Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is the main attraction of Hanoi, this is one of the places where you can witness the respect shown by the people of Vietnam for their beloved leader Ho Chi Minh, on the other hand you can feel the respect when the tour guides and people take pride while talking about their leader. At the Mausoleum, there is a massive queue to visit the preserved body of the leader. And also, we got to see the ceremony of changing guards in the mid noon.
Other popular attractions are the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum which is free but with a lot of security checks (I skipped this) and the West Lake. It’s the city’s biggest lake with a small island called the Tran Quoc pagoda. Around the lake are several cafes and restaurants. We even saw some local eateries with makeshift hammocks.
More attractions - Next morning it was a Museum marathon. Starting at the Prison museum (aka Hanoi Hilton) to see the replica of atrocities that were borne by the Vietnamese; head to the huge Vietnam Military History Museum. Here you should visit the ruins of war and the grand Hanoi Flag tower. Next will be the Temple of Literature, an old must visit place for some tranquility. It houses the temple dedicated to Confucius and Tao. In another part of Hanoi, there is the sprawling Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum that has the replica of a passed away HCM. This is like a temple for locals and only open until 11AM. Nearby is also another pre-independence museum and the Presidential Palace. While on the city tour there are many other pagodas – Tran Quoc, Ngoc San, One Pillar Pagoda.
While in the city, you can also visit the Ho Chi Minh Museum which as the name suggests is dedicated to the late Vietnamese leader.
Our two guides met us at our hotel promptly at 8am. First we took a cab to Ho Chi Minh Complex which includes HCM Mausoleum, President's Palace and HCM's quarter. We skipped going inside HCM Mausoleum as the queue there was unbelievably long, longer than what I have seen outside Eiffel Tower and Colosseum ! A huge number of Vietnamese visit the Mausoleum to pay their respects to 'Uncle Ho' , as they refer to HCM. Their regard for the leader is such as for one's own family. Interestingly, Ho Chi Minh in his will had written that he wants to be cremated after death, but the Vietnamese people decided to mummify him, on display today inside the Mausoleum.