Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
This striking building is perhaps Hanoi’s most iconic monument. Inside is the preserved body of beloved leader Ho Chi Minh. It is worth getting up early at around 6am for the impressive changing of the guard. It is well worth the surreal experience of visiting his body but opening times are strange, it is only open in the morning and not every morning. Be sure to look it up before you visit to avoid disappointment.
The Hoa Lo Museum
Dubbed the ‘Hanoi Hilton’ by American POW’s. This prison gives an interesting insight into life for prisoners in many of Vietnam’s historic wars. It supposedly contains the flight jacket of Senator John McCain who was imprisoned there during the war. After visiting the museum it is highly recommended to read one of Mc Cain’s articles about the place to hear both sides of the story.
The Water Parks!
For the young (and young at heart), Hanoi’s slightly dangerous indoor and outdoor waterparks make for a great day out. Don’t worry about queuing for rides because the parks are rarely busy, especially on a sunny day when Vietnamese people try to avoid tanning. Leaving you to feel like a rich kid whose parents rented out the whole place for the day. The outdoor park can be found at the top of West Lake. The indoor park can be found in Royal City Megamall.
The Temple of Literature
The Temple of Literature is a veritable oasis of calm right in the center of the city. A series of small tranquil lakes surrounded with timeworn walls and ancient trees lead to a small temple complex. The small temple was once Hanoi’s first university, the place has a rich history and it is well worth researching.
On a sunny day this provides a beautiful spot for a walk around a lake. It’s a large park and a great escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. It is full of decorative statues, old trees, outdoor cafes, and fitting to the name there are some eery time-worn Soviet era fairground rides.
The Water Puppet Theatre
Hanoi has a weird and wonderful charm which The Water Puppet Theatre epitomizes perfectly. Right on the lake this ancient tradition goes back generations. I won’t give much away here, because it’s best left as a surprise, but you can expect to be both amused and bemused.
Tran Quoc Pagoda
On a tiny island on the South Eastern shores of Hanoi’s giant West Lake, sits an ancient, peaceful pagoda accessible by a causeway. It is one of the oldest pagodas in the country, and whilst it has undergone renovations and been rebuilt the original structure was built 1,400 years ago. Outside the pagoda stands a bohdi tree taken as a cutting from the tree that the Buddha famously sat under. It was gifted to Vietnam by the Indian President in 1959.
Written by Alex Sinclair Lack for Teacher’s Friend – Vietnam. All rights reserved.