Interior Art - Gallery 39  ,  Hanoi, Vietnam

Gallery 39

Owned by Vietnamese artist Le Thiet Cuong, the art at Gallery 39 represents a new Vietnam and a true exploration of artistic ideas in today’s Vietnam. The galleries on Hang Gai Street are a must to wander through, but often the work is a bit sentimental and repetitive, interesting to see but not always inspiring. Le Thiet Cuong is a contemporary artist with very much his own voice.

Exterior Veiw - Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum  , Hanoi, Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

Unless you’ve seen Lenin in his glass coffin in Moscow, visiting the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum will undoubtedly be one of the most bizarre travel experiences of your life. The massive building, clad in gray granite, is a lesson in Communist-era architecture; at its center lies the eerie, dimly lit room that houses the glass coffin holding the former leader’s embalmed body, surrounded by four guards. Visitors are speedily shuffled through after having been repeatedly reminded not to speak and to remove their hands from their pockets before entering.

If you arrive at 8 A.M. to beat the crowds, as your guide will insist you do, the whole experience takes all of 10 minutes. A dress code is enforced (no bare shoulders or legs). Close to the Mausoleum, your guide can take you to see Ho Chi Minh’s former home overlooking a scenic lake.

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Exterior Veiw  - Hoa Lo Prison ,  Hanoi, Vietnam

Hoa Lo Prison

The infamous Hanoi Hilton is a must for history buffs. Americans know it mostly from John McCain’s biography, but the prison was, in fact, built by the French in the late 1880s and used for political prisoners; one room still holds a guillotine. The displays have an interesting bias; the rooms dedicated to the French occupation list in detail the atrocities committed by the colonists against the Vietnamese prisoners, while those dedicated to the Vietnam war do their utmost to counter the tales of McCain and other internees, portraying American soldiers as well-treated and even displaying photos of prisoners playing football in Hoa Lo’s courtyard. But the dreary halls and granite cells speak for themselves, making this a sobering sightseeing stop.

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Coocking Food - indagare Tours: Cooking Classes , Hanoi, Vietnam

Indagare Tours: Cooking Classes

There are several places to take cooking classes in Hanoi ranging from upscale options to cocktail making classes to classes that help the local community by supporting programs aimed at getting kids off the street. Others focus on local seasonal cuisine and also incorporate street-food excursions with local guides. Our favorite cooking class, though, involves going out to a village outside of the city to a local family’s house where they have a cooking pavilion near their garden. They will teach you how to make fried spring rolls and rice pancakes. The visit is always a highlight of a Hanoi trip. Indagare members can contact our team to book.

Women at Indagare Tours: Delving into Vietnamese Culture,Hanoi, Vietnam - Courtesy of Brian Snelson

Indagare Tours: Delving into Vietnamese Culture

For those with a serious interest in tribal cultures, we can arrange for an expert guide to introduce you to the traditions of Hmong women, see demonstrations of Taoist and Buddhist rituals with shamans from the northern mountain groups as well as participate in batik workshops to learn about the wax and indigo patterns on hand-loomed cloths.  We can also connect collectors with a specialist on ethnic arts and crafts.

Exterior Veiw - Indagare Tours: Half-Day City Tour  , Hanoi, Vietnam Courtesy of Christine Zenino

Indagare Tours: Half-Day City Tour

Similar to Saigon, Hanoi’s landmarks are not large in number but they tend to be spaced out. Therefore, we suggest using a driver and guide to take you to the most popular sights not only to put your touring in context but also to avoid long lines. Indagare members can contact our team to book.

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Exterior Veiw - Indagare Tours: Halong Bay , Hanoi, Vietnam Courtesy of Harald Hoyer

Indagare Tours: Halong Bay

At about three and a half hours each way, it’s too long and dreary a drive for a day trip from Hanoi, so either go by helicopter and rent a private junk for lunch and a cruise or spend the night. Most of the boats that service Halong Bay are required to stay on a set path, visiting government owned islands, landmarks, caves and viewing points which can make you feel like herded cattle.

However, there are a few boats that have permits to stop on private islands and take low traffic routes that really make for a unique experience. One of the highlights of Halong Bay are the incredible pictures that you can take so make sure you go at the right time of year. Spring will have the clearest skies while summer will have the warmest water (but afternoon rain showers can interfere). Indagare members can contact our team to book.

Food - Indagare Tours: Street Food Walk , Hanoi, Vietnam

Indagare Tours: Street Food Walk

Just as in any other Asian capital, the street-food vendors can be overwhelming for Western visitors, even foodies who are willing to give them a try. Indagare sets you up with a local guide who takes you to trusted stalls and gives a lot of background on the Vietnamese food culture. We can also arrange cooking classes and, for the very motivated, Vietnamese language classes. Indagare members can contact our team to book.

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Exterior Veiw - Temple of Literature , Hanoi, Vietnam

Temple of Literature

Part of this large compound, with four courtyards and a magnificent ornate main hall, dates to 1070, when it was built as a Confucian temple. It was also the site for some 700 years of Hanoi’s first university, founded in 1076. Definitely come here with a guide who can explain all the architectural details and the many Confucian symbols and icons.

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Exterior Veiw - Vietnam Fine Arts Museum  , Hanoi, Vietnam

Vietnam Fine Arts Museum

This museum is not on everyone’s must-see list, but it tells you a lot about the texture of Vietnamese life viewed from the perspective of Vietnamese art history, from early sculpture through wartime paintings and drawings to more recent painting.

Exterior View - Vietnam Museum of Ethnology,Hanoi, Vietnam - Courtesy of Nam-ho Park

Vietnam Museum of Ethnology

This museum, which focuses on the 54 different ethnic tribes in Vietnam, is both a research center and an educational and exhibition hall. In addition to the permanent collection of textiles, costumes and crafts and tools of the various tribes that are on display, there is an outdoor area with examples of architectural styles, such as an Ede long house, a Hmong wood house and a Tay stilt house.

Women’s Museum of Hanoi

This four-story building outside of the Old Quarter focuses on the role of women in Vietnamese culture, covering everything from their roles during periods of war to their modern status. The entry fee is a little more than $1, and some people find it fascinating, while others find it boring; it really depends upon your interest in women’s history.

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Indagare employees walking up stiars

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