Day 4: Hanoi full day sightseeing (B, L)
Blending the modern with the mystery and charm of past centuries, Hanoi offers an air of elegance and harmony with nature. This morning’s sightseeing begins with a visit to the Van Mieu or Temple of Literature. The temple dates back to 1070 and is dedicated to the cult of Confucius. Note the peaceful series of walled courtyards and graceful gateways which is a typical example of traditional Vietnamese architecture. Next, continue to the Ho Chi Minh Memorial Complex which contains a museum and Ho Chi Minh’s final resting place. See the Ho Chi Minh’s Stilt House, the simple two-room dwelling where he lived from 1958 until his final days in 1969. View the miniature One Pillar Pagoda, or Chua Mot Cot sitting in a lotus pond nearby. Made out of a single large tree trunk, it was originally constructed in 1040 and then rebuilt after being destroyed by the French in 1954. Then you will be driven to West Lake in the center of the city to see the beautiful Tran Quoc Temple built since the 6th century. At midday, take a break for a light and local lunch featuring “Pho” (noodle soup) – a savory Hanoi specialty. In the afternoon, we pay a somber visit to the infamous Hoa Lo prison which is built by the French colonists to host Vietnamese political prisoners. During the Vietnamese War, it was used by the North Vietnam government and dubbed the “Hanoi Hilton” by American prisoners. Today, only part of the prison still remains as a history museum. Next, enjoy a walking tour through Hanoi’s Old Quarter, the oldest continuously inhabited area of Vietnam, highlighting more than 1000 years of history. Explore a network of narrow alleyways known as ‘The 36 Streets.” This is a wonderful place to watch the local life and purchase items from fabrics to crafts, to exotic medicines. Each street was named following its specialized trade, such as silk trading, comb trading, etc. Take a break at a local coffee shop and watch life in the neighborhood. Your tour ends with a visit to the charming Buddhist Ngoc Son Temple, or Temple of the Jade Mountain. Walk across the red-painted wood bridge to explore this center of peace and harmony. Overnight in Hanoi.