When you’ve taken in Hanoi’s main sights, there are plenty more places waiting to be explored in the surrounding area, including the cave-shrine of the Perfume Pagoda, which is one of the country’s most sacred locations. There are the dozens of other historic buildings, of which the most strongly atmospheric are the Thay Pagoda and Tay Phuong Pagoda, buried deep in the delta, both of which are fine examples of traditional Vietnamese architecture. You could also spend months exploring the delta’s villages – in particular the craft villages, which retain their traditions despite a constant stream of tourists passing though. The Ho Chi Minh Trail Museum, southwest of the centre, is also well worth a visit, especially if you’re heading out of town on Highway 6, for example to Mai Chau. Finally, the ancient citadel of Co Loa, just north of the Red River, merits a stop in passing, mostly on account of its historical significance since there’s little to recall its former grandeur.

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