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2 More Days in Hanoi, Vietnam

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AsiaHa NoiMuseumsTemples & ChurchesVietnam
Article author: michael
michael
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This is the 5th part in my Vietnam & Thailand 2019 series.

You can view my Vietnam overview page, as well as my Thailand overview page with links for all the cities I stopped at.


Day 17

As I wasn’t expecting to be back in Hanoi during this part of my trip, I didn’t have anything planned for the 2 extra days I had here. My girlfriend wanted us to have a bit of a relaxing day on the 1st day back, and then do some more sight seeing the following day, so I let her do all the planning! 😁

Gym & Spa Day

We took it pretty easy our 1st day back in Hanoi. We started the day with a relaxing breakfast, then got in a decent gym session, and then headed to a spa for some sauna time, and massages.

Now I’m not one who typically takes selfies, or any pics really, at the gym, and for obvious reasons, I don’t have pics from the spa. So I can only say that the gym was good after not having worked out in a few weeks, and the time at the spa was fantastic! 😎

I did grab some video of the traffic on the way to the gym, which is typical non-peak traffic in Hanoi.

If you’ve never been to Hanoi, or really, South East Asia for that matter, it gets much crazier during rush hour! But this should still give you some clue as to how it is here:

That was really all we did that day. Boring I know! 😅
The next day my girlfriend had a bunch of things planned, including visiting a few venues I had originally wanted to visit but lacked the time to get to last time.


Day 18

I’ve been to various pagodas and temples across China, Vietnam, and Thailand. I’ve also been to some Churches in North America and Europe. One thing they’ll generally have in common is a feeling of peace and tranquility.

So I always find it a bit amusing when I find temples in really busy, noisy areas. Case in point, Chua Ha, or Ha Pagoda.

Ha Pagoda

Ha Pagoda is located in the middle of a busy market area, and is surrounded by a bunch of shops and restaurants. It’s also right next to a busy road, so you can hear some of the traffic as you walk around the grounds.

Ha Pagoda

Once you pass through the gates though, you’re greeted with a beautiful, peaceful area. While some of the traffic noise does make it in the complex, some of the sound is blocked out to a degree by the gate and walls.

Chua Ha is a popular pagoda in this area of Hanoi and is known as the temple of love, as apparently some locals come to pray for love, and/or pray to have their ex-lovers back again!

When you enter the complex, there are some trees and shrubs on the left, after which is a pond, and then what I believe is the main temple. To the right, there is some type of structure, more trees, and then a 2nd temple.

Ha Pagoda

Ha Pagoda

Ha Pagoda

Ha Pagoda

Ha Pagoda

Despite how it looks in the pics, it was actually really packed at the pagoda that day. I’m not sure if it was a special event, but I didn’t bother asking my girlfriend. Maybe a lot of people were there to get their ex’s back! 😁

After visiting the pagoda, we headed over to the Museum of Ethnology. This is one of the places I’d wanted to visit previously, as I’d been told by several locals that it was worth seeing.

Vietnam Museum of Ethnology

Entrance fee: 40,000 VND

Vietnam Museum of Ethnology

When we got there, there was some music playing and people were dancing outside. I tried to film it, but by the time I started they were just finishing, so I didn’t capture much. 😕
I stuck around for a bit hoping they would start again, but they didn’t. So we headed inside to check out the museum.

There are several floors, and there’s tons to see. The museum, as evident by it’s name, walks you through the history and diversity of Vietnam’s ethnicities. It talks about the different ethnic groups, their migration history, their culture, and their traditions.

Vietnam Museum of Ethnology

Vietnam Museum of Ethnology

Vietnam Museum of Ethnology

Vietnam Museum of Ethnology

I couldn’t capture pictures of everything because there was just so much to see, but it’s a really interesting museum, and I highly recommend it if you’re in Hanoi.

When we were done making our way through, I heard some more music again! I quickly rushed outside to see what was going on, and there was some ethnic dancing taking place. Unfortunately the video I took came out really crap, so I’m not going to bother posting it. I did however get some pics of some of the girls who took part, in their beautiful vibrant traditional outfits:

Vietnam Museum of Ethnology

Museum Verdict

This was a really fun and interesting museum, and as I said above, I highly recommend visiting. You’ll learn a lot about Vietnam’s ethnic history and culture, and maybe even catch some traditional music and dancing!

Next up, we headed to West Lake to visit Phu Tay Ho.

Phu Tay Ho

Phu Tay Ho

In the past, this area used to be an ancient village of Thang Long Citadel (old Hanoi). Phu Tay Ho is located on the tip of a small peninsula extending into West Lake, therefore the whole temple is well surrounded by water.
[…]
It is still unclear when exactly Phu Tay Ho was built. According to some legends, the temple was built in the 17th century. It is dedicated to Lieu Hanh, one of the four immortals in ancient Vietnamese belief (including Thanh Giong, Son Tinh, Chu Dong Tu, and Lieu Hanh).
Vinpearl.com

Phu Tay Ho consists of a few temples, although I wouldn’t call it a temple complex in the usual sense. It’s more like a religious area, with a few temples and shrines scattered around, where locals come to pray but also to relax and enjoy the scenery.

