The sacred land of Hanoi, once home to the royal leaders of the Ly Dynasty, remains the center of attention as the capital of modern Vietnam. Here you can see the march of progress, a city’s attempt to build of the layers of modernity they missed under oppressive governments. At the same time, the foundations remain intact, and those with the know-how can still get a feel for the essence of true Hanoi, and the soul of Vietnam.

Ker & Downey values our partnership with local guides all over the world, and they especially prove their worth in cities like Hanoi. While throngs of tourists are swept up in the city’s frenetic visage, full of knock-off salesmen and trinket shops, the authentic experience lies just beyond, if you know where to look. Our guides ensure that you walk the streets of Old Town, you notice the intricacies of local culture, from their favorite noodle shops, to the genuine farmers, chefs, and artisans who represent the indomitable resilience of a country that has survived much.

Despite a turbulent history, Vietnam is a peaceful travel destination with many historic and contemporary sites. Vietnam has seen a blend of Eastern and Western influence, from its Chinese history to its romantic French design from colonial past. Nowhere is this more charmingly on display than in Hanoi.

Visit Bach Ma Temple, originally constructed in the 11th century to honor a mysterious white horse. A less mystic pillar of Vietnamese culture can be found at the Temple of Literature, dedicated to the study of Confucianism. The Temple of Literature is also a rare and exquisite surviving example of classical Vietnamese architecture.

Those looking for a serene side of the city can visit the shores of Hoan Kiem Lake, where locals participate in tai chi every morning, a continual preservation of the ancient practice which has found new life as tai chi grows in popularity around the world.