5 Things to Do in Hanoi

turtletower.jpg

Rain or shine, there are tons of things to do in Hanoi. Unfortunately for us, it was ALL rain, but that's not to say we didn't still have a great time in Vietnam's capitol city. Here's a round-up of a few places you definitely shouldn't miss:

1. Hoan Kiem Lake & Turtle Tower

lake2
lake2

At any time of the day, locals and tourists alike can be found meandering around the "Lake of the Returned Sword," the historical center of Hanoi. Legend has it that a former king was prompted to return the holy sword he used in battle to the Dragon King of the lake. A tortoise ~ a sacred animal in Vietnamese culture ~ came up to retrieve the sword and it has remained there ever since. Turtle Tower stands in the center of the of the tortoise-filled lake, while sculptures, plant life and the surrounding cityscape make it an idyllic spot to while the day away.

2. Ho Chi Minh Museum & Mausoleum

hochiminhmuseum
hochiminhmuseum

We only walked around the grounds of the museum and mausoleum (even that is a site to see!), but I'd love to return one day to go in and see Ho Chi Minh in the flesh. Friends described it as a chilling experience - and I mean that literally, apparently the room was freezing! - but that it was extremely interesting to see and learn more about such a prominent figure in Vietnam's history.

3. One Pillar Pagoda

pagoda
pagoda

Right next to the Ho Chi Minh Museum, you'll find the One Pillar Pagoda,  one of the most prominent Buddhist temples in Hanoi. It is built on a single stone pillar designed to resemble a lotus blossom ~ the Buddhist symbol of purity.

4. St. Joseph's Cathedral

cathedral
cathedral

Built in 1886, St. Joseph's Cathedral is Hanoi's oldest church, catering to more than four million Catholics in the country. It's Neo-Gothic-style featuring two bell towers often draws comparisons to the Notre Dame de Paris.

5. West Lake & Tran Quoc Pagoda

pagoda2
pagoda2

Located on the southeastern shore of Hanoi's West Lake, the sixth-century Tran Quoc Pagoda is the oldest pagoda in Hanoi. It comes into view as you round the lake and offers picturesque views as it reflects off the water.

What are your favorite sites? Have I missed any?