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Vietnam Museum of Ethnology is a great place to learn more about minority ethnicities and their culture. Vietnam has been well-known for its multi-ethnicities and the museum showcases various traditional cultures related to each ethnicity. From tribal masks, traditional house miniatures, artefacts, and more. They also hold water puppet shows, one of Vietnam's most popular traditional shows. Being able to learn more about cultural diversity of 54 ethnicities in Vietnam is a chance you shouldn't miss. Museum of Ethnology offers another different experiences and activities for you. The green park is not only beautiful and relaxing, you'll get to see real-life size of some Vietnam's traditional houses with their amazing details. You can join many interesting activities, such as calligraphy and traditional Stone Game (O An Quan).
Vietnamese Women's Museum boasts more than 1,000 artifacts depicting many faces and also changing roles of Vietnamese women from 54 ethnicities from time to time. Each items are showcased with interesting explanations written in English and France. You'll get so many new interesting knowledges regarding Vietnamese women, traditions surrounding them and how they have changed each time humanity progressing forward. One section also tackle important and sensitive issues of contemporary women that is relatable to all of us even until now. From photographs to moving exhibits, Women's museum giving you entertainment and joy of learning in one place.
Hoan Kiem Lake doesn't only serve as an oasis for tourists and locals alike who seek for an escape from the city's hustle, but it also have an intriguing backstory which makes it become one of the most favorite tourist attractions in Vietnam. The lake is surrounded by lush greens which provides serenity and healing effect to those who come and walk along the park. In the middle of the lake is a small island named Jade Island where a beautiful pagoda or Chinese temple named Ngoc Son Temple sitting in the center of the island. There's a red Chinese bridge connecting park and the island allowing you to access the beautiful island. The pagoda in Hoan Kiem Lake's Jade Island was built to commemorate war general Tran Hung Dao who is considered as a hero who defeated a whole armed force of 300,000 soldiers sent by Kubilai Khan, the Mongolian Emperor as he tried to invade Vietnam in the 13th Century. If you venture inside the pagoda, you will notice a large bronze statues depicting Chinese deities worshipped by Chinese. There are also some display of ancient artifacts, one of the most interesting one is a preserved specimen of a 250 kilograms giant turtle inhabited the lake until it died in 2016. Hoan Kiem Lake is also a habitat for endangered Yangtze giant soft-shell turtles as a nod to a legend involving emperor Le Loi who was lent a magical sword which enabled him to defeat Ming Dynasty and returned the sword back to the giant turtle god which lived inside the lake.
While it might be named as a 'Temple', Temple of Literature wasn't built to honor the gods. Instead it is a Chinese-influenced university for those who seek knowledges. Now it also serves as one of the most beautiful tourist attractions in Hanoi, Vietnam. You can explore all five courtyards inside the temple. The first two have beautiful, picturesque gardens filled with giant ancient trees, while the well-known Well of Heavenly Clarity and a huge pond are located in the third courtyard. You can see the statue of Confucius and exploring house of ceremonies and the Sage Courtyard in the fourth courtyard. The fifth and also the last courtyard is a home for Thai Hoc featuring a soaring bell tower and a large drum.
Here, at Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre, you'll be able to enjoy some interesting and unique performances of water puppets. The water puppet attraction has actually become the most famous attractions and you'll get a different sense of enjoyment if you watch it at its own theatre which already held more than 500 shows yearly. So sit back and relax as the Vietnamese orchestra starting to play music using various traditional musical instruments, such as wooden bells, bamboo flutes, cymbals, wooden bells, and horns. Each shows will tell you various short stories revolving around Northern Vietnam's most famous folk tales and legends including some mythical creatures which will invoke your imagination. The most famous one will be the legend of Hoan Kiem Lake and the giant tortoise. The whole story is conveyed in humorous fashion so it won't make you feel bored. Especially with some touches of modern light effects which makes the shows even more appealing to modern viewers. After the curtain falls and the show is over, you'll be on your way home feeling satisfied because you've watched one of the best theatrical shows in the world.
