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Hanoi is a perfect blend of history and contemporary. The city is being developed for over 1000 years since 1010, because of the constant destructions by the different invaders from time to time. It inspires the visitors with its combination of oriental lifestyle, French colonial construction, tree-lined roads, and peaceful lakes. 

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Found Yourself In Old Quarter:

In Hanoi, make sure to head to the Old Quarter. This is the historic heart and commercial centre of the city. It’s noisy with heavy traffic, but it is a collection of about 36 streets, which all specialize in selling goods like jewellery, pillows, shirts, baskets, toys, shoes, sunglasses etc. You can find many bars; restaurants and the biggest demonstration of street food places and the travel agencies, which are selling tours to Sapa, Ha Long Bay, Ninh Binh, Perfume Pagoda etc.

TIP: 

Make sure to survey online before booking a tour in one of the agencies. In Old Quarter make your landmark St. Joseph’s Cathedral church it’s been there since the late 1886s. It’s popular and a meeting place in the city. Be careful with the directions as the difference of language may create confusion for you. 

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Hanoi Train street
Train Street

Train Street: 

Just before the train speeds past, with a couple of feet of clearance, drying clothes are carried inside, children ushered indoors and the bikes pulled to the side of the road. The train passes the narrow road early in the route that connects Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City. It is located between Le Duan and Kham Tien street in the Old Quarter. Homes and business go side by side of the railway lines. You can enjoy your snacks and coffee while experiencing a train to pass an inch away. 

Hoan Kiem Lake Hanoi
Hoan Kiem Lake

Walk Around Hoan Kiem Lake:

In the centre of the Old Quarter, beautiful and charming Hoan Kiem Lake (also known as Turtle Lake) is one of the unmissable things with amazing views. The best part is that there are no cars and no scooters, so it’s a nice break from the terrible traffic of Hanoi. You just need to cross the red bridge which leads to the island at the centre of the lake, as this is where the lovely Ngon temple is located. The Turtle God’s figure is persevered there, which makes you believe the myth. It costs 20000 Vietnamese Dong (VDN), which is less than $1.

Temple of Literature Hanoi
Temple of Literature

Visit The Temple Of Literature:

Dedicated to Confucius, the temple was built in 1070. It then became a male university for Mandarin students. Around the temple, there are stelae which are dedicated to the students. To know the civilization and, presently, you just need to know their past. 

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Take A Ride: 

On the sidewalks, you will find many drivers with their motorbikes, who are ready to take you anywhere around the city if you ask. You can also use the apps Grab or Uber to book a ride. It’s cheap.

Ta Hien street  Vietnam
Ta Hien street PC- levitalks.com

Be In The Beer Street:

Known as “Beer Street” Ta Hien street is THE place to party on any night of the week. In this area, everyone is sitting outside on small chairs, drinking beer and eating BBQ with their friends before heading to the clubs until the early hours of the morning. Grab a local beer and wander around Ta Hien to see street performers!

One pillar Pagoda Hanoi
One pillar Pagoda

Visit Mausoleum, One Pillar Pagoda:

Hanoi has a variety of museum. Check out Hoa Lo Prison, Ho Chi Minh Museum and Fine Arts Museum. Uncle Ho’s figure is preserved in the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. Close to that, there also is Ho Chi Minh’s Stilt House and the One Pillar Pagoda, which are two of the utmost famous Hanoi attractions. 

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Please Note: 

The Ho Chi Minh mausoleum is closed after 10:30 A.M and on Monday and Friday.

Hanoi Opera House:

One of the most beautiful buildings in Hanoi is the Opera House, which was built in 1911 under French rule, now known as the French Quarter. The Opera House was pretty much left to the elements when the French left Vietnam, but it was renovated in 1997. You can experience Vietnamese opera performances, concerts and even ballet. The prices start at around $4.

Go To The Water Puppet Show:

The Water Puppet show at Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre is a huge tourist attraction. The “classic puppet show” in water, consists of strange instruments and entirely held in Vietnamese, showcases Vietnamese way of life, culture and even religion. The show lasts about one hour and it costs around $10.

Go Shopping:

Vietnam is an excellent shopping destination. There are various markets around Hanoi. One of the most famous ones is the Dong Xuan Market. The building is anything but charming, but if you passed the fish section, it can be a cool place to shop. The market closes at 7:00 pm.

