Hanoi – The Welge Report


Hello Fellow Travelers:

Welcome to our world of business information, museums, adventure, birding, botanical gardens, good eating and fine wines. This newsletter provides you with “The Welge Report for Hanoi.

Please share it with your friends, customers and associates.  You can also access more than 100 cities on our website plus lots of other helpful travel tips at:  thewelgereport.com/

Recognition:  We extend special thanks to the people who manage and/or own the institutions, museums and restaurants featured in our guides.  In some instances we have relied on their descriptions and photos.


Birding Opps: Info for our birding friends. In and near Hanoi you can see these species: Ananam Partridge, Vietnamese Greenfinch, Siamese Fireback, Red Vented Barber, Geramin’s Peacock, White winged Magpie, Laughingthrushes, and Black-crowned Parrotbill.

Learn about the Vietnam Bird Watching Club (http://www.vietnambirding.com/vnbirding-club.aspx).

At Vietnam Bird News (http://vietnambirdnews.blogspot.com/2011/02/botanical-gardens-hanoi-and-red-river.html) Richard Fleming shares his sightings.

Alcoholic Beverages: Here’s all you need to know about imbibing in Hanoi (http://vietnamlocaltraveltips.wordpress.com/2010/12/05/hanoi-drinking/).

PublicTransportation: This is your site for public transportation (http://www.vietnamonline.com/transport/hanoi-bus.html)

Business Information: Here is help in regard to your business: (http://www.amchamhanoi.com/business-information/)

Exchange Rates (http://www.x-rates.com/)

Day One: Your first stop is the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology – Tu-Su: 8:30-5:30, Nguyen Van Huyen St, Cau Giay, 84 4 37562193

Here you’ll discover 54 ethnic groups in Vietnam through artifacts, photos, videos and CD’s. Priceless antiquities and everyday objects tell the cultural story of Vietnam.

The collections are displayed by language groups and territories. Most of the information is shown in French and English.

Your Hanoi dining should start at Cha Ca La Vong – 14 Cha Ca Str., Hoàn Kiếm, 84 4 38253929

One of the oldest restaurants in Vietnam, but don’t bother looking for the menu. Five generations. One-hundred thirty-five years. One dish….fried fish. Local beer is your best bet.

The Presidential Palace – Daily: 7:30-11, 1:30-4, Hùng Vương, Ngọc Hà, Ba Đình.

The Palace was designed and built by August-Henri Vildieu on the grounds of the thousand year old Mieu Hoi Dong Pagoda. You are allowed access to the botanical garden but not the Palace.

The gardens feature fruit trees, a koi pond and Chairman Ho’s stilt house. The stilt house was constructed in a corner of the Presidential Palace’s gardens, in front of a carp pond.

The house is surrounded by a well-cultivated garden, set with fruit trees, willows, hibiscus, flame trees and frangipani.

When the Army architect submitted his plans to Ho, the leader requested that the toilet included in the design be removed, as it was too much of a departure from the traditional stilt house design. Two small rooms, no toilet.

Uncle Ho moved into the small house on May 17, 1958, and lived there until his death in 1969.

Nearby is The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum – April – Sept: Tu-Th: 7:30-10:30 AM, Dec-Mar: Tu-Th: 8-11 AM, Weekends: 8-11:30, Hung Vuong, Ba Dinh District, 84 4 3845 5128.

Inside the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Ho’s body lies in state under a glass sarcophagus, overseen by an honor guard of four sentries standing at each corner of the bier.


The embalmed body is extraordinarily well preserved, and dressed in a khaki suit. His face and hands are illuminated with spotlights.

Club Opera Novel – L & D: Daily, 17 Trang Tien Street, Hoàn Kiếm, 04 3972 8001 is a great choice for dinner.

Your choices include Hanoi old-style spring rolls stuffed with crab meat, grilled seafood spring rolls, grilled chicken with lemon leaves, fried soft shell crab, steamed Garrupa fillet in Imperial sauce, steamed American lobster in coconut sauce and sour soup cooked with clams & shrimps.

