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    Broad boulevards lined with buildings of French-inspired architecture, little roadside galleries filled up with artwork, charming people native hats and dress mixing with others wearing products are what awaits those on a Vietnam tour of Hanoi, the town referred to as cultural capital.

    Hanoi, the country’s second largest city (using a population of 6 million and covering 900 square km for the banks from the Red River), has been said to be the core in the country- something easily proven by a walk through the streets on this French-colonial city using its lakes and temples. Readily navigable on foot, it is a lot to find out and do right here at a fairly easy pace; start your Vietnam tour from Hanoi and you will certainly glance at the strong a sense laid-back tranquillity that only a timelessly old settlement might have.

    History. Going back since three centuries before Christ, Hanoi was previously referred to as Thang Long, and it was renamed Hanoi in 1831 at any given time when Hue was the main city. Present-day Hanoi, however, was largely built during the French occupation- a fact reflected in broad streets and charming French inspired buildings which might be characteristic of town.

    Old Quarter. Hoan Kiem District (aka that old Quarter), considered the city’s business hub and main tourist destination, is in all likelihood the most definitive of Hanoi. A walk through the area is tantamount to stepping back in its history – its streets are filled with scooters, traders the ones simply out for a leisurely stroll neighborhood. Here, you can find ancient commercial streets named after their original businesses going back about 1,000 years, including names of cotton, jewellery, herbs, and silk. While many of such concerns happen to be substituted for more modern businesses, once could appreciate the sense of the way it would have been a years ago, and gain a a sense rich, old customs. Preserved shop-houses built somewhat over the century ago with street-facing facades and multiple courtyards inside are actually side-by-side with hip cafes, bars, restaurants, bakeries, boutique shops and art galleries.

    Places to go to. Ho Chi Minh, the country’s most widely used leader (recognized to his people as ‘Uncle Ho’) rests within a glass case on the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in central Hanoi (albeit against his wishes). A trip to Uncle Ho’s final resting place is usually an extraordinary experience on the Vietnam tour- in the end, it is not only a normal attraction, it’s actually a a part of a nation’s history. For the people visiting, it could flourish to consider the reverence the locals have for Uncle Ho-dress based (no shorts, sleeveless shirts and miniskirts) and everyone needs to deposit their bags and cameras before going in.

    The world-famous Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre in Hanoi is really a performance art rooted within a tradition going back to the 1200′s, from the time when rice paddy fields were flooded and villagers can make entertainment by waiting in the waist-deep water with the puppets performing over the water. Large rods to aid the puppets appeared as if they were moving through the water, with all the puppeteers hidden behind a screen. They would tell traditional folk stories through operatic songs, together with an orchestra playing traditional music using drums, wooden bells, horns, bamboo flutes and cymbals. Today, the tradition continues.

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