MEMORABLE THINGS TO DO IN HANOI WITH KIDS

The light turned green, but I was cemented to the sidewalk. The swarm of motorbikes, scooters, and the occasional bus stampeded through the intersection. I clutched my children (at the curb) and watched the local Vietnamese walked confidently through the crosswalk while the traffic flowed around them. We were in Hanoi, on a family vacation in the capital city of Vietnam, and I started to wonder if we would be sightseeing from inside a taxi, instead of on foot.After a few light changes and not one pedestrian + vehicle incident, we summoned the courage to cross the road amidst a group of locals. While I was reluctant, the boys were excited about walking into oncoming traffic and arriving at the other side of the street unharmed. In fact, their prized souvenirs from our family vacation in Hanoi are t-shirts with a stop light printed on the front and three simple sentences. Beside the green light, it says, 'I can go.' It says the same next to the amber light. And next to the red light, which in any other country we know means stop, the t-shirt slogan proclaims, 'I can still go.' In Vietnam this is true.Apart from the thrills (and my chills) of crossing street after street in Hanoi, here are a few more memorable things to do in Hanoi with kids.Locals chase badminton birdies on leafy boulevards. These games are serious – look down at city sidewalks and you may see badminton court markings painted on the stone. In city parks and squares, graceful couples practice ballroom dancing while middle-aged ladies work it to American pop icons like Michael Jackson. Watching Hanoians gather in the city’s public spaces in the early morning is one of the most memorable things to do in Hanoi with kids or on your own.Cross Huc Bridge, a red pedestrian passage leading to a tiny island where you can visit majestic Ngoc Son Temple. Meaning ‘Temple of the Jade Mountain,’ this temple is dedicated to scholars as well as General Tran Hung Dao, a military strategist, and hero responsible for defeating Mongol invasions. In a side room, a sculpture of a Yangtze softshell turtle pays tribute to giant turtles that resided in Hoan Kiem Lake until the passing of Cu Rua (the grandfather turtle) in 2016.As the former capital of French Indochina, the European influence on Hanoi is apparent in the French Quarter’s buildings, Parisien-style boulevards, and the cuisine. In addition to traditional Vietnamese food, we enjoyed countless chewy baguettes and macaroons on par with what is available in Paris.President of North Vietnam from 1945-1969, Ho Chi Minh led the Vietnamese nationalist movement for nearly 30 years. He was committed to the unification of North and South Vietnam under communist control. When communists took over the South Vietnamese capital of Saigon in 1975, the renamed the city Ho Chih Minh in his honour.