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.
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
Close to the bustle and excitement of the city, Sheraton Hanoi Hotel is surrounded by lush gardens, sweeping lawns, and tranquil courtyardsHanoi Intercontinental Westlake Hotel
Built entirely on and over the tranquil waters of historic Westlake and next to the 800 year-old Golden Lotus Pagoda in Hanoi, the Hanoi Intercontinental Westlake is a wonderful place to get away from the city's bustle.Melia Hanoi
Located in Hanoi’s city center, combining the International brand standards, exceptional facilities and warm hospitality, the 5 star Melia Hanoi Hotel offers a suitable choice for leisure and business travelers looking to base their Hanoi exploration from the city center.Hilton Hanoi Opera
The Hilton Hanoi Opera overlooks Hanoi's magnificent colonial-era Opera House and was designed in harmony with the spectacular architecture of its locationLa Dolce Vita
Located in the Old Quater of Hanoi, La Dolce Vita Hanoi boasts 52 roomy guestrooms featuring large soft beds, bathtubs and satellite television.Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi
Originally opened in 1901 and listing heads of state and movie stars among its previous guests, the Sofitel Metropole Hanoi has long been the place to stay in Hanoi