1. Travel from the Center of Hanoi Old Quarter to the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology
Best to go via taxi to the museum which will take about 20 minutes or alternatively take the minibus number 14 from Dinh Tien Hoang Street (just north of Hoan Kiem Lake) to the Nghia Tan bus stop and walk two blocks.
2. Hanoi Travel Guide
Getting into Hanoi
The trip into the city from Noi Bai Airport takes about thirty minutes to an hour (depending on the traffic) and offers some poignant glimpses of modern Vietnamese life: great rivers, modern highways that abruptly become bumpy roads.
Meter taxis and hired cars are easy to find in Hanoi. If you plan an extended visit you might consider renting a bicycle or motorbike.
The north end of Hoan Kiem Lake is Hanoi's "ground zero". Practically all the city’s economical hotels, tourist shops, and cafés catering to visitors are located here. Not only is it the oldest part of the city, it is the busiest and most interesting. Every street is winding, intimate, and shady. At night the lights of storefronts keep the streets lit and animated.
Depending on which guide book you read, this district of Hanoi is variously called the “Old Quarter", the "Ancient Quarter," or "36 streets." It is wedged between the northern shore of Hoan Kiem Lake, the walls of the ancient Citadel, and the levies that protect the city from the Red River. The 36 little streets in the quarter are each named for a commodity once sold by all the businesses on that street. Streets here are named for the medicine, jewelry, fans, copper, votive objects, chicken, and even coffins once sold on them. This explains why the names of some of the longer streets inexplicably change after one or two blocks. As you explore, you will still happen upon entire blocks of tinsmiths, tailors, paper goods merchants, and lacquerware makers.
Hanoi is very compact, and the city’s most interesting places for tourists are all relatively close to each other, which makes it easy to enjoy the best parts of the city on foot or by cyclo. You could probably explore the Ancient Quarter and visit all the places below in a single day
Sightseeing in your very first morning in Hanoi should begin with a visit to Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum, without a doubt the city’s single most visited site, and one of Vietnam's most revered places. The cyclo ride from Hoan Kiem Lake takes only about fifteen minutes. The Mausoleum is open only in the mornings, from 7:30 to 10:30 in Summer and from 8:00 to 11:00 in Winter. There are often large crowds, so you shall arrive early.
The One Pillar Pagoda is about 50 meters away. This little architectural curiosity gets its name because the shrine sits atop a single massive pedestal. The original was built by Emperor Ly Thai To, who was inspired by a dream.
You cannot help being overwhelmed by the serenity of Van Mieu (Temple of Literature) and Quoc Tu Giam (National University) from the moment you pass through its towering gates. Together, they make one of Asia’s loveliest spots. Hidden from the humming metropolis behind high stone walls and ancient Frangipani trees are some of Vietnam’s most magnificent religious structures and historical treasures. Great pools filled with blooming Lotus bear names like "Well of Heavenly Clarity". Dating from 1076, this was this part of Asia’s most prestigious center of learning for aristocrats and the children of the Mandarins. The focal point of the site is the Sanctuary dedicated to Confucius, which is filled with elaborate Chinese reliquary. Live performances of traditional folk music by costumed women are ongoing during public hours.
Hoan Kiem Lake - Although not at its geographical center, after the expansion of Hanoi into a major metropolitan area in 2009, Hoan Kiem Lake remains the very heart of life in Hanoi. According to a 15th Century legend, a giant turtle presented Emperor Le Loi with a magic sword with which to defeat Chinese invadors. In accordance with their pact, the Emperor returned the sword to the turtle after a glorious victory in battle. Thus, the lake was named Hoan Kiem, or "restored sword."
Ngoc Son Temple - Ngoc Son Temple sits on an islet at the North end of the Hoan Kiem Lake. The oldest structures in the complex dated back to 1225, though most of what you see was either built or reconstructed in the 19th century. In addition to the two beautifully ornate Confucianist sanctuaries dedicated to various long-dead humans, a huge stuffed turtle (which most certainly never swam in this lake) resides in a glass display case. The spot is lovely, not only for the ostentatious architecture, but for interesting people who take refuge from the city here. Your camera may capture old men playing checkers in the Pavilion of the Stelae, someone fishing quietly among the willows which practically obscure the island from view, a couple posing for their wedding photo with the Tortoise Pagoda in the background, or the young photographers who always gather on the red wooden bridge.
The Old Quarter - Some of the 36 streets that make up the Ancient Quarter still offer only a single commodity. One of the best is Hang Quat, where shops sell an incredible array of lacquered wood candle sticks, bowls, picture frames, religious shrines, and decorative pieces. Practically every single item is painted in some combination of red, white and gold. Many of the things are elaborate to the point of being garish. Since prices are staggeringly low, buy what you can.
Hanoians are proud people; they take pride in their cuisines, their etiquettes, their rich tradition and about their own love for the city not only to international tourists but also to people from other provinces in Vietnam. Hanoi food is listed among things you should try before leaving to another world.
For further assistance, please contact:
La Thuy (Mrs) – Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Department of Scientific Management and International Relations
Vietnam Museum of Ethnology
Nguyen Van Huyen Road, Cau Giay District, Hanoi, Vietnam
Mobile: +84 (0) 912 483 473