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Hanoi Citadel UNESCO World Heritage Site

Our last stop, before ending our two-month backpacking trip across Asia, is the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long or simply, Hanoi Citadel. The place, with its gated walls stretching for a city block, caught our attention during our Ba Dinh District Tour of Hanoi. Unfortunately, it was already closed when we spotted it, so we had to come back the next day just to see it.

Hanoi Citadel UNESCO World Heritage Site
PART OF THE CITADEL WALL

But why come back at all when we can simply chill on our last day of our Same Same Summer Trip? From the outside, it does look impressive, add in the massive Doan Mon Gate and its label as a UNESCO World Heritage Site—one of the seven in Vietnam—and we just knew that we’d have to see what’s inside its walls.

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Posted by Christian Sangoyo on Friday, February 23, 2018

Hanoi Ba Dinh District Walking Tour

After doing the requisite Hanoi Old Quarter and French Quarter walking tour, it’s time to see other parts of the city. And yes, there’s more to Hanoi than the places around Hoan Kiem District, and what’s nice about it is that these are all very walkable from Hoan Kiem Lake.

Ba Dinh District is mostly characterized by stately government buildings and wide tree-lined streets, a breather from the tight roadways of the Old Quarter. But besides these, it also has the most beautiful temples in Hanoi, even boasting of a certified UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Like the Hoan Kiem walking tour, this would take almost the whole day—check out my Hanoi Food Trip post for places where you can eat along the way. If you haven’t ran your soles to the ground just yet, then get your cameras and let’s see what the western side of Hanoi has to offer!

 

 

HANOI TRAIN STREET

  ADDRESS: DIEN BIEN PHU ROAD, BA DINH DISTRICT, HANOI | OPENING HOURS: 24 HOURS DAILY | ENTRANCE FEE: NONE


Walking from either Hang Bong Street from the Old Quarter, or Trang Thi Road at the French Quarter, stop at the train tracks along the Dien Bien Phu Road and enter Hanoi’s Train Street. It’s a proper street—houses on both sides with kids playing along, people going about their daily routine on a narrow roadway reminiscent of those at the Old Quarter—the only difference is that there’s an actual train track right in the middle!

And yes, there’s an actual big-ass train that passes along this route, not once, but twice a day at 3:30PM and 7:30PM. The area is really narrow, so if you’re planning to catch the train, find a safe spot before the designated time, and watch the southern end of the rail for the incoming locomotive.

Hanoi Train Street

Hanoi Train Street

 

 

TEMPLE OF LITERATURE

  ADDRESS: 58 QUOC TU GIAM STREET, BA DINH DISTRICT, HANOI | OPENING HOURS: 8:00PM - 6:00PM | ENTRANCE FEE: VND 30,000.00 (USD 1.50)


About 600 meters away from the train tracks is the Temple of Literature. Featured at the back of the 100,000 Vietnamese dong and the Starbucks City Icon mug, it is one of the most beautiful temples in Hanoi.

It was built in 1070 on a 54,000 square meter plot of land subdivided into five walled courtyards. The landscapes, well maintained and very serene, matches well with the ornate imperial Chinese architecture. It is dedicated to the teachings of Confucius, with the complex housing the first ever national university in Vietnam, Quốc Tử Giám, or the Imperial Academy. Its prominence fell when the capital was moved to the Imperial City of Hue, but its majesty remained.

It would take more than an hour to explore every nook and crannies of this place, so make sure you’d had breakfast before going in.

Hanoi Temple of Literature

Hanoi Temple of LiteratureHanoi Temple of Literature

Hanoi Temple of Literature

 

 

LENIN PARK

  ADDRESS: 28A DIEN BIEN PHU STREET, BA DINH DISTRICT, HANOI | OPENING HOURS: 24 HOURS DAILY | ENTRANCE FEE: NONE


Head northwards and you’d find a park dedicated to Russia’s communist revolutionary leader, Vladimir Lenin. It’s a small park replete with trees, nothing really remarkable except for the Lenin statue. It’s not everyday that you get to see this guy’s likeness on parks across South East Asia.

