Vietnam Day 3: Hanoi, Trấn Quốc Pagoda, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and self guided walking tour of Hanoi sights.
We decided to go on a self guided walking tour of Hanoi’s main sites starting with Văn Miếu – Quốc Tử Giám 文廟. We walked from our hostel in the old quarter to the temple, and it took about 20 minutes. We also stopped along the way to get an irish coffee! When on vacation…!
Văn Miếu – Quốc Tử Giám
The temple is dedicated to Confucius and was built in 1070! I believe we payed 20 000VND or a little over a dollar Canadian. From Van Mieu- Quoc Tur Giam we headed to Lenin Park a few minutes walk away. Then on to the Flag Tower of Hanoi and the Old Gate and Thang Long Citadel (Doan Mon Gate). There were Tet celebrations going on there, so we were able to watch a water puppet show and some sort of procession mixed with speech (we believe?)
The lawn in front of the Citadel was covered in elaborate bonsai displays. We were unsure whether these were dedications from locals, but never-the-less we liked wandering around the displays and looking at the beautiful miniature arrangements.
From The Citadel we headed to Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum. We decided to just look at the exterior of the mausoleum. From what we read Ho Chi Minh had requested a modest burial. I felt it was inappropriate to visit a massive mausoleum to a man that had requested the exact opposite of what he had received. It also didn’t seem right to visit the man’s embalmed remains considering we are oblivious tourists.
Right beside the Mausoleum is the stilted house or “One Pillar Pagoda” Chùa Một Cột 𠬠榾. The Pagoda was constructed by Emperor Ly Thai Tong in gratitude for the birth of his first child.
From here we walked to Truc Bach Lake and Tran Quoc Pagoda that is situated in the middle of the lake. Trấn Quốc Pagoda is the oldest temple in Hanoi, built in 544!!! This temple was one of our favourite sites in Hanoi.
Trấn Quốc Pagoda
Trấn Quốc Pagoda
Trấn Quốc Pagoda
From the lake we walked back towards the Old City Hanoi. Along the way we stumbled upon the water tower which I had to pose in front of….mean mugging style!
Once back in the old quarter, we stopped for lunch and a few beers before continuing our sight seeing tour. Luckily most of the main sites in Hanoi are with in easy walking distance, we loved this about Hanoi! However, you need to stop for a beer and a re fuel every once and awhile. There is something about a meal eaten on a plastic stool by the side of the road that is just magical! Add a beer, and you’ve got the recipe for our complete happiness! I tried some vegetarian Pho and Jives had a plate of deliciously fried up veggies!
Our last tourist stop of the day was Hoan Kiem Lake and the Ngoc Son Temple or Temple of the Jade Mountain with its beautiful red bridge! I loved the many trees that were growing on the island of the temple!
After our last self-guided tour spot, we stopped for a few more beers…… followed by some more meals, followed by bed.
Hanoi was an incredibly short stop on our trip. We really only had one day in the city! It was manageable to see most of the major sites in one day, however a more leisurely tour of the main sites might have been preferable. WHO ARE WE KIDDING, if we’d have had more time we would have probably just had more beer stops!!!