Watch the video above which shows the famous Vietnamese motorbike culture alive and well. This was a special occasion though – Vietnam defeated Thailand in the Suzuki Cup and the streets erupted in Hanoi, with everybody waving flags, banging bin lids and shouting. I couldn’t beat them (or cross the road) so joined them!2. Temple of Literature – The Temple of Literature site of one of Vietnam’s oldest Universities and dates back to circa 1070. Just one of the many things to do in Hanoi, this is now a Confucian Temple, one of many in the country but easily the most famous of all and is considered to be one of Hanoi’s finest historical sites. 3. Hanoi Hilton – No, not another hotel chain, but the ironic name given to the Hoa Lo Prison used by its most famous former residents, namely American Prisoners of war, including the Senator and 2008 Republican presidential nominee John McCain, who spent parts of his five and a half years as a POW there. The site however dates back to the French colonial period (1886) and depicts much of its dark history in the remaining old buildings. 4. One Pillar Pagoda – A historic Buddhist temple which is regarded as one of Vietnam’s most iconic. As the name suggests it is a small timber temple perched on a single stone pillar and was commissioned in 1049 by the Emperor Lý Thái Tông. 5. Presidential Palace - The former residence of the French Governor General, Designed in the Italian Renaissance style, the site also displays the former residence of ‘Uncle Ho’, or Ho-Chi-Minh, the former leader and father to all Vietnamese citizens. 6. Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum – The mausoleum opened in 1975 in honor of the national hero, Ho Chi Minh who lies embalmed within the building. He actually asked for a cremation and is instead housed within a Soviet-style mausoleum which is open to the public with free admission. Be prepared to queue quietly, go through security scanners and leave any fruit behind. You can also watching a changing of the guard routine which is carried out wordlessly.
Ho Chi Minh is resting in an inner chamber within the mausoleum is a strange yet serene sight. It may sound like a cliché but his embalmed body really does look like he is sleeping!