Introducing Around Hanoi

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Things to do in Hanoi

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Introducing Around Hanoi Vietnam

The rich alluvial soils of the Red River Delta nurture a rich rice crop and many of the communities surrounding Hanoi are still engaged in agriculture. The contrast between modern Hanoi and the rural villages is stark. Many tour operators in Hanoi offer cycling tours to villages near Hanoi – a great way to discover a different world. Lotussia specialises in cycling tours from Hanoi, some taking in the Thay and Tay Phuong pagodas and nearby handicraft villages. These tours also avoid having to struggle through Hanoi’s ferocious traffic, as a minibus takes the strain through the suburbs.

Tam Dao National Park Lonely Planet review

Introducing Around Hanoi

The rich alluvial soils of the Red River Delta nurture a rich rice crop and many of the communities surrounding Hanoi are still engaged in agriculture. The contrast between modern Hanoi and the rural villages is stark. Many tour operators in Hanoi offer cycling tours to villages near Hanoi – a great way to discover a different world. Lotussia specialises in cycling tours from Hanoi, some taking in the Thay and Tay Phuong pagodas and nearby handicraft villages. These tours also avoid having to struggle through Hanoi’s ferocious traffic, as a minibus takes the strain through the suburbs.

Thay Pagoda Lonely Planet review

Also known as Thien Phuc (Heavenly Blessing), Thay Pagoda is dedicated to Thich Ca Buddha (Sakyamuni, the historical Buddha). To the left of the main altar is a statue of the 12th-century monk Tu Dao Hanh, the master in whose honour the pagoda is named. To the right is a statue of King Ly Nhan Tong, who is believed to have been a reincarnation of Tu Dao Hanh.

In front of the pagoda is a small stage built on stilts in the middle of a pond where water-puppet shows are staged during festivals. Follow the path around the outside of the main pagoda building and take a steep 10-minute climb up to a beautiful smaller pagoda perched high on the rock. Thay Pagoda is a big and confusing complex for non-Buddhists – consider hiring a guide.

The pagoda’s annual festival is held from the fifth to the seventh days of the third lunar month (approximately March). Visitors enjoy watching water-puppet shows, hiking and exploring caves in the area.

Tam Dao National Park Lonely Planet review

Tam Dao National Park was designated in 1996 and covers much of the area around the town. Tam Dao means ‘Three Islands’, and the three summits of Tam Dao Mountain, all about 1400m in height, are sometimes visible to the northeast of the hill station, floating like islands in the mist.

There are at least 64 mammal species (including langurs) and 239 bird species in the park, but you’ll need a good local guide and be prepared to do some hiking to find them. Illegal hunting remains a big problem.

Hikes vary from half an hour return to the waterfall , to day treks taking in bamboo forest and primary tropical forest. A guide is essential for the longer hikes and can be hired from 400,000d; ask at the Mela Hotel.

Perfume Pagoda Lonely Planet review

North Vietnam’s very own Marble Mountains, the Perfume Pagoda is a striking complex of pagodas and Buddhist shrines built into the karst cliffs of Huong Tich Mountain (Mountain of the Fragrant Traces). Among the better-known sites here are Thien Chu (Pagoda Leading to Heaven); Giai Oan Chu (Purgatorial Pagoda), where the faithful believe deities purify souls, cure sufferings and grant offspring to childless families; and Huong Tich Chu (Pagoda of the Perfumed Vestige). This is a domestic drawcard and it is an interesting experience just to see the Vietnamese tourists at play.

Ho Chi Minh Trail Museum Lonely Planet review

The Ho Chi Minh Trail Museum is dedicated to the famous supply route from the communist north to the occupied south of Vietnam. The displays, including a barrage of American ammunition and weaponry as well as some powerful photography, document all too clearly the extreme effort and organisation needed to keep the show on the road – and the death and destruction involved. Quite simply, defeat was simply not an option for the VC, whatever the odds. There’s a model of the trail, which shows the nightmarish terrain through which it passed. It’s located about 13km southwest of Hanoi.

Tay Phuong Pagoda Lonely Planet review

Tay Phuong Pagoda, also known as Sung Phuc Pagoda, consists of three single-level structures built in descending order on a hillock that is said to resemble a buffalo. Figures representing ‘the conditions of man’ are the pagoda’s most celebrated feature – carved from jackfruit wood, many date from the 18th century. The earliest construction dates from the 8th century.

Take the steep steps up to the main pagoda building, then find a path at the back that loops down past the other two pagodas and wander through the adjacent hillside village.

Ba Vi National Park Lonely Planet review

Formerly a French hill station, the triple-peaked Ba Vi Mountain (Nui Ba Vi) has been attracting visitors for decades and remains a popular weekend escape for Hanoians. The limestone mountain is now part of the Ba Vi National Park which has several rare and endangered plants in its protected forest, mammals including two species of rare ‘flying’ squirrel and bountiful bird life.

Co Loa Citadel Lonely Planet review

Dating from the 3rd century BC, Co Loa Citadel was the first fortified citadel in Vietnamese history and became the national capital during the reign of Ngo Quyen (AD 939–44). Only vestiges of the ancient ramparts, which enclosed an area of about 5 sq km, remain.

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