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).

For more on Vietnam’s amazing capital, have a look at more My 5s from around Hanoi

Like these? You can also leaf through my articles from across Vietnam.

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: Nha Hang Ngon Restaurant, Hanoi.

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1. Nha Hang Ngon Restaurant, April 2018. Hanoi is a wonderful place for foodies! Local specialties like Bun Cha and Banh Mi are a rite of passage, while there are also enough international options to cater to any craving; from Indian, French, Greek and Mexican, to American BBQ, English breakfasts, Chinese, Arabic and a thriving Sushi scene. Some of Hanoi’s most popular eateries are housed in gorgeous old French villas like this one on Tran Hung Dao.

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My 5: Dongmen Market – Shenzhen, China.

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1. Dongmen Market, February 2018. Shenzhen’s Dongmen district is one of the oldest parts of the city, with a three hundred year trading history under its belt. If you’re in the mood for some shopping, or even just people watching, this is the place to come for the biggest variety of goods and price ranges to suit all budgets. But be warned, Dongmen can be pretty chaotic! So roll up those sleeves, flex your elbows and prepare to do battle.

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My 5: OCT-LOFT Creative Culture Park – Shenzhen, China.

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1. OCT-LOFT, February 2018. Art lovers will find plenty to admire about Shenzhen. The city’s parks and squares are full of sculptures and statues, while a half-day visit to Dafen Oil Painting Village and its modern art museum is a must for anyone visiting the city. And then you’ve got OCT LOFT, a so-called Creative Culture Park built from the bones of a former electronics factory in 2005.

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My 5: Dafen Art Museum – Shenzhen, China.

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1. Dafen Art Museum, February 2018. Appropriately perched to the side of Dafen Oil Painting Village, this handsome art museum is well worth an hour of your time. Housed in a striking modern building on a large open square, it showcases original paintings from local artists.

2. Dafen Art Museum, February 2018. As with the adjoining oil painting village there’s no entry fee, you can just stroll in and investigate at your leisure.  

3. Dafen Art Museum, February 2018. It’s a huge air-conditioned space inside and you can take as many photos as you want. There wasn’t much of a security presence either, which added to the relaxed vibe. The whole museum takes a stripped back approach, with barely any literature at all to accompany the paintings, just the name of the painter and the year it was created.

4. Dafen Art Museum, February 2018. The museum hosts an annual Oil Painting Fair every October. There are special exhibitions and a huge live auction that fetched over 700 million RMB in 2017 ($1.1000000). I wonder how this fantastic painting, almost photographic in its clarity, would cost to take home.

5. Dafen Art Museum, February 2018. The museum is open daily (except Mondays) from 10:00-17:00.

For more on my adventures in the city, check out more of My 5s on Shenzhen.

Like these? Then why not have a leaf through my zillion articles from all around China.