Best travel attractions Hanoi right now: This skinny alley and its train line, about halfway between the Imperial Citadel and St. Joseph’s Cathedral in central Hanoi, has become world famous in recent years due to the fact that passing trains run with only around a 20-centimeter gap between the train and the alley’s houses. Due to tourists acting dangerously and not getting out of the way of oncoming trains, the government decided to ban tourism on the street in 2019, and shut down the alley’s cafés due to safety fears. Since then there has been some relenting of attitude, and some cafés along the route have been reopened. If you’re here to photograph the trains, make sure to obey the street locals and café staff just before the train passes. The train schedule changes regularly, but there are usually more opportunities to see the trains go by on the weekends. See extra details at https://hanoibylocals.com/transfer/shuttle-bus-hanoi-halong-bay/.
Behind Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum is a humble stilt house, where Ho Chi Minh supposedly lived in the 60s, though some claim that it would have been too risky during the war for him to live here. The house is an interpretation of a traditional rural dwelling, and has been preserved just as Ho left it. It’s set in a well-tended garden next to a carp-filled pond. It shares grounds with the much more luxurious and impressive Presidential Palace built for the French Governor of the Indochina colony in the early 1900’s. The palace is now used for official receptions and isn’t open to the public.
Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre, located along Dinh Tien Hoang Street, comprises 17 short sketches using traditional puppets within a one-hour performance. A Vietnamese orchestra accompanies each story, with musicians playing traditional operatic songs using drums, wooden bells, horns, bamboo flutes and cymbals. Aside from the general admission fee of VND 100,000, there’s an additional camera or video fee if you wish to photograph or film the show. Tickets sell out well in advance so it’s worth booking yours as soon as you arrive in town.
If Buddhists were to build a treehouse, it would likely look a lot like this. This eleventh century temple was built by the emperor in gratitude for finally being blessed by a son. The temple was meant to look like a lotus flower blossoming from a single pillar in the pond, similar to the one seen in the prophetic dream of a child that this emperor had received. Inside, there is a small shrine to the Bodhisattva of Mercy. The current structure is a rebuild, as the French had the first destroyed after their retreat from the country.
When the crowds begin to wear you down, Hanoi has a bundle of places to visit where you can escape for some peace. Hoan Kiem Lake is a relaxing respite right within the city, while the Temple of Literature and Vietnam Museum of Ethnology are two of the best places to visit to reflect on Vietnam’s grand history. For many visitors to Vietnam’s capital, the major attraction is strolling the streets of the city’s ancient core. This labyrinthine quarter of narrow alleys is the commercial heartbeat of town and has a history that stretches back 1,000 years. It’s a delightfully dilapidated place, where the odd piece of medieval era architecture has managed to cling on within the modern hubbub of whizzing motorbikes, street vendors, and pulsating commerce. See even more info on Hanoi By Locals.
Hoan Kiem lake represented the spiritual heart of the city, reminds Vietnamese people of a legendary story about the name Hoan Kiem, and reminds the traditional education and the dedication of General Tran Hung Dao. Located in the middle of one of the busiest streets of Vietnam capital, Hoan Kiem Lake offers plenty of trees and shaded spots in which to escape the busy life. Legend tells that the Heaven King sent Emperor Ly Thai To a magical sword, which he used to fight against Chinese colonization and got his distinguished victory. After the war, Ly Thai To returned the magical sword to a giant turtle, which grabbed the sword and disappeared into the depths of this lake to restore the sword to its original owners. Being faithful and inspired, the locals name the lake after the highlighted milestone of Vietnam history – “Ho Hoan Kiem”, which means “Lake of the Restored Sword”.