You’ve booked an amazing luxury villa in Vietnam’s bustling capital, Hanoi; a buzzing and vibrant 1,000 year-old city where preserved ancient Vietnamese landmarks clash dramatically with modern structures. Motorcycles whizz about effortlessly through French style boulevards lined with cafes and street stalls, beautiful parks and towering skyscrapers. This city is the pearl of North Vietnam, and its booming development means it’s a more exciting destination than ever before.
A great orgy of sights and senses, you could quite easily just wander about from quarter to quarter, sampling the world-class street food, sniffing around the wine bars and local cafes, but there are also a few must-do gems to keep your tourist head nice and busy.
No visit is complete without a visit to Uncle Ho at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, where you can take a peek at his preserved corpse! If you’re not into looking at dead dear leaders, the Leninist architecture is still quite a sight.
Ancient cultural site abound the city, the most dramatic and intriguing of which is the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, now a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Citadel served as Vietnam’s political and economic capital for 13 centuries prior to the expansion of modern Hanoi, while the major ancient cultural centre, also a must-see, is The Temple of Literature. A short stroll from Ba Dinh Square, this complex of beautiful buildings was built in 1070 in honour of Confucius, as a hub of culture and academia.
To soak in the colonial vibe, head to the Old Quarter (Hoan Quiem), dodge the swarms of motorbikes, navigate through the narrow streets and French architecture, and best of all, sample the local street food, where you can dazzle the taste buds for next to nothing.
Escaping the hustle and bustle is easy in Hanoi, whether you head to Hoan Kiem Lake and Ngoc Son Temple for a quick breather, to enjoy the tree-shaded greenery and watch the turtles, or for something more of a quick getaway, retreat to Ba Vi National Park, less than two hours from the city. Famed for its three-peaked mountain, lush tropical rainforest dotted with ancient temples and shrines, winding streams and mysterious clouds, the park really is a slice of paradise. There are luxury resorts here if you want to stay, or if you have the energy, head back into town and try and catch a show at the stunning Hanoi Opera House.