On January 22nd, 2016, I took the airplane to Vietnam’s capital and second largest city Hanoi. Even though it rained hard during the most of the trip, during my 5-day stay, I was able to visit some of the most famous tourism destinations and learn about Vietnam. Following is the four most impressive tourism destinations in Hanoi, Vietnam.
Trấn Quốc Pagoda
Trấn Quốc Pagoda, “Chùa Trấn Quốc” in Vietnamese, is the oldest Buddhist temple in Hanoi. It is located on the eastern shore of Western Lake, just off the road that divides West Lake and Truc Bach Lake. This pagoda is regarded as the foremost symbol of Buddhism in Vietnam. In Trấn Quốc Pagoda, there are a lot of lotus flower statues, which symbolize some of the essential virtues of Buddhism: enlightenment, achievement, and purity of mind, body, and speech. Interestingly, most of the walls and buildings in this place are painted in yellow.
Also called the “Imperial Citadel of Thăng Long,” Hanoi Citadel is the former residence of Vietnamese monarchs and the hub of Vietnamese military power. The place was used for residency when the city was called Thăng Long instead of Hanoi. Even though there were lots of grandiose pavilions and imperial gates in the past, they were largely destroyed during the colonial period of France in the late 19th century, and therefore, only a few remain. The most impressive site in Hanoi Citadel is D67, a building which was once used as the headquarters of legendary Vietnamese General Vo Nguyen Giap. In case of a raid, General Giap had also prepared an underground tunnel so that the military could flee to other parts. In 2010, Hanoi Citadel was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
Ironically, despite being one of the most famous tourist attractions, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum was ranked as the sixth ugliest building in the world by CNN international in 2012. This place is one of the most conspicuous mausoleums (mausoleum: a stately and magnificent tomb) in the world, boasting its grand size. Everything is big in the mausoleum; a large banner beside the portico reads in huge letters, “Nước Cộng Hòa Xã Hội Chủ Nghĩa Việt Nam Muôn Năm,” meaning “state of the socialist republic of Viet Nam forever. Inside the mausoleum, the embalmed body of Ho Chi Minh is preserved in a glass case. The building is intensely protected by military guards and tourists are forbidden from talking and wearing hats inside the mausoleum. Ho Chi Minh mausoleum was inspired by Lenin’s Mausoleum in Moscow, but incorporates unique Vietnamese architectural elements.
Hoan Kiem Lake
Among the lakes in Hanoi, Hoan Kiem Lake is one of the most popular. Ho Hoan Kiem means “lake of the returned sword” and the name’s origin can be traced back to a Vietnamese legend. Emperor Le Loi, while boating on the lake, met the Golden Turtle God who surfaced to reclaim his magic sword. The magic sword had previously been given to the emperor to aid him during his revolt against the Chinese Ming Dynasty. After, the emperor renamed the lake to commemorate the happening. The Turtle Tower, or “Thap Rùa” in Vietnamese, also stands on a small island near the center of the lake in relation to this legend.
BY Naeun Lee ’18