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Why fly to Hanoi?
It's a city of temples and french colonial architecture, of tradition meet technology. Hanoi sits on the banks of the Red River and is the capital of Vietnam. It is the second largest city in the country and has played an important role in history right up to the recent past in the Vietnam war.
The city is dotted with beautiful old temples that date back to the 11th century. Many of these temples are still in use today.Visit one of these shrines for a kaleidescope look to almost 1000 years ago. Once you get off that giant airplane you will enter a city of small homes, tiny street and quaint everything which adds to the old city's charm.
There are numerous examples of French colonial architecture throughout the city. Visit the Hanoi Opera House as well as the Presidential Palace to see the distinct style.
The city is also home to numerous museums, which will help you understand the city and the people a little better like the Vietnam Museum of Revolution, Vietnam National Museum of Fine Arts and the Hanoi Museum.
There are many green spaces throughout the city where the residents practice the ancient art of Tai-Chi in the early mornings as the sun rises. The practice in itself seems to bring a calmness into the place. Visit the Old Quarter which is where the heartbeat of the city is. There are restaurants and food stalls mixed in with pagodas and little shops selling all sorts of souvenir items.
Hanoi has also been called the city of lakes due to the numerous bodies of water located in and around the city. Visit the Quang An lakeside area for a worry-free bike ride and fresh air.
Hanoi is a warm city in general however there is quite a difference in temperatures from the summer to winter months. In the summer the temperatures hit the 30s and the air is full of moisture, thereby creating a very humid atmosphere. The summer is also when the city is at its most wet. The winter season lasts from November to February and temperatures during this period drop down to the low teens.
When to fly to Hanoi
The city is very busy at the beginning of the year as brisk preparations are made for the lunar New Year, flight tickets at this time are high. The summer months are also fairly busy with families visiting the city during summer holidays.
The New Year celebrations finish up at the end of February at which time flight ticket prices ease up. You can find some great deals right through to May. The latter half of September is also a good time to fly on a budget.
Getting into Hanoi
Your flight will land at Noi Bai International Airport, which is located close to 35 minutes outside of Hanoi in the north. Once you arrive at the airport you can use the airport's handy minibuses to get to your destination. Taxis are also an option but will be more expensive then the airport transportation.
Getting around Hanoi
The city does have public bus transportation and if you are a bit of an adventure by all means use the buses. However if you're unfamiliar with the local language it may be a little bit of a challenge. The city has both taxi cab and pedicab service which are both good options. You can also speak to your hotel staff who may be able to hire you a driver for the day at a reasonable rate.
- Spend a day at the lake. There are many lakes in the city with West Lake being the largest. The park is filled with temples and there are pedalboats you can hire to spend some time floating in the middle of West Lake. Spending some time near the water is a great way to cool down during the summer.
- Have a good adventure. The items the locals nosh on are of the little insect kind and definitely not dishes that have made it very far in Western countries, which is why you should really partake. It is a great food adventure and locals swear by the healthy nutritional properties insects hold. There are a row of stalls in the Old Quarter that are believed to dish up some of this unusual fare.
- Visit the Museum of Ethnology and trace the roots of Hanoi's residents. The museum provides fascinating information about the history and the make up of the city and how it all came to be. It will likely change the way you see Hanoi from a city of Hanoi residents to a really rich cultural tapestry.
- Shopping in Hanoi is very interesting, especially in the Old Quarter. Each street will have a particular theme if you will. So if you are looking for a particular type of item you will head to the street of that name and there you will find all of the shops will carry the item you desire. So if you want bamboo, there's a street for that, perhaps herbal medicine, well there's a street for that. So no wandering through the whole city, the shopping process is made utterly simple.
- Pick up one of the cone-shaped baskets as a souvenir if you can fit it into your luggage. They are handmade and will really make a great statement piece in your home (you can also put other souvenirs inside the baskets to save luggage space).
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