Updated on November 6th, 2019
Vietnam is the jewel of Southeast Asia, a country thousands of years old. Its official name is “The Socialist Republic of Vietnam“. Vietnam has been invaded and colonized many times throughout history. Americans and Australians will receive little overt animosity in Vietnam despite the Vietnam War. The only political party in Vietnam is the Communist Party.
Vietnam has a 5% return rate on tourists visiting the country – a much lower rate than neighbouring Thailand. There is a sizable Chinese population living in Vietnam. Buddhism is the major religion. Tet is Vietnam’s biggest holiday, kind of like if you rolled Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s all into one.
Tet occurs between late January and March. Fortunately, almost all of Vietnam’s major tourist attractions can be visited by traveling south from the capital, Hanoi, to the largest city, Ho Chi Minh City, (commonly called by its old name, Saigon).
1. Hoa Lo Prison Museum
This thought-provoking site is all that remains of the former Hoa Lo Prison, ironically nicknamed the ‘Hanoi Hilton’ by US prisoners of war (POWs) during the American War. Most exhibits relate to the prison’s use up to the mid-1950s, focusing on the Vietnamese struggle for independence from France. A gruesome relic is the ominous French guillotine, used to behead Vietnamese revolutionaries. There are also displays focusing on the American pilots who were incarcerated at Hoa Lo during the American War.
2. Temple Of Literature
A rare example of well-preserved traditional Vietnamese architecture, the Temple of Literature honours Vietnam’s finest scholars. Founded in 1070 by Emperor Ly Thanh Tong, the attractive complex is dedicated to Confucius (Khong Tu) and was the site of Vietnam’s first university (1076). The altars are popular with students praying for good grades; while the pagodas, ponds and gardens of the five courtyards make picturesque backdrops for student graduation photos. It is depicted on the 100,000d note.
3. Hoan Kiem Lake
Legend claims in the mid-15th century Heaven sent Emperor Ly Thai To a magical sword, which he used to drive the Chinese from Vietnam. After the war a giant golden turtle grabbed the sword and disappeared into the depths of this lake to restore the sword to its divine owners, inspiring the name Ho Hoan Kiem (Lake of the Restored Sword).
The area is best Fridays to Sundays when nearby traffic is banned from 7 pm to midnight and a public-square, funfair vibe takes over. Every morning at around 6 am local residents practise t’ ai chi on the shore.
The ramshackle Thap Rua, on an islet near the southern end, is topped with a red star and is often used as an emblem of Hanoi.
4. Vietnam Museum Of Ethnology
This fabulous collection relating to Vietnam’s ethnic minorities features well-presented tribal art, artefacts and everyday objects gathered from across the nation, and examples of traditional village houses. Displays are well labelled in Vietnamese, French and English. If you’re into anthropology, it’s well worth the approximately 200,000d-each-way taxi fares to the Cau Giay district, about 7km from the city centre, where the museum is located.
Local bus 14 (4000d) departs from P Dinh Tien Hoang on the east side of Hoan Kiem Lake and passes within a couple of blocks (around 600m) of the museum; get off at the Nghia Tan bus stop and head to Ð Nguyen Van Huyen.
5. Hai Ba Trung Temple
Two kilometres south of Hoan Kiem Lake, this temple was founded in 1142. A statue shows the two Trung sisters (from the 1st century AD) kneeling with their arms raised in the air. Some say the statue shows the sisters, who had been proclaimed the queens of the Vietnamese, about to dive into a river. They are said to have drowned themselves rather than surrender in the wake of their defeat at the hands of the Chinese.
6. Bach Ma Temple
In the heart of the Old Quarter, the small Bach Ma Temple is said to be the oldest temple in the city, though much of the current structure dates from the 18th century and a shrine to Confucius was added in 1839. It was originally built by Emperor Ly Thai To in the 11th century to honour a white horse that guided him to this site, where he chose to construct his city walls.
