Hanoi is one of the most charming capital cities in Asia, with unique architecture and mouth-watering streetfood. The city centre combines Colonial buildings, winding alleyways and serene temples, and there is plenty of pretty tree-lined squares and scenic lakes. Spend a few days here, whiling away the time exploring fascinating history, vibrant culture, and sampling local specialities.
Compared to the modern metropolis of Ho Chi Minh City in the south, Hanoi has much more of an old-world feel, both in terms of architecture and atmosphere, and yet the city has also embraced modern living, which has created an engaging combination of old and new.
A real highlight of Hanoi is the Old Quarter; a buzzing labyrinth of winding alleys, packed with local restaurants, streetfood stalls, shops and bars. The city of Hanoi dates back 1,000 years, and the Old Quarter has remained at its heart throughout the centuries.
Despite the leader's name-sake city being located in the south, it is Hanoi that is Ho Chi Minh's final resting place. The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Complex lies towards the city's West Lake, and comprises a number of buildings, including an imposing marble structure, which contains the embalmed body of Ho Chi Minh in a glass sarcophagus.
The Temple of Literature is an absolutely wonderful example of traditional Vietnamese architecture, with picturesque courtyards and intricate temples. Hanoi's most visited temple is Ngoc Son, which sits on a small island on Hoan Kiem Lake, accessed by a bridge. Inside you will find antique bells and ceramics.
There is so much to see and do whilst you are in Hanoi, but it is definitely worth taking some time to just simply wander and soak up the atmosphere. There are some fantastic people-watching spots, particularly around Hoan Kiem Lake, which is a popular meeting-place for locals, be it young couples strolling hand in hand, or older groups slowly practicing Tai Chi.
Hanoi is also the gateway to northern Vietnam, and some of the country's most stunning scenery, which can be found in areas such as Ninh Binh, Mai Chau, Sa Pa and the famous Halong Bay.