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Things To Do In Hanoi
Hanoi on the banks of the Red River, is the iconic captial of Vietnam and an acient town. Initially this city was a French colony and the years of French influence are firmly rooted in the city's architecture (Opera House) as well as in the cuisine and culture.
Hanoi offers visitors a wide mix of things to do, best experienced in the spring and autumn seasons. Exploring the Hoan Kiem Lake and neighbouring Ngoc Son Temple are two of the most significant and enjoyable things to do. Additionally, a trip to the Opera House is a throwback to a bygone era, where culture fiends can enjoy a magnificent cultural performance. For visitors looking to escape the city, the Ba Vi National Park 35 km outside the city is a haven for rich and diverse flora and fauna. Hanoi has some activity on offer to suit every traveller's needs.
Visit the Thang Long Citadel
This imperial citadel was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site back in 2010 and was the focal point for all activities in Hanoi at one point of time. Exploring the ancient ruins of this citadel is one the most interesting thingst to do in Hanoi. The citadel is home to palace grounds, statues and lakes that existed anywhere between 6th to 12th century. The showcase room is home to a number of excavated marvels and figurines of the citadel itself.
Take a walking tour of the city
One of the best things to do for first time tourists looking to familiarize themselves with Hanoi is to embark on the many available free walking tours of the city. The walking tour is usually led by a local guide or a locally run tour orgnaization. This will help visitors explore the most fascinating tourist spots in the city as welll as give them a deeper understanding of the food, shopping and general culture of the people of Hanoi. Walking tours tend to be half or full day depending on the desire of the visitor.
Visit Hoan Kiem Lake
For visitors looking for a quick escape from the noise and commotion of Hanoi, the Hoan Kiem Lake is the place to visit. The lake is calm and peaceful and surrounds the Ngoc Son Pagoda. The lake is a great spot for families and nature lovers alike due to its secluded location. Turtles, the sacred animals in Vietnamese culture, call this home and on a good day they are observed going about their daily routines. Additionally, the local residents come here early in the morning to practice the art of Tai Chi. Interested visitors can join the locals for a quick Tai Chi workout in the backdrop of this stunning lake.
Visit Ngoc Son Pagoda
Surrounded by the Hoan Kiem lake this pagoda is a magnificent 13th century structure built on the famous Jade Island. To reach the temple visitors get to walk across the charming crimson color Huc Bridge, built in the classic Vietnamese design style. The backdrop and surrounding beauty make this a great place to unwind and interact with locals. The inside of the temple is home to massive altars and deities dedicated to war general Tran Hung Dao. The lake and temple are two of the most popular tourist spots in the city.
Shopping at Dong Xuan Market
A unique spot, this market is the largest indoor market in all of Hanoi. Visitors can find literally anything under the sun here, from laptops and electronics to local souvenirs and handmade gift items. Additionally, all of the produce and products available here are at wholesale throwaway prices. Hence, visitors should be prepared to indulge in a healthy bargain to get the best possible product at the best possible price.
Visit Hanoi Opera House
The opera house took massive design inspiration from the Paris Opera House and is another example of the French invasion and implementation of their architectural style. Built in 1911, the purpose of the opera house was to provide entertainment to the French invaders. After being renovated in 1997, it is now open to the public. Enjoying an opera performance or a ballet is one of the most enjoyable things to do here.
Visit the Temple of Literature
The Temple of Literature is revered as one the most charming spots in Hanoi. First built as a college in 1070 devoted to Confucius, academics and statesmen, the structure is tremendously well looked after and is an outstanding model of native Vietnamese design. This ancient site offers stunning views of rotundas, patios and hallways once frequented by royalty. A visit here is a must do for first time visitors!
Visitng Ba Vi National Park
This national park is a stunning natural ecosystem, nearly 58 km from Downtown Hanoi. It is the best place to go to escape the commotion of the city and be in the lap of nature. The park is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna. There are natural hot springs in the park that are also massive tourist attractions. The surrounding landscape and serenity of the area make a trip here one of the best things to do.