City Orientation Walk II, Hanoi

Among the crowded streets of the Vietnamese capital, tourists may discover hidden little gems of great spiritual, political, and cultural value. Take a walk through the heart of the city and stumble across the massive monuments, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, the remains of French occupation, as well as many other prominent landmarks.
You can follow this self-guided walking tour to explore the attractions listed below. How it works: download the app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from iTunes App Store or Google Play to your mobile phone or tablet. The app turns your mobile device into a personal tour guide and its built-in GPS navigation functions guide you from one tour stop to next. The app works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

Download The GPSmyCity App

Download 'GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities' app for IOS   Download 'GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities' app for Android

City Orientation Walk II Map

Guide Name: City Orientation Walk II
Guide Location: Vietnam » Hanoi (See other walking tours in Hanoi)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 11
Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.2 km
Author: HelenF
1
Hanoi Opera House

1) Hanoi Opera House (must see)

The Hanoi opera house was built in 1911 by the French colonial rulers to resemble the old opera house in Paris. On August the 16th 1945, the Viet Minh declared that it had taken over the city from the balcony of the building.

The Hanoi opera house was built over a drained pond in 1911. Architects Harley and Broyer were the designers, and the construction was supervised by M. Travary and M. Savelon. The structure combines Greek, Beaux Arts and Gothic styles like the Palais Garnier, the old opera house in Paris. This is the largest theater in Vietnam. It consists of a large stage, a 24 x 24 meter main audience room and several balconies in the middle floor. There are 18 makeup rooms, 2 rooms for voice training, a library and a meeting room backstage. In 1997, the opera house underwent major restoration under the supervision of French Vietnamese architects, Ho Thieu Thri and Hoang Phuc Sinh. The theater was equipped with state of the art acoustic and other equipment suitable for modern audiences.

Visitors can view all types of performances at the Hanoi opera house including folk music performances, western music concerts and Vietnamese operetta and drama. Visitors are not allowed in unless they are part of the audience at a performance. The steps leading to the building are a popular place for tourists to get their photographs taken.
2
National Museum of Vietnamese History

2) National Museum of Vietnamese History (must see)

The National Museum of Vietnamese History, located in the Hoan Kiem district of Hanoi is an exhaustive repository of objects from the different civilizations that flourished in Vietnam.

The National Museum of Vietnamese History was established by the French colonial rulers as the Far East Research Institute. The museum formed part of the institute at the time. The building was designed by French architect, Ernest Hebrard, and is considered one of the finest examples of Indochinese architecture. It combines French colonial and traditional Vietnamese styles. The structure, completed in 1932, is so designed that the interiors are protected from the sun yet plenty of fresh air is let in conforming to modern day eco friendly architectural norms.

Historical treasures among exhibits featured at the museum include drums from the Bronze Age Dong Son civilization. The Dong Son civilization flourished near present day Hanoi and was known for its advanced metal casting expertise. The Champa civilization extended from Central to South Vietnam and their religious stone carvings are preserved in the building and as outdoor sculptures. Exhibits, including costumes and objects from the many subsequent royal dynasties that ruled Vietnam, are showcased at the museum.

By hiring a guide, visitors can get a better insight into the glorious history of Vietnam reflected in the exhibits displayed at the museum.

Operation hours: Monday - Sunday: 8 am - 4:30 pm; except first Monday of the month
3
Museum of Vietnamese Women

3) Museum of Vietnamese Women (must see)

The Museum of Vietnamese Women, located in a leafy courtyard in Ly Thuong Kiet Street in Hanoi is one of the few museums in the world dedicated solely to the life and achievements of women. The museum is a tribute to the sacrifices and contributions made by women to society and to the country of Vietnam.

The idea of establishing a museum dedicated to women was that of Vietnam Women’s Union president Nguyen Thi Dinh and the collections are the result of ten years of patient research. The building was designed by a lady architect, Tran Xuan Diem.

Visitors are welcomed in the first section of the museum by 3.6 meter high statue dedicated to the Vietnamese mother. The sculpture by Phu Cuong is cast in pure gold. Another section shows the contribution of women in the construction of modern Vietnam and their services in defending the nation. The walls are covered with photographs of women taking active part in all professional fields like education, industry, transport and healthcare in Vietnam. There is also a section devoted to the achievements of the Women’s workers union, a 65 year old institution that has taken an active part in the building of the nation.

