical garden. Entrance is cheap at only 2,000 dong. I spotted at least 4 couples shooting their wedding photos there!

Also within this area is the Ho Chi Minh Museum, the One Pillar Pagoda and the Temple of Literature. Entrance fees are low and for the pagoda it is free.

Hanoi's 1000 Years of Heritage

A monument near Hoan Kiem Lake celebrating Hanoi's 1000 years.
A monument near Hoan Kiem Lake celebrating Hanoi's 1000 years.

District 1 in Hanoi

District 1 in Hanoi consists of the Old Quarter. There are many many lanes here and due to its heritage, the shops are all narrow. The lanes are also named according to what they sell. Hence, you will find rows of shoes in one direction, in another direction the shops could be selling jewellery. On a side note, the streets in the Old Quarter were also featured in the Running Man episode 134, the Asia Race (shown on TV in early 2013).

In the same area, you will also find the Dong Xuan Market. It is an indoor market of 3 floors. Personally I did not feel that it was that interesting. Venture around the Old Quarter instead to get unique purchases.

Catch the Water Puppet Show at Hanoi

The finale of the water puppet show in Hanoi.
The finale of the water puppet show in Hanoi.

Not to be missed: Water Puppet Show

On my first day in Hanoi, I wanted to catch the water puppet show at the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre located conveniently facing the lake. However, I had to leave disappointed as all tickets were sold out. Fortunately, we managed to obtain tickets for the day after. Do note that although the lady at the counter may tell you that all tickets are sold out for tomorrow and the day after, take it with a pinch of salt. Come back and try again as some tour guides may have cancelled at the last minute and so on. That happened to us!

The show itself is about 45 minutes and consisted of 11 separate segments. You will get to enjoy not only the water puppet show but traditional Vietnamese music. As the songs and the script are in Vietnamese, grab a brochure outside the theatre. It has a short introduction and the titles of the segments.

A Day Trip to Halong Bay: UNESCO World Heritage Site

Inside Thien Cung Grotto at Halong Bay
Inside Thien Cung Grotto at Halong Bay

Day trip to Halong Bay

If you should visit Cuchi if you are in Ho Chi Minh City, then for Hanoi, you should grab the chance to explore Halong Bay. It takes more than 3 hours to reach the place, however, once I was there I felt it was worth it all. There are lots of islands there and the beauty of the place justifies its recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

At Halong Bay, you can explore the many caves. You can also purchase seafood on the spot and get the chefs to prepare it for you. If you are more adventurous, try kayaking too! Some people also choose to stay on a boat overnight. As I took a day trip instead, I cannot comment on how the experience is.

Water Puppet Show in Hanoi


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    • lilian_sg profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Singapore

      I think 5 days 4 nights would be great...I was there for 4 days but left real early on the 4th day so it's more like 3 full days....with 5 days you can probably head further out of Hanoi =)

    • Ingenira profile image


      8 years ago

      I have wanted to visited Hanoi for a long time. Do you think a 5 days 4 nights trip will be too long to see Hanoi at a relax pace ?

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Great tips! I visited the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum- that is a very unique experience

    • lilian_sg profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

    • DjBryle profile image


      8 years ago from Somewhere in the LINES of your MIND, and HOPEFULLY at the RIPPLES of your HEART. =)

      A virtual tour is delightful with you! Thanks for sharing! =)


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