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Settled since prehistoric times, Hanoi has been an important city throughout Vietnamese history, serving as the capital of a number of Vietnamese dynasties. Following the end of the Vietnam War, Hanoi became the capital of the country.
Today, Hanoi provides a rich blend of new and old Vietnam, from the thousands of young workers on scooters streaking down the wide Parisian-style boulevards, to the chic fusion restaurants housed in former colonial buildings. Even as the city buzzes with heavy development and modernization, it retains its idyllic charm. Enjoy Hanoi's tranquil parks and lakes, peruse galleries filled with emerging Vietnamese artists and fashion designers, and sample the city's amazing cuisine and bustling street life.
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Explore the bustling streets of Hanoi’s Old Quarter, with its small shops and charming cafés. You will notice that some of the alleyways are named for the guilds that established themselves in this area as far back as the 13th century. For example, Pho Hang Gai translates to “Silk Street,” and silk products are still sold here, although that is not the case on every street.
In addition to locally made handicrafts, you will also find all manner of goods – herbal medicines, plumbing supplies, wooden carvings and boxes, textiles, rice paper notebooks, greeting cards, and more. If you wish, explore the Old Quarter by traditional rickshaw.
Hoa Lo Prison
One of the most notorious sites from the Vietnam War is the Hoa Lo Prison, better known by its ironic nickname of "Hanoi Hilton." It was built by the French in the late 19th century to house Vietnamese political prisoners – those opposed to colonization – and called Maison Centrale. Its Vietnamese name is derived from the street it is located on, and is far less sarcastic; it literally means stove but can be translated as “fiery furnace.”
Temple of Literature
Visit the serene Temple of Literature, built in the 11th-century to honor academics. The Temple grounds also housed Vietnam’s first university, in operation there until the 19th century, and include Hanoi’s best-preserved buildings and immaculate gardens.
Tran Quoc Pagoda
With an expert guide, visit the stunning Buddhist Tran Quoc Pagoda, perhaps the oldest pagoda in the country. Purportedly founded 1,400 years ago by King Ly Nam De, the building was originally named “Khai Quoc,” which translates to "Establishing the Nation."
Thang Long Water Puppet Theater
Visit Thang Long Water Puppet Theater, which, if you can forgive the canned music, is a good opportunity to see this traditional Vietnamese art form. Various puppets, be they dragons, dogs, or people, are brought to life with grace and precision on the surface of the water in this 20-minute show.
Hanoi Opera House
Peek behind the scenes at the Opera House, a smaller scale version of Palais Garnier in Paris and a remarkable example of French colonial architecture. Depending on the opera’s schedule, you will have a chance to chat with performers during breaks in rehearsal for an upcoming show.
Museum of Ethnology
Hanoi’s Museum of Ethnology offers a comprehensive overview of the country’s 54 ethnic minorities through its colorful, interactive displays. Examine the similarities and differences in tradition, clothing, language, and other markers of cultural identity among these diverse groups of people. Meet with a senior curator for deeper insights on the exhibits.
Stop in the Hanoi Sports Department to learn how to play sepak takraw, which combines elements of volleyball, gymnastics, martial arts, and soccer. The sport is called da cau in Vietnam, but is known internationally as sepak takraw, from the Malay word sepak for “kick” and the Thai word takraw for “woven ball.”
Hoan Kiem Lake
Go for an early morning bicycling or walking tour of Hoan Kiem Lake (which means “Lake of the Returned Sword”), a tranquil and scenic spot where locals come to relax and socialize. The surrounding park is a popular spot to practice the ancient, meditative art of tai chi.
Experience the best of Vietnam on this 12-day luxury journey that traces the country’s stunning coastline to its most popular destinations. You’ll take a walking tour of Hanoi’s Old Quarter, cruise the UNESCO-listed limestone karsts of Halong Bay aboard a private junk, and see the famous Cu Chi tunnels in Saigon.
Delve into the taste sensations of fresh Vietnamese cuisine on this sensually-stimulating 14-day trip. You’ll learn cooking secrets from a top chef, dine on freshly-caught seafood in Mui Ne, sample local favorites from fresh markets, and dine at some of Saigon’s top restaurants, while staying in Vietnam’s best hotels.
Experience Indochina in style and comfort, aboard a luxury private jet. Starting off in Bangkok, you’ll take in some of the city’s most ancient temples, before taking off for the ever-charming Lao city, Luang Prabang. From here, you’ll head to Vietnam, where you’ll take in some of the country’s most...
Lap up the best of Vietnam and Cambodia on this 15-day luxury tour, taking you from Hanoi to Siem Reap. You’ll be mesmerized by Halong Bay’s limestone karsts, exchange cultural insights in the Black Tai villages, and step into the ancient Khmer Kingdom at Angkor Wat, while staying in some of the region’s best hotels.
Travel into the lush Vietnamese countryside and discover hilltribes with fascinating customs and traditions on this 6-day luxury trip. You’ll travel from Hanoi, where you’ll tour the city’s age-old landmarks, to high in the Sapa hills, where you’ll make friends with locals and learn about their unique way of life.
A glorious loop of discovery and adventure, taking in the sights, sounds, tastes and cultures of northern Vietnam. From the city bustle, through beautiful national parkland and up into the green highlands and back again, this is an unforgettable journey into rarely explored territory.
Get off the beaten tourist-trail with an unforgettable journey from colonial Hanoi, along the brand new highway to the beautiful northern regions of Lao Cai and Sapa. Marvel at the scenery and get immersed in local life in the villages nestled into the hills.
Explore Vietnam’s northernmost province and experience the true local culture. Home to endless rocky plateaus and romantically-named mountains dotted with tiny villages, Ha Giang is a less-traveled land of beauty and adventure.
Take an incredible 19-day luxury journey through Vietnam and Cambodia, seeing local life in villages to big cities as you stop in Hanoi, Halong Bay, Sapa, Yuanyang, Lijiang, and Kunming. You’ll ride a traditional Vietnamese junk, make friends in a Black Hmong village, and wander through the Stone Forest.
Experience the best that Northern Vietnam has to offer on this exciting 7-day luxury journey. You’ll visit museums and temples in Hanoi, cruise the karsts of Halong Bay on a private junk, take a roadtrip through Ninh Binh, and explore Vietnam’s first national park, while staying at luxury hotels along the way.
Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi
This richly historic 364-room French colonial masterpiece built in 1901 is one of Vietnam's finest hotels, with luxuriously appointed rooms, attentive staff and gracious service. It is ideally located in central Hanoi and houses a beautiful interior garden. Excellent French cuisine is served at Le Beaulieu, and Hanoi specialties are offered at Spices Garden. The hotel has a well-equipped fitness center with cardio machines and weights, as well as a swimming pool and spa offering massage treatments. All of the guest rooms have broadband Internet access and are decorated in an opulent, neo-classical style.
Victoria Express Train
Reminiscent of romantic eras gone by, the Victoria Express Train brings history and passion to life, featuring a luxurious sleeping carriage alongside the intricate dining carriage on an exciting overnight journey. Guests travel between Hanoi and Lao Cai and enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime experience through Northern Vietnam. From the moment they board the train, guests are transported back in time: their evening begins with a four-course meal in the dining carriage, Le Tonkin, where they can sample both Western and Vietnam cuisine and wines from around the world. After dinner, they may retire to their sleeping cabin, each wood-paneled and equipped with air conditioning and reading lights, where they are lulled to sleep by the sound of the train - and wake up refreshed, ready to take on a new city.