Traditional Hanoi (Ha Noi) already more than thousand years is a capital of the country. In the city you will see unique balance between East and West, Chinese traditions and French architecture. The city situated nearly 15 km along the Red River ("red") and territory is divided into seven main districts ("quantum") and surrounded by suburbs ("hyuen"). Must visit is charming "Old Quarter" or "36-Pho Phuong" - a maze of narrow streets turned into a huge shopping area. People in Hanoi are natural and open. Hanoi is a good start for trip around the country; also you can easily get from Hanoi to Sapa Mountains and to Ha Long Bay and even to continue to Cat Ba Island. In Hanoi you can buy motorbike and prepare for the trip in Vietnam. Accommodation in Hanoi Hanoi is very big city but the most touristic and cheap area with hotels is around Hoan Kiem Lake. It’s about one hour far from airport. In this area you can find cheap rooms to let, guest houses and hotels. Price for one night in guest house cost about 10$. But for your stay you can choose and other areas to stay as Ba Dinh square, West Lake or Dong Xuan Market for example. One bedroom apartment near Hoan Kiem Lake will cost about 350-500$. If you need to stay near airport there is only one hotel. If you go out from airport go left and walk about 2 km (all this time airport will be from your left side). From right side of the road you’ll find hotel. Price is about 20$ per night. Attractions in Hanoi Hanoi city is rich for pagodas, has few museums, some nice nature areas and the main honor of the city is to keep Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. Sometimes in the city you can find scattered monuments. Despite Hanoi is the big and busy city here is nice to stay and learn it part by part. Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and Museum Here you can see first president and the loveliest Vietnam leader Ho Chi Minh. He didn’t has his own family but Vietnam people was his family and his children. So among themselves people called him uncle Ho. He can protect his country against USA aggression and unite two parts of Vietnam. Unfortunately he hasn’t seen the end of the war but with the help of Soviet government for his memory and honor was built mausoleum. And every autumn his body send to Russian specialist for renovation. To get inside is not so easy. Every day thousands of Vietnamese people come to give their respect for person whom they still love. And of course a lot of foreigners are interesting to visit mausoleum. Entrance is free but you should behave calm and wear clothes that will cover your body, cameras and telephones are not allowed. Working time from 8.00 am to 11.00 am except Monday and Friday. And be ready to wait very long time. Near the mausoleum you can visit Ho Chi Minh museum with his photos, documents and personal things. Entrance cost 25.000 dong. West Lake West Lake and park located exactly near Ho Chi Minh mausoleum. This is the biggest and picturesque lake of the city. For sure you’ll like this romantic lake with restaurants, mansions and boats. Pagoda Chua Tran Quoc This is the oldest pagoda in Hanoi dated 6 century. Building of pagoda was started behind of dam Yen Fu, but after was moved to the West Lake. Pagoda also was renewed in 1815 and today you can see here a complex of temple and buildings. One Pillar Pagoda It’s interesting wooden pagoda built by order of imperator Ly Thai Tong. It’s symbolize lotus flower that grow on one pillar. Inside can be fit only altar and few people because of small size. First pagoda was burned by French and rebuilt after occupation. Temple of Literature Temple of Literature was founded at the beginning of 11 century and looks very interesting. It was the first university of high education for the children of height ranks of Vietnam. On the stone walls you can finds names of the best students of the Temple. Hoan Kiem Lake Hoan Kiem Lake not only lovely touristic area but also nice place where you can visit pagoda Ngoc Son by brige and to see Turtle tower. On the lake bank there are a lot of benches, walking couples and people who do their traditional exercises. What to see nearby Hanoi Sapa Mountains Popular Sapa Mountains located only 350 km far from Hanoi. The best time to visit Sapa Mountains is spring and autumn. In spring you will see rice fields full of green young rice plants and in autumn this fields will enchant you with golden color. To get Sapa you can by bus (about 17$) or by train (about 45$). The best is to take night bus / train and travel will take about 10 hours (it’s not a mistake – to ride 350 km 10 hours). Also you can buy tour for a few days in any touristic agency. In Sapa Mountains available home stay and no hotels. In Sapa you can buy a lot of souvenirs, to see five different ethnos that is still wear traditional clothes, make a trekking or tent trip in mountains and make very good photos of amazing