Crowded streets full of scooters jostling for space with cars, trucks and buses. That’s one vision of Vietnam’s capital, but most visitors come to admire its centuries-old culture and landmarks.
One of the most well-known of those landmarks is the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. Vietnamese still revere the communist leader for his part in uniting North and South Vietnam, and there often are long lines to enter the mausoleum to see Ho Chi Minh’s frail body.
From the ’70s-era mausoleum, visit the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, a reminder that despite all the countries that have marched through here — from China, Japan, France and America — the Vietnamese have long kept their own unique culture. The citadel was built in the 11th century and was the center of power for almost 13 centuries. The display room here shows some of the treasures they’ve dug up.
Now, it’s time to brave the traffic to head to one of the most beautiful places in the city, Hoan Kiem Lake, an oasis of peace. Be sure to see a performance of water puppet theater here. The water-spitting dragons are something else!
By now you must be hungry. No dish is more Hanoi than bun cha, or grilled pork noodles. Have a delicious bowl at Bun Cha Huong Lien, a hole-in-the-wall restaurant in a crowded downtown area. The restaurant has been called Bun Cha Obama since May 2016, when then-U.S. President Barack Obama stopped here for a beer and a bowl of bun cha with TV chef Anthony Bourdain. Their table is now proudly on display. (T)