Hanoi is nestled on the banks of the Red River, it is a beautiful city that retains an air of French colonial elegance with pretty yellow stucco buildings lining leafy streets. Hanoi is also a city of lakes, which adds to its air of sleepy grace. In the middle of the city lies the peaceful Hoan Kiem Lake with the 18th-century Ngoc Son Temple sitting on an island in its center. To the north of Hoan Kiem Lake is the Old Quarter, a fascinating maze of small antiquated streets lined with markets and pavement restaurants and cafes. Also worth a visit, the former Ville Française was the old French administrative center and is characterized by enormous colonial-era châteaux and wide spacious boulevards. It also houses Hanoi’s most popular attraction, the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum.