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Hanoi City Tour

On my last full day in Hanoi, I decided to explore what this frenetic and culturally rich city had to offer.

Tran Quoc Pagoda

Tran Quoc Pagoda was the first destination on the itinerary. It is the oldest pagoda in Vietnam. Many locals visit this pagoda a day before their wedding to pray and ask for good luck. During our trip to this pagoda, there was a wedding being held. 

Pagodas in Vietnam are unlike the temples in Thailand because you will barely see or not see any monks at all. The Vietnamese did not have any writing of their own that is why they borrowed Chinese characters before European missionaries created an alphabet for them which they use till now.

Apparently, the Vietnamese bury their dead twice. They dig up the bones after three years and place them in another coffin and location.

Tran Quoc Pagoda is located right next to West Lake, one of the largest lakes in Vietnam.

One Pillar Pagoda

One Pillar Pagoda is one of the most iconic structures in Vietnam. Its distinct design and history has made it into a popular destination. This pagoda was built in the 11th century.

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

The next stop was Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum. Nobody was allowed to take any pictures inside the mausoleum. All large cameras, including DSLRs, will be collected at the entrance.

Loosely translated this sign means: Ho Chi Minh always lives in my heart. The Vietnamese are very grateful for what Ho Chi Minh or Uncle Ho has done for their country. Ho Chi Minh traveled to more than 30 countries, one of which was a visit to Russia which changed the course of his life. He met Lenin and decided that communism was the way to go for Vietnam. The mausoleum is a tribute to the man that liberated Vietnam.

We weren't able to enter Ho Chi Minh's residence because there was a government official who had businesses in the premises.

Museum of Ethnology

Before lunch, we headed to the Museum of Ethnology to learn about the many ethnic groups living in Vietnam.

Vietnam is home to more than 30 ethnic groups that are a mix of Cham, Cambodian, Thai, Chinese and others. The combination of ethnic groups has created a diverse and culturally rich country.

The exhibits depicted the life of the different ethnic groups in Vietnam. One can clearly see the distinct clothes and unique way of life of each ethnic group. 

What I liked about the museum are the ethnic houses built outside the museum proper. As a Filipino, I found some of the houses very similar to our ancestral houses. There way of life was also very similar to ours.

NOTE: Visitors have to pay 50,000 VND to take pictures inside the museum, but you can use your camera without a fee in the area of traditional houses.

Temple of Literature

This was one of my favorite places during the tour. This temple is dedicated to scholars and the Confucian philosophy. I'm sure this place would be perfect to walk around in during the early morning, when we were there, there were just too many tourists around.

These two doors symbolize talent and virtue, which are both needed to be the superior man in Confucian philosophy.

There were lots of paintings and statues with turtles on it. If I'm not mistaken, the turtle symbolizes long life and wisdom. A lot of tourists and Vietnamese rub the head of the turtle for wisdom and some luck.

This temple was built in the 11th century and is one of many Confucian temples in Vietnam.

The temple has five courtyards and one Stelae of Doctors.

This is the lake inside the temple.

Statues of renowned scholars inside the temple.

There was also traditional music being played inside one of the courtyards of the temple.

Lake of the Restored Sword & Tortoise Pagoda

The last destination on the city tour was a visit to Hoan Kiem Lake and its temple.

The red bridge to the temple is one of the scenic spots found in Hanoi. One could just sit on one of the benches surrounding the lake to enjoy the serene atmosphere behind the hustle and bustle of the city.

Tortoise Pagoda which stands in the lake, is inaccessible to visitors.

Hanoi Flag Tower

After the city tour, I decided to visit the Hanoi Flag Tower, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Hanoi Flag Tower was built in 1812. There were also many war remnants found on the site. This site sits right next to the War Museum in Hanoi.

Hanoi is a culturally rich city with museums, temples, and pagodas within walking distance. You don't have to book a tour to see the places listed here, you can just walk to them with the help of a good map. I decided to book a $25 tour with lunch and entrance fees because I wanted to hear what the guide said, he threw around insights and I got to ask questions about Vietnam that aren't in a guidebook.


  1. Great places to see specially the Museum of Ethnology. The pagonas symbolize how Vietnamese value their gods.

  2. Love to see this places even only in pictures it seems I am there already. No wonder that travelling is one of the best forms of recreation.

  3. Hanoi is on my mind whenever I think of Vietnam. This a good introduction of what I can expect rambling around this quaint city.

  4. I just observed that their pagodas are simpler in design and not that tall compared to Chinese pagodas and temples that I've seen in photos that are huge and has intricate design.

  5. Visiting pagodas is a good pastime for my Dad but not for me and my sister haha we are more in favor of shopping when out of the country. :D

  6. When time really permits, I wanted to go where the pagodas are. I really wanted to have a photo collection of them. I am just fascinated with the way Vietnamese built them.

  7. Based on the structures Vietnam have a very lush culture. I wanna go there!

  8. I wonder what architecture influences the Vietnamese have. Maybe, just like us the Filipinos, we were influenced by different cultures and this is the reason we're sort of lost in our own.

  9. There are so many historic sites in Hanoi and a must visit for me too. The next time, I'm in Vietnam, I'll go to Hanoi.

  10. Culturally rich din pala ang Ho Chi Minh City. Kala ko kasi dati, isa lang siyang bagong gawang city. Pinakagusto ko yung Tran Quoc Pagoda.

  11. Great photos! It clearly describes how the Vietnamese want their cultures protected, recognized and respected.

  12. @san senyong jose: thats hanoi not ho chi minh :D

  13. I have never been to Hanoi but I do dream of flying to the place one day! It's actually in my bucket list of go-to places. =)

  14. Oh the beautiful Hanoi! Looks like you had a wonderful visit :) I can tell by simoly looking at your photos!

  15. Are those conical things, fish traps? Amazing photos! Makes Vietnam into my list of places to visit, if time permits.