One Pillar Pagoda
The original Buddhist pagoda was built in 1049 by Emperor Ly Thai Tong to mark the birth of his heir after a dream in which a goddess gave him a son floating on a lotus. Fittingly, the structure rises out of a pond covered in lotuses. The name of the temple literally translates to 'long lasting happiness and good luck'. One of Hanoi's most sacred sites, it can look a little lacklustre in the winter when the pond is drained. Look for the golden figure of Quan Am upon lotus blossoms that sits in the dim interior.
Hanoi's One Pillar Pagoda mirrors the architectural splendour that Vietnam has nurtured. Set in the western part of Hanoi near Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum, One Pillar Pagoda yielded to many devastations brought on by French colonial rule. In 1954 the pagoda was destroyed by the French, but it was rebuilt shortly thereafter. Today the pagoda is open daily from 8am to 5pm. Admission is free.