What can we do on a short stopover in Hanoi?

WE HAVE A THREE-NIGHT STOPOVER IN HANOI IN FEBRUARY. IS IT FEASIBLE TO INCORPORATE A ONE-NIGHT CRUISE ON HALONG BAY OR ARE WE BETTER OFF STAYING IN HANOI, AND IF SO, WHAT TO DO? J. CRESTANI, ULLADULLA, NSW

You could fit in a one-night cruise on Halong Bay; however, February is cool and quite often foggy. If you do, the cruise will absorb most of your three-night stopover. Hanoi has a distinct food scene and the Street Food by Night tour with Urban Adventures urbanadventures.com is a tasting tour through the eyes of a local that takes your taste buds for a walk on the wild side. The UA Citadels, Karts and Cycle tour is a day well spent. Koto Restaurant is another dining standout, not only for its food but also because it provides vocational training for street kidS. The restaurant is the realisation of a vision for Jimmy Pham, a South Korean man who grew up in Sydney and many of Koto's graduates now work in the hospitality business throughout Vietnam. Koto is close to the Temple of Literature, another must-see. Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi is the city's stately grande dame, an all-white, palmy throwback to French times with imperial manners and plenty of glitz. Get a taste of the hotel's belle epoque character with lunch at the hotel's Spices Garden Restaurant, and request a table in the courtyard. Finally, the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and a stroll around the packed streets of the old French Quarter, both essential viewing. Tet, the Vietnamese New Year, falls on February 16 this year. This is a very busy time for travel and eating out and you can expect temples especially to be crowded. If your own travels coincide, be sure to lock in any plans well in advance.

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