Hanoi, Vietnam

Hanoi, Vietnam

Streets of Hanoi
And so .. I arrived at Hanoi after a short 2 hours flight from Ho Chi Minh City.

Stepping out from the airport, you'll see lines of official taxis waiting to fetch you to your destination at an extravagant price. Read a little more and you'll know that taxis here are basically a scam. There's more than taxis to get out of the airport to your destination. You can find them here. I managed to find two other backpackers though, and we decided to share the cost of a taxi (we managed to bargain till we agreed on 350000 VND (S$20)) which actually didn't amount to that much after splitting the fare three ways.

I booked my stay in the Old Quarters Area, which houses basically every other backpacker. The area has its own charms and plenty of cheap bars everywhere, so staying here was not too bad, except for the fact that the music downstairs run till around 11PM at night and it was practically packed with people every single night.

Old Quarters
Old Quarters - Minions for sale?
Cultural Show at Old Quarters
Travelling around Hanoi is just as easy as travelling in Ho Chi Minh City. All you need is your phone (with internet access), and Google Maps. Apparently Google Maps provide transport directions for Hanoi as well and an average bus ride costs 6000-7000VND (S$0.40).

Hoan Kiem Lake
Hoan Kiem Lake and the Tortoise Tower
The Hoan Kiem Lake is a gigantic lake that lies right in the middle of town. Taking a walk around the lake, you'll be able to see locals doing their morning exercises, fishing and what not. True enough, the lake isn't exactly breathtaking, but you'll be able to find several sights around the lake like the statue of Ly Thai To (emperor/founder of the late Ly Dynasty, and also the exact person who shifted the capital to Hanoi), the Tortoise Tower and the Central Post Office.

Statue of Ly Thai To
Central Post Office
Hoa Lo Prison Museum (The Hanoi Hilton)

Build by the French during the war, the prison was used to house and torture Vietnamese war prisoners. Inside, you can find details of the mistreatment by the French and well-made exhibits simulating the poor living conditions. This prison was also used to house the American POWs during the Vietnam War, but little is shown except the fact that they were treated more than well, hence the name 'The Hanoi Hilton'.
Statues of Vietnamese prisoners in poor living conditions
The narrow jail cells
Entrance is 30000 VND (~S$1.80) and it opens 8AM to 5PM.

Vietnam Historical Museum

Vietnam Historical Museum
This museum holds artifacts from prehistorical times, and it's almost intriguing to find these exhibits still hold nicely. Also, you'll be able to find exhibits from the start all the way to the times of modern Vietnam. Interesting to say the least.
Exhibits in the Historical Museum - The Man Figurine
Exhibits in the Historical Museum 
Exhibits in the Historical Musuem
Entrance is 40000 VND (S$2.40) and it opens 8AM-1130AM and 1.30PM-5PM from Tuesday to Sunday.

Museum of Vietnamese Revolution

Statue in the Museum of Vietnamese Revolution
Statue of Ho Chi Minh during his independence speech
The Revolution Museum tells about the history and holds some artifacts from the Vietnam War. This place smells a little of propaganda, like any museums here in Vietnam, but it's a place to go for a short look about. After all, there isn't much people here and you can enjoy the exhibits at whatever pace that suits you, compared to other more popular museums.

The museum costs 40000 VND (S$2.40) and opens from 8AM-12PM and from 1.30PM-5PM. Do note that it is closed on the first Monday of the month.

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, One Pillar Pagoda and Ho Chi Minh Museum
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum holds the embalmed body of Ho Chi Minh, the father of Vietnam, symbolizing the amount of reverence the country has for him. Do arrive early as the queue stems for a few hundred meters, especially during weekends, as the tourists and the locals come in swarm to visit. Note that visitors must come dressed in sleeved shirts and berms (and not shorts) to show their respect. The mausoleum is closed from 4 Sep to 4 Nov as the embalmed body is sent for maintenance in Russia. No photos are allowed in the mausoleum.
Large banner outside the Mausoleum
Change of Guards
It opens from 8AM-11AM, Tues-Thur and Sat-Sun, with the last entry at 10.15AM, and it's free.

In the same compound you'll also be able to find the One Pillar Pagoda and the Ho Chi Minh Museum, both worth a visit since you're already there. The Ho Chi Minh Museum displays everything about the life of Ho Chi Minh, including the clothes he was wearing when he passed to the clock inside his room, tuned to the time he passed.
One Pillar Pagoda
Ho Chi Minh Museum
Statue of Ho Chi Minh inside Ho Chi Minh Museum
National Assembly Deputy Card of Ho Chi Minh in Ho Chi Minh Museum
The day time stopped: The passing of Ho Chi Minh
The One Pillar Pagoda is free and opens throughout, while the Ho Chi Minh Museum costs 25000 VND (~S$1.50) and opens from 8AM-4.30PM every day except on Mondays and Fridays, when they open from 8AM-12PM.

B52 Lake

B52 Lake
I pride upon myself to be able to find this lake. Situated in a local neighborhood, this lake holds an American B52 warplane that the locals took down using only guns during the Vietnam War. The plane crashed into the lake and has been there ever since. There is hardly any tourists around as it is pretty hard to find, navigating through the alleys of the neighborhood. The piece of history is worthy of a visit in my (or anyone who loves war history) books.

The remains of the B52 warplane
Vietnam Military History Museum

Vietnam Military Museum
This museum displays pieces from the Vietnam War and also tells about how Vietnam won the war against the Americans, against all odds. Pretty interesting stuffs here if you're into military history. It also holds the original tank that broke into the Independence Palace, symbolizing the end of the Vietnam War (the one in HCMC is a replica!)

Tank 843 - The tank that ended the Vietnam War
Carnage from the war
Hanoi Flag Tower
Entrance is priced at 40000 VND (~$2.40) and it opens from 8AM-11.30AM daily, and 2PM-4PM Tue-Thur, Sat-Sun.

Hanoi Citadel (a.k.a Imperial Citadel of Thang Long)

Hanoi Citadel
This citadel is the hub of Vietnam's military power for over 1000 years. Added to UNESCO's World Heritage List in 2012, there are still ongoing archaeological diggings in the area. The grandeur of it is definitely worth a visit.

Hanoi Citadel
Hanoi Citadel
It costs 30000 VND (~S$1.80) and opens from 8AM-11.30AM daily and 2PM-4PM on Tue-Thur, Sat-Sun.

That sums up Hanoi. Next up .. Sapa!

Train-ing to Sapa

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