A popular section is the collection of costumes worn by women from 54 nationalities that make up Vietnam. There is also a gift shop and café for the convenience of visitors.

Operation hours: Tuesday - Sunday: 8 am – 5 pm
4
Hanoi Hilton

4) Hanoi Hilton (must see)

The Hoa Lo prison in Hanoi, sarcastically referred to as the Hanoi Hilton by American POWs in the 2nd Indochina War, is a vast prison complex built by the French in the style of the Maison Centrales a euphemism used for prisons in France. At first it was used as a prison, detention and torture center for revolutionaries struggling for independence from France. During the Vietnam War, the prison was used to house several American pilots whose planes were shot down by Vietnamese forces.

The Hoa Lo prison was built by the French between 1886 and 1901. Hoa Lo means fiery furnace or stove in Vietnamese. The facility was built to house 450 inmates. During the freedom struggle, the prison had more than 2000 Vietnamese inmates living in sub human conditions. Several tools of torture used by the French are preserved including a Guillotine used to behead early Vietnamese freedom fighters. From 1964 to 1973, the prison was a major POW detention facility and earned its name, the Hanoi Hilton. Well known inmates included Senator John McCain, the 2008 Presidential nominee of the Republican Party and Pete Peterson, who later became ambassador to Vietnam.

A small part of the original facility is preserved. The other part has now become a modern office and residential complex called the Hanoi Towers. Hanoi Hilton is located near the French quarter.

Operation hours: Monday - Sunday: 8 am - 5 pm
5
St Joseph Cathedral

5) St Joseph Cathedral (must see)

The St Josephs Cathedral in Hanoi is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hanoi. It was built by the French colonial rulers in 1886.

The St. Joseph’s cathedral is the oldest church in Hanoi. It is referred to by the locals as Big Church. The building is located in Pho Nha Chung or Nha Chung Street near the Ho Hoan Kiem or the Lake of the Returned Sword. The French colonial rulers demolished the ancient Bao Thien Pagoda, an important place of worship by the local people to build the cathedral. The Bao Thien Pagoda was a 12th century temple constructed by the Ly dynasty. The cathedral was consecrated on Christmas Day in 1886. The neo- gothic style church was designed to resemble Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. There is a statue of Virgin Mary in front called Regina Pacis or the Queen of Peace. The towers have impressive stained glass windows and the play of light through the colored glass is a visual delight.

Mass is held twice a day at the cathedral and the church is crowded on Sundays and holidays. Visitors are welcome and can enter the church through a side door to view its magnificent interiors.
6
Trang Tien Plaza

6) Trang Tien Plaza

Tràng Tiền Plaza is a shopping center located in the downtown of Hanoi, Vietnam. The complex's construction began on April 30, 2000 when Vietnamese people celebrated 25th anniversary of The liberation of the south of Vietnam. The complex was finished after 18 months of construction.
Tràng Tiền Plaza offers more than 215,000 square feet (20,000 square meters) space for offices, retail shops, coffee and food outlets.
Sight description based on wikipedia
7
Statue of Ly Thai To

7) Statue of Ly Thai To

The Ly Thai To statue is a large bronze sculpture of Emperor Ly Thai To, founder of the Ly dynasty of Vietnam. He also founded the city of Thang Long in 1010 which later became the city of Hanoi.

In February 2003, the Hanoi department of Culture and Information held a design contest for a statue of Ly Thai To. Sculptor Vi Thi Hoa of the Vietnamese Fine Arts Association won the contest that consisted of 29 other entries. The statue was made in August 2004 and erected in October 2004. It is the largest bronze sculpture in Vietnam. The statue weighs 12 tons and is atop a 20 ton pedestal. It stands 10.10 meters high. The right hand of Ly Thai To holds the Chieu Doi Do or the decree of the relocation of the capital city to Thang Long, and the left hand points to the location where the construction began. The statue was erected to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Hanoi. It is venerated by the local people with flowers and incense.

