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  • Hanoi's Maison Centrale Highlights


  • Situated in the centre of Hanoi close to the French Quarter, Maison Centrale was French built for housing Vietnamese political campaigners for independence and was completed in 1913. These campaigners were captured and usually shackled to the floor where they could easily be beaten by guards. Vietnamese prisoners were also executed here by use of a guillotine which today is displayed near the prisons infamous death row.

    The prison was later used for American POWs, usually pilots caught when their planes went down. Today there is little evidence of the time spent here by the former American inmates although a great deal has been written by the survivors including their experiences in the much feared ‘blue room’. The blue room was used for the interrogation and torture of new prisoners and visitors can still see the room today although there is nothing on display here of the horror stories told by American POW’s which included former American presidential nominee John McCain.

    Maison Centrale in Hanoi

    Maison Centrale is accessed via a gate on Hoa Lo Street with the sign Maison Centrale at the entrance. A taxi is the easiest way to get to the prison which is located at the right corner of Phi Ha Ba Trung on the edge of the French Quarter. You can easily combine this visit with a trip to Hoan Kiem Lake which is nearby.

    · Opening Hours: open daily from 08:00 until 17:00 and closed from lunch from 11:30 until 13:30
    · Location: Hoa Lo Street

    Hanoi West Lake

    Hanoi’s largest freshwater lake, West Lake has a circumference of 17km and houses many of the city’s historic places of interest around its perimeter – including Vietnam’s oldest pagoda and one of Vietnam’s four sacred temples. The lake attracts many locals and tourists seeking respite from the busy city, providing a sanctuary of great natural beauty with plenty of quiet spots in the sizeable lush gardens surrounding the lake.

    Known locally as Tay Ho Lake there are a host of stunning architectural gems surrounding this spot in addition to one or two entertainment venues and a smattering of high-end hotels.
    The actual creation of West Lake still remains a mystery although one legend claims that it was formed when the Dragon King Lac Long Quan drowned a wicked fox spirit with nine tails in his lair. An alternative folklore source claims the lake was formed when a large Chinese buffalo mistakenly confused a pagoda temple bell with its mothers call and ran so fiercely into a small hollow that the lake was made.
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