Weekend Night Market:

Open only on weekends, starting at about 7 PM and going until about midnight, you will find hundreds of mini vendors side by side in tents selling everything from shirts to Shoes to lamps. You should bargain for everything. 

TIP: 

Sharpen your bargaining skills well!

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Hanoi Day Trips Cover Pictures Source By Google Image

We will find hundreds of tour agencies on the Hanoi streets. We can explore and book any of these tours. It is not necessary to book in advance. These tours mostly are all-inclusive, which will cover all transportation, accommodation, and food costs. Any kind of extra activities will be at your own cost. The following are the best day trips around Hanoi.

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Ninh Binh (Google Image)

Ninh Binh –

Ninh Binh is a small but beautiful city just 50 miles south of Hanoi. It is an hour about ride each way, it’s best known for its stunning landscape, which is comparable to Ha Long Bay with regards to tall mountains, caves, and greenery. A suitable day trip from Hanoi with the range of $10 – 40 is a must.

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Ha Long ( Google Image )

 Ha Long Bay 

It was first listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994, in recognition of its outstanding, universal aesthetic value. Ha Long Bay is the main reason why people visit Vietnam. You can take either a day trip or a 2-3-day trip from Hanoi. It’s about a 4 hour drive each way from Hanoi. If you take a 2-day trip, you will sleep overnight on the boat and wake up to the best sunrise you’ve ever seen. Day Trips to Halong Bay are about $40, and 2-day trips are around $100 depending on your ride.

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Sapa valley (Google Image)

Sapa Valley 

This Beautiful place is 7 hours driving each way on a sleeper bus, famous for its green countryside and rice terraces, which are alongside steep hills. While trekking (half-day, full-day, or 2+ days), you will visit several villages. The locals who live there are part of the Hmong tribe – they speak their own dialect and look physically different than people in Hanoi. It’s really a great experience!

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Perfume Pagoda

Perfume Pagoda –

The journey to the Perfume Pagoda is itself an interesting experience. Located about 60 km southwest of Hanoi in the Huong Son Mountain range you will need to take a car for around two hours before boarding a wooden or iron boat to reach the temple complex.

The boat journeys down a narrow flowing stream fringed by rice fields, temples, and grass and you will have the option to stop and visit some of these temples. However, if you are short of time it’s best to head straight to Huong Tich Cave. It’s an uphill walk to the Perfume Pagoda which will take around one hour. Things can get slippery, so remember to bring walking shoes or boots.

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If you can smell better then you can see better and can hear better. That means all your senses are working fine and you are safe and sound. To protect your senses, your family’s senses you must visit The Perfume Pagoda in Vietnam as the “Viet” does. Besides the blessings, as a bonus, we will get to see something so beautiful, so serene, so peaceful that you will never forget. This striking complex of pagodas and Buddhist shrines is built into the Karst cliffs of Huong Tich Cave (Mountain of the Fragrant Traces). Among the better-known sites are Chua Thien Tru (Pagoda Leading to Heaven); Chua Giai Oan Chu (Purgatorial Pagoda), where the faithful believe deities purify souls, cure suffering, and grant offspring to childless families; and Huong Tich Chu (Pagoda of the Perfumed Vestige).

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Perfume Pagoda
Perfume Pagoda

Position: 

This pilgrim is extremely popular with Vietnamese tourists from February to April. It is located about 60 km southwest of Hanoi; and getting here requires a journey first by road, then by the river, then on foot or by cable car. The journey is half the fun, but don’t try and do it without a guide: most tour operators offer day-return trips here from US$30 to US$50, which serves the purpose. From Hanoi you need to travel by car for two hours to My Duc. There you can go to the restroom, drink tea and buy offerings for the pilgrims as well. Then take a small boat, rowed by women from the local village, to the foot of the mountain.

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The Journey of perfume pagoda
The way Google Image

The Journey: 

The entertaining boat trip takes an hour and travels along scenic waterways between limestone cliffs. Allow a couple more hours to climb to the top and return. The path to the summit is steep in places, and if it’s raining, the ground can get very slippery. There’s also a cable car to the summit (one way/ 100,000 – return/160,000d); a smart approach is to take the cable car up and walk down. The bus journey, an hour’s boat ride, half an hours trekking will reach you to the first pagoda. And there the history and story will take you to the era of the medieval age. 

