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Things to do in Hanoi

Catch a performance at Hanoi Opera House

The Hanoi Opera House (tel: +84 4 3933 0113; www.hanoioperahouse.org.vn) was originally modelled on the Palais Garnier in Paris but left in disrepair for many years. Renovations in 2011 restored it back to an ornate building which showcases orchestral, choral, pop, ballet and theatrical works.

Enjoy a traditional water puppet show

In traditional water puppet performances, puppets depict scenes from rural life whilst accompanied by musicians playing traditional instruments. The performances at the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre (tel: +84 4 3936 4335; www.thanglongwaterpuppet.org) are colourful, intricate and imbued with local humour.

Get some early morning tai chi

Hanoi’s Hoan Kiem Lake is a must-visit for anyone that wants to see Hanoi at its most charmingly traditional. As the sun rises, it becomes a haven for local old-timers practicing tai chi amidst the sweet sounds of bamboo flute played by local wise men. A treat.

Learn to cook it up like a local

Learn to cook delicious Vietnamese dishes on a half-day course in the purpose-built kitchen at the Hidden Hanoi cookery school (tel: +84 91 225 4045; www.hiddenhanoi.com.vn). Students are taken around the colourful local food market before being taught how to whip up lip-smacking dishes from five themed menus.

Spend a morning playing Hanoi’s sun-kissed greens

Golf is as popular in Vietnam as it is throughout the rest of the world, and there are several opportunities within easy reach of Hanoi for visitors to dust down the nine irons. Get a round in at the 18-hole Hanoi Golf Club (tel: +84 4 3599 1365; www.vietnamgolftours.com), which is around 45 minutes north of central Hanoi.

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Zéphyr Hotel

Located right by Hoan Kiem Lake, and within walking distance of the Old Quarter, this classy hotel offers good value. The rooms are smart and well-maintained, while the restaurant serves both Vietnamese and Western cuisine. The rooftop bar, with panoramic views across the city, is a great place for a drink.

Flower Garden Hotel

This stylish hotel on the edge of the Old Quarter has large, well-lit rooms decorated in Vietnamese style. There are two restaurants serving Western and a fusion of Asian food, one being on the top floor with great views across the city. There’s also a fitness centre and spa, including a sauna and Jacuzzi.

Maison d'Hanoi Hanova Hotel

The narrow entrance is barely noticeable, but this boutique hotel is well known for its stylish combination of colonial and art deco design. It’s within walking distance of Hoan Kiem Lake and ideal for exploring the Old Quarter. With its own restaurant and spa, this is a real find in an excellent location.

Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi

An old colonial hotel steeped in history, the Sofitel isn’t called ‘legend’ for nothing. With three excellent restaurants (Vietnamese, French and Italian), as well as bars, swimming pool and gym, it’s the most prized luxury choice of the city. Rooms in the historical Metropole Wing have maintained the original features, while the Opera Wing has rooms designed in classic French style.

InterContinental Hanoi Westlake

This is one of the best 5-star business hotels in Hanoi, built entirely over the West Lake, featuring large rooms, restaurants and bars, swimming pool and spa facilities. The hotel's Vietnamese, Italian and French restaurants all have good reputations. Rooms overlook the lake or the Hanoi skyline and are stylishly Vietnamese.

Hoa Binh Hotel

A consistently popular choice on the Hanoi hotel scene, the Hoa Binh is a renovated colonial hotel dating from 1926. Located within walking distance of Hoan Kiem Lake, it boasts more than 100 rooms, all large and comfortable with good facilities for a 3-star hotel. There are also French and Vietnamese restaurants.