If you’re planning a trip to Asia, one of the best places to visit is Hanoi in Vietnam. Rich in culture and teeming with tourist attractions, it will surely make for one very memorable experience.
To help make itinerary planning easier, this guide will tell you all about the five top experiences that you should definitely make time for.
Watch a water puppet theater show
This ancient Asian art form is one for all ages, which makes it at the very top of your Hanoi trip to-do list. Intricately made puppets gracefully dance and slide around a liquid stage, replete with handmade props and backdrops. The magic is produced by an entire team of puppet masters working their skill behind the screen, unbeknownst to a captive audience. While there are many theaters that perform a water puppet show in Hanoi, the most popular one would be the Thang Long Puppet Theater along Dinh Tien Hoang Street in the Hoan Kiem District. Some of the most interesting shows include the Legend of the Restored Sword of King Le. This is a tale of the giant tortoise of Hoan Kiem Lake, which is a delight to witness by both the old and young.
Take a trip to Thang Long’s Imperial Citadel in Ba Dinh
This impressive site is actually a UNESCO World Heritage site, which alone makes the trip entirely worth it. Also known as Hanoi’s citadel, this building is at the heart of the ancient city of Hanoi. For more than 13 years, the site has served as the city’s political center as well as Vietnam’s capital for 8 centuries. The citadel is home to a central flag tower which is 40 meters high. As the most popular symbol of Hanoi, it is a must for photo ops! You’d best review your photography skills to have the best snaps of you and your group at this site.
Sign up for a cooking class
One of the things to look forward to when visiting Hanoi is sampling the sumptuous cuisine, but why stop there? The trick to a more memorable experience is to personally try cooking the dishes yourself. Luckily, most cooking classes you can sign up for in Hanoi also include market tours. This allows you an ever closer look into the lives of locals, apart from learning the secrets of their national dishes. Signing up for one can easily be done online, as there are many outfits that offer cooking classes in the city of Hanoi. Whenever you crave a steaming hot bowl of pho or a crunchy spring roll back in your home country, all you need to do is to cook it yourself!
Go around Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
After visiting the Imperial Citadel, make a side trip to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. Also in Ba Dinh, this structure is home to the preserved body of Vietnam’s first Communist leader Ho Chi Minh. The well-respected leader is known for defeating the French back in 1954, and is fondly called “Uncle Ho” by the locals. The Mausoleum’s style is modeled after Lenin’s in Moscow and attracts a good number of visitors (both local and foreign) all throughout the year.
One of the newer, unintentional tourist attractions in Hanoi is the Hanoi Train Street. It started to draw crowds several years back due to the flurry of activity that occurs every time a train passes the ultra-narrow roads. People going about their everyday routine gather their things – laundry, boiling pot of soup, what-have-yous – and scramble to let the train pass upon hearing its approaching horn. Once the coast is clear, they all come out and resume their routine as if nothing happened. This highly entertaining occurrence is something that many tourists eagerly await, so you might want to head out here, too!
These five activities and sites will surely make your Hanoi trip more colorful, so don’t forget to dedicate a day to any or all of them in your trip!