The plan is simple enough. A couple of days in Hanoi, then take the overnight train to the hill resort of Sapa, then three days to climb Mt Fanxipan and get back down again, then drive to Dien Bien Phu for two nights before flying back to Hanoi.
First stop in Hanoi, the “Hanoi Hilton”.
This notorious prison held American pilots who were shot down over North Vietnam during the Vietnam War or the American War as the Vietnamese call it. The prisoners of war nicknamed this prison the Hanoi Hilton.
One of the more famous inmates was John McCain, one-time US presidential contender, whose flying suit is on prominent display.
During the French colonial era the prison housed Vietnamese political prisoners and criminals in harsh conditions.
The streets in the Old Hanoi Quarter are full of character, colour and energy. There was talk of Old Hanoi being recognised by Unesco as a world cultural heritage site but it seems there are no plans to proceed with that proposal.
One can only hope that this district can escape the developers’ wrecking ball for many years to come.
This article first appeared on thriftytraveller.wordpress.com