7. National Museum Of Vietnamese History
Built between 1925 and 1932, this architecturally impressive museum was formerly home to the École Française d’Extrême-Orient. Its architect, Ernest Hebrard, was among the first in Vietnam to incorporate a blend of Chinese and French design elements. Exhibit highlights include bronzes from the Dong Son culture (3rd century BC to 3rd century AD), Hindu statuary from the Khmer and Champa kingdoms, jewellery from imperial Vietnam, and displays relating to the French occupation and the Communist Party.
8. Heritage House
One of the Old Quarter’s best-restored properties, this traditional merchants’ house is sparsely but beautifully decorated, with rooms set around two courtyards and filled with fine furniture. Note the high steps between rooms, a traditional design incorporated to stop the flow of bad energy around the property.
There are crafts and trinkets for sale here, including silver jewellery, basketwork and Vietnamese tea sets, and there’s usually a calligrapher or other craftsperson at work too.
9. Vietnamese Women’s Museum
This excellent modern museum showcases the roles of women in Vietnamese society and culture. Labelled in English and French, it’s the memories of the wartime contribution by individual heroic women that are most poignant. If the glut of information sometimes feels repetitive, for visual stimulation there is a stunning collection of propaganda posters, as well as costumes, tribal basketware and fabric motifs from Vietnam’s ethnic minority groups. Check the website for special exhibitions.
10. Ho Chi Minh’s Stilt House
This humble, traditional stilt house where Ho lived intermittently from 1958 to 1969 is set in a well-tended garden adjacent to a carp-filled pond and has been preserved just as Ho left it. The clear views through the open doorways and windows give an insight more fascinating than most museum mementos. It’s now used for official receptions and isn’t open to the public, but visitors may wander the grounds if sticking to the paths.
Top Hotels In Hanoi
1. The Hanoi Club Hotel & Lake Palais Residences
Situated on the banks of Hanoi’s largest lake, the West Lake, The Hanoi Club Hotel & Lake Palais Residences offers the first-class accommodation with uninterrupted panoramic views. The luxurious property provides professional service in a relaxing atmosphere with a long list of facilities which include fitness center, Bonus Club Jackpot and Gaming Center, Panda Kid’s Club and Arena Golf Driving Range, making it a perfect rendezvous spot for either business or casual get-together. Aside from the hotel facilities, in-room amenities are also arranged to ensure you a comfortable stay. For those looking for an upscale establishment with a wealth of activities and kid-friendly, The Hanoi Club Hotel & Lake Palais Residences makes a perfect solution.
2. La Beaute De Hanoi Hotel
Strategically in the heart of Hanoi’s famous shopping Old Quarter, 3 minutes from Hoan Kiem Lake, night market, Dong Xuan Market. Good customer service by hotel staff, wifi strong, near many eateries, easy transportation.
3. Essence Palace Hotel & Spa
Essence Palace hotel & spa is located on a quiet, central venue, just 2 minutes walk away to the Lake of Sword Restored. The famous Gia Ngu restaurant served authentic Vietnamese food while the travel desk can help you with all travel related services from airport transfers, flight ticket, visa on arrival, tours to Halong Bay & Sapa etc. Great location, elegant & luxurious rooms with a Vietnamese touch with excellent service provided by a team of professional staff are the hallmarks of our hotel.
4. Luxury Backpackers Hanoi
The Luxury Backpackers offers 28 rooms of 4 different room-styles to accommodate the needs of any business and leisure travelers: 5 Superior rooms, 15 Deluxe rooms, 5 Family Classic rooms, 3 Mix Dormitory Room with ( Bed in 12-Bed Dormitory Room, Bed in 10-Bed Dormitory Room).
5. Golden Sun Suites Hotel
Located only 150 metres from Hoan Kiem Lake, Golden Sun Suites Hotel offers 24-hour front desk service and free private parking on site. The hotel has modern rooms with free Wi-Fi. Tastefully decorated in earth tones, the rooms of Golden Sun Suites Hotel include a flat-screen TV with cable channels, a minibar and a private bathroom. Daily buffet breakfast is included.
6. Hanoi La Siesta Central Hotel
Hanoi La Siesta Central Hotel & Spa An exclusive boutique hotel with a central address No. 1b Cau Go Street in the heart of Hanoi Experience the cultural art of luxury hospitality La Siesta Central hotel & spa is located on Cau Go Street in the middle of Hanoi’s old quarter. Two sides, two views, two atmospheres. The front overlooks food stalls and city rooftops of this vibrant area, while the back gives sweeping views of neighbouring captivating Hoan Kiem Lake and surrounding treetops.