Hanoi Lenin Park

Hanoi Lenin Park

 

 

VIETNAM MILITARY HISTORY MUSEUM

  ADDRESS: 28 DIEN BIEN PHU STREET, BA DINH DIST. | OPEN HOURS: 8:00AM-4:30PM, CLOSED FRIDAY | ENTRANCE FEE: VND 30,000 (USD 1.50)


Right across the street, fronting Gospodin Lenin, is the Vietnam Military History Museum, or simply Army Museum. You actually won’t notice it, since it’s fronted by a nondescript two-story building, except for the MIG-21 jet fighter (it shot down fourteen US planes during the war) docked on its left flank.

Besides war relics displayed inside the museum, on its courtyard, you’d find a couple of planes, a chopper, wreckage of an American B-52 bomber, and the actual military tank that crashed through the gates of Saigon’s Presidential Palace which ended the Vietnam War in 1975.

Hanoi Vietnam Military History Museum

Hanoi Vietnam Military History Museum

 

 

HANOI FLAG TOWER

  ADDRESS: LE HONG PHONG STREET, BA DINH DISTRICT, HANOI | OPENING HOURS: 9:00AM - 5:00PM | ENTRANCE FEE: VND 30,000.00 (USD 1.50)


Right beside the Army Museum is the iconic Hanoi Flag Tower. Rising to a height of forty one meters with a gigantic red Vietnamese flag dancing with the wind, it’s almost always visible along the Ba Dinh District. Built in 1812, more than 200 years from today, its octagonal tower stands on three brick platforms. It’s one of the rare architectural gems that weren’t destroyed during the French-colonial times in Vietnam.

Hanoi Flag Tower

Hanoi Flag Tower

 

 

IMPERIAL CITADEL OF THANG LONG

  ADDRESS: HOANG DIEU STREET, BA DINH DIST. | OPEN HOURS: 8:30AM-5:00PM, CLOSED ON MONDAY | ENTRANCE FEE: VND 30,000 (USD 1.50)


From the flag tower, head north to see the Hanoi Citadel. Dubbed as the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, it’s one of the seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Vietnam. The massive site served as the political center of Vietnam for thirteen consecutive centuries and the capital of the country for eight centuries. It has a long historical past, with archeological diggings unearthing 6th and 20th century artifacts—from foundations of old palaces to ancient roads, ceramics, and coins.

This place is massive and it would take a couple of hours to tour its grounds, it wholly deserves a separate article.

Hanoi Imperial Citadel of Thang Long

 

 

VIETNAM WAR MEMORIAL

  ADDRESS: HOANG DIEU STREET, BA DINH DISTRICT, HANOI | OPENING HOURS: 24 HOURS DAILY | ENTRANCE FEE: NONE


A hundred meters away from the gates of Hanoi Citadel is the Dai Liet Si Quoc Gia. Directly translated, it means National Martyr’s Hall or more popularly known as the Vietnam War Memorial.

With massive blocks of stone carved with a traditional golden pagoda, its construction is a fusion of Vietnamese and modernist architecture. Constructed in 1993, it commemorates the sacrifices of its people during the bloody Vietnam War.

Hanoi Vietnam War Memorial

 

 

CUA BAC CHURCH

  ADDRESS: 56 PHAN DINH PHUNG STREET, BA DINH DISTRICT, HANOI | OPENING HOURS: | ENTRANCE FEE: NONE


If you head straight along the highway, which we did not, you’ll arrive at the Cua Bac Church, one of the three major churches in Hanoi. Originally named as the Church of the Martyrs, it was built by the French in 1932 during the colonial period in Vietnam. A fusion in Art Deco and local Vietnamese architecture, it is characterized by a handsome belfry and massive rose windows on its front façade and transepts.

 

 

 

QUAN THANH TEMPLE

  ADDRESS: THAN NIEN STREET, BA DINH DISTRICT, HANOI | OPENING HOURS: 7:00AM – 5:00PM | ENTRANCE FEE: VND 10,000.00 (USD 0.50)


Another place we missed, but were within striking distance of our Ba Dinh District walk, was the Quan Thanh Temple. It’s a Taoist temple built in the 11th century and one of the Four Sacred Temples in Hanoi. It was built over one of the four cardinal directions to protect the city from evil spirits.