Ho Chi Minh would have jumped out of his grave, or in this case, out of his glass sarcophagus in Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum had he known his deceased body was preserved instead of being cremated like what was written in his will. The tomb was built around 1973 to 1975 using materials gathered from all over Vietnam. The building's architecture will sort of reminds you of other Communist Leaders' graves which is indeed it was inspired by Lenin's mausoleum in Russia. The marble buildings contain hopes of locals that their supreme leader and founding father will lives on forever, hence up until now you still can catch a glimpse of Uncle Ho's body showcased inside the museum. When you're visiting the Vietnamese' leader's grave, you are expected to obey some rules. First rule is you should dress modestly, which means wearing revealing clothes such as shorts and tank tops are prohibited. You're also not allowed to wear a hat. Visitors are also not allowed to bring any of their belongings, so you should store your handbag, purse and your camera inside the locker before you enter the building. While inside, you shouldn't talk or showing any disrespectful gestures, including putting your hand (or hands) in your pocket. Be ready to wait in line with hundreds of people before you until you can finally see Ho Chi Minh's body. You shouldn't stop though as you might put the queue behind you on hold.
Hanoi is capital city and the second biggest city of Vietnam. Even as one of Vietnam's modern city, you still can see remnants of Chinese, French, and American influences during their occupation in Vietnam for years. Even after so it hasn't lose its true identity. You'll see many breathtaking Buddhist temples with intricate details and unique traditional cultures as you explore deeper into the city. Attractions in Hanoi below not only will mesmerize you of its beauty but also you'll learn more about their thousands years historical values.
How to Get Tickets?
You can purchase the attraction tickets on the spot but that means you have to waste your travel time standing in line. It's better to purchase your tickets online in advance on this website so you just have to show up and enjoy your time on the D-Day.
How To Get Around?
Renting a car with a driver is quite common for international tourists in Hanoi since the traffic is pretty bad. People who aren't used to bad traffic will be better traveling by car with an experienced driver. If you are quite used to the busy road, you can try renting a motorcycle and drive it yourself. Aside from motorbike, you can also rent bicycle. But usually, the rental doesn't give you any helmets, so you might want to prepare extra cash to purchase the helmets. Going around by foot in the downtown area is a good option. But do be careful when you're crossing the road since the roads are always packed with tons of vehicles speeding up to their destination. You can try riding the public transportations; Xe Om (motorcyle taxi), Cyclo, and taxi. Taxis are usually more expensive but easy to find. Xe Om is basically a taxi but the ride is a motorbike. This is quite convinient to beat the traffic but it can only take one passenger per ride. Meanwhile Cyclo is a unique three-wheeled bike with a seat. 2 passengers can sit at the front seat and an operator will ride the bicycle behind them to control the transportation. It's worth a try to experience the local transporation.
What Should I Wear?
Don't wear clothes that show too much skin like short skirts, tanks tops, or short shorts because Vietnamese are quite conservative about clothes. Wear covered and proper clothes when you're visiting the temples or pagodas. Wear comfortable shoes like sneakers or sandals. Bring your sunglasses or hat since it's usually hot.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit Hanoi is during autumn and spring. Autumn is around September to November, and spring is on March and April. During these seasons, the weather is nice with milder temperature. Winter and summer might not be the best time since during winter, the temperature can fall below 10ºC (50ºF), and during summer, it's usually around 28-35ºC (82º-95ºF).
Vietnamese Dong (VND)
Will I Need a Guide?
Traveling by yourself will not be a problem since people understand English quite well, public transportations are easy to find, and going around by foot can also be a good option. You can also find any information about Hanoi that you need in this website.
How To Get There?
International tourists best option is by plane, landing at Noi Bai International Airport, which is only 45 minutes away from the city center. People who are traveling from other cities of Vietnam can take the train ot the bus, which has many route options. The bus can also depart and arrive in China and Laos, while the train can also reach China.
Don't wear precious jewelry when walking in the streets. Don't take pictures of military intstallations or anything to do with the military. Don't wander around at night to unfamilliar places. Always put your bags where you can see it and not easily snatched. Take your chance to bargain the price with the seller if there's no fixed price shown.