The capital city of Vietnam
(and before that North Vietnam). In addition to being a fabulous city in its own right, there are also a few special gems for the dark tourist.
>What there is to see
>Access and costs
>Combinations with other dark destinations
>Combinations with non-dark destinations
What there is to see:
Hanoi's prime site for the dark tourist to visit is the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, one of the world's "Big 4
" of such places. This is complemented (if somewhat bizarrely) by the nearby Ho Chi Minh Museum. Of a different nature is the former Hoa Loa prison, now a museum.
Apart from that, the Military History Museum may also be of interest, especially to the more war-tourism inclined dark traveller, as it naturally also covers the Vietnam War
. It's located at the south-western corner of the Citadel.
in the North of Vietnam
, less than a hundred miles (150 km) from the Chinese
border, and about 80 miles (130 km) west of the sea, Tonkin Bay (part of the South China Sea).
Access and costs: easy but not necessarily cheap.
most people will probably fly into Hanoi, either from the largest city of the country, Ho Chi Minh City in the South, other main places in the country (such as Hue), or from abroad. Costs vary, naturally, but there are budget airlines that connect Hanoi to hubs such as Bangkok
Accommodation prices in Hanoi vary immensely, from budget backpacker hostels that can still be incredibly cheap to the utmost luxury of places such as the super-posh Metropole Hotel (itself a prime landmark), but there are also a few sensible mid-range options.
Getting around in Hanoi is easy. Much of the city centre is perfectly walkable. If your feet get sore, just grab one of the omnipresent cyclos (bicycle rickshaws), which are fun and not expensive (but may require a bit of fare "negotiation").
Time required: For the dark bits alone, a day would probably do (if you time things well). But it would be a shame not to give this brilliant city a couple of extra days. Add at least another day on top for a Halong Bay cruise
Combinations with other dark destinations:
Combinations with non-dark destinations: Hanoi is a fantastic place. Of all the cities in South East Asia that I've been to I like it the most. The contrasts are so cool. There's the grand colonial architecture of the French Quarter (with the Opera, Metropole Hotel and St Joseph's Cathedral forming the highlights), the traditional remnants from olden days (temples, pagodas and the like), the Citadel, lovely city lakes (esp. Hoan Kiem Lake, bang in the city centre), and, best of all: the bustling but enchanting Old Quarter. At first it may feel a bit hectic and stressful, but it's true what they say: after a short while you somehow naturally sink into the rhythm and no longer mind the constant honking of motor scooters that fill the streets. It's well worth savouring at some length.
Hanoi is also the base for tours to Halong Bay – one of the natural wonders of the world. You can opt for a simple day trip, or choose to go on a longer, overnight cruise that can get you a bit further away from the tourist masses. And it really is big tourist business – which can be a bit off-putting, but the stunning scenery compensates …
- A - Hanoi 01
- A - Hanoi 01b - St Joseph cathedral
- A - Hanoi 02 - French colonial architecture
- A - Hanoi 03 - flowery traffic
- A - Hanoi 04 - market traffic
- A - Hanoi 05 - Old Quarter
- A - Hanoi 06 - Paper Alley in Old Quarter
- A - Hanoi 07 - Hoan Kiem lake
- A - Hanoi 08 - Hoan Kiem lake with The Huc bridge
- A - Hanoi 09 - flowers-and-chillies chicken
- A - Hanoi 10 - Kabelsalat
- A - Hanoi 11 - socialist realism poster
- A - Hanoi 12 - flags in a park
- B - Halong Bay 1
- B - Halong Bay 2 - kissing rocks
- B - Halong Bay 3 - with Vietnam flag
- B - Halong Bay