We checked into our great hotel last night (the Hilton Hanoi Opera) which had excellent front desk service at night and a wonderful breakfast buffet this morning. Yes, it is right next door to the Opera.
We tried something a little different for our first day: We booked a day with the Hanoi Kids Club. http://hanoikids.org/. This is a volunteer organization with university students practicing their English. It is a very hard organization to join, and all you have to do is pay their expenses, treat them to lunch, etc. It was an amazing way to get immerse in local culture and explore Hanoi with some locals.
We spent a good portion of the morning going around the big lake. Many locals liked to display their pet turtles and get others to buy them…
We explored a few of the local (famous) temples and pagodas.
Not crowded and very friendly staff.
Great atmosphere, very different than the Buddhist temples you would see in Japan.
Also, it was hot. Unbelievably humid. You need to drink a lot of water here to survive.
Unfortunately, on Monday’s most museums are closed. But there is one open and it is the history of the women in Vietnam…The Vietnamese Women’s Museum. It is composed of many ethnicities and culture throughout the country. Lots of stories and artifacts. Did you know there is >54 ethnicities and dialects in Vietnam? A definite out of the way low cost museum that you get to learn a lot about the people.
The top floor was composed of all the famous women in Vietnam from the war…some very interesting stories and exhibits.
We had a great local lunch and enjoy one of the popular “pancakes” that you roll up in lettuce leaves and herbs that smell like fish. Very tasty! Full lunch…4 people…$15. No complaints here!
We then ended the afternoon hanging out with all the locals in this converted garage where everyone gets ice cream. It was yummy…it tasting like a vanilla crème brulee. 4 cones…$2. Low cost tourism! 🙂