Monday, January 30, 2012

Vietnam (2) - Back to Hanoi

After our overnight stay on Halong Bay we travelled back to Hanoi for a city tour. Time for some facts about Hanoi, it is the capital of Vietnam and the country's second largest city. October 2010 officially marked 1000 years since the establishment of the city. On this occasion, Hanoi was named by Frommer's travel guide as one of the world's "Top Destinations 2010"

Hanoi Opera House
The city was occupied by the Japanese in 1940 and liberated in 1945, when it briefly became the seat of the Viet Minh government after Ho Chi Minh proclaimed the independence of Vietnam. However, the French returned and reoccupied the city in 1946. After nine years of fighting between the French and Viet Minh forces, Hanoi became the capital of an independent North Vietnam in 1954.During the Vietnam War, Hanoi's transportation facilities were disrupted by the bombing of bridges and railways. These were all, however, promptly repaired. Following the end of the war, Hanoi became the capital of a reunified Vietnam when North and South Vietnam were reunited on July 2, 1976.

One Pillar Pagoda
No trip to Hanoi would be complete without a trip to Ho Chi Minh Museum. The building, completed in 1990, is intended to evoke a white lotus. Some photos and old letters are on display on the second floor, but the main exhibition space is on the third floor. 

Inside the Ho Chi Minh Museum

Next stop, the Ho Chi Minh MausoleumThe city down south may have his name, but only Hanoi has the man himself, entombed in distinctly Leinin-esque fashion - against his wishes, but that's how it goes.

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

From there you can explore the Presedential Palace Area where the "great" man lived. The nicely landscaped complex includes two of Ho Chi Minh's houses, kept shiny and "as he left them" by the authorities, as well as a garage with two of Ho's "used cars" and a carp-filled pond. 

Presidential Palace

Our next port of call was to explore the grounds of the beautiful university campus before the highlight of our day tour of Hanoi. If you do just one thing when you visit Hanoi, consider taking a rickshaw ride around the city. It's guaranteed to give you a real feel for the chaotic atmosphere of Vietnam's capital city.

The one thing to avoid for fear of falling asleep is the Water Puppet performance, unless you really like this kind of thing we'd suggest politely declining the suggestion from your guide and relaxing instead next to the beautiful Ho Tay/West Lake with a nice cold beer in your hand. 

From Hanoi, we moved onto our next destination which was Hue, to follow the next phase of our Vietnam adventure click on the underlined link.