I’ve been to Hanoi for work a few times throughout 2013 to 2015. In those working days, I also took the chance to tour around the city with my colleagues. I think all the interesting places I visited, which I’m about to share, could be compressed into a single day tour of Hanoi.
In Hanoi, there are a number of sites to visit for gaining knowledge, learning cultures, connecting with people or just simply to relax. Hanoi is an old city, existed for hundreds of years, and has been the capital of the Dai Viet people for centuries. Thus the city is rich in original Dai Viet history & heritage, also modern history & depiction of the current state & regime of Vietnam. There are many lakes in the city which provide a soothing view to the capital city.
The first site we visited was the ancient Temple of Literature in Hanoi. The place has been a buddhist theme religious school and is said to be the first university in Vietnam. Situated in the center of the city, now it is more of a preserved heritage site & open to public for visiting.
As Muslims, we also visited the Al Noor mosque in Hanoi to perform our prayers & i’tikaf for a few hours. We were happy to see some Muslim women working in the kitchen mosque preparing meals for Ramadhan break fast, that evening. Alas, we couldn’t stay longer as we had more places to visit.
We also visited Ho Chi Minh’s memorial, which is where the body of the modern Vietnam revolutionist is preserved. The site is closed by afternoon for preservation work, so we only had a chance to stroll around the outside area, at the marching paths & green fields.
We also went to the Tran Quoc pagoda located on an island at the great West lake. Creative on the part of Vietnamese, the pagoda has become a major tourism site for all to visit and is a beautiful site for photography.
The district which seems most busy with tourists is Hoan Kiem. There are ranges of hotel & hostels, many restaurants including halal food, tour agencies everywhere and numerous of shops selling souvenirs, clothing, shoes and everything. The beautiful Hoan Kiem lake in the district is equipped with a jogging trek built on its bank for recreation. There is also the Ngoc Son pagoda on an island in the lake open for public visit. There is also the St. Joseph’s cathedral, which is the oldest church in Hanoi, built in 1886. On my latest visit, my colleagues & I would just walk around Hoan Kiem to shop & just sat at a cafe by the lake to enjoy the sunset & a cup of coffee.
We also drove around Hanoi & Ho Tay lake just to see the city through the windshield.
At this point of time, Hanoi city seems to be in the development of improving its roads & public facilities. Hope there will be much more improvement in the following years.