Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam, is an ancient city that surges with energy, and there are more than enough attractions to warrant a day-long tour.
Local tradition is a big part of the culture, yet the rise of modernization and the boom of industrialization has transformed Hanoi into a city that never seems to slow down or take a break.
The historical attractions, the continuous markets, and the stunning array of cuisine make Hanoi a perfect place to let yourself loose and explore.
Mornings, or even afternoons and evenings, should always begin with a few cups of Vietnamese coffee.
Introduced by the French during colonization, Vietnam became addicted to dark roasts and strong brews.
While I usually enjoy hot, plain black, unsweetened coffee, Vietnamese iced “ca phe sua da,” which includes a ton of sweetened condensed milk, hits the spot on a warm day.
The Old Quarter of Hanoi is one of the town's original and most congested sections. Motorbikes zoom through the narrow roads and lanes while stores and restaurants line the streets and sprawl onto the road.
Each building in the Old Quarter is unique, and I was amazed at the architecture and construction. Delicious restaurants, stores selling everything imaginable, hotels, and bars are all ubiquitous throughout the Old Quarter.
Located adjacent to the Old Quarter is Hoan Kiem Lake, a landmark and popular gathering place in Hanoi for tourists and locals alike. The water is famous for its deep green color.
The Ngoc Son Temple, located on a small island within the lake, is reached by crossing the red-painted Huc Bridge. The distinguishable bridge is a favorite place to stop and take photos.
Hoan Kiem Lake is a place that invites anyone on a tour of Hanoi to eat an ice cream cone while taking a meandering stroll that strictly focuses on relaxation.
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Ho Chi Minh was a revolutionary leader and one of Vietnam's most influential founding fathers. Often referred to as Uncle Ho, he remains embalmed and displayed at his mausoleum in Hanoi.
Every day, the mausoleum is open to visitors from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., and thousands come to show their honor and respect. If you go, adhere to the strict dress code and visiting guidelines.
As one of the most important Buddhist temples in Hanoi, I wasn't all that impressed just by the outward appearance of the One Pillar Pagoda.
I developed an appreciation of the temple after reading about its historical significance and what it represents.
The emperor in the 11th century had no offspring, and one night, he had a dream where a Bodhisattva presented him with a child sitting on a lotus plant. He built the one-pillar pagoda to honor this vision, and its legend lives on.
The Temple of Literature, devoted to Confucius, is one of the most famous attractions in Hanoi.
The ancient temple was home to Vietnam's first national university and houses art, stelae, statues, engravings, and shrines.
Observing the layout and surrounding courtyards is also a highlight of visiting the temple, which was constructed in a similar design to the place where Confucius was born.
Vietnamese food is tasty, fresh, and often supplemented by many vibrant herbs. Throughout the day and night, people take to the streets for some of the city's most satisfying meals.
Though pho (chicken or beef noodle soup) is the most iconic dish of Vietnam, it was something known as bun cha that satisfied my taste buds.
The combination of chopped grilled pork tossed into a sweet and sour soup, accompanied by rice noodles and herbs, and garnished with chilies and minced garlic is a flavor I'll cherish forever.
The greatest thing about Hanoi is that you can never know precisely what you'll discover. Each day is new and allows you to see, eat, or experience something you've never done before.
Exciting, fascinating, and always entertaining characterizes a tour of Hanoi.
Mark was raised in central Africa before migrating back to the U.S. for University. After graduating, he decided to continue traveling the world. On Migrationology, he shares the cultural side of travel from a slow-paced local perspective that often revolves around his love for eating all forms of food. Join him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @migrationology.