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Hanoi Highlights with tweens

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Nov 13th, 2016, 04:41 PM
  #1
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Hanoi Highlights with tweens

Hi,
We are traveling to SE Asia next August (family of four that travels frequently, kids 11 and 13). We will be in Hanoi for a couple of days at the beginning of our trip. I have heard great things about Hanoi Kids so we plan to ask them for a tour, based on what we would like to see. My question to all of you is - what highlights would you recommend? I would like the kids to learn along the way (historical, cultural, etc.) and also just have fun and/or do something that they wouldn't typically do at home in Seattle. For example, I was wondering about Tai Chi at the lake, or the former Hanoi Hilton. However, it sounds like it is very small now and that the war crimes are downplayed. We plan to do Museum of Ethnology on our own...
Thanks for any ideas!
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Nov 13th, 2016, 10:55 PM
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There are so many!

Ho Chi Minh's mausoleum is a very solemn place - no talking, photos etc. and sometime long queues, but worth a look especially as it is close to some other major sights nearby. Ho's stilt house complex is close by and is very interesting.

The Military Museum has lots of indoor and outdoor exhibits from the American war and the French occupation.

The Women's museum, the Museum of Ethnology are great. With all the museums do check the current opening hours as amnesty close between 12-2 and I think some also close on Mondays, but these opening hours do change from time to time. If going to the mausoleum, do check that Ho is there and every couple of years his body is sent to Moscow fro re embalming and I think that usually happens in August.

In the old quarter, Don Xuan market is worth a visit, preferably in te early morning to see the sellers in full swing (and get a great bowl of pho!

The tai chi happens all around the lake but is best at the top shore. Get there at dawn. It is also worth visiting again at night to see everything lit up.

The Temple of Literature would also be on the list but the One Pillar Pagoda I was less than impressed with.
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Nov 14th, 2016, 08:51 AM
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having a couple of rides in pedi-cabs around the old town will excite the kids... maybe stopping for ice cream along the way..

cooking class??

walking around old town and seeing the locals eating, chatting, shopping, etc
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Nov 14th, 2016, 11:28 AM
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Thank you to you both for the great ideas! Crellston, thanks for all of the tips, in particular about the Military Museum - that sounds like what I was looking for in terms of them learning something. Good to know on the top shore of lake lake too as we will also be arriving on the overnight train from Sapa so I was thinking that might be good early morning activity when we get back (even though we will be tired). And rhkkmk, good point - just absorbing all of it will be such a learning experience and I am sure they will love the pedi-cabs! We are doing a cooking class in Hoi An - otherwise that would be perfect! Thanks so much.
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Nov 14th, 2016, 06:48 PM
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DO keep "Hanoi Hilton" on your list. There is much to learn from the exhibit without the sense of being hit over the head with a propaganda sledge hammer, and I think it would be especially appropriate for kids. There's a documentary, statues behind bars of prisoners, stories, John McCain's pilot suit in which he was captured . Of course, you're given the impression that the North Vietnamese were the world's gentlest, kindest captors.( Whatever your p.o.v.,there is plenty of blame to go around in all wars --perhaps that is the truest lesson of all. )

You don't say where you're staying, but if at the Metropole, you should not miss rhe Bunker tour (for hotel guests) . I guarantee the kids will be fascinated by the underground rooms. I found the tour very, very moving. Our guide had been a child in the countryside during the bombing. The focus, while telling the story in a personal way, and seeing the hiding places under the hotel, is on peace and reconciliation, not blame and recrimination Even if you do not stay there, try to get to the lobby on the "historic wing" side--there are US/VN War years photo exhibits and explanations.

What your family will learn indirectly as well, is that the decades have brought perspective and change. You'll see Ho Chi Minh banners opposite ads for KFC's Colonel Sanders. That should be an interesting point of discussion for the kids!
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Nov 15th, 2016, 01:47 PM
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Hi CaliNurse,
VERY good to know about the "Hanoi Hilton" (I know there is a proper name but that one is easier to remember) still being worthwhile. My kids grow up with so much that I want our travels to remind and teach them to consider all walks of life, choose peace, etc. - sounds like this will do it.
Totally agree that the truest lesson of all is that there is blame on all sides - that nothing like war is simple - what a valuable thing to reinforce.
I have heard wonderful things about the Metropole but found a great deal online so I was planning on staying somewhere else. However, perhaps that bunker tour would tip the scales!
Thank you!
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Nov 15th, 2016, 04:17 PM
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The "official "name , which you see when you enter, from when it was built was Maison Centrale--built by the French for imprisoning and torturing Vietnamese who protested the French occupation.
On your tour of Hanoi, ou can perhaps see the area on the big Truch Bach lake (NOT the one by the Old Quarter). where McCain was shot down--kind of interesting after seeing the story at the prison. McCain is hugely admired now in Vietnam,for his visits to the country.

The Metropole has a fantastic swimming pool. That, in the extreme heat and humidity of August, may be another reason to consider it for your kids. (I was in Hanoi in "cooler" September --never again!!))
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