Vietnam’s capital represents the best of the country’s art and romance, poetry, and beauty. Over a thousand years old, Hanoi is home to crumbling stone walls from centuries ago as well as French-colonial architecture from the time when Hanoi was one of the loveliest capitals of French Indochina. Vietnam’s capital city, Hanoi is a city of numerous captivating faces. The traditional commercial bustle, street markets, chaotic traffic and fascinating shophouse architecture of the Old Quarter contrast dramatically with the quiet lakes, historic temples, shady city parks and regal architecture of the French colonial districts. Hanoi’s 1,000-year history has lent the city this fascinating blend of influences and styles - it's one of Vietnam Alive Travel's favorite cities! Join us to explore the shady gardens of the Temple of Literature, Hanoi’s ancient university, with its colorful Confucian temple. Visit the vast Ba Dinh Square, Hanoi’s political center, and see Ho Chi Minh lying in state in his imposing Mausoleum. Also, visit his simple house on stilts and the historical displays of the Ho Chi Minh Museum. Enter the gloomy confines of the infamous Hanoi Hilton, the city prison built by the French and later used by the North Vietnamese to house American fighter pilots shot down over the north. This historical city is perfect to explore at leisure and on foot. Walk the banks of picturesque Hoan Kiem Lake, the city’s heart, where hundreds of Hanoians gather each dawn for exercises and much later in the day for strolling, reading, playing cards and visiting nearby cafes and ice cream parlors. Soak up the Old Quarter buzz, and then escape to the relative tranquility of the wide avenues and shady sidewalks of the colonial quarters. Hanoi’s more European flavor is evident in the city’s many refined eateries, from fine Vietnamese cuisine in restored, classic French villas to the many cafes, both Western and Vietnamese styles, that line streets throughout the city. Eating is now one of the highlights of a Hanoi stay, with an ever-increasing array of choices from the local street stalls specializing in Hanoi delicacies such as bun cha (grilled pork noodles) and pho (noodle soup) to European style cafes and restaurants serving fine international cuisine in stylish surrounds. Shopping is also a highlight for many a Vietnam Alive visitor to Hanoi - the combined streets of Hang Gai and Hang Bong offer fine art galleries, tribal handicrafts, embroidery, lacquer ware, quality tailored silks, modern international fashions and much more.