Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam is an eclectic mix of East and West and under modernization. One of the charming attractions in the city is that people will talk to tourists and ask questions about where they come from as they are genuinely interested. Take some time to talk with the locals. The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is a key attraction along with the Ho Chi Minh Museum depicting the leader’s life. For military history the Air Force Museum and National Army Museum depict the might of the forces in Vietnam.
Watch or participate in Tai Chi in the Hoam Kiem Lake Park or the Ly Thai Lo Statue and Park, and visit the Temple of Literature and the Ngoc Son Temple. Memorials to the Vietnam War include the Memorial to the Downed Aircraft and the Hoa Loa (Hanoi Hilton) Prison.
Visit the Puppet Theatre for some culture and learn to cook Vietnamese food at one of the cookery classes in Hanoi. Visit the general market at Dong Xuan Market with a variety of goods on sale or Hang Da Market. Near Hanoi visit the pottery village of Bat Trang or the Perfume Temple, and perhaps Cao Bang with the beautiful Ban Gioc Waterfall.
Hoan Kiem Lake
The lake is in the heart of the city providing an oasis of calm away from the traffic buzzing around it. In the centre of the lake is the Tortoise Pagoda is located, and at its northern end the Ngoc Son Pagoda can be approached by an attractive carved bridge. It's worth making an early start to see the locals taking part in tai chi, flag dances and even ballroom dancing around the lake at dawn, and it's a popular spot to walk around the shores of the lake shaded by willow trees.
The Old Quarter is a maze of narrow, tree-lined streets with shops and stalls selling everything from ironwork to coffins, and fruit and vegetables to textiles and crafts. There are 36 streets in the Old Quarter representing the guilds that were established here from the 13 th century onwards, and streets such as Hang Bac were known for silverwork, Hang Bo for basket-making and Hang Vai for cloth. Each guild also had its own temple - many of which can still be seen today set back from the busy streets.
This Quarter was developed under French colonial rule at the turn of the 20 century and is heavily influenced by French architecture. It has wide tree-lined boulevards and many colonial mansions that wouldn't look out of place in a provincial French town. Many of these fine building are now used as embassy offices or to house Hanoi 's museum collections. Other buildings include opulent Metropole Hotel opened in 1901, and the Hanoi Opera House - built in 1911 and inspired by the Paris Opera House.
West Lake to the north of the city is less well known by tourists and is popular with local city dwellers. The area has several small temples and a string of restaurants, cafes and karaoke bars on the Ho Tay Peninsula. If you're leaving the town early in the morning you may come across the women bringing bunches of lotus flowers on their bicycles to the nearby flower market.
Hoan Kiem District
At the heart of the city is Hoan Kiem Lake, the Old Quarter to the north of the lake, the French Quarter to the south of the lake, St Josephs Cathedral and museums.
Ba Dinh District
Ba Dinh Square to the north-west of the city centre is where Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Museum and House are located. The Army Museum and Fine Arts Museum are also in this district, along with the One Pillar Pagoda, Botanical Gardens and Zoo.
Hai Ba Trung District
Lenin Park , one of the largest parks can be found here, plus ancient temples and pagodas
Dong Da District
The Temple of Literature - one of the highlights of Hanoi is located here.
Tay Ho District
West Lake and Truc Bach Lake with ancient pagodas on their shores.
Cau Giay District
The modern Museum of Ethnology is located here to the west of the city centre.