After breakfast, visit Ho Chi Minh’s complex. Visit outside of the Mausoleum. The tomb is monumental, built of marble, granite, and precious wood. Behind the Mausoleum is Ho Chi Minh’s house. The simple house where Ho Chi Minh lived and worked is made of wood and enjoyed a tranquil setting, with a view of a lotus pond. Ho Chi Minh’s belongings are on display and visitors can walk up the steps of his house to see his bedroom. Close by, you will see a famous pagoda built in the 11th Century named the One Pillar Pagoda.
There is also time to visit the impressive Ho Chi Minh Museum, which is located in the same complex. Continue to visit the Temple of Literature (the Van Mieu Pagoda) founded in 1070. An excellent example of traditional Vietnamese architecture, the pagoda housed Vietnam’s first university which was established in 1076 to educate the sons of Mandarins. The temple, dedicated to Confucius, consists of 5 walled courtyards leading to a pavilion where 82 stelae of an original 117 record the names and places of birth of successful candidates of the grueling mandarin examinations from 1498 to 1787, the years of the Ly dynasty. The stelae sit on the backs of giant turtles, symbol of longevity; these emblems along with the crane, another creature denoting longevity, are also found in the main red-lacquered temple nearby.
Lunch at Wild Rice Restaurant – one of Hanoi’s most highly regarded restaurants, serving modern Vietnamese cuisine with regional influences. Wild Rice is located in an art-deco style building with modern Vietnamese décor and is sometimes frequented by high-end tour groups due to its excellent reputation.
This afternoon, visit Thay and Tay Phuong Pagodas- rich in Buddhism, the north of Vietnam is home to the country’s most colorful and revered pagodas and temples. Located 40 kilometers southwest of Hanoi lies the Thay Pagoda (Master’s Pagoda). While a temple is a place worships the dead; a pagoda is a place to worship the Lord Buddha. Thay Pagoda is widely known for its finely carved statues in lacquer and gold of Buddha in his past and present form and its colorful Buddhist ceremonies performed here during auspicious dates of the Lunar calendar. Water puppetry is also occasionally carried out in the courtyard of the pagoda, but this is limited to festivals and holiday periods. Only 6 kilometers further away lies Tay Phuong Pagoda situated at the top of a small hillock. Built in 1794 the pagoda is famous for its vast display of finely carved wooden statues of former monks from the 18th Century.
Note: From here we journey as the locals do – on the humble bicycle!! Cycle through local farms, rice fields, and villages and come close to day to day life in this lovely rural region of Vietnam. We can guarantee this will be the highlight of your travels!