Hanoi is relatively small and runs at quite an unhurried pace for a capital city. Resting in the Red River delta region, the centre is a mix of tree-lined avenues, maze like back streets with lively merchants stores, temples and lakes and has many fine colonial buildings.
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Top things to do in Hanoi
History & culture of Hanoi
Hanoi was the home and final resting place of the Vietnamese political leader Ho Chi Minh, and visitors to the city can see various sites connected with his life and works. Soviet-style Ba Dinh square was where Ho Chi Minh read out the declaration of the nation's independence in 1945, and nearby there is a small museum dedicated to his life, his mausoleum, and the modest dwelling he built based on a rural Vietnamese stilt house and where 'Uncle Ho' lived for the last years of his life. Another focal point of the city is Hoan Kiem lake, the 'Lake of Restored Sword', a scenic spot in the centre of Hanoi. In the north of the lake is Jade island, home to Ngoc Son or the 'Temple of the Jade Mountain'. Also of interest are the 900-year-old Temple of Literature, Vietnam's principal Confucian sanctuary and its historical centre of learning; and the Museum of Ethnology, which details the history, art and culture of Vietnam's many ethnic minority groups.
Watch a traditional water puppet show
Water Puppetry is a traditional and unique Vietnamese Art. This highly entertaining form of theatre uses the water surface as stage. Standing waist-deep in the water, the master puppeteers are hidden behind a bamboo screen. The technical virtuosity of the puppeteers is startling and, accompanied by traditional music, makes for an captivating experience. Hanoi city has a number of venues that offer daily performances in the early evening. Alternatively, visit the small village of Dao Thuc in the countryside outside Hanoi to enjoy an outdoor water puppet show, using the village as a backdrop.
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