 

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TRAN QUOC PAGODA

  ADDRESS: THAN NIEN STREET, BA DINH DISTRICT, HANOI | OPENING HOURS: 7:00AM – 5:00PM | ENTRANCE FEE: VND 10,000.00 (USD 0.50)


And yet another one we missed, the Tran Quoc Pagoda. It’s about 300 meters from the Quan Thanh Temple, jutting over Hanoi’s gigantic West Lake. The Buddhist temple is set on a causeway on the east side of the water and features an eleven-storey red pagoda where monk’s ashes are reverently kept.

The temple was constructed in the 6th century, making it the oldest pagoda in Hanoi. Besides its structures, one of the more important things to see inside the complex is a Bodhi tree, a cutting of the original tree in India where Buddha sat and achieved nirvana. It was a gift by Indian president Rajendra Prasad in 1959.

The best time to actually go here is during sunsets, so should you prefer to, you can go to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and its nearby attractions first before going here to make this your final destination of the tour.

 

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HANOI PRESIDENTIAL PALACE

  ADDRESS: HUNG VUONG STREET, BA DINH DISTRICT, HANOI | OPENING HOURS: 7:30AM - 1:30PM | ENTRANCE FEE: VND 25,000.00 (USD 1.25)


Painted in bright yellows, Hanoi’s Presidential Palace can be viewed only from the wrought iron gates outside the compound. Or that’s what we thought. It turned out visitors can actually tour the ground, but not enter the palace itself. It was constructed in Italian Renaissance style by the French.

It was said that Ho Chi Minh refused to live in the palace during his time, preferring to live on a traditional Vietnamese stilt house that he asked to be built within the same grounds.

Hanoi Presidential Palace

Hanoi Presidential Palace

 

 

HO CHI MINH MAUSOLEUM

  ADDRESS: HUNG VUONG STREET, BA DINH DISTRICT, HANOI | OPENING HOURS: 8:00AM – 5:00PM | ENTRANCE FEE: NONE


Ho Chi Minh’s final resting place is the centerpiece of Ba Dinh District. Located on Ba Dinh Square, the structure, clad in grey granite, was inspired by Lenin’s in Moscow. It was built in 1975 with a height of 21.6 meters; it’s both regal and imposing. The embalmed body of the Vietnamese leader is preserved inside the hall where visitors are allowed to enter, it was just unfortunate that it was closed when we visited.

Hanoi Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

Hanoi Ho Chi Minh MausoleumHanoi Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

 

 

ONE PILLAR PAGODA

  ADDRESS: CHUA MOT COT STREET, BA DINH DISTRICT, HANOI | OPENING HOURS: 7:30AM - 1:30PM | ENTRANCE FEE: VND 25,000.00 (USD 1.25)


And like an encore, the final destination for our Ba Dinh District tour is the One Pillar Pagoda. It is located just beside the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, hidden behind a wall.

We were actually looking for a pagoda within the vicinity, thinking, we could not possibly miss a pagoda in such an open environment. Well, we failed in finding it. The reason? It was so small! The Buddhist pagoda, built in 1049, stands at a mere four meters! But still, it is considered as one of the two most iconic temples in the whole of Vietnam.

 

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BOOK ONLINE FOR DISCOUNTED TOURS IN HANOI

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Posted by Christian Sangoyo on Saturday, February 3, 2018

Hanoi Old Quarter French Quarter DIY Walking Tour

Having already done a chaotic no-direction two-day walking tour of Hanoi on our first visit to the city, it was time to do a more organized one this time around. But having seen some of the sights before at the French Quarter and Hanoi’s Old Quarter, we turned to those we haven’t been to before.

But just for your sake, my dear readers, I’m rounding out a one day walking itinerary of Hanoi’s Old Quarter and French Quarter—which, by the way, are both in Hoan Kiem District—in one go. And this one’s much more organized than what we actually did in real life.

I recommend starting your Hanoi DIY walking tour from Hoan Kiem Lake. Well, you can actually start anywhere near your lodging, but for the sake of this guide, since the lake is one of the central area of the district, I’ll start there. For food stops, check out my Hanoi Food Trip post, or you can just eat wherever suits your fancy, you won’t run out of food places in Hanoi. And lastly, keep your eyes open between destinations, it’s where you’d really find what Hanoi is all about. So, ready your walking shoes, this would take almost the whole day!

