By Gaya Travel on March 25, 2011
As Ho Chi Minh City or Saigon stands for the image of future Vietnam, Hanoi, on the other hand, is the epitome of the romantic era of French colonization with intricate designs of the buildings that whisper music of serene and romance. With French architecture and leafy boulevards, the whole city looks very soft and full with fine arts that will stun the artistic mind and definitely the hearts of the lovers. The buildings in the Old Quarter area, for instance, are well preserved to become a house for boutiques or tailor shops, galleries, guesthouses, restaurants and even café.
Hanoi seems less rowdy and more sedate which differs from Ho Chi Minh City, but the hustle bustle of the city is still there even though it is a little less overwhelming. The greenery surrounding of Hanoi city is just a perfect match to the vestiges of French colonial past.
However, Hanoi is a burgeoning city nonetheless and still growing. Populated with 4 million people, Hanoi does not promise quietness of the city. The motors on the street bring sounds that annoy those that in the search of peace and quietness in the heart of the city. However, despite the city’s downsides, Hanoi is mesmerizingly captivating with lakes that spread around the city. Something we have never seen in any Asia countries. The lakes make the neighborhoods nearby them becomes windier and leafier compared to other parts of the city. It is also believed that the presence of the lakes creates breezes that can be felt in various parts of the city.
The thing about Hanoi is that even though it does not boast as many attractions as Ho Chi Minh, therein lies the charm, it is simply an intimate destination for people to visit, with its old world vestiges and green environs.
When you are in Hanoi:
HO CHI MINH PRESIDENTIAL PALACE
You have not been to Hanoi or even Vietnam if do not visit this place. This is a place whereby the infamous humanitarian former President of Vietnam use to live and his body was embalmed here at the Mausoleum. It is a must to visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum so as to witness Ho Chi Minh perpetually lying in state. Visitors to this place need to remember to wear decently as a sign of deference, meaning no shorts and tops that reveal the shoulders. At the mausoleum, you will get to see the amazingly embalmed body of Ho Chi Minh that looks incredibly well-preserved even though he passed away almost 20 years ago.
Apart from seeing the embalmed body of him, you will be able to see other things as well in the compound of the palace, for example, a house where he spent 11 years there until his last breath. The house was requested by the people of Vietnam to be built for him to suit his stature as the leader of the nation. Even he refused to do so but the people had spoken and he reluctantly subjected himself to the democracy of the nation yet he specifically requested it to be modest and not over the top, as opposed to other leaders would have done, as to avoid wasting nation’s coffer. He is one in a million to pursue such virtue.
At the Presidential Palace:
WEST LAKE (TAY HO) AND TRUC BACH LAKE
West Lake is the largest lake in Hanoi, separated by the main street called the Street of the Youth where local youths frolic together with their love interest while taking in the beauty of both Tay Ho or West Lake and Truc Bach (pronounced as ‘Chook Buck’). We were informed that both lakes are truly romantic especially during autumn (from late September until late November) when they are covered by mist covers the lake in the early mornings and late afternoons. As a matter of fact, for those who treasure novelty, they would interested in learning that Truc Bach Lake is also the place where the American plane carrying John McCain – the US Presidential Republican candidate for the 2008 Elections – was shot down in the 1960s. John McCain was then taken to the notorious Hoa Lo Prison (known notoriously as the Hanoi Hilton by the American prisoners of war). He was finally released from Vietnamese captivity and returned to the US in 1973.