With so many iconic places to visit, a trip to Vietnam can be difficult to plan for. It is a country with deep history and interest; one with such natural beauty that every city and town has a huge amount to offer. However, no trip to Vietnam's is complete without a visit to its capital city, Hanoi.
Located in the centre of Vietnam, Hanoi is an old city of great cultural importance, growing in popularity with tourists every year. It is one of the most captivating and atmospheric cities in South East Asia, with something to entertain and inspire all visitors. The weather is favourable throughout the year, though it is hottest between May and August so it's best avoided then if you're not a fan of humid weather. Flights go directly into Hanoi Airport and it's easily accessible by rail and road, meaning it's the perfect gateway to the rest of your journey around Vietnam.
Explore Hanoi's History
An absolute must-see is the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum – a tribute and museum to the infamous Communist leader and for many, it's an important place of pilgrimage to their former leader. The Mausoleum itself is a remarkable sight and in a similar style to the mausoleums of Lenin and Stalin. Here you'll learn the history of Ho Chi Minh and can view his body on display in a glass case, a memorable experience in itself as you slowly file past the heavily guarded body. There is, however, a strict dress and behaviour code so make yourself aware of these before you visit. It's also worth taking a trip to the Presidential Palace, a stunning example of architecture built by the French colonialists, where Ho Chi Minh refused to stay during his trips to Hanoi. Another place many refused to stay in, though some had no choice, is the infamous Há»a LÃ² Prison aka the ‘Hanoi Hilton’ . It was here that American POWs were brought during the Vietnam War and whilst it has been largely demolished, a section still exists and has been preserved as a museum.
Enjoy Hanoi's Culture
If you want to kick back and relax, Hanoi also offers many opportunities to do so. There's the tranquil and serene walks around the many lakes the city has to offer, exploring pagodas and taking in exquisitely built bridges. If you want to experience something far more modern, it's off to the shops. Hanoi has been named as one of the top 10 places in Asia for shopping and there's much here to delight the shopaholic, though you may have to rein it in to ensure you're still able to carry your luggage! Hanoi also has a thriving nightlife, with many karaoke bars, theatres and cinemas across the city and numerous festivals to experience throughout the year.
Top 5 things to do in Hanoi
1) Visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
2) Take a trip to the Hanoi Hilton
3) Explore Colonial Hanoi
4) Visit an iconic pagoda
5) Go shopping!
This article is brought to you by Natalie Likness. She got her love of travel at an early age due to a trip abroad before she was even born! Having close family and making friends across the world, she has continued to travel ever since.