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Posted by Christian Sangoyo on Thursday, February 1, 2018

Hanoi Food Trip

On our second trip to Hanoi, Vietnamese street food, again, became our staple for our everyday gastronomic needs. From our arrival from the Imperial Citadel of Hue, to our departure going back to the Philippines (where Jollibee awaited), we ate on nothing but the cheap eats found on the sidewalks of the city. Definitely no fancy restaurants for us!

Hanoi Food Trip Fruit Vendor
A TYPICAL FRUIT VENDOR ON THE STREETS OF HANOI

I was originally planning to include these on my previous Hanoi food trip article, but the variety of Vietnamese food is just too overwhelming, so I’m posting this separately!

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Posted by Christian Sangoyo on Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Hanoi Walking Street Weekend

“Where are the motorbikes?!” We were totally baffled the morning we arrived at Hanoi after visiting the Imperial Citadel of Hue. The streets around Hoan Kiem Lake were devoid of motorbikes, or any motorized vehicle for that matter. It was a Sunday morning, the weather was a bit nippy with magenta bougainvillea flowers and yellow blossoms from the trees littering the road. It was quite a refreshing sight, totally very not Hanoi, but in a very good way!

Hanoi Walking Street Hoan Kiem Lake
HOAM KIEM LAKE IN HANOI

It turns out that Hanoi has started to pedestrianize the roadways around Hoan Kiem Lake. The testing stage started as far back as 2014, with six major streets barricaded against motorized traffic. By September 2016, fifteen more streets were added in.

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Posted by Christian Sangoyo on Friday, January 26, 2018

Cocoon Inn Hostel Hanoi

Hanoi was the base of operation for our Sapa trip and our overnight Halong Bay Cruise. On our first Hanoi visit, we had a taste of its French Colonial past at the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi, but this time around, we wanted to experience the buzz of the Old Quarter, so what we did, we booked a few nights on one of the newest hostel in town, Cocoon Inn.

Cocoon Inn Hostel Hanoi Street
TA HIEN STREET AT NIGHT

Located at the busy Hang Buom Road, it’s a stone throw’s away from the weekend market and our favorite hangout at the Old Quarter—the backpacker district, Ta Hien Street. It’s a busy intersection where we usually have our bia hoi from the afternoons up to late evenings.

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Posted by Christian Sangoyo on Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Australian visa application in the Philippines isn’t a walk in the park compared to visa applications for other countries. A stable nine-to-five job and a fat bank account won’t automatically get you a pass to the Land Down Under—what more if you’re a full time freelancer with hardly any documents to prove that you can actually afford to buy a ticket and travel for several days across the vast Australian soil.

Case in point, a friend of mine with a booming business, complete papers, and loads of moolah on his bank accounts, note the s on the account, was actually denied a visa for Australia. Why? Well, they actually tell you the reason why they reject your application for an Australian visa, but he just won’t disclose to us why. In any case, it just proves that applying for a visa DIY-style isn’t really a hundred percent sure that you’d get in. Heck, even Nas of the extremely popular Nas Daily vlog was denied a visa!

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Posted by Christian Sangoyo on Monday, January 22, 2018

Okay, I beat my previous year’s Lakad Pilipinas year-ender by almost a week! It’s now the 18th of January, and it’s actually the first time I’ve tried writing a real article since the New Year commenced. The days after the holidays always set my writing in limbo, hopefully this kickstarts it for the new year.

2017 saw me traveling outside the Philippines more than around our own island. Don’t scold me just yet, I didn’t particularly planned it that way, it just happened. Heck, I didn’t even set foot in Baguio this year, which is kinda sad since I make it a point to visit my favorite city at least once a year. I promise I’ll make it up this 2018.

And as with the previous years, C was my constant companion on almost all of these trips, with our best travel buddies, Team RH, tagging on some of them. Why travel alone when you can share the road with your friends, yeah?

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Posted by Christian Sangoyo on Saturday, January 20, 2018
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