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What to do

In Hanoi, a city plan almost tailor-made for exploring, it will keep you busy for days on end. From the main thoroughfares to the maze of back alleys there's something to see around every corner. There are several walking tours to join and they seem like a good idea as only those with a working knowledge of Hanoi's layout should venture out alone. For the athletically minded fitness clubs abound along with Golf and Hash House Harriers running opportunities.

- Fitness Clubs are so many! Any top-end hotel will have a fitness club but will charge non-guests for use. Expect to pay in the region of $15-20 for a full day use.

- Swimming The same applies to swimming pools but these are a lot cheaper at $2-10. Hash House Harriers A worldwide 'club' of instant friends, join in the fun at the Moca Café (14-16 Pho Nha Tho) on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Running routes vary but are never too taxing.

- Cultural Some visitors claim that you haven't seen north Vietnam unless you have been to see a water puppets show and Hanoi is the best place to see one. Puppets are manipulated by means of long rods by puppeteers standing in the water behind screens and most puppets have moveable limbs and head. The music is as important as the action and the whole show is very accomplished with the purposely murky water allowing the colourful puppets to appear and disappear as if by magic.

- Explore the City. Hanoi has lakes, parks, shady boulevards and more than 600 temples and pagodas to explore and the city's relatively simple layout adds to the appeal. Raise a glass 'Bia hoi' translates as 'fresh beer' and Vietnam's favourite tipple is indeed brewed without any preservatives and as a result is marvellously cheap. It is said that if you go out with $10 you can enjoy 100 beers! Hanoi is the bia hoi capital of Vietnam and trailing through the old quarter from minibar to minibar is an enjoyable way to explore the place. Just take a compass along.

- Opera House Hanoi's opera house was erected by the French between 1901 and 1911 and is a small-scale replica of the Palais Garnier, the older of Paris's two opera houses. Since its restoration in the 1990's the opera features international opera and ballet shows. Information on performances can be found in the daily English-language newspaper the Vietnam News and the monthly The Guide, published by the Vietnam Economic Times. An alternative source of information is Time Out, a free supplement in the weekly Vietnam Investment Review.

- Ho Tay Water Park and Moon Park. When the heat hits Hanoi, the Hanoians hit the water at the Ho Tay Water Park, some five kilometres north of the city centre. After cooling off on the water slides and in the refreshing pools, you can catch a stiff breeze on the double-corkscrew roller coaster in the adjacent Moon Park.

 

Ho Chi Minh City
Many repeat visitors to Vietnam are astonished by the expanding choice of activities found in Ho Chi Minh City. If you’re a golfer, you are well catered for. If you are not, you can have a relaxing massage or perhaps take a trip to a water park – the kids will love you for it. If the weather is not so good, you call always go ten-pin bowling or take a cookery course and discover how to make authentic Vietnamese dishes.

- Golf Golf in Vietnam goes back to 1922 and today there are more than 10 courses in Vietnam with as many as 30 more under development. The first course in Ho Chi Minh City, the Go Vap Golf Course (which most people call the Saigon Golf Club) opened in the 1950s, and local people are beginning to appreciate the fun of swinging a club. Others include the Vietnam Golf & Country Club which opened in 1994, and is the best established club in Ho Chi Minh City. With 36 holes, it is a private club, though guests are welcome. It is the closest course to central Saigon, some 20 km (or 30 minutes) from downtown at Long Thanh My Thu Due District.

- Bowling Bowling is a universal game and can be a good solution for those days that are too sticky or too wet for outdoor fun. Try Saigon Superbowl, a modern bowling alley perfect for everyone from beginners to experienced bowlers.

- Cooking Courses Vietnamese food was one of the first true ‘fusion’ cuisines in the world, thanks to the history of the area, with its Indian, Chinese, French, Russian, and American influences. It is also renowned as one of the healthiest foods in the world. So, while visiting the country, why not learn how to cook your own authentic Vietnamese dishes?

- Water Parks There are several water parks in and around Ho Chi Minh City including Dam Sen Water Park which has 25 kinds of water amusements including a wave pool, slides and a children’s pool.

 
 
 
 
 
 


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