From Halong Bay to the Historic Wonders of Hanoi
Passengers disembark their ship within the mystical landscape of Halong Bay and transfer through the Vietnam’s countryside to Hanoi, the 1000 year old capital of Vietnam. A city of lakes, parks and colonial mansions, Hanoi retains much of its historical charm and with an eclectic mix of Asian tempo and French refinement, Vietnam’s capital is a city to be savored. Visitors are taken through the corridor like streets of Hanoi’s Old Quarter, the ideal place in which to wander and observe daily life. Here street traders jostle for space on the sidewalks and narrow alleyways that are still named after the goods that were traded there – Silk Street, Gold Street and even Fried Fish Street!
A stroll around West Lake reveals a different side of the city and nearby you will find the somber Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, which is usually crowded with Vietnamese of all ages wishing to show their respects. The elegant French Quarter is home to some fine colonial architecture including the famous Sofitel Legend Metropole Hotel and the Opera House. Hanoi is steeped in history from the ‘Hanoi Hilton’ (the infamous Hoa Lo Prison where so many prisoners of war were incarcerated) to the religious pride that constructed the 11th century Temple of Literature, the heart of the Confucian education system. Hanoi is a delightful city of contrasts and the ideal city in which soak up the ebb and flow of life in Vietnam.
During an evening spent here you might want to appreciate Vietnamese water puppetry, a tradition that dates to the 11th century when villagers would wade into the flooded rice fields and entertain one another with puppet play. The ‘stage’ is a pool of water in which the puppeteers stand waist deep, hidden by a screen from behind which they skillfully maneuver the lacquered wooden puppets. Attached to a bamboo pole, the puppets appear to dance and play on the water’s surface. In your leisure time, don’t forget to try fantastic street foods that you could find just around corners. As a transportation hub, you could easily reach the next port-of-call in Vietnam by a short flight from Hanoi.