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Hanoi

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.

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.

EXPERIENCES

EXPERIENCES

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.

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.”

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.

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.

Old Quarter

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.

Sepak Takraw

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.”

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.

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.

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."

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TRAVELOGUES

TRAVELOGUES

Bai Tu Long: The Halong Bay Less Traveled

Bai Tu Long: The Halong Bay Less Traveled

Author : Duncan Forgan
Travel writer Duncan Forgan travels to Halong Bay for a little peace in the notoriously crowded destination, heading for Bai Tu Long on a private boating experience.
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Best Hotel Pools in Vietnam for the Luxury Traveler

Best Hotel Pools in Vietnam for the Luxury Traveler

Author : Jim Sullivan
Underwater sound systems, light shows, and private dips – these luxury hotel pools in Vietnam will whet your appetite for some poolside drinks and high-jinks.
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Why Sapa and Lao Cai Will Transform your Vietnam Experience

Why Sapa and Lao Cai Will Transform your Vietnam Experience

Author : Travelogues
Whether it's getting from Hanoi to the north in style or trekking with tribes, Sapa and Lao Cai give travelers unique opportunities to experience an authentic Vietnam.
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Bunkers, Bays, and Baths: Vietnam for the Gentleman and the Rogue

Bunkers, Bays, and Baths: Vietnam for the Gentleman and the Rogue

Author : Jim Sullivan
For the mature gentleman looking to put a macho spin on the Vietnam experience, these hotel charms engage both nostalgia and decadence.
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The 5 Most Intriguing Colonial French Buildings in Hue

The 5 Most Intriguing Colonial French Buildings in Hue

Author : Jim Sullivan
From bridges by Gustav Eiffel and modern luxury spas to the school house of Ho Chi Minh, modern Hue is peppered with architectural history along the Perfume River.
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The Lens Leads: Photography Expeditions in Vietnam

The Lens Leads: Photography Expeditions in Vietnam

Author : Tyler Roney
Travelers want to photograph unique, specialist views of Southeast Asia as they explore, taste, and savor the charms of rural Vietnam. To get the very best out of their lens, they're going to need an expert.
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