27 distinguished guestrooms split over five floors are inspired by colonial and period-style elegance. Food connoisseurs can delight in authentic Vietnamese cuisine at Red Bean Restaurant, located on 7th floor. Meanwhile for the mind, body and spirit the entire mezzanine level is devoted to La Siesta Spa’s wellness luxury. The staff and management at La Siesta Central & Spa, part of the Elegance Hospitality Group (EGH), warmly welcome you to enjoy the best of all Hanoi worlds.
7. Hanoi La Siesta Hotel & Spa
peaceful hotel with a homely feel, The La Siesta hotel is the newest member of the Hanoi Elegance hotel Group. Set apart from the rest of our other properties, it embodies pure luxury. Promising a warm welcome and personal service superbly located on old Ma May Street, it is in easy reach of Hanoi’s evocative Hoan Kiem lake and major attractions. The latest gem is both modern in style as well as embodying the hidden charm of Hanoi’s old quarter. The hotel has 50 spacious bedrooms, including Suites and Duplex rooms.
The Suites have modern and comfortable facilities with seating area. And the duplex rooms are particularly good for families and groups of friends. Other facilities include a spa, gym, movie room to help you relax even more during your stay with us. For food lovers experience Vietnam’s authentic cuisine at the Redbean Restaurant on the ground floor.
Additional thoughtful touches include our 24hour customer service, evening turn-down service, free unlimited wireless internet with PC in every room, cable TV and movies on demand, DVD player…Etc, which we hope will make your stay extra special. Come and enjoy traditional Vietnamese hospitality in style and comfort and experience our Hanoi Elegance outstanding customer service at La Siesta Hotel. Hanoi La Siesta Hotel & Spa
8. Hanoi Holiday Diamond Hotel
A boutique hotel that features luxurious rooms and suites, We offer convenience to our guests by providing modern elevators, restaurants, and other great amenities you can expect from a 3-star hotel. A renovation has been done in 2014 by redecorating all the furniture in all of our rooms. The old design was replaced by a very modern and charming style one.
You will live in a fresh and comfortable space with new beds, wardrobes, floor… Arrangement. Offering fantastic value of money, our hotel is located right in Hanoi Old Quarter, approximately about 5 minutes walk from Hoan Kiem Lake and the popular Thang Long Water Puppet Show. Indeed, in close proximity to the excellent attractions, We also offer air conditioned rooms, inside room computer and internet, desk, minibar and a balcony in certain rooms. A convenient place to stay, it is a good choice.
9. Paradise Boutique Hotel
Nestled among historic Hanoi Old quarters and quaint streets, Paradise Boutique hoteL provides the guest with a centrally located yet peaceful urban retreat. Take a 2-minute walk to Hoan Kiem legend lake and Hanoi Water Puppet theatre. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the impressive night market is also a quick walk from the hotel, affording an easy commute for guests in town on business.
Many attractions of Hanoi are within easy reach, as cars and public transportation can carry you to Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Museum of Vietnamese History, Temple of Literature and Thang Long Royal Citadel within 10 minutes. Our staff will be happy to provide you with bikes and electric cars (fee) as well as the maps and information you might need to fully explore Hanoi on your own.
In addition to its 25 stylishly comfortable guests rooms, the Paradise Boutique hotel provides an extensive balcony with terrace in some rooms. Please book early to get these executive rooms at the same price to the others. Enjoy your cup of coffee and private balconies open a wide Old quarter view outdoors.
On the ground floor of the hotel, Restaurant Paradise delights guests with inspiring modern furnishings and tempts appetites with the finest in Vietnam and international cuisine. For a unique cocktail party, Bar Paradise serves delicious spring rolls, sweet potatoes and refreshing drinks in a warm and inviting atmosphere.
10. Hanoi La Selva Hotel
Ha noi La selva hotel is located in the old town , 5 minutes to get to night market , Dong xuaan market .