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August 1, 2014 as of 08:41 AM

Hanoi is one of Asia's most fascinating cities with its unique blend of western and oriental charm. You can wander through the 36 streets in the Old Quarter, rummage for souvenirs and witness the artisans working on their specialty crafts.

Known as the oldest university, the Temple of Literature and its five courtyards retains a scholarly atmosphere and makes a peaceful respite from Hanoi's busy streets. Pay homage to the late Ho Chi Minh at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and his 'house on stilts' and learn why "Uncle Ho" is such a respected figure to the Vietnamese. Vietnam is a culturally diverse country and the fascinating ways of life of her 54 ethnic groups can be seen at the Museum of Ethnology.

To check out the budding arts scene, pop into the dozens of art galleries that stock works ranging from traditional to modern. Enjoy a water puppet show - a unique cultural form of North Vietnam? For early risers, head to Hoan Kiem Lake and observe Vietnamese in their synchronized Tai Chi moves. On fine afternoons, stroll through the French quarter, sip an aromatic cup of coffee on the sidewalk and observe the bustling street life.

If you have more time to spare, there are many interesting locales in Hanoi's outskirts that are lesser visited by tourists. Tam Coc - with its series of limestone rock formations jutting out from a sea of rice paddies, is a scenic and surreal place to visit. Nearby Hoa Lu also offers similar landscapes of rocky outcrops - no less spectacular when compared to Tam Coc - as well as 10th century relics from when the area was the capital's country.

To learn about Vietnam's pottery history, a visit to Bat Trang Ceramic Village should be on the list. For lovers of indigenous crafts, the Van Phuc Weaving Village lures visitors with its bewildering range of silk products.

Explore the rustic landscapes by cycling around the city's northern outskirts in Dong Ho Village, which is also famous for its painting styles that depict the traditional Vietnamese village lives. Follow the trails of Vietnamese pilgrims and embark on a 2-hour trek up Huong Son Mountain to Perfume Pagoda (Chua Huong), with lots of photographic opportunities along the way.

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1. Attend a water puppet show
2. Take a cyclo-ride through the Old Quarter
3. Observe or join local people practicing Tai Chi early morning by Hoan Kiem Lake
4. Ride on sampan boat along the river in Tam Coc or Perfume Pagoda
5. Attend a cooking class to learn about local dishes

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GVFAM-03: Northern Vietnam Family Holiday GVFAM-03: Northern Vietnam Family Holiday Exploring Hanoi, one of Asia's most fascinating cities with its unique blend of western and oriental charm; aboard the traditional wooden junk for overnight cruise on the famed Halong Bay GVSPE-04: Vietnam Kaleidoscope GVSPE-04: Vietnam Kaleidoscope This itinerary is really fantastic for photographers who want to have nicest pictures about Vietnam GVSPE-16: Cuc Phuong National Park and Van Long Nature Reserve GVSPE-16: Cuc Phuong National Park and Van Long Nature Reserve Birding and wildlife at Cuc Phuong National Park and Van Long Nature Reserve GVSPE-13: Birding at Tam Dao National Park Species in Tam Dao National Park include Red-billed Blue Magpie, Grey Treepie, Coral-billed and Streak-breasted Scimitar-babblers, Rufous-headed and Short-tailed Parrotbills and Collared Babbler GVNMD-02: Emeraude Classic Cruise GVNMD-02: Emeraude Classic Cruise In this journey, you will discover the magic of Halong Bay on the grand Emeraude - an elegant replica of a paddle steamer dating back 100 years GVEDU-02: Northwest Vietnam GVEDU-02: Northwest Vietnam Trekking the mountains and studying minorities in the Northwest Vietnam GVFAM-02: Vietnam Family Adventure GVFAM-02: Vietnam Family Adventure This Vietnam Family Adventure, as with all our GRANDEUR Journeys family style, is specifically geared towards adults and children alike. A wonderfully balanced itinerary that ensures you get to see all the key sites whilst keeping the kids entertained. GVSPE-09: Exploring Mai Chau Valley GVSPE-09: Exploring Mai Chau Valley experiencing hill-tribe life and the breathtaking scenery of Mai ChauValley GVNMD-06: Splendors of the North Vietnam GVNMD-06: Splendors of the North Vietnam This journeys will expose you to the rustic countryside of Northern Vietnam, where you enjoy a dramatic landscape of limestone cliffs and caves, witness scenes of farmers, fishermen, children going to school, and everyday life GVNMD-05: Breakaway at Topas Eco Lodge Sapa GVNMD-05: Breakaway at Topas Eco Lodge Sapa This journey has been carefully designed to give you the best opportunity to experience the highlights of northern Vietnam, and of course, the stay at the unique Topas Eco Lodge

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