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The Myths:

Perfume Pagoda

Thien Tru Pagoda:

As a popular belief, if you don’t pray here, the sky will be angry on you. Thien Tru Pagoda is also known as Heaven’s Kitchen. The starlight falls exactly on the spot where the king’s kitchen was, there the entire kingdom’s food used to be cooked.

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Huong Tich Chu Pagoda:

Post pleasing the sky you can climb up more 3 storied stairs and take a ropeway ride to reach the second pagoda, Huong Tich Chu, which belongs to the lady buddha. The Cave Pagoda has the appearance of an open dragon’s mouth with Chu Nho characters carved in a wall at the mouth of the cave. Again, a breathtaking visual and mind goggling story is waiting for you, how the younger daughter of a King became the lady Buddha with thousand hands and eyes post the greatest selfless sacrifice.

Inside of pagoda

On the route from Thien Tru to Huong Tich cave is Giai Oan Temple, also called ‘Clearing Unjust Charges’ Pagoda. There is a pond called Thien Nhien Thanh Tri (Natural Blue Pond), also called Long Tuyen Well, and Giai Oan stream, with its 9 sources.

Perfume Pagoda I recommend as a must if you fit to take the journey. 

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Find Your Reason To Visit Hanoi:

Things To Do In Hanoi

Vietnam is the port of Southeast Asia because of its position on the world map. And it occupies the eastern portion of the mainland. Hanoi is Vietnam’s capital with a growing population above 9 million people and It is located in the northern part of the country. Because of its scenic beauty, Vietnam’s popularity is increasing day by day among travelers. Therefore, you will get to see a lot of tourists and backpackers in Hanoi, mostly Americans, Europeans, Asians, and Australians. As a result, civics has become more outgoing, more subtle. They are positive about the mixing as well as overseas friends.

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In large Hanoi, the most happening place we will get to see is the Old Quarter. And here you can chill 2 – 3 days max while visiting loads of cafes, restaurants, hotels, bars, lounges, markets, clubs, street food vendors, and many more. Another, the city generally closes around 7 to 8 pm, except for the night market.

Hanoi train street
Hanoi Train Street

Besides Old Quarter you must visit Tay Ho (means West Lake). Generally, refugees and English teachers live in this part. That’s why it has all the fancy restaurants and foreign foods to offer. So, you can change your taste there when you want to.

A local told me once, “we have a population of 10 million with 8 million motorbikes”. And it is true because buying a car is a luxury to the Viet. While buying one, they have to pay almost 40 percent road tax. So, motorbikes save their lives and money day to day basis. But you may face challenges while crossing the streets. Hence, you must keep maintaining your pace while walking and crossing the road, then the drivers will go around you. If you slow down or speed up, then there might be trouble.

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The People PC The Statesman

Hanoi People:

People in Hanoi mostly love to spend time chilling outside on the streets, drinking tea and spitting sunflower seeds, sitting in small chairs and tables. Nobody seems to be in a rush. You might find it a sight. If you are not very tall you can also enjoy the sit.

They mostly don’t speak English or speak at a very beginner level, except the workers in hotels, restaurants, cafes, and college-goers. So, it is necessary for you to be prepared.

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Vietnamese Words To Know:

It is in your best interest to learn a few Viet words for interactions as I told you earlier people are not good with English. PFB a few essentials:

Xin Chao – Hello

Cam On – Thank you

Khong co chi – You are welcome

Hen gap lai – See you again

Tam Biet – Goodbye

Ban giup toi duoc khong – Can you help me

Xin Loi – Excuse me

Money & Prices –

Vietnamies Dong

The currency is the Vietnamese Dong, and the exchange rate is $1 = 23,000 DONG as of February 2020. Therefore, in Hanoi, you may feel like a millionaire and it can boggle your mind. But my advice is to start shopping for the reality check, as a bottle of water will cost you 20,000 DONGS. With the exception, everything in Hanoi is cash only, so make sure to have double as much cash as you think you’ll need. Also, it’s pretty normal to be confused with Vietnamese Dong.

That being said, almost everything is cheap in Hanoi – $1 for a bowl of Pho, $0.50 for a taxi ride around the city, and $1 for a T-shirt! Just sharpens your bargain skills. And don’t be fooled.

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