Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam and its second largest city. We went there just last month, after fate has allowed us to purchase a tour package on Groupon coupled by a Cebu Pacific seat sale. Our first choice was actually to visit Ho Chi Minh – for some reason, it felt like the more popular choice for travelers to Vietnam. But after a bit of research, I found that there are more things to do in Hanoi. I don’t regret the choice.
The package we got only included a one day cruise in Ha Long Bay, so we had to make our own for the other two days we were there. On the first day, it seemed fitting to take a look around nearby sites first and so we rented a vehicle for a full day city tour, visiting various museums and parks.
Our first stop was the Ho Chi Minh (or HCM) Complex, located along Ngoc Ha St., Ba Dinh. This, here, is the Ho Chi Minh Museum.
I wouldn’t say it was that special a museum or park, but it was worth taking a look around and having a feel of Vietnam culture.
We started the tour around 10:00 am and it was really hot and humid. Although I think it was quite a good time to go there as there weren’t too many tourists.
The entrance to the museum.
We didn’t have a tour guide and not a lot of Vietnamese speak in English so we had to rely on the English captions in the museum. I was quite surprised that there weren’t a lot considering that this is a tourist destination.
A large statue of Ho Chi Minh. Trivia: The city of “Ho Chi Minh” was previously known as “Saigon”.
Some historical and cultural photos in the museum.
In the absence of captions in english, we shoot.
I noticed that there were some Picasso-ish stuff inside the museum. Trying to connect the dots now, my guess is that it’s because Vietnam used to be colonized by the French and Pablo Picasso apparently spent his adult life in France. From here, you can connect the other dots…
I can try to be more informative, but really, here are more photos from the museum which I don’t necessarily understand.
A saying by Ho Chi Minh, which was written in many languages. And hey, there’s actually an English version! “All the peoples on earth are equal. Each people has a right to life, happiness and liberty.”
Outside, the complex is well-maintained. But there are no means to hide yourself from the heat.
So yes, an umbrella and a fan would be a good idea.
In Hanoi, there are lots of these trees that look like Balete, though I’m not entirely sure what they are. If presented this way, it actually looks pretty instead of haunted (as is popular belief in the Philippines). I don’t like haunted things.
If these purple flowers were people, they’d be sweating a lot like me in the heat of Vietnam. They’d wish they were wearing shorts and slippers.
The One-Pillar Pagoda is a historic Buddhist temple in the middle of a lotus pond.
It’s designed to resemble a lotus blossom, which is the Buddhist symbol of purity since a lotus blossoms in a muddy pond (info from Wikipedia).
This one is actually just a replica – the original was destroyed by the French Union in 1954.
I happened to pass by this temple while heading back to the van. I can’t seem to find any photo of it online, but I can’t! Do you know what this is? I’m really curious because it’s so small.
How was my first day in Hanoi? Well, it was hot and tiring, but I’m relatively content.This was a pretty good way to start the trip. The entrance fees and food are pretty cheap, although beware of hawkers who might charge you wildly expensive rates if they notice you’re foreign. As mentioned, most of the locals don’t speak in English so an English-speaking guide will help a bunch.
Vida is a restless, universe-loving, forever-child with a very short attention span. She is mostly enthusiastic about travel, adventure, technology, fitness, and lately, life hacks. Most of her days are spent on tech partnerships in a telco, and most nights practicing capoeira (or yoga, or boxing, or trying some other unheard of art of movement). She likes experiments, little projects, and writes too, sometimes, at vidasioson.com. And if you're interested, sh... Hey, look, a flower!