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The city today known as Hanoi has experienced a long history of invasion, conquest and liberation. The modern incarnation began in 1831, when the Nguyen emperor Minh Mang named the city Hà Noi, which in translation means, between rivers. It was the French who made the city the capital of Indochina in 1887 and upon nationwide independence in 1954, Hanoi was made the capital of northern Vietnam. Today the parks and lakes, in particular the Hoan Kiem Lake, coupled with the impressive French colonial architecture create an air of sophistication and beauty about the city.
Perhaps the number one attraction in the city is the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, where the revered leader lies in state. Also consider exploring the nearby vestige area where Ho Chi Minh lived and worked until he died in 1969. There are several interesting museums worth investigating including the Museum of the Vietnamese Revolution, the National Museum of Vietnamese History and the Fine Arts Museum. If you appreciate temples then admire the Temple of Literature, the Ngoc Son Temple and the Bach Ma Temple.
Most visitors to the region, use the visit to Hanoi to also enjoy the nearby Halong Bay. The sight of thousands of limestone islets jutting serenely from the sea creates a feeling of tranquillity - this is an exceedingly beautiful place to cruise. There are several cruise options, but most travellers choose a smaller boat for an overnight expedition.