The Larroche Chablis is a good winne selection.

Day Two – Breakfast like a movie star at Kinh Do Café – 1A Tràng Tiền, Hoàn Kiếm, 84 90 432 01 33

Stay with the feisty black coffee, homemade yogurt and croissants.

The Temple of Literature – Tu-Su: April 15 to October 15: 7:30-5:50, the rest of the year: 8-5, Văn Miếu, Đống Đa, 84 4 3747 2499 is one of the oldest institutions in Vietnam.

The Temple of Literature is the country’s oldest and foremost monument to education. It is also quite tranquil compared to the hustle and bustle of Hanoi just outside the perimeter.

The high brick walls, grassy surroundings, and the leafy trees create an oasis of calm in the heart of Hanoi.

The Temple’s grounds are home to two distinct institutions: the shrine to Confucius named Van Mieu, and the former university for mandarins called Quoc Tu Giam, literally the “Temple of the King Who Distinguished Literature”. The former was first built in 1070, and the latter was established in 1076.

The Vietnamese King Ly Thánh Tông first built Van Mieu to honor Confucius, revered as a paragon of learning in a bureaucracy that was heavily influenced by the neighboring Chinese

Your next experience is the Vietnam Museum of Revolution – Tu-Su: 8-11:45, 1:30-4:15, Tông Đản, Hoàn Kiếm, 84 4 3825 4151

The Museum of Vietnamese Revolution provides the vision of the Vietnam War from its very early inception through to final victory.

A stop here will help you travel back in time to the Vietnam war, more lively than any movies you have ever watched or books you read.

The collection includes images of the country’s most famous revolutionaries and events in revolutionary history. There are also documents from revolutionary leaders, including President Ho Chi Minh.

Black and white photos with old documents are displayed in “The war of resistance” room. There are also guns, bombs, and also a large iron vessel used to imprison revolutionary soldiers.

The final section brings us up to date – well to 1999 to be precise – with exhibits showcasing Vietnam’s major industries and developments, such as rice production, construction and technology.

Lunch is at The Hanoi Social Club – B,L,D: Daily, 6 Ngõ Hội Vũ, Hoan Kiem District, 84 4 3938 2117

Interesting menu options include lentil pasta, mango curry with brown rice and pumpkin salad, pulled pork with smoked gouda and cucumber sandwich, pheasant goulash and chicken satay.

Stay with the Montes Alpha Chardonnay.

The National Museum of Vietnam History – Daily: 8-4:30, M,F: 8-12, 1 Trang Tien Street, 216 Tran Quang Khai Street, 84 4 3824 2433– 38257753 is full of information for your familiarization of Vietnam.

Here you’ll find 100,000 specimens and artifacts of objects dating back to the ancient cultures of Hoa Binh-Bac Son, Dong Son.

Marvel at the Vietnamese ancient glazed ceramics, Champa stone sculptures and bronze items under the Le-Nguyen Dynasties. Many new collections from Central Vietnam, Central Highlands, South Vietnam and the old shipwreck near Cu Lao Cham Island have been added.

Now is the time to visit the Vietnamese Women’s Museum – Tu-Su: 8:30-4:30, 36 Lý Thường Kiệt, Hang Bai ward, 84 4 3825 9936

The museum explores Viet Nam’s cultural diversity and women’s significant contributions to the nation’s development, culture and society.

The museums focus is on women in family, women in history and women’s fashion. The Museum is also a center for cultural exchange with women from other nations with the goal of fostering equality, development and peace.

Dinner is at Don’s Bistro – L & D: Daily, 16 Lane 27 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, 84 4 3719 2828

Prepare your palate with a glass of Joseph Drouhin Saint Veran. Your first course is the cashew crusted squid paste on sugar cane with sweet chili dip or the shrimp and pork mustard leaf rolls with a cashew dipping sauce.

