After breakfast, take a tour of this unique, thousand-year-old Asian capital where old and new combine in a lush setting of parks and lakes. Visit the Museum of Ethnology, which includes a number of fascinating exhibits that bring Vietnam’s history and astonishingly diverse culture to life. Then tour the notorious “Hanoi Hilton,” the Hỏa Lò Prison where American POWs were held captive during the Vietnam War.
In the afternoon, visit Hanoi’s Temple of Literature. Founded in 1070 as Vietnam’s first university, this maze-like compound features inviting courtyards, gateways, pavilions, walkways, lakes and a museum. Continue on to the One Pillar Pagoda, an 11th-century monument that was rebuilt after being destroyed by the French in 1954. En route, pass some colonial landmarks such as the magnificent Opera House and St. Joseph’s Cathedral. Relax this afternoon before dinner at a local restaurant. (B, D)