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Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam, and stands a world apart from Ho Chi Minh City in the south. The pace of life is slower than Ho Chi Minh, and the streets more beautiful and lush. The colourful French colonial buildings sprout walls of green ferns as the sprawling trees reach for the hanging lines overhead. If you want to get a feel for day-to-day life in Vietnam, take a gentle stroll through the suburban streets of Hanoi. Watch locals do their morning stretches by the lake, or enjoy a meal on the low stools by the street side.

There are many things to see in the capital, such as the temple of literature, Vietnam’s first national university from 1070 AD. For more recent history, you can visit Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum, where the embalmed body of “Uncle Ho” is kept in a glass coffin. There is also the old quarter, famous for its market streets. The “36 streets of 36 wares” date back to the 15th century, and each pertains to a different craft. There is a street for only lanterns, and a street for only jewellery, and even streets for more ordinary things like bamboo or tin.