Halong Bay, Vietnam
Hanoi: Past & Present
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Approximately 13¾ hours
Visit Hanoi—Vietnam's capital and a remarkable city that will seduce you with its old-world charm. Boasting a romantic blend of ancient Asian and French heritage, Hanoi holds that it is the jewel in Vietnam's crown. It is an approximately 3½-hour drive from the pier and, upon your arrival, lunch will be served. Afterwards, you will visit Ba Dinh Square, also known as the Ho Chi Minh Quarter. Nearby you will find the One Pillar Pagoda, and visit the Temple of Literature, built in 1070 and dedicated to Confucius. This is a serene retreat from the busy streets and was Vietnam's first university. Step inside the Hoa Lo Museum, known widely by the nickname of ‘Hanoi Hilton’—so dubbed by the Americans during the Second Indochina War. Hoa Lo Prison was originally established by the French colonial government in 1896 for the purpose of detaining political prisoners and formed part of a northern network of ‘unjust and cruel prisons’. You can view the original cells, complete with leg-irons, along with a selection of bilingual (Vietnamese and English) displays illustrating the horrors of life in the prison during the French colonial period. Before a Vietnamese dinner at a local restaurant, enjoy a touch of Old Hanoi as you visit the Thirty-Six Streets—an ancient district where the essence of Vietnamese culture is alive and well. Finally, re-board your motor coach for the return journey through the undulating countryside to Halong.
Travel time to Hanoi is approximately 3½ hours each way. The information at the Hoa Lo museum is presented from a Vietnamese perspective.