Day 7: Hanoi full day sightseeing (BL)
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; this is one of the best examples of traditional Vietnamese architecture. Next, continue to the Ho Chi Minh Memorial Complex, containing 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. Nearby, sitting in a lotus pond, you will find the One Pillar Pagoda, or Chua Mot Cot. Made out of a single large tree trunk, it was originally constructed in 1040, and then rebuilt after destroyed by the French in 1954. Drive to West Lake in the center of the city, to see the beautiful 6th century Tran Quoc Temple. 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, built by the French colonists, to host Vietnamese political prisoners. During the Vietnam War, it was used by the North Vietnamese government, and dubbed the “Hanoi Hilton” by American prisoners. Today, the only part of the prison still exists as a history museum. Next, enjoy a walking tour through Hanoi’s Old Quarter – the oldest continuously developed area of Vietnam, highlighting more than 1000 years of history. Explore the 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 to reflect the specialized trade of the merchants, such as silk traders, jewelry, etc. Take a break at a local coffee shop to experience the popular Hanoi pastime of sipping coffee and watching 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 painted red wood bridge to explore this center of peace and harmony. Overnight in Hanoi.