Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Hanoi, Vietnam (October 30-31, November 1-3, 2008)

Hanoi was officially named the capital of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in July 1976, but it has been the heart of the country for nearly 1000 years. With a wealth of historic sites, cultural diversions and top-notch restaurants, Hanoi is a wonderful place to explore, whether on foot, by cyclo or moto-taxi.

Quiet lakes, peaceful temples and shady, tree-lined avenues give the city a relaxed, intimate feel. For a bit more hustle and bustle, the historic Old Quarter - a maze of narrow streets crammed with shops and markets - can provide hours of entertainment, especially since getting lost while wandering is practically guaranteed!
Hoan Kiem Lake, in the heart of the Old Quarter, is a popular place for morning and evening exercise. Ngoc Son Temple, situated on a tiny islet in the lake, is linked to the shore by this bright red bridge.
Graceful trees curtain the edges of Hoan Kiem Lake, providing welcome shade from sun or (more typically) shelter from rain
Thap Rua (Tortoise Tower), on Hoam Kiem Lake, is a popular symbol of Hanoi
A family on motorbike cruises past one of the city's many monuments in the early morning light
The Temple of Literature, built in the 11th century, was Vietnam's first university. The peaceful walled complex, which consists of five separate courtyards with numerous pavilions, feels worlds away from the bustling city outside.
An impressive statue at the National Museum of Fine Arts

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