High quality holiday attractions in Hanoi right now: The courtyard outside this museum displays an eclectic mix of weaponry and military machines including downed French and US planes, tanks, and a Soviet MiG fighter plane. Inside the actual building is a huge amount of information on the wars with both France and the USA, along with exhibits of weaponry, which will be of interest to those with a penchant for Vietnam’s 20th century history. For the average visitor though, the displays and information panels are not particularly well set out, and many find the museum most worth a look for its courtyard clutter of planes around a stocky flag tower. See additional info on Hanoi By Locals.
Behind Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum is a humble stilt house, where Ho Chi Minh supposedly lived in the 60s, though some claim that it would have been too risky during the war for him to live here. The house is an interpretation of a traditional rural dwelling, and has been preserved just as Ho left it. It’s set in a well-tended garden next to a carp-filled pond. It shares grounds with the much more luxurious and impressive Presidential Palace built for the French Governor of the Indochina colony in the early 1900’s. The palace is now used for official receptions and isn’t open to the public.
Established in 1889, Dong Xuan Market is housed within a four-storey Soviet-style building on the northern edge of Hanoi Old Quarter. It’s also known as Hanoi’s largest indoor market, offering a wide range of goods such as fresh produce, souvenirs, accessories and clothing, as well as electronic and household appliances. Dong Xuan Market has a bustling wet market section on the ground floor, where locals shop for seafood, meat, and vegetables while the back section sells an array of pets (cats, dogs, and fish) and fresh flowers from all across Vietnam. If you’re looking to shop for souvenirs, head to the upper levels, where you can find numerous stalls selling tee shirts, fabrics, school uniforms, handbags, handicrafts, all of which are sold at wholesale prices.
If Buddhists were to build a treehouse, it would likely look a lot like this. This eleventh century temple was built by the emperor in gratitude for finally being blessed by a son. The temple was meant to look like a lotus flower blossoming from a single pillar in the pond, similar to the one seen in the prophetic dream of a child that this emperor had received. Inside, there is a small shrine to the Bodhisattva of Mercy. The current structure is a rebuild, as the French had the first destroyed after their retreat from the country.
A relic of French Colonial rule, right in the heart of the old town quarter, St. Joseph’s Cathedral (Nha Tho Street) was built in 1886 and is a fine example of neo-Gothic architectural style. The façade is intricately decorated, with two bell towers, while inside are some delicate stained glass window details. The main entrance is kept locked except for mass. At other times, you can access the interior of the church from the back through the offices for the Diocese of Hanoi. If you look up while you’re wandering, the area has plenty of vernacular shophouse architecture, where merchants would traditionally live above their shops in very long but narrow two-storey dwellings, squeezed together on the alleyway rows. See even more details at https://hanoibylocals.com/.
Saint Joseph Cathedral of Hanoi is known as the oldest Roman Catholic Church in the city. Prior to the construction of the cathedral in 1886, the French occupation demolished Bao Thien Pagoda, an important Vietnamese temple that was built during the Ly Dynasty. Saint Joseph Cathedral of Hanoi was inspired by Notre Dame de Paris, boasting a neo-Gothic architectural style, twin bell towers, intricately-designed altar, and colourful paintings and stained-glass windows from France. Surrounded by plenty of trees and flowers, a statue of Mother Maria is also set within the courtyard in front of the cathedral.