Legend has it that Emperor Lê Lợi was fishing on Hoàn Kiếm Lake, when a turtle god emerged and asked for his magic sword. Although the sword, which he had used to defeat the invading forces of the northern Ming, was precious to him, Lê Lợi was not about to second-guess a god. The turtle took the sword in his jaws and brought it to the depths of the lake, where it remains to this day.
A distinctive facade of three wide arches welcomes shoppers to Hanoi’s largest covered market, the Chợ Đồng Xuân. With mostly clothes and bulk foods on sale, this isn’t a place for souvenir-hunting tourists. But if you’re in the market for a fascinating slice of local life, it might be just what you’re looking for.
Because the Old Quarter of Hanoi has given itself over so completely to tourism, it can be hard to get a sense of its history. But if you’d like to see how families lived in the 19th century, head to the Heritage House, in the heart of the backpacker district at 87 Ma May.
Built in 1070, the Temple of Literature was Vietnam’s first university, where the country’s brightest scholars aspired to the role of mandarin, or court official. The temple is dedicated to Confucius, and is one of Hanoi’s most historic sights.
We named this iteration of our travel project “Hanoi For 91 Days” more for aesthetics than for accuracy; “Central and Northern Vietnam For 91 Days” just doesn’t have the same ring to it. But the truth is, we didn’t even reach Hanoi until Day #31. After a month on the road, from Hoi An to Ninh Binh, we were ready to settle into the rhythm of a city, and get back to life as normal. It didn’t take long for us to realize, though, that life in Hanoi could never be considered “normal”.
Located about 30 minutes north of Ninh Binh, the Vân Long Nature Reserve protects one of Northern Vietnam’s largest unspoiled natural areas. Visitors can take a boat tour to see a small section of the park, and possibly spot the elusive, endangered Delacour’s Langurs which call it home.
During the 10th and 11th century, Hoa Lư was the capital of Vietnam. Located in the karst hills southwest of present-day Ninh Binh, the site is today home to temples and tombs, and is a popular tourism destination, especially for locals.
If you’re looking for an unforgettable view of the karst hills south of Ninh Binh, you might want to skip on the popular boat tour of Tam Cốc, and instead seek out Hang Múa. Over 400 steps will bring you to the top of a mountain, from where you’ll be able to see the unique landscape in all its glory.
Located a few kilometers north of Tam Cốc, the mountainside complex of Bích Động consists of three temples arranged in a vertical order. A climb to the upper pagoda is rewarded by magnificent views over the region. Bích Động was established in 1428 by two Buddhist monks from Ninh Binh, who recognized the area for […]
Among Vietnam’s most stunning images is the aerial view of Tam Cốc: a region of rice fields and steep limestone hills, just south of Ninh Binh. If you’re spending any time in the region, it’s a photo you’ll see over and over again, in the window of every tourism agency, hung on the wall of every restaurant. And every time you see it, you’ll think to yourself… “Man, I’ve got to go there!”