Phu Tay Ho

Phu Tay Ho

Phu Tay Ho

The area is surrounded by the lake, so it’s great for selfies as well, which many locals seem to enjoy doing!

Phu Tay Ho

Still in West Lake, Tran Quoc Pagoda is a short walk or drive away, so that’s where we headed next.

Tran Quoc Pagoda

This Pagoda is hard to miss, and recognizable in the distance by the bao thap (stupa) structure, which is 11 storeys high, and 15 meters in height - and my favourite part of the complex!

Tran Quoc Pagoda

Tran Quoc Pagoda

The Trấn Quốc Pagoda in Hanoi is the oldest pagoda in the city, originally constructed in the sixth century during the reign of Emperor Lý Nam Đế (from 544 until 548), thus giving it an age of more than 1,500 years. When founded the temple was named Khai Quốc (National Founding) and was sited on the shores of the Red River, outside of the Yên Phụ Dyke. When confronted with the river’s encroachment, the temple was relocated in 1615 to Kim Ngư (Golden Fish) islet of Hồ Tây (West Lake) where it is now situated.
Wikipedia

Tran Quoc Pagoda

The beautiful tower (bao thap, or stupa), which you can see as you enter the complex, has 6 arched doorways on each of its 11 levels, containing white gemstone statues of Amitabha Buddha. At the very top of the stupa, there is a 9-storey lotus made of sparkling gemstones.

Tran Quoc Pagoda

Like many temple complexes, Tran Quoc Pagoda has seen many changes and restorations over the years, with the latest in 1815 I believe. It has also been relocated since it was originally built, as noted above in the snippet from Wikipedia.

Tran Quoc Pagoda

Famous for sacred sanctuary and stunning scenery, Tran Quoc Pagoda used to be a favourite place for sightseeing of many kings of Vietnam in special festivals such as Tet holiday and full moon days. More than 1000 years have passed, the pagoda still preserves its fame and unique characteristics in its architecture in spite of urbanization.
vietnamdiscovery.com

Tran Quoc Pagoda

Tran Quoc Pagoda

If you head towards the back of the complex, you can get a great view of the lake and the city in the distance.

Tran Quoc Pagoda

After Tran Quoc Pagoda, we had earmarked another temple nearby. It was within walking distance of Tran Quoc Pagoda, so we headed there next by foot.

Quan Thanh Temple

Quan Thanh Temple, which means Temple of the Gods, is another old and popular temple in Hanoi.

Quán Thánh Temple (Vietnamese: Đền Quán Thánh), also known as Trấn Vũ Temple, is a Taoist temple in Hanoi, Vietnam. Dated to the 11th century, the temple was dedicated to Xuan Wu, or Trấn Vũ in Vietnamese, one of the principal deities in Taoism.
Wikipedia

Despite being a Taoist, not Buddhist temple, it is still a popular place for Buddhists to come and pray.

Note that while most pagodas and temples in Vietnam are free to enter, this one has a small entrance fee. It’s not much, but it’s worth noting as that may be a deciding factor for some people of whether or not to visit.

Entrace Fee: 10,000 VND

The gate outside the temple is quite beautiful and imposing. The actual architectural style of the complex is a mixture of the many different styles of the imperial era, due to it being renovated and rebuilt several times over the centuries.

Quan Thanh Temple

Despite the grand and imposing main gate, once you enter, it’s actually quite a small complex, with only a single temple.

Quan Thanh Temple

Quan Thanh Temple

Quan Thanh Temple

Another interesting tidbit about this temple is that it’s also a training venue for several traditional martial art classes!

As it was quite small, we didn’t spend too much time here. We were also running a bit short on time, but still wanted to head out to the Hanoi Museum. So we walked back to our motorcycle and made our way there.

Hanoi Museum

The Hanoi museum has a unique inverted-pyramid design, and is hard to miss! If you’ve driven along the highway in Hanoi, you’ve probably seen it.

It is a museum of Hanoi and Vietnam’s history, with over 50,000 artifacts from throughout Vietnam’s history. The museum displays artifacts from Hanoi’s history, and the history, culture, heritage, and architecture of Vietnam.

Hanoi Museum

Hanoi Museum

Hanoi Museum

Hanoi Museum

Hanoi Museum

Hanoi Museum

Now, while I did find the artifacts in the museum fascinating, and while the museum is set up in a very interesting way, I did find the museum to be a bit lacking in information (the descriptive text was only in Vietnamese), and frankly seemed as if it was unfinished. By unfinished, I mean that there were a lot of empty spaces, and a lot of artifacts that were just sitting there, with no information about them.

There was also a floor or two that were taped off … not sure what that was about. Lighting was also a bit dim, and some of the artifacts were hard to see.

Museum Verdict

The artifacts that were on display were very interesting, and I did somewhat enjoy the museum. That being the case, I’m a little torn about whether I would recommend this museum to others. I think if you’re really interested in history, and don’t mind the lack of information, then it’s worth a visit. Otherwise, you might want to skip it.


And that brought my extended Hanoi visit to an end. I had a flight to Saigon the next day, but unfortunately my girlfriend had work to attend to, so I was back to travelling solo again until a bit later.

Join me in my next post for my solo time in Sai Gon!

Until next time,
michael 😀

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