Discover the striking natural beauty and turbulent past of Vietnam's crown jewel during this memorable full-day visit to Hanoi.
Depart the pier for the 3-hour drive to the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi, an exquisite city boasting glorious French-Colonial architecture, numerous lakes and bustling, bicycle-cluttered streets. Upon arrival, you will make a photo stop at the peaceful Tran Quoc Pagoda, one of the oldest pagodas in Vietnam and a cultural symbol of Vietnamese Buddhism and then proceed to the imposing Ba Dinh Square, which is dominated by Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum, the impressive marble and granite tomb in which the father of the country lies in state. It is closed on Mondays and Fridays, and the last visits are scheduled at 10 a.m. during the remainder of the week.
Leaving your coach, you will begin your walking tour in the Mausoleum area. Although an interior visit is not possible, the building itself makes for a memorable photograph. Next, you will pass the former French Governor's residence and the tranquil lotus ponds at the entrance to Ho Chi Minh's Cottage. Further on, you will find the rebuilt One Pillar Pagoda, its origins shrouded in legend, and then re-board your coach for a visit to the Temple of Literature. Adjacent to the temple is Vietnam's first national university, built in 1076 AD.
Following lunch at a Hanoi restaurant, continue to Hoa Lo Prison, also referred to as the "Ha noi Hilton", where captured American pilots were held during the Vietnam War. You will see where John McCain and Douglas B. Peterson, ex-Ambassador to Vietnam, were imprisoned after they were shot down. Then continue onto Hoan Kiem Lake, where you can see the Ngoc Son Pagoda perched on a tiny island in the middle of the lake. Hoan Kiem Lake is also known as the Lake of the Restored Sword, and you will learn about the legend from which its nickname originated. You can take many interesting pictures of the lake and the temple before walking to the ancient quarter, or 36 Street District. The streets here are named after the tradesmen that worked in them, including such monikers as Tin Street, Paper Street and Silk Street. Some time will be made for you to explore your surroundings on foot and do some shopping prior to the 3-hour return drive to the ship.
Please note: The drive to and from Hanoi is approximately 3 hours each way, dependent upon traffic. There is approximately 2-hours of moderate walking which includes some steps and uneven surfaces to negotiate. The tour is not available to wheelchair guests and may not be suitable for those with mobility concerns who are cautioned to carefully evaluate their personal level of stamina and ability. Weather appropriate clothing that covers knees and shoulders; sun cap; sunglasses, sunscreen; and flat, comfortable walking shoes are recommended. There will be a few occasions when shoes will need to be removed. Photography and video is not allowed in certain areas of Ho Chi Minh's mausoloeum. The order of sites visited may vary. Shopping time in Hanoi will be limited.