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Riches of the Mekong Itinerary - Part I

Riches of the Mekong - Hanoi, Vietnam

As Vietnam's rapidly growing capital city there are plenty of things to see and do during your first free day in Hanoi. Though Hanoi is a large, sprawling city, most of what visitors want to experience can be found in the Old Quarter which is the perfect hot spot for day activities and attractions as well as nightlife. Hanoi is a mixture of French and Chinese influence which you will see reflected through much of its architecture. You will find that most transportation, especially with locals, is via motorbike and if you are feeling especially adventurous you can even use Uber to request a motorbike taxi!

Day 1 in Hanoi: Self-Guided

Here is a brief highlight of some of the places you can experience during your first day

Hoan Kiem Lake – A beautiful lake close to the Old Quarter where locals like to go to escape the busy city and enjoy their daily activities such as Tai Chi, walking pets, and letting their children play. During the weekends in the evening you can experience live music, dancing and shows.

Vietnam Museum of Ethnology – A research center and public museum that exhibits all 54 of the different ethnic groups found in Vietnam and showcases their culture and history.

Hanoi Opera House – Was built by the French in 1911 and is a wonderful example of neo-classical French architecture and is the largest theatre in Vietnam. It is still actively used, hosting musicians, ballets, Vietnamese operas and concerts. Not always open to the general public unless you go for an event, you can still walk all over the grounds and there is a back garden with a cafe.

St. Joseph's Cathedral – Built in 1886 during the French occupation, this church is a wonderful example of Neo-Gothic architecture and is the oldest church in Hanoi. The church was closed soon after the Geneva Accords in 1954 when Northern Vietnam was taken over by the Viet Minh but was reopened again in 1990 and actively holds mass today.

The food found in Hanoi is a mixture of French staples such as baguettes and coffee as well as traditional Vietnamese specialties like pho, bun cha, banh mi and even egg coffee.

Day 2 in Hanoi: Guided by AmaWaterways City Tour, Rickshaw Ride and Water Puppet Show

Discover some of Hanoi’s most famous historic and cultural sites on your guided tour that includes Ba Dinh Square and The Temple of Literature. You’ll also visit the infamous prison that American POWs sarcastically dubbed the “Hanoi Hilton” (Hoa Lo Prison) during the Vietnam War. Take an authentic rickshaw ride, known as “cyclo,” in Hanoi’s bustling Old Quarter, and then enjoy a traditional water puppet show.

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