Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
You don't often get to see a dead body in a glass box and so the opportunity should be grasped with both hands. Within an impressive stone building in Hanoi lies the open casket of the former Vietnamese communist leader Ho Chi Minh. You are swiftly hurried along in your walk around but it is definitely worth it, you won't see many things quite as atmospheric as this.
Hoàn Kiếm Lake
For a bit of tranquility in the centre of this crazy city, head over to Hoan Kiem Lake in the historical centre of Hanoi. Take a stroll along the wide pathways surrounding the lake and admire the Turtle Tower in the middle of the lake and the Ngoc Son Temple which sits on an island and is connect to land by a classic Vietnamese bridge.
What visit to a capital city if complete without a visit to a royal palace. A bright yellow building in the middle set to one side off a crazy busy street, this wonderful building if a perfect example of French Indochina architecture.
St Joseph's Cathedral, Hanoi
For a bit of Christian culture in Vietnam, maybe you’re missing home or you’re just sick of temples, head over to St Joseph’s Cathedral in Hanoi. Resembling a more gothic Notre Dame, it’s a good point of call for a bit of variety and to remind you that approx 7% of the population of Vietnam is Christian.
Hue Imperial City
Hue is a great stop along any Vietnamese tour, primarily to see it’s imperial city within a large tone citadel. Hue acted as the capital of Vietnam from in the 19th Century right up until 1945 and so what has been left behind is effectively an abandoned fortress with palace, temple and gardens for you to explore.
Thien Mu Pagoda
Also within the city of Hue is the Thien Mu Pagoda, also known as the Pagoda of the Celestial Lady. I’m really not sure what a Pagoda’s purpose is but 7 stories high it’s a beautiful thing and it’s surrounding by some lovely gardens. You can walk to it from the centre of Hue but it is a bit of a journey along not a particularly pleasant road and so probably a better idea to get a Tuk Tuk and if you walk you’ll only be harassed by passing Tuk Tuk’s anyway.
Japanese Covered Bridge
Hoi An, is something impressive to see in itself, with yellow building with green wooden shutters lining the central river which is full of traditional boats in the daytime and lanterns at night. But amongst all of its delights, do stop and admire the Japanese Covered Bridge which was originally built to link the Japanese and Chinese communities in Hoi An.
Notre Dame Cathedral
More wonderful French influence is to be found in Saigon, particularly in the form of the aptly names Notre Dame Cathedral in Saigon. Mimicking its namesakes famous twin bell towers and circular central window, visit to experience a slice of Paris in Vietnam.