When I arrived in Hanoi the weather wasn't the greatest. It was overcast and about 18 degrees and windy. I had so many assumptions about Vietnam before I got there which was quickly dismissed. I always thought Vietnam was humid as hell. I didn't know north Vietnam had different weather than south Vietnam. I had to wear a jacket and pants it was so cold! I arrived to Hanoi late on my first day and had gone out to find food. I met a tuk tuk driver who offered to pick me up the next day and take me on a tour of Hanoi which I obliged. Hanoi is the capital city of Vietnam but the second largest city in the country. There are so many beautiful places to visit here but I only had time for two cities.
It wasn't a very warm day, I went out in a t-shirt because it felt warm. As soon as I sat in the tuk tuk and the wind hit me I was freezing but I didn't want to go back and get a jacket. My driver's name was Phong, he was two years younger than me, 25 y.o. He asked me questions about myself, like, where i'm from, how old I am, what am I doing here and yada yada. He told me how he had family in Canada and how he wanted to visit. I told him the weather here surprised me because I didn't know it got this cold! Phong took me along the lake for some beautiful scenery on the way to my first destination. I love the old style buildings in this city, so colourful and vibrant!
Tran Quoc Pagoda
The first place we headed to was Tran Quoc Pagoda which sits on West Lake. It is the oldest Buddhist temple and pagoda in Hanoi-- hence the crowds! This is a pretty colourful temple! I didn't stay too long because there were too many people just standing about. There is no admission it's absolutely free!!
Temples here are a lot different than Korea. In Korea I felt once you've seen 1 you've seen them all, a lot of them look alike.
Quan Thanh Temple
The next place I went to was Quan Thanh Temple. It was across the road at Truc Bach Lake. I loved this place! There is a fee of 30.000 VND ($1.75 cad) so it's not breaking the bank! Also this place is pretty large. This is a Taoist temple, the first one I've ever been to!
While I was looking around there were groups of school children, maybe on a school outing. They were so adorable and of course I got the stares but I also got the Hi's and Hello's. They seemed so excited to just say hi! Usually I just get the stares with no greetings so I loved this.
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
The next place I was planning on going to was the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. Unfortunately, there was a massive line as you can see, so I skipped this monument.
Hoa Lo Prison
Instead I went to Hoa Lo Prison. I was actually going to skip this place because I didn't want to walk around and look at something depressing while on vacation. Admission was 30,000 VND, so it was cheap. The prison was actually demolished in 1990 except for the main gate which is now the museum!
It was really sad, there were lots of old photos of prisons, chains that were used, prison clothes and other memorabilia.
There was also a prisoner wing where you can look into prison cells and see what it would have been like for prisoners. Like I said earlier this place was really sad but at the same time you learn so much about the treatment that was imposed on the Vietnamese during the war.
After Hoa Lo Prison Phong drove me around to some popular places in Hanoi. I just sat in the tuk tuk and took pictures because they weren't places I needed to get out and look at.
Ngoc Son Temple
The last place I visited on my Hanoi tour was Ngoc Son Temple. It is located the Old Quarter, off the Hoan Kiem Lake, not too far from my hostel. The place was very quiet, it had the least amount of tourists out of all the places I went today. This was actually one of my favourite temples because it was so beautiful as you will see from the pictures.
As you can see this temple is beautiful. This temple is also very well maintained! There is an entry fee of 30,000 VND but no time limit. This is a great temple to relax at as there are benches to sit.
I saw this beautiful carving inside the temple. There once was a giant turtle that used to live in this lake, but died after being injured. This is their way of paying homage to the large animal. There is also a giant golden turtle inside the temple.
On the way back to my hostel we drove by Hang Gai street where I was actually planning on visiting. I'm glad I didn't because my phone was dying and I would have no idea how to get back to my hostel, plus there wasn't much to see here. I spent a good 3 hours visiting all these sites but I definitely got ripped off with the price. I made the mistake of not discussing the price before we left my hostel and ended up paying 600,000 VND ($20). Plus he kept begging me for more money which I didn't give him! After I went to my hostel and researched the prices and I saw that around 300,00-400,000 VND was the normal price. I mean it wasn't a big deal because it was still cheap to me but I could've saved money! So don't be like me, make sure to research the price or find the best price among tuk tuk drivers!
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I’m Hilda, the writer behind Herxtravels. Here you can find travel guides, reviews and tips. Find out more about me here.