During our travel through Vietnam and Cambodia we fell before Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam. Hanoi is a vibrant city, where you can spend days wandering around, discovering new corners and enjoying the chaos. Prepare comfortable shoes because in this post we bring you our «top 10» to spend a day in Hanoi.
1. Start the day with morning exercise
Before six in the morning, with the first rays of sun, many Hanoienses gather around Hoan Kiem Lake to start the day exercising. Groups of people practicing Tai Chi, aerobics and, above all, a multitude of people walking, running or cycling around the lake. Getting up soon allows you to discover a very different, quieter facet of the city, with few open stores. As you approach the lake, the shops begin to lift their blinds and some owners do stretching at the doors before the long working day that awaits them. However, if you do not get up early, you can go in the afternoon, at about eight o'clock, to see how they practice aerobics.
Stretching and various exercises at Hoan Kiem Lake
2. Breakfast pho
After the morning exercise and the early morning, we deserve a good breakfast. The dish to start the day par excellence in Vietnam is the pho, a bowl of chicken broth with rice noodles, veal and herbs. Many hotels serve pho at breakfast, but if your hotel is not one of those, you can go to Pho 24. This place is a fast food Specialized in pho which is right in front of Hoan Kiem lake. For 29,000 dongs (€ 1) you can taste this Vietnamese delight.
Pho, the typical breakfast in Vietnam
3. Present your respects to Ho Chi Minh
After breakfast, we can take a taxi to the Tran Quoc Pagoda (56,000 dongs) to see part of the tree where Buddha came to the lighting brought as a present from India. From the pagoda you can walk down to the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum, which reminded us a lot of the Lenin's mausoleum in Moscow and then we end up visiting the Pilar Unico Pagoda.
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in Hanoi
4. Discover the Ethnological Museum
From the area of the mausoleum it is advisable to take a taxi to the remote Ethnological Museum for about 70,000 dongs. In this museum we will learn more about the idiosyncrasy of Vietnam, a country made up of more than fifty different ethnic groups. The museum includes information on the lifestyle, culture and rites of these ethnic groups. The explanatory panels are in English, French and Vietnamese, but the exhibition is very visual and, although none of these languages is known, it can be more or less followed and understood. The exhibition of traditional houses in the museum gardens is very special and worth the visit just to see this part. The entrance costs 40,000 dongs and you have to pay 50,000 more if you want to take photos. There are guided tours in English inside the museum for 100,000 dongs, but, unfortunately, the guided tour of the house exhibition is only available in Vietnamese.
Traditional house in the Ethnological Museum
5. Visit the Temple of Literature
From the Ethnological Museum you can go by taxi to the old quarter of Hanoi for about 94,000 dongs and visit the Temple of Literature, whose entrance is worth only 30,000 dongs. This temple was built in 1070 and here the first university in Vietnam was founded, where Confucius philosophy was studied, as well as poetry and literature. It is currently a very crowded temple for students who ask for help from the great teachers of yesteryear to pass the exams or who go there to take the graduation photo with their classmates when completing their studies.
6. Eat at the Quan An Ngon restaurant
Hanoi is a paradise for street food lovers and the old quarter is full of crowded stalls where all kinds of dishes are served. However, if your stomachs cannot withstand this type of food, a good alternative is this restaurant located a few minutes walk from the Temple of Literature. This beautiful restaurant has a large patio with tables and, around it, there are stops of different types of food, so it seems that you are eating in a local market, but with more sanitary guarantees. It reminded us a lot of The Market restaurant in Hoi An. The selection of dishes is very wide and it is difficult to decide. As an informative fact, when we went we ate both for 240,000 dongs in total.