Travel Hanoi

September in Hanoi

Once off limits to the traveling abroad, Vietnam has opened their gates to the world and become an increasingly popular vacation hub. The capital of Hanoi is a rich and abundant city sprinkled with French architecture and a dark history of oppressing wars. The motto for driving in Vietnam is an endless sound of honking and horns, once you get accustomed to the inaudible melodies of the traffic, the city will feel much more comfortable. The Old Quarter is a backpackers delight; the area is literally littered with budget guesthouses and accommodation and has become the epicenter for area travelers. If you have arrived without reservations, fear not, an easy walk through the back alleys of the Quarter will present a nights stay from hostel to hotel budgets. It’s easy to get turned around in the quarter, St. Joseph’s Cathedral, the oldest church in Hanoi is an easy landmark for navigating the many side streets and similar looking corners.

St Josephs Cathedral

flickr image by Jorge Lascar

Start your morning with a short walk to Hoan Kiem Lake, the legend suggests that King Le Loi was given a magical sword to drive out the Chinese and upon his success, a giant turtle took the sword down to the bottom of the lake to return to the Gods forever. A temple island rests in the center of the lake known as The Temple of the Jade Mountain and has been an icon to the city since its erection in the 18th century. This area is a photographer’s paradise.

Hoan Kiem Lake

flickr image by David Jones

History abounds in Hanoi, so take in the good with the bad. The most popular day trips are a view of the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and the legendary Hoa Lo Prison, colloquially known as the Hanoi Hilton. The grand Ba Dinh Square around Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum is a new meets old dedication to the entombment of the former leader. Check dates upon arrival, the body is taken once a year to be preserved in Russia. The Hanoi Hilton is easily accessible by taxi from the mausoleum and both can be done in a day. The prison is a dark glimpse into both the French bound Vietnamese that occupied the area, and later the American prisoners during the Vietnam War. John McCain, former senator and past presidential hopeful was kept and tortured here at the prison. The area is now a museum to educate the public on colonial detriments and war bound ways. Though morbid, there are several areas of the prison that show the great strides the Vietnamese people have made in bettering foreign policy and extending a forgiving hand.

Halong Bay Hanoi

flickr image by cristinabe

If the noisy city streets are starting to wear, take a side trip to the Halong Bay. The many islands off of the bay have recently been awarded as a Unesco World Heritage site and offer incredible parks, kayaking, and floating villages. Any travel shop near the Old Quarter in Hanoi can assist with booking, and will pick you up in the morning at your hotel.  The minivans will drive a few hours across the rice paddy countryside to the docks at the bay, meet with your captain and stay one or two nights upon a Halong Bay cruise. These wooden pirate-like structures will include food, lodging, and some interesting nighttime entertainment. Enjoy the eclectic travel groups from around the world and the stunning quiet island environment. Northern Vietnam will captivate you with the rich history and cultural individualism, as will the serene aquatic life of those few that inhabit the nearby Halong Bay.


Date posted: 6th July, 2015

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