Then the double thick lamb chop with mint and green peppercorn sauce and steamed quinoa or the Lebanese avocado fried chicken with Provencale ratatouille.

Your wine is the Anakena Syrah and for dessert the claypot baked fruit compote with cinnamon oatmeal crumble.

Day Three: Joma – B,L,D: Daily, #22 Ly Quoc Su | Ba Dinh District, 84-43-747-3388

Start today with French toast with mango or fruit, granola, yogurt, eggs, burritos, bagel and cream cheese and croissants.

It’s almost mandatory to visit the Hoa Lo Prison aka the Hanoi Hilton – Daily: 8-11:30, 1:30-5, Hoả Lò, Trần Hưng Đạo, Hoàn Kiếm, 84 4 3824 6358

Hoa Lo Prison was built by the French between 1886 to1901, with an added renovation in 1913. It was horrifically overcrowded – while its maximum capacity was 600 prisoners, over 2,000 were confined within its walls by 1954.

What you see of the present-day Hoa Lo Prison is actually only the small southern section of the entire prison complex. Most of the prison was demolished in the mid-1990s.

The Hoa Lo Prison is worth a visit if only to see the colonial experience as the Vietnamese see fit to tell it, and guess at the stories untold by the silent walls and shackles on prominent display.

The translation for Hoan Kiem Lake – bordered by the streets of Pho Dinh Tien Hoang to the north and east, Pho Hang Khay at its south end, and Pho Le Thai To on the west. is “Lake of the Returned Sword”.

The legend is the emperor Le Loi was boating on the lake when a Golden Turtle God surfaced and asked for his magic sword.

Lợi thought that Kim Qui had come to reclaim the sword that its master, A local God, the Dragon King, had given Lợi the sword during his revolt against the Chinese Ming Dynasty.

Lợi renamed the lake to commemorate this event. The Turtle Tower (Thap Rùa) standing on a small island near the centre of lake is linked to the legend.
The present-day Hoan Kiem Lake is a popular stop for couples’ wedding photos and fitness buffs’ morning workouts.

Nearby is the Thang Long Water Puppet Theater – Shows Daily: 3:30, 5, 6:30, 8, 9:15, 57b Đinh Tiên Hoàng, Hoàn Kiếm, 84 4 3936 4335

The world-famous Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre in Hanoi has its roots in an art form that dates back to the 11th century.

The tradition of water puppet theatre stems from a time when rice paddy fields were flooded and villagers would make entertainment by standing in the waist-deep water with the puppets performing over the water.

Using large rods to support the puppets, it appeared as if they were moving across the water with the puppeteers hidden behind a screen.

Dining at Green Tangerine – L & D: Daily, Hoàn Kiếm, 84 4 3825 1286 is delightful.

Starters are steamed bass with capers, olives and lemon served with a potato and carrot salad or the salmon sashimi with tomato and basil.

Your main is oven roasted pork ribs topped with a sweet and sour sauce served with carrots and broccoli or sliced duck breast in a thyme and red wine sauce with eggplant puree.

Your wine is the Gran Baron Tinto Roble. Dessert is the banana flambéed with rum.

It’s probably past time to visit Hanoi’s Old Quarter- Located between the Lake of the Restored Sword, the Long Bien Bridge, a former city rampart, and a citadel wall.

The Old Quarter started as a snake and alligator-infested swamp. It later evolved into a cluster of villages made up of houses on stilts, and was unified by Chinese administrators who built ramparts around their headquarters.

The area was named “Dominated Annam” or “Protected South” by the Chinese.

The Old Quarter translates from 36 old streets that were originally named for the product that the artisans created and sold. Such as: silk clothing, embroidery and spices.

Today it’s become a fixture and inspiration for writers, poets and painters as well as a tourist destination.

Until next time, best wishes and happy travels,

Dick & Dee Welge 

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