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In 1010 Emperor Ly Thai To founded his capital on the fertile banks of the Red River, which he christened 'City of the Ascending Dragon'. A millennium later, Hanoi remains Vietnam's political centre with its crowded streets lined with reminders of its long and tumultuous history. Moving at a slower pace than Saigon, there are plenty of tranquil neighbourhoods to explore with ochre-coloured colonial style buildings, tree-lined avenues and lakes. There is still lots of excitement in the alleyways and streets of the Old Quarter which team with life and myriad motorbikes. Whilst here take the opportunity to enjoy a bowl of pho by Hoan Kiem Lake whilst watching the locals do the daily Tai Chi, discover the grisly Hanoi Prison, also known as the Hanoi Hilton, or visit Ho Chi Minh, embalmed in his very own Soviet style monolith mausoleum. Althought the street food is not as prominent and easy to find as in Hoi An, it's just as delicious if not more so!

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When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money.
Susan Heller