Vietnam's premiere art museum is housed inside a beautiful colonial-era building near the Temple of Literature in Hanoi. The three floors of the Museum of Fine Arts take visitors on a journey through the country's artistic history, with a special focus on lacquer painting and war-time themes.
Established by the Lý Dynasty in the 11th century, and used as a command base throughout the American War of the 1970s, the Citadel of Hanoi was the seat of Vietnamese power for nearly a thousand years. Visiting the citadel provides glimpses into various periods of the country's complex history.
"Where is the world's longest mosaic wall?" Who among us hasn't stayed up long nights contemplating this conundrum? Well, sleep easy, friends, for we have the answer. The world's longest mosaic wall is in Hanoi, Vietnam.
While walking around small Trúc Bạch Lake, we had the chance to visit a couple of Hanoi's most historic temples: the Đền Quán Thánh, on the southwestern corner of the lake, and the Chùa Trấn Quốc, found on a small island between Trúc Bạch and the larger West Lake. Đền Quán Thánh We started at the Đền Quán Thánh, which was built in the 11th century, making it among the oldest temples in this very old city.…
A small body of water barely separated from the much larger Hồ Tây (West Lake), Trúc Bạch is relatively well-known among Hanoi's hundred-plus lakes, because it was here that John McCain crash-landed after his plane was shot down. We spent a fun day exploring the lake, and the neighborhood found on an island within it.
Ironically referred to as the "Hanoi Hilton" by its American guests, the Hỏa Lò Prison complex is located in the center of Vietnam's capital. Today, the prison has been mostly demolished, though the guard house has been left intact and converted into a museum.
Without a doubt, Vietnam's most famous culinary export is phở: rice noodles cooked in a clear, rich broth, usually served with beef and veggies. And there's no place better to try pho than in its birthplace, Hanoi. Whether you eat it for breakfast, lunch or dinner, from a street stand or an established restaurant, in the traditional style or in one of its many variations, it's safe to say that you're going to enjoy your meal.
Let's face it. After enough time in Vietnam, there are going to be days where you've had enough time in Vietnam. The constant noise, impossible sidewalks and horrifying traffic eventually wear down the optimism of even the most passionate traveler. But escape is possible. Just head to Hanoi's French Quarter, where the streets are wide and clean, and the atmosphere is nearly European.
"If you build it, they will come." Wasn't that supposed to be the lesson, Mr. Costner? But sometimes when you build it, they don't come... and Hanoi has had to learn that the hard way. We visited the Lideco real estate project on the western outskirts of the city, to see the ruined remains of one of Hanoi's biggest dreams.
The grid of streets found just north of Hoàn Kiếm Lake is Hanoi's Old Quarter. Once home to merchants and craft guilds, this section of town is now firmly in the hands of tourism. But if you can block out the thousands of travel agencies advertising Sapa Tours, and ignore the constant sales pitches of the cyclo drivers, it's possible to get a sense of how the Old Quarter must have felt in... well... the old days.