HANOI, Vietnam — Right after the festive season of Eid, I planned a short 5 day summer gateway to Vietnam, to be specific Hanoi. I wanted to see the very famous Halong Bay for myself as well as wanting to see the best of Vietnam Coffee and eatery in those 5 days. After 2 flights 3 countries and a whole day of travel I landed in Noi Ba International Airport of Hanoi. To this day I thank god that I’ve had arrange airport pick up from my hotel for just USD 18 per direction cos I’ve heard from fellow travelers airport Taxi charged them USD20+. By now I guess most of you will know that I’m a cheapskate when traveling. Hey, let’s be honest, that 2 dollars is a difference between you getting your dinner and you starving the whole night.
Place of Interest I visited in Hanoi includes, Old Quarter , Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum , One Pillar Pagoda, Ho Chi Minh’s Presidential Palace, Maison Centrale (Hoa Lo Prison), Women’s Museum, West Lake, Hoan Kiem Lake, Opera House and Temple of Literature. These are some of the sides that in my personal opinion you should not missed when you are visiting Hanoi.
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
The Ho Chi Minh Residential Complex
The Presidential Palace
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, One Pillar Pagoda, Presidential Palace and Ho Chi Minh’s Museum are apparently in one area. I learn this the hard way, I went out of the mausoleum complex onto visiting the palace and went out to make a big turn to see the One Pillar Pagoda, while getting rain on and fell along the way too. So, Make sure you get a map and asks for direction. I even got lost several times in the complex. For your information, the Mausoleum is only open at certain hours of the day and depending on season. So be sure to check before you go. I know some travelers that missed the morning session and need to wait for the afternoon session for few hours.
One Pillar Pagoda
Ho Chi Minh’s Museum
A little bit of West Lake.
The Temple Of Literature
Panoramic View Of The Temple of Literature
After walking from the Presidential Palace area to West Lake I do not have the energy to walk anymore and decided to take a taxi from West Lake to the Temple of Literature. I spend about 1-2hrs here. For those of you who like history, you will definitely find this place enjoyable and interesting. For those of you who don’t really like history, I would still highly recommend this temple to be visited during your visit to Hanoi.
It has its calm and serene feeling to it, and if you do not have a guide, not to worry, upon your entrance they will give you a leaflet containing the information about the temple itself.
Hilton Hanoi (Hoa Lo Prison)
Walking a few blocks from the previous spot I arrived at the Hoa Lo prison, to my surprised it is newly renovated and very well preserved. I spent a good one hour here. The museum is very well content with information from the first time it was built by the French up to the last time it was use as a prison. The have demolished most of the blocks, but the entrance and few blocks remain there as part of the museum.
Vietnam Women’s Museum
This Museum really lives up to its expectation and deserves the Tripadvisor Excellence award. Being very modern and up to date, if you have the time do visit this Museum. Consisting of 4 levels, explaining the life transformation of the woman in Vietnam and their roles in society and history from time to time. Very nicely organized and the entrance fee is cheap too.
The Opera and Metropole Area
The Metropole Area makes you feel as if you are not in Hanoi, or at least at a different era. I stop by the opera and there’s not much to see there , so I move on to the Victory Museum right next to it, spent about an hour there before going to Sofitel Metropole for their Chocolate buffet during tea time. The price is a little steep but definitely worth the money. I explore Hanoi mostly by foot, and I do get lost MANY times, as the street here looks similar, and it is quite hard to ask for directions due to language barrier. But on the plus side, since I am from Indonesia, I look a little bit like Vietnamese I manage to enter the Mausoleum for free.
This post is the first series out of 3 for my Vietnam trip. On the next post I will write about some amazing coffee shop as well as food stall I visited during my trip.
Hoan Kiem Lake