Imperial Citadel of Thang Long
The Imperial Citadel of Thang Long is an intriguing relic of Vietnam’s history and, signifying its historical and cultural importance, is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Standing 40 metres high, the central flag tower is the most recognizable feature of the Imperial Citadel and is often used as a symbol of Hanoi. This was the centre of ancient Hanoi and served as the political centre for eight centuries. Located in Ba Dinh, the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long is close to many other tourist attractions.
Vietnam Museum of Ethnology
Like many colonial regions that were united by European rule, the country of Vietnam is actually coagulation of 54 different officially recognized ethnic groups. The Museum of Ethnology strives to give a better understanding of each one and does so quite elegantly. It is widely believed to be the best of all the modern museums in Vietnam. Displays include a combination of art, everyday objects, and historic artifacts to better tell the story of each unique culture.
Hoan Kiem Lake
Known as the lake of the returned (or restored) sword, this lake marks the historical center of ancient Hanoi. The name comes from a legend in which Emperor Le Loi was given a magical sword by the gods, which he used to drive out the invading Chinese. Later, while boating on the lake, he encountered a giant turtle, which grabbed the sword and carried it down to its depths, Every morning at around 6 am local residents practice traditional t’ai chi on the shore. The lake also houses Jade Island, home of the eighteenth century Temple of the Jade Mountain. The island is reachable via the red-painted and picturesque Morning Sunlight Bridge.
The Temple of Literature
The Temple of Literature is a 1,000-year-old temple to education and site of the country's oldest university. Almost destroyed by war in the 20th century, restoration work has given the Temple much of its former glory back. It's laid out in a sequence of five courtyards from south to north, spanned by three pathways running through the Temple's length. The northernmost and last courtyard is the site of the former university for mandarins called Quoc Tu Giam, literally the "Temple of the King Who Distinguished Literature," established in 1076.
The Perfume Pagoda (Chua Huong)
Chua Huong is a dramatic temple complex believed to have been first built in the 15th century. This series of Buddhist temples are built into a mountain range in a maze of alleyways carved into the rock with rich forests and flowing streams all around. Located around 60km south of Hanoi in the Son Mountains the journey here is an experience in itself: first, you must take a two-hour journey by car or bus before traveling by boat to the foot of the mountains.
Hoa Lo Prison
Hoa Lo Prison is not actually a prison but is a museum as of now. It was demolished in the 1990s and since then it exists as a tourist visiting spot and a museum. The Gatehouse serves as the popular museum. The Hoa Lo Prison, sarcastically coined the Hanoi Hilton by American POWs, was originally built by the French to house Vietnamese political prisoners. The North Vietnamese Army later used the prison to house prisoners of war during the Vietnam War.