THE DOOR TO TRADITIONAL VIETNAM
Ho Chi Minh’sTomb
HANOI offers a vast array of activities for the Vietnam traveler. The people are more reserved than in the south, but still friendly.
Try exploring the shops and markets of the Old Quarter, relaxing by the city’s lakes, visiting Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum (Changing of Guard)and the Perfume Pagoda, or giving street food a try. It is much less busy here than Saigon to the south. The ancient center of learning and the Confucian religion, the Temple of Literature will provide a window to Vietnam’s history.
Several villages known for their craftsmen are within easy travel distance on a day tour. Visit Van Phouc, the silk village; Bat Trang, the pottery village; Don Ky, the woodcraft village or even Le Mat, the snake village. Pick one or two that sound interesting to you, because they will entertain and amaze you for hours.
This is the jumping off place for both Sapa to the northwest and Halong Bay to the east. Most visitors to Vietnam will find Hanoi a very frantic city compared to what they’re used to, but much quieter than Saigon. For this reason, I recommend new travelers to Vietnam begin their tours in the north.
Shop agencies outside your hotel for your tour to Sapa or Halong Bay. Get a couple of prices and then return to your hotel to see what they can do for you. If a tour agency tells you a tour is full and tries to move you up to a more expensive alternative move on to the next agency down the street.
(Nov ’08 – Taxi fare from airport to Old Quarter is about $10.00 US)
Check Hostelbookers for a reasonably priced hotel or to get an idea of what tourist hotels are like in Hanoi. There aren’t really any hostels, as we know them, in Vietnam.
A Hanoi Map will come in handy.
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