The statue of Ly Thai To is located in Indira Gandhi Park, named after the slain Indian prime minister who was a supporter and friend of Vietnam. The park is popular with the locals for strolls and for practicing dance and games.
8
Martyrs' Monument

8) Martyrs' Monument

Of the great monuments in Hanoi, most are attributed to the brave who died in the battle for Vietnam’s Independence. Martyrs’ Monument depicts two men, one of them holding a torch in the right hand and the second - a gun in his left hand. Meanwhile, a woman is composed with a sword. This leads to the conclusion that regardless of the gender, everybody stood up for their country.
9
Water Puppet Theater

9) Water Puppet Theater (must see)

The Thang Long Water Puppet Theater in Hanoi seeks to preserve an ancient Vietnamese art form developed in the Red River delta in North Vietnam. Water puppetry or Mua Roi Nuoc was performed in shallow flooded paddy fields and ponds of the Red River delta. The theater is a well known Vietnamese cultural event and theater troupes have travelled around the world and performed at cultural exchanges and art festivals.

The puppets are mounted on poles hidden under a shallow pool of water. There are performances that portray life in a typical Vietnamese village. Elaborate performances tell tales from legends and myths of rural Vietnam. The brightly colored puppets are made of lacquered wood. The unique special effects of light and water make the show unique. The performance is accompanied by an orchestra that uses traditional Vietnamese musical instruments like drums, flutes, drums and the Dan Bau that resembles a harp. Songs are sung during the performance and stories are told in the native tongue. The puppets are expressive and one does not need to know the language to enjoy the story. Well known performances include the Dance of the Fairies, Dance of the Dragons and the Legend of the Restored Sword.

Each show lasts for about one hour. Cameras are allowed and visitors are sometimes given cds of the music or vcds of the performance when they purchase tickets.
10
Hanoi's Old Quarter

10) Hanoi's Old Quarter (must see)

Hanoi's Old Quarter has an old history and represents the eternal soul of the city. When the tradesmen moved from villages into the capital, they brought with them their religious practices. They shifted their temples and houses to their new location, on each street in the Old Quarter there is at least one temple. Now, many of the old temples in the Old Quarter have been changed into shops and living quarters.
11
Hang Bong Street

11) Hang Bong Street

Hang Bong is a street in ancient quarter of Hanoi. It continues from the crossroad Hang Bong-Hang Gai-Hang Trong-Hang Hom to the former city gate Cua Nam (South Gate) with length about 932 m. Hang Bong was once a street which produced cotton to make clothes or winter blankets. Today Hang Bong is one of the busiest streets of Hanoi for shopping with art galleries, silk shops, and clothes shops.

Walking Tours in Hanoi, Vietnam

Create Your Own Walk in Hanoi

Create Your Own Walk in Hanoi

Creating your own self-guided walk in Hanoi is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Museums and Galleries of Hanoi II

Museums and Galleries of Hanoi II

Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam, offers a vast collection of fantastic museums. Here you can learn about the importance and development of the Vietnamese society. The extraordinary venues are like mirrors of history, prepared to take you through a walk of this amazing civilization.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.3 km
Entertainment for Children in Hanoi

Entertainment for Children in Hanoi

There are a lot of tempting places to visit in Hanoi, which is especially true for children when everything seems a hundred times more attractive. Driving carts, boating, shopping for sweets, toys, and other gifts are just a few of the many things to do.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.3 km
City Orientation Walk I

City Orientation Walk I

Among the crowded streets of the Vietnamese capital, tourists may discover hidden little gems of great spiritual, political, and cultural value. Take a walk through the heart of the city and stumble across the massive monuments, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, the remains of French occupation, as well as many other prominent landmarks.

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.9 km
Places of Worship in Hanoi

Places of Worship in Hanoi

For a thousand years Hanoi has been the capital of Vietnam as well as an important cultural center of the country. The city features amazing pagodas along with temples and churches. In spite of French domination, Hanoi preserved its amazing religious venues and to this day are a joy to see.

Tour Duration: 4 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 9.0 km
Museums and Galleries of Hanoi I

Museums and Galleries of Hanoi I

Hanoi is the perfect travel destination for those interested in Vietnamese art. This crowded city, known to be one of the world’s top destinations, features a plethora of creative artists who strive to share their talents and express their feelings through art. Visitors will be amazed at the the number of outstanding galleries inside the city.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.3 km

Tips for Exploring City on Foot at Your Own Pace

Whether you are in Hanoi for a quick stopover or have a few days to see the city in more detail, exploring it on foot, at your own pace, is definitely the way to go. Here are some tips for you to save money, see the best Hanoi has to offer, take good care of your feet while walking, and keep your mobile device – your ultimate "work horse" on this trip - well fed and safe.

Taking Care of Your Feet


To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as Hanoi, it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device


Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.