views. The best shoes in mountains are a gumboots that you can rent there. Ha Long Bay If you will write in google “Vietnam” first photos for sure will be from Ha Long Bay. It’s one of the most beautiful places of Vietnam with green rocks growing from emerald waters. And at the same time one of most popular resorts as well for Vietnamese as for foreigners. Beach is long and quite wide, waters is nice for swimming. Cheap hotels located mostly in the center behind post office. Near the beach there are a lot of restaurants with fresh seafood and there is menu in English everywhere. You can take a boat trip around, but the best option will be to go by ferry in Cat Ba Island. But if to choose between Ha Long and Cat Ba we would totally recommend Cat Ba Island. Cat Ba Island Is an islet of wild nature, piece and total green. You can take motorbike in ferry and your first ride from port will be through amazing green mountains, full of butterflies like in fairy tale and nature sounds around. Ferry to Cat Ba start from Tuan Chau island and cost about 2.5$. Almost all territory of the island is considered to be a National Park. The only one village where you can stay is about 20 km far from port. If you don’t have bike only you can take taxi. In island you can totally enjoy nature, have a total relax and walk in National Park. There are 2 roads: for advanced hikers and not very much. But in any case you will need to walk quite a lot and sometimes even climb on the rocks. So we recommend to wear good shoes. But when you come at the top you will be amazed with height and green mountains around. Also at the top you can climb more about 15-20 meters in metal tower to feel more adrenalin and take photos from more height point. Also in island you can eat fresh seefood and visit one of restaurant on the water. Food in Hanoi Like every city Hanoi is well known for its own traditional food. You can find one million small Vietnamese restaurants in every part of the city, also you can visit more touristic places for food or even some luxury restaurants. In Hanoi you can find multinational cuisine and restaurants: French, Indian, Chinese, Italian, Russian and other. Also in the capital you can find some teahouses with big variety of green tea. Traditional Hanoi dishes: Xoi Xeo – boiled rice served with fried onion, eggs, beans and pork or chicken. Banh Cuon – fresh spring rolls with pork, mushrooms and beans. Pho – traditional Vietnamese soup with meat and noodle. This soup you’ll find in every restaurant in the city. Bun Thang – still existing traditional Hanoi soup that you can find only in old city. Soup is cooked with chicken broth, egg, onion, thick noodle and chicken pieces. Cha Ca La Vong – delicious grilled fish with green onion, nuts and shrimps pasts. Almost everywhere in Hanoi you can find menu in English language. What to do in Hanoi In Hanoi the most favorite entertainments of locals are karaoke and traditional restaurant. Karaoke Vietnamese like to sing every time. And to sit in small cafe all evening with beer and a lot of food is the best time spending. Small restaurant with a lot of plastic chairs and table you can choose in every place you like – near lake, in the city center or in small hidden streets. But the most of you time of course will take line in Mausoleum so be ready to have it and to be patient. Of course Hanoi is very good for global shopping. Small and big shops everywhere, markets full of different goods, night markets that start open on the streets after 7pm. In Hanoi you can totally prepare for you trip around Vietnam, you can buy here a lot of stuff for motorbike like tools, additional equipment, bags, also you can buy here cheap clothes for travel to no spend much money for this in your country. In Hanoi you can visit unique Thang Long Water Puppet Theater. Show is going one time per day during 40 minutes but tickets need to buy before. Price is about 3$. Actors play their dolls staying in water and show looks very realistic. People say that the best is “Dragon dance”. Also in a free time you can visit one of massage salons in Hanoi or SPA-center with different beauty procedures for girls. Vietnamese very sporty people, every day they make some exercises. Around Hoan Kiem Lake you can often see some sport groups making aerobic or something like this. You can join some group or classes or to start make your own sport – in Vietnam it’s very easy. Weather in Hanoi The worst time in Hanoi is winter – it’s cold and high humidity. From December to February average temperature is about 17-22°C. But generally this time there is no rains. The coldest time is a fist months of the year. From March till October weather mostly hot with a lot of rains. The most quantity of precipitation comes July-August. This time thin plastic raincoat you can buy in every corner, but better to have raincoat from some more strong material that wouldn’t break after first use.