Hanoi Day Trips - War History

Jan 11th, 2010, 10:13 PM
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Hanoi Day Trips - War History

My wife and I are taking a week long trip to Hanoi over Chinese New Year. We are staying at the Rising Dragon Hotel in Hanoi and we are also going to Halong Bay for a 3 day trip (thinking about cutting it back to 2 days). While we are in Hanoi I would like to take a couple of day trips to the surrounding areas. I am looking for some suggestions and, in particular, would like to check out some Vietnam War sites. We are planning on going to the Hanoi Hilton, but would like to see some other historical places as well.

In addition, if you have a contact for a local guide please forward along their info to me.

Thanks in advance!
Beerspitnight is offline  
Jan 12th, 2010, 06:40 AM
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There is lots to do and see in Hanoi. With only a week, I would cut back the Halong Bay trip to 2 days.

If, by VN war sites, you mean battle sites, tunnels, bases, etc, you are in the wrong part of VN. Remember that Hanoi was the capital of North VN during what they call the "American War." The US did bomb Hanoi and couple of times, and a plane was shot down by the North VN, but there are no battlefield sites in the vicinity of Hanoi. The ground war never got this far north.

Since you are interested in war history, I'd recommend a visit to the Museum of the Revolution (across the street from the history museum). Here, you will see the war propoganda from the side of the North Vietnamese. Much of the museum has to do with the war against the French, but the last third or so has to do with the American War. You'll see a piece of the US plane that was shot down and a photo of the plane in the lake. We were the only visitors when we went, and it was all a bit spooky, with the "war of liberation" rhetoric out of the 60s and the realization that WE were the enemy.

You will also find some history in unexpected palces. There was a display in the Museum of Fine Arts of paintings from the war era that were quite moving.

There is no need for a guide in Hanoi. Just have a guidebook (Lonely Planet is best) and take taxis as needed. You hotel can tell you which taxis are best to take.
Kathie is offline  
Jan 12th, 2010, 08:03 AM
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I highly recommend the Army Museum. It's on Dien Bien Phu street,
next door to the Flag Tower, within walking distance of the Ho's
mausoleum. It has a several interesting exhibits inside and a lot of
equipment outside (don't neglect to wander into distant corners as
some of the most interesting things are hidden behind buildings).
Highlights are the actual tank that broke down the gates of the
presidential palace in Saigon, and a sculpture made of broken bits of
US planes that I thought was incredibly effective. It's not open
every day. Here's a link, but I'm not sure if the opening times there are accurate. I had an unpleasant experience with a no-name taxi that was waiting outside--I suggest walking back to the mausoleum where there are plenty to choose from.


There's also a B52 museum, and a wrecked B52 in a lake nearby, but
I've not been there.

BTW. Kathie, the during the Christmas bombing of 1972, the US dropped 20,000 tons of bombs on the Hanoi/Haiphong region and 15 B52s were shot down: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Linebacker_II
someotherguy is offline  
Jan 12th, 2010, 08:13 AM
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Ah, yes, someotherguy, you are quite right about the number of planes shot down. I'd forgotten just how many were shot down. The Museum of the Revolution hightlights two of those planes.
Kathie is offline  
Jan 12th, 2010, 05:22 PM
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Thanks so much for the insight guys!
I wrote to the boat company and asked that we change our trip to 1 night and 2 days. I am thinking about taking the tourist (Livitrans) night train from Hanoi to Hue and hanging out in Hue for 2 days to explore battlefield sites around that area. That will give us 2 full days in Hanoi and 1 1/2 days in Hue. I have also heard great things about HanoiKids as a tour guide and I am about to contact them for a 1/2 day tour in Hanoi.
Any thoughts/insight/feedback would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks again
Beerspitnight is offline  
Jan 13th, 2010, 12:20 AM
Join Date: Nov 2009
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I've also read great things about Hanoikids but would doubt if these university students work during the New Year holiday! Please report back if you get any good news from them.
scomars is offline  
Jan 13th, 2010, 05:29 AM
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Several Fodorites have used Hanoikids and enjoyed them. It just depends on what you want to do/see in Hanoi.
Kathie is offline  
Jan 13th, 2010, 02:51 PM
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Scomars - just heard back from Hanoi Kids - since it is Lunar New Year they won't be able to hook us up with a guide - I am gutted...

If anyone happens to have a contact for a private local guide in Hanoi please let me know!
Beerspitnight is offline  
Jan 14th, 2010, 12:45 PM
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We were in Hanoi for four days March'09. Kathie is right, you do not need a guide, a small city tourist map works very well. Use taxis, they are very cheap(just have small VN bills for change).

If we were going to less known places or several places while we were out, we had the doorman at the hotel tell the driver the places we wanted to go and arrange to wait while we visited. We agreed on a price before we left and it worked well. A good giode book will tell you what you want to know.

If we really didn't have a plan, we walked till we got tired and then hailed a taxi. Showed him on our map where we wanted to go...if it was a main tourist place they usually understood with the help of the map and our saying the name in English. We did carry the hotel card with us, just in case, but we had no problems.

It is an interesting city and easy to walk around in.
cwn is offline  
Jan 18th, 2010, 03:01 AM
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Thanks so much guys! Your insight is greatly appreciated!
Hanoi kids contacted me today and they are hooking us up with a guide on the 20th - we are stoked about that!
Beerspitnight is offline  
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