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Updated by Joanna James on Jun 23, 2019
Headline for Top Things to Do in Hanoi – The Essential Places for Exploration in Hanoi
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Top Things to Do in Hanoi – The Essential Places for Exploration in Hanoi

Hanoi is captivating capital of Vietnam and was also the capital of French Indochina. The city is more than a thousand years old and has a bounty of stunning locales to explore.


Imperial Citadel of Thang Long

Branded a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this breathtaking locale was the epicentre of ancient Hanoi and is still one of the most significant works of architecture in the entire country. A large variety of ancient artefacts were discovered within this locale, spanning back as far as the 6th century. Among these ancient artefacts were foundations belonging to old palaces as well as ancient roads. The discovery of various coins and pottery within this place is proof of the strong the ancient citadel's prowess as a place of trade.


Water Puppet Theater

The concept of water-puppets is one of the most ancient forms of entertainment and performing art in the history of Indonesia. Puppet theatre is a very prominent tradition in Asia, but having puppets over water is distinctly Vietnamese. This practice started due to flooding that would occur on paddy-fields, and farmers utilising this technique as a manner to provide comic relief. The puppets are placed on waist-deep water, with a rod beneath them which enables them to be controlled by puppeteers behind screens. A tale that is most common among these shows is that of Hoan Kiem Lake and the Giant Tortoise.


Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

The legendary Ho Chi Minh is regarded as one of the nation's greatest leaders, which led to the people naming a city after him. The awe-inspiring structure's design is based on Lenin's mausoleum, and contains a crimson colour-scheme within, symbolic of his political beliefs. The mausoleum is sacred to the people of Vietnam since they believe their leader lives on forever because of it. The preserved remains of Ho Chi Minh are sent every year to Russia for maintenance. As a result of this the mausoleum is closed for a significant part of the year. If you're staying at a hotel or one of Hanoi serviced apartments such as the Somerset Grand Hanoi its best to check with someone before taking a visit.


The Perfume Pagoda

Locally known as Chua Huong, this temple is situated at a consecrated site that is believed to be discovered more than two thousand years ago by a monk who was meditating. The first temple however was built during the 15th century. The entire environment of the temple speaks of natural beauty and serenity, with lush vegetation, gentle streams and tranquil lakes. Now there are various pagodas and every respective one contains a different shrine. Amazingly, the entrance to this cave complex resembles the mouth of a massive dragon.


Dong Xuan Market

This emporium is one of the largest in the country and contains four storeys of all kinds of products you might wish to obtain. Some of the most popular things to purchase are printed t-shirts and various kinds of clothing. There's also a large section devoted to electronics and house-hold appliances. To experience some of Hanoi's unique modern culture, be sure to visit the wet-market which features a wide range of fruits, vegetables, meat and seafood. There's also a great food court where you can indulge in some comforting Vietnamese street food. This is probably the best way to conclude your Hanoi adventure.