Best places to visit in Hanoi

Best places to visit in Hanoi

1. The Imperial Citadel of Thang Long

The Imperial Citadel of Thang Long is an intriguing relic of Vietnam’s history and, signifying its historical and cultural importance, is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Standing 40 metres high, the central flag tower is the most recognizable feature of the Imperial Citadel and is often used as a symbol of Hanoi. This was the centre of ancient Hanoi and served as the political centre for eight centuries. A notable attraction in the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long was the Hanoi Flag Tower, a renovated 40-metre-tall stone fortress offering expansive views of Ba Dinh Square and Hanoi City Centre.

2. Water Puppet Theatre

The ancient art form of water puppetry has a long association with Hanoi and there are several theatres where guests can enjoy this uniquely Vietnamese take on Asia’s puppet tradition. The original – and widely regarded as the best – theatre in town is the Thang Long Puppet Theatre. Puppets dance and slide elegantly over the liquid stage, controlled by a whole troupe of puppet masters hiding behind a screen. Most shows also feature the famous Legend of the Restored Sword of King Le which tells the tale of Hoan Kiem Lake and the giant tortoise.

3. Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

Ho Chi Minh has left an indelible mark on Vietnamese history and he is revered in Hanoi as the country’s greatest leader. Nicknamed ‘Uncle Ho’ by locals, his preserved body is now laid to rest in a glass case in the Ba Dinh area of Hanoi. This is more than a tourist attraction, it is a part of living history and a visit here stays long in the memory. The sombre building was modeled after Lenin’s mausoleum in Moscow.

Security is tight and visitors should dress with respect (no shorts, sleeveless shirts and miniskirts) and everyone has to deposit their bags and cameras before getting in. Visitors are not allowed to stop and hold the constant queue up as the place is constantly busy. Uncle Ho’s remains are sent yearly to Russia for maintenance therefore the mausoleum is closed usually from October onwards. It’s best to recheck with your hotel tour desk before visiting. Admission is free but donations are accepted.

4. Hoa Lo Prison Museum

The remains of this penitentiary, ironically dubbed the ‘Hanoi Hilton’ by US soldiers who were held captive here during the Vietnam War, chronicles the experiences of prisoners of war in Vietnam, from Vietnamese revolutionary martyrs who suffered at the hands of French colonialists to American POWs. Displays include a French guillotine, chilly cells with rusted iron stocks and the flight suit and parachute of John McCain, war vet and later US Senator and Republican presidential nominee.

5. Vietnam National Fine Arts Museum

In a gorgeous colonial building once used by the French Ministry of Information, this is a treasure trove of traditional, religious, modern and contemporary Vietnamese art. Think everything from ancient Champa carvings to 20th-century folk paintings and 21st-century abstract artworks.

6. Vietnamese Women’s Museum

In a gorgeous colonial building once used by the French Ministry of Information, this is a treasure trove of traditional, religious, modern and contemporary Vietnamese art. Think everything from ancient Champa carvings to 20th-century folk paintings and 21st-century abstract artworks.

 

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