On our first day in exploring Hanoi, we first went to Ho Chi Minh mausoleum to see Ho Chi Minh body which is preserved inside. We also saw many tour groups in this area. However, there was no long queue seen and I just found out that it was closed from September to November because the body was sent to Russia for maintenance. Even though the body was not in its place, the mausoleum door was still guarded by white uniform security and they also had drawn yellow line as the visitor boundary so we just took photo outside of the mausoleum.
Transportation tips: there is no MRT in Hanoi and taking bus can be very stressful (though it is very cheap; ticket only 7k VND). But we did not expect that Hanoi traffic was very awful we finally did not rent the motorcycle. So we decided to use Uber which happened to be very convenient and affordable, too. Our average fare by using Uber is 20k-25k VND.
We then walked into Presidential Palace and paid ticket for 40k VND, after paying the tickets our bags were checked before we could enter the area. We were welcomed by the Presidential Palace with its unique gold yellow color and we when followed the crowd walked around the complex. There was a street called Mango Street, a balcony with Ho Chi Minh statue, a big pond with fountain in the center, a group of import cars which had been used by HCM, as well as his meeting room and office. I did not take picture of the gold yellow building because I thought we could return there but apparently it was one way path for visitor (without clear sign), and we were scolded by the officer. His gesture and eye contact was very impolite. We were forced to exit and moved forward.
Next, we visited One Pillar Pagoda. It was very small~~~ but it was really built only from one pillar and surrounded by small pond. However, the pond water was dirty and muddy. Some people came here to pray, some just to take photos.
It was very close to HCM museum and we paid 40k VND for entrance fee and they checked our bags before we could enter. There were two special exhibitions; one about war veterans and the other about Laos Vietnam diplomatic relationship. The main exhibition was centered by Ho Chi Minh big statue and many many people wanted to take photo with it. Then we turned left and entered the main exhibition which pictured how Ho Chi Minh brought Vietnam independence as well as displayed artifacts and miniatures. The text description inside the museum was both written in English and France.
Then we went to Temple of Literature on foot from HCM complex around 1.5km. Entrance fee of 30k VND, we saw cute decorations and beautiful brown ancient temples inside this area of Confucius temple. The area was divided into first to fifth courtyard; with a huge well named Thien Quang well at the opening of third courtyard. There was also Stelae of Doctors: turtles statues built to honor those who passed royal exams.
Starving, we then searched for Pho; there was one Pho restaurant recommended when I watched Youtube video: Pho 10 Ly Quoc So. One bowl of Pho tai chin (half cooked and well done beef) costed 60k VND but it tasted so good, the broth soup was perfect. On the table they provided raw chilli, chilli sauce, lime. Be careful with the raw chilli, my bf put 4 of it and he almost could not finish his pho.
We continued our journey to Hoa Lo Prison Landmark for 30k VND entrance fee. The prison was used by French for political prisoners and later also used by Vietnam for US prisoners. It displayed the prison situation, the stuff used by the prisoners; the place was dominated with black and grey color, believed to affect prisoners’ feeling guilty and sad. The prison was divided into two area for male and female. Another special area was isolated area for those who already sentenced death, this special area had very thick walls and small windows. There was also the giant guillotine, which was very high and scary if you imagine how it was used to cut someone’s head off.