This is the second part of a 3-part travel adventure series whereby we embarked on a ‘garang’travel in the spirit of #ZUJIGarangExplorer.
All our travel bookings are done via ZUJI for the best deals. Read about Alvin’s experience with ZUJI and why we chose to fly to Hanoi versus Ho Chi Minh City.
For a little travel surprise, read through till the end of this post and find out how you can win some ZUJI vouchers to sweeten your next holiday!
When in Hanoi, what are the must-visit sites?
Tourist Attraction – Vietnam Military History Museum
Be prepared to spend a couple of hours at the Vietnam Military History museum, read about the vietnamese’ resistance against the Americans during the war in their exhibits and have a touch at some of the seized and retired war vehicles.
The exhibition showcases hundreds of different weapons and the different wars that occured in Vietnam’s history, if you’re interested in war and history, this is a place you wouldn’t want to miss.
Me clinging onto an M113 armoured personnel carrier, with a destroyed B-52 at the back.
Defused shells on display.
The half-track car, with half its tracks gone.
The M113, the hatches has been welded shut, no way to enter it.
Seized US war planes.
A retired Vietnamese commercial plane.
The museum is located within the same compounds as this French Colonial watch tower, which you can climb up to have a panoramic view of the area.
This is the highest we were able to access as the main tower’s gate was locked shut.
Still we got to have a good view of the vehicles on display.
The main battle tank of the Vietnamese forces
Some of the traps used during the war, I’m not sure if it’s the actual size as the descriptions weren’t clear.
Vintage anti-war posters
Statues and weapons on display
The Vietnam Military History Museum, Opens daily from 8am to 4:30pm, Google maps location.
Tourist Attraction -Ba Dinh Square/The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
This is perhaps my favourite place of interest, we visited the mausoleum on the 19th of May, which coincidentally was Ho Chi Minh’s birthday, we found that out as we were caught in the long queues by surprised.
There were thousands of school kids visiting the mausoleum as part of their excursion on this special day.
We had a chance to view Ho Chi Minh’s embalmed body in Ba Dinh Square, it is open to the public daily (24hours apparently, according to Google, but do you your common sense and go during the day instead.), unfortunately we are unable to show you any photos as we had to surrender our bags and phones before entering the restricted premises.
We felt as though we have entered a mini-North Korea, don’t you think it looks a lot like Pyongyang?
Military men marching in the mausoleum compound.
Student posing in front of Ba Dinh Square
I bought portrait of the late President Ho Chi Minh at a souvenir shop because he seemed pretty cool, a veteran approached me as he saw me carrying Ho’s portrait and spoke to me in Vietnamese, which I couldn’t understand at all, but based on his gestures and body language he seemed to be saying that President Ho was a very nice man and that he respects him a lot.
Also, the mausoleum seems to be a very nice place to take hipster photos.
Military guards watching over Ho Chi Minh’s stilt house.
The Ho Chi Minh mausoleum, opens 24hours (according to Google).
Tourist Attraction – Hỏa Lò Prison
Originally built and used by the French colonists in the 19th centure, it was used to keep away political prisoners and prisoners of war during the Vietnam war, it was also infamously and sarcastically called the Hanoi Hilton Hotel by American prisoners during the Vietnam war. This is the place you’ll want to go to get a glimpse into the life of prisoners and their methods of torture during their dark periods.
Prisoners were mostly cuffed by their legs, only allowing them to lie or sit at their allocated areas.
Many artefacts such as tools, official papers and uniforms showcased at the prison museum.
The isolation cell was perhaps the creepiest place to be, it was used to keep away high-profile inmates and it featured an elevated leg clamp, which serves as a method of torture by disallowing the inmate to lie down properly.
One of the cells which women and children were imprisoned.
Prison cell corridor
Personally, I think the most humane method of execution would be the guillotine, cutting off all nerves connected to the brain, it is perhaps the cleanest, least painful and fastest method of death.
Hỏa Lò Prison, opens daily 8am to 5pm, Google maps location.
Hanoi Police museum
Located just across the road from Hỏa Lò Prison, the newly built Hanoi Police museum is also the first and only free museum that visited, take a look at the history of the Vietnam police force here and some of their notable operations from the past few decades.
Some of the mannequins with uniforms of Vietnam’s civil forces.
Still waiting for the officer to write finish…
See some of the awesome and cool weapons seized by the Vietnamese police, you definitely do not want to mess with Vietnamese gangsters.
More seized weapons.
Learn about their ranking system and see their different uniforms
The Hanoi Police Museum, Opens daytime, Google maps location.
Pray at Ngoc Son Temple – Temple of the Jade Mountain
Located north of Hoàn Kiếm lake, it is easily reached by walking within the Old Quarters area, the tiny island is always crowded with locals coming for religious reasons.
Lots of beautiful Vietnamese girls like to come here to take scenic photos by the lake, we spoke to a few and found out that they were actually taking company photo, whichever company it is, that company must have lots of beautiful Vietnamese girls photos stocked up over the years!
I know I’m not a beautiful Vietnamese girl, but seeing how the girls enjoyed their photoshoot, I wanted live in that moment and be beautiful too.
Ngoc Son Temple, Opens daily in the day, Google maps location.
Temple of literature
Visit the spacious and quiet thousand year old Temple of literature, which still stands strong despite wars and some disasters, it is one of the few temples in Vietnam that is solely dedicated to Confucius and his scholars.
I will not be writing in detail as there’s already a comprehensive Wikipedia page set up for it.
Also, the souvenir shop is also the cheapest with the most unique variety of all the ones we visited.
The first courtyard, this is perhaps the only quiet and open space apart from the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum.
When we visited it was their universities’ graduation season.
Me photobombing a fellow graduate.
Happy and proud vietnamese university graduates.
Stone records of examinations, looks very worn out probably from years of erosion.
The gigantic Confucius altar.
The Temple of Literature, opens daily day time, Google maps location.
Itching to travel to Hanoi after reading this post?
Here’s how you can receive S$50 in ZUJI vouchers for your travel bookings – apply for The American Express True Cashback Card through ZUJI.
The card itself comes with a slew of travel discounts through ZUJI’s partnership with American Express:
Flight and package rebate
· 6% flight/package rebate for 2-to-go (meaning bookings with 2 or more pax)
· 5% flight/package rebate for 1-to-go (solo travelers)
· 12% hotel coupon code. No minimum spend required
If you are looking to travel to somewhere else, all Thai Airways destinations will be going on sale for 3 days from 14 to 16 June. Do look out for it here!
We are giving away 5 x S$100 ZUJI vouchers Alvinology readers!
For a chance to win, simply:
- ‘Like’ the Alvinology Facebook page and ZUJI Singapore Facebook page.
- ‘Like’ and share this post on Facebook and tag at least three friends on your post where you would like to travel to. Make your post public so we can find it.
- Tell us why you wish to win the vouchers by commenting below or on our Facebook post.
- Contest ends at 11.59 pm on 15 July 2016. The winner will be notified via Facebook, and must be able to collect the prize in Singapore.
Note – Prizes of 5 x S$100 ZUJI travel vouchers is shared across 4 x #ZUJIgarangexplorer posts on Alvinology.