My 5: Temple of Literature, Hanoi.

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1. Temple Of Literature, April 2018. If you’re only going to see one temple in Vietnam’s capital, there’s a strong case to be made for this ancient complex, which stands in tribute to the country’s finest scholars. Founded in 1070 by Emperor Ly Thanh Tong, this was also the site of Vietnam’s first university.

2. Temple Of Literature, April 2018. Stuffed full of gorgeous altars, pagodas, gardens and ponds in a rare show of intact, traditional Vietnamese architecture; no wonder The Temple of Literature is considered one of Hanoi’s most beautiful spots. Foot traffic rarely lets up, so you’ll need to be extra patient to get your photos.

3. Temple Of Literature, April 2018. My favorite part of the complex is The Third Courtyard with its giant pond, a stone well and two great halls housing ancient temple treasures.

4. Temple Of Literature, April 2018. The Third Courtyard is a cherished spot for Hanoians too, especially university students who come here to pray for good grades and celebrate their graduations! On the day of my visit I came across a group performing all kinds of amusing poses at the request of a professional photographer. The courtyard is also featured on the ten thousand Dong banknote.

5. Temple Of Literature, April 2018. The temple’s ceremonial heart is here at The Courtyard of the Sages Sanctuary. There’s a statue of Confucius here, which unsurprisingly attracted the attention of some Chinese schoolchildren, who descended upon the square just seconds after I took this photo. The temple is open daily from 08:00-18:00. Admission is 30.000VND (£1/€1.10/$1.30).

Interested in reading more about my favorite temples around the world? Why not cast your eyes over My 5s on Guandi Temple (Quanzhou, China), Yongmunsa Temple (Yangpyeong, Korea), Wat Pho (Bangkok, Thailand) and the temples of Angkor (Siem Reap, Cambodia).

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My 5: Ho Chi Minh Musem, Hanoi.

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1. Ho Chi Minh Museum April 2018. Have you paid your respects to Uncle Ho at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum? Did you check out his stilt house, meeting rooms and car collection? Then it’s only proper to round things off with an amble around this resourceful albeit quirky museum located right in the heart of Ho Chi Minh Complex.

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My 5: Ho Chi Minh Complex, Hanoi.

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1. Ho Chi Minh Complex, April 2018. Visitors to Hanoi should set aside a whole morning and a good chunk of the afternoon for all things Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam’s much-loved father of independence. Having paid my respects to Uncle Ho’s embalmed body at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, the next step was to tour this complex, where the great man lived and worked as president during the mid 1950s until his death in 1969. My self-guided wander started here outside The Presidential Palace, built by French colonialists in the early 1900s before being taken over by the Vietnamese government in 1954.  

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My 5: Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum – Hanoi, Vietnam.

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1. Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, April 2018. In case you’re wondering, it can be a complicated business going to see the embalmed bodies of revered national leaders. Remembering only too well my many failed attempts to go and see Chairman Mao in Beijing (no bags, no cameras, no shorts, no sandals, no arms and legs day, closed for unspecified reasons), I made sure I was fully prepared when I set off to pay my respects to Vietnam’s legendary leader Ho Chi Minh. Waking up extra early, I hailed a moto from the old quarter and off we sped with hopes of getting a not-too-diabolical place in the queue.

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My 5: La Place Cafe, Hanoi.

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1. La Place Cafe, April 2018. Looking for a tasty, affordable breakfast in Hanoi with a cracking balcony view? You’d do very well indeed to find a better option than La Place, with its winning location in the old quarter’s pretty Au Trieu Street.

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My 5: Vietnamese Women’s Museum, Hanoi.

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1. Vietnamese Women’s Museum, April 2018. Hanoi boasts a wonderful collection of museums, so many in fact that this modern building in the old quarter’s Ly Thuong Kiet Street often gets overlooked. Run by The Women’s Union of Vietnam, the museum showcases the many roles of women in Vietnamese society and culture.  

2. Vietnamese Women’s Museum, April 2018. Check out the free photo exhibition in the outer courtyard, which features some amazing shots of women all around the country celebrating the end of The Vietnam War. To get your ticket for the museum itself, head into this large reception area. There are free lockers to store bags and valuables.

3. Vietnamese Women’s Museum, April 2018. The museum’s exhibitions are spread out across three floors, detailing women’s roles in family, history and fashion. Information comes in English and French.

4. Vietnamese Women’s Museum, April 2018. By far the most interesting part of the experience was reading about the individual stories from some of Vietnam’s most heroic ladies. There’s even a little wall of fame and video in tribute to those who made huge sacrifices during Vietnam’s long fight for independence.

5. Vietnamese Women’s Museum, April 2018. There are also some excellent propaganda prints on display! The museum is open daily (except Mondays) from 08:00-16:30. Entrance tickets are priced at 30.000 VND (£0.95/€1.10/$1.30).

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My 5: Old Propaganda Posters & Paintings, Hanoi.

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1. Old Propaganda Posters & Paintings, April 2018. I was on my way to the Vietnamese Women’s Museum when I happened across this famous Hanoi store specializing in Vietnam War era artwork. I’d seen quite a few shops pedaling communist propaganda prints, but it was immediately clear to me that this place, with its immense collection of works in all shapes and sizes, was the real deal.

2. Old Propaganda Posters & Paintings, April 2018. The store is managed by a Hanoi-born mother (Tuyet) and daughter (Kim Chi) who’ve been running the business for over seventeen years! I was surprised to learn that they had no online presence at all and according to Kim Chi this was a tactical decision. “We people to come to Hanoi” she smiled, “come to the store and meet us and learn about Vietnam history!”

3. Old Propaganda Posters & Paintings, April 2018. While I may not agree with all of the messages depicted in the posters, it’s almost impossible to deny the aesthetic beauty with their angular Soviet style and striking color schemes. The more I flipped through the hundreds of rice paper prints stacked up on the main table, the more fascinated I became.

4. Old Propaganda Posters & Paintings, April 2018. Richard Nixon features a lot, in various grotesque guises. I must have leafed through hundreds during the half an hour I spent in there and honestly I could have picked up a dozen or so to take home.

5. Old Propaganda Posters & Paintings, April 2018. In the end I decided to be sensible and purchase my favorite three. While I’ve decided not to reveal how much I paid for my swag (out of respect for Tuyet & Kim Chi), I will advise you to negotiate as you may be surprised by what you can get! The store, which is just steps away from St. Joseph’s Cathedral, is open daily from 08:00-22:00.

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