- Water Puppets – This show is for children and adults alike. You get a glimpse into old Vietnamese tales that would be comparable to Grimm’s fairy tales. It consists of puppets in the water with puppeteers behind the stage controlling the puppets with contraptions connected to the puppets under water. They also have live music, with vocalists and instruments, on the side to coincide with the puppets. Traditional vocalists of Vietnam sound comparable to a yodeler.
- Ho Chi Min Complex – The museum portion of this was well done. Everything was labeled well. The only part I could have done without was seeing Ho Chi Mins corpse. It’s not my cup of tea waiting an hour to see an embalmed body.
- Museum of Ethnology – Put this at the top of your list of go sees right behind Ha Long Bay. This was my favorite museum in Vietnam. It was full of unique tidbits on all ethnicities and their varying cultures in Vietnam. Some interesting displays they had were full size replica houses displaying how the different ethnicities live(d) in Vietnam. If you go to this museum look for their version of a scarecrow. It’s a multi-colored monkey about three feet tall made of what I think was straw.
- Tran Quac Pagoda – This Pagoda is in the middle of the largest lake in Vietnam. You will most likely need to take a taxi here.
- Ha Long Bay – A beautiful place to go. My top must see of Vietnam. When you visit Ha Long Bay join a tour group. On our tour we got to visit Tip Top Island and a cave. Tip Top Island had a hiking trail to the top of a mountain that gave you panoramic views of the 1,000-3,000 islands in Ha Long Bay. I’ve never been so in awe of such beauty before. If you have children you can make a game of deciding what the islands look like, I personally found an elephant and a crow. What can you find? You can play the same game inside the cave with all it’s stalactites and stalagmites. I was able to find a frog, dangling feet, and even King Kong. Kayaking is another popular advantage to booking with a tour group as they will often give you a good place to explore the island via kayaking. NOTE: Unless you’d like a longer stay out on the water and see all the islands it’s unnecessary to take the extended trip to Cat Ba Island.
- Women’s Museum – You’ll probably only really enjoy this if you are a woman or a man who is fascinated by women culture. It had a lot of similarities to the Museum of Ethnology, but it’s focused around women. Many stories the museum held consisted of Vietnamese women fighting in the war, differences in ethnologies, how/why they get married, and what women’s traditional garb was for different periods in their lives.
- Hoa Lo Prison – This is a prison used by the French colonists in Vietnam for political prisoners and was later used by North Vietnam for prisoners of war during the Vietnam War. It was sarcastically known to American prisoners of the war as the “Hanoi Hilton”. The prison was demolished during the 1990’s, but the gatehouse remains. A depressive stop, but informative and interesting none the less. Conditions were particularly brutal at this prison where you might have died just by eating the prison food. Lots of men were shackled at the feet to a slanted concrete floor. It was slanted so they could do their “business” without having to be removed from the jail cell. The women had it better, but they we’re still living in awful and cramped conditions.