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Overview to Hanoi: Travel Guide and Tourist Information
Considering how much turbulence Hanoi experienced throughout the 20th century, it’s remarkable just how calm it is today. Add a successful mix of Vietnamese heritage with more than the odd dash of French colonial flavor, and you’ve got a fascinating travel destination.
Built next to the Red River, Hanoi is dotted with small lakes and shallow lagoons. Known as the ‘Emerald Jewel of Hanoi’, Hoan Kiem Lake is the largest within the city and provides a good place to begin exploring. Two small islands dot the lake, one of which includes the Tortoise Tower.
To the north of the lake lies the Old Quarter, a maze of winding streets and beautifully traditional buildings. Bach Ma Temple – Hanoi’s most beloved place of worship – can be found here, as well as the market at Cho Dong Xuan and the important Museum of Independence.
If this area’s heritage seems typically Vietnamese, then a trip to the south of Hoan Kiem Lake reveals a wholly different - and colonial - side to the city. This is where the French Quarter lies, home to the Neo-Gothic St. Joseph’s Cathedral and the iconic Opera House.
West from the cathedral, on the other side of the train line, the area around Ho Chi Minh’s House offers another wealth of sightseeing opportunities. The body of Vietnam’s famous leader can be viewed at his mausoleum, whilst the events of his life are explained in the Ho Chi Minh Museum.
A true city of lakes, it’s worthwhile traveling away from the center and hopping from lagoon to lagoon. Amongst the shallow patches of water and the impressive pagodas, another more intimate, and just as fascinating, side of the city awaits discovery.