Visiting Hanoi

Following our Malaysian road trip, my colleague and I decided we should travel again soon to another Asian destination using the same budget airlines. I was interested in visiting Siem Reap. As we discussed plans, another friend from work decided she was also interested in joining us. She had friends she wished to visit in Hanoi so we decided to combine both during our travel. We started our trip in Hanoi.

It was a bit strange when we arrived at the airport in Hanoi to see that all the airport officials were military personnel. After a lengthy process, we were issued our tourist visas and left the airport. Our hosts had sent us a car to pick us up so we didn’t have to be concerned about navigating the city on the day we arrived.

Our host had planned a full day of exploration of Hanoi city, showing us her favourite spots in the city. We started out at the temple of literature, which was built in 1070, to house Vietnam’s first university. The university functioned till 1779 as the imperial academy educating the Vietnamese elite.

temple of literature

This is a photo of the gate leading to the second courtyard, which was the constellation of the literature pavilion. In the third courtyard, the well in the middle was referred to as the well of heavenly clarity.

temple of literature

woman at temple of literature

I enjoyed the visit to the temple of literature the most during my day in Hanoi. The peaceful aura of the beautiful place of learning was enchanting.

After exploring the temple, we went to the nearby Koto café, a social enterprise aimed at providing disadvantaged youth training and work opportunities in the hospitality industry. The lunch was delicious and the café had a lovely ambience.

Koto

As my colleagues loved shopping, our host then took us to a market where she said great bargains could be found on stuff made for international brands but which had been rejected due to minor defects and thus available at budget prices. As someone averse to shopping, I didn’t like this part of the day but it was fun to watch my friends’ excitement over their various finds.

After stopping for a refreshing and delicious fresh fruit juice, we visited Hoan Kiem lake (lake of the returned sword). According to legend, this is the lake where a 15th century emperor was asked by a turtle god to return his magic sword and hence the name of the lake. A cute, red wooden bridge took us to the Ngoc Son temple in the middle of the lake.

Huc bridge

We ended the day with a lovely dinner at a restaurant overlooking another lake. As I had expressed an interest in visiting the Bing Minh jazz club, a popular jazz club in the french quarter, our hosts had decided to take us there after dinner. Enjoying the live jazz music was a lovely way to end our day in Hanoi.

To be continued… overnight at Ha Long bay.

[I am sharing this travelogue at Angie’s Fiesta Friday #120, co-hosted this week by Loretta and Linda.

I am also sharing this at
* City Tripping #28 Link up, hosted by Cathy@Mummy Travels and Elizabeth@Wander Mum

** The Weekly Postcard, hosted by Travel Notes & BeyondA Hole in My Shoe, As We Saw It, Eff it, I’m On HolidaySelim Family Raasta]

A Hole In My Shoe
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20 thoughts on “Visiting Hanoi

  1. Welcome to Fiesta Friday and thank you for enlightening us with your travels. I’m always in awe of far away places, and seeing it through the eyes of others. It is amazing how far some of these cities date back to. So much history and culture, it was great taking a peek into your faraway travels.

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    • Glad you enjoyed the Hanoi travelogue, Loretta. As I was working on my travel blog this weekend, I decided to share a travelogue at the fiesta instead of a recipe from my other blog on Sri Lankan cuisine.

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      • I did enjoy it Ahila. I too have a section on my blog that pertains to Travel, and also another section on Gardening. The Fiesta is all about learning and not just recipes, I love to post other subjects too. Your travelogue was welcome.

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    • I am sure kids would enjoy the stories associated with the different sites. For example, the temple of literature had an entire section where there huge stone carvings of turtles carrying tablets with the names of the students who passed the exams. I can imagine that it would be fun for kids, as well as adults, to see and know. However, unlike in London where I had come across child-friendly activities and spaces in most of the venues, I did not come across similar places during my brief visit to Hanoi which might be something to consider.

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  2. Vietnam is somewhere I would love to visit – Hoi An in particular, but it’s so interesting to read about Hanoi as well. Hopefully I’ll get to follow in your footsteps one day! Thanks for linking up to #citytripping

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    • I had very much wanted to visit Hoi An as well on that trip but my friends and I had to choose between Ho Chi Minh city and Hoi An, after Hanoi. As they both wanted to visit HCM, we went there instead. Thanks for hosting City Tripping.

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    • Most people would have loved the shopping… there were some great finds that my friends made. For some reason, except when I am shopping for books or music, I start feeling my energy drain away rapidly while shopping.

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  3. The temple on the lake looks fantastic. I really want to go to Vietnam and Hanoi definitely sounds like it should be included on an itinerary. #citytripping

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    • If you are travelling to Vietnam, Hanoi definitely needs to be added on the itinerary. The other place in Vietnam that I wanted to visit but was not able to on this trip was Hoi An. And, congratulations and best wishes on your beautiful addition to your family, Elizabeth! 🙂

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      • Thank you so much! We’re over the moon! We actually a trip booked to Vietnam last year which we had to cancel because of my husbands health but Hoi An was part of the itinerary- was gutted we could not go – but will do one day x

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  4. I’ve only been to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, which didn’t impress me much (but it was also a really short trip and I didn’t manage to visit the Cu Chi tunnels). I’ve heard that Hanoi pales in comparison to HCMC, but the lake sounds interesting! Koto cafe sounds like a great place to support. Thanks for sharing, Ahila!

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  5. A night of jazz in the French Quarter of Hanoi sounds just about perfect to me, Ahila! I love the story of the sword in the lake – quite similar to our story of King Arthur and Excalibur. I would love to visit Hanoi. Thanks for sharing your story.

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    • Thank you for your lovely comment, Clare. Since I became a fan of jazz music, I have always tried to visit a jazz club wherever I have traveled. Hanoi was an intriguing city.

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