Top 5 Must Do's in Hanoi

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When you visit Vietnam, give these Hanoi must do's a much deserved visit. You'll find yourself entranced by the intricacies of the architecture and serene beauty of the landscapes. From Ba Dinh Square to a trip out to Halong Bay, here are five Hanoi must do's to help you plan your trip.

1. Tran Quoc Pagoda

The oldest pagoda in Hanoi was built around A.D. 550, and moved in the 17th century to its current location in the West Lake. The island on which it stands is lush and offers a peaceful respite from the hectic city pace. You can wander amongst the shrines and corridors and marvel at the Buddhist trinity. The statues are almost as interesting as the pagoda itself, and don't forget to keep an eye out for the bodhi tree that was a gift from India.

2. Temple of Literature

This temple was erected circa 1070 in honor of Confucius and the Vietnamese morality character of Chu Van An. There are statues of Confucius and his followers scattered amongst the grounds, which include vast gardens and a pond. In the 1800's, the Pavilion of the Constellation of Literature was added to the temple. The area also boasts the first university in Vietnam, as well as the Khue Van Pavilion and the Worshipping Hall.

3. Hanoi Citadel

This former residence of the royalty of Vietnam was used between 1010 and 1810. Most of the structure that makes up the citadel was destroyed by the French in the 19th century, but the gate, steps, Princess's Palace and Hanoi Flag Tower still exist. You can now visit a few of the buildings, which were kept guarded from visitors for centuries.

4. Ba Dinh Square

This historic square rounds off the list of Hanoi must do's that are actually located within Hanoi. The square contains the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Ho Chi Minh Museum and the former president's residence. It is also home to Ba Dinh Hall, the Presidential Palace and One-Pillar Pagoda, built in 1049.

Halong Bay

This UNESCO World Heritage Site is located just outside of Hanoi. You can book a 1-, 2- or 3-day trip that begins and ends in Hanoi. The trip itself is about 5 hours by bus. Once there, take a boat around the more than 3,000 islands and take your time exploring some of the grottoes. It's best to visit around spring or summer if you want to take a dip, as the water is warmer and crystal clear.

March 23, 2010 new by tiffanymparker

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