We recommend taking a private guided tour of Hanoi's main sights, including temples, museums of the country's recent and ancient history, traditional old quarters and more recent tree-lined boulevards with their French colonial architecture. Famous sites include the One Pillar Pagoda, the Temple of Literature and Hanoi Citadel. A walking tour of the Ancient Quarter or the '36 Streets' District is a particular must. This densely populated corner of the city was once a centre of commerce where goods were sold under the street name of a particular guild. Still a thriving community of sellers today, you will see street names such as Sugar Street, Tin Street and Paper Street. Ancient homes and temples are interspersed with fascinating shops.
Once you've had your fill of history and culture, enjoy a stroll around some of the 18 lakes which, with their surrounding gardens and trees, are the lungs of the city. As evening approaches, the lakeshores become the venues for traditional water-puppet shows.
Combine a Hanoi holiday with a tour of Halong Bay, on the Gulf of Tonkin. Cliffs, arches and coves compete for space in an area that is without doubt the most outstandingly beautiful in the country - an incomparable coastal scene.
Viewed from above, Halong Bay resembles a geographic work of art, but the best way to experience this unique natural wonder is by meandering among the islands and inlets on a boat.