In Vietnam, Hanoi is regarded as the high-minded counterpart to Ho Chi Minh City’s upstart glitz. The reality is that both cities have plenty of cultural highlights to show, with Hanoi offering everything from reminders and celebrations of Vietnam’s tumultuous past to cutting-edge art galleries and regular live music events.
Late January to mid February, you can breathe in the excitement of Tet, the lunar New Year (the date each year changes based on the Chinese lunar calendar). The lead-up to the celebration sees the city come alive with displays of moon cakes, red banners, joss sticks, and red envelopes for giving lucky money (mung tuoi) to children. February and March are the months to join the mass Buddhist pilgrimage to the Perfume Pagoda, just south of Hanoi.