Vietnam’s 1,000-year-old capital, Hanoi, with a population of over 6.5 million, is one of the country’s main cultural centers and considered a rising star in Southeast Asia. New and old, East and West meet here, in what is now the country’s educational center. The Old Quarter provides a fascinating look at the Hanoi of the early 20th century, when each of the streets contained merchants and households that specialized in a trade, such as sugar, silver, bamboo and silk. Though few of the well-preserved, narrow streets are still devoted to one exclusive trade, the area is renowned for its artisan stores. Vietnam’s first university, the 1,000-year-old temple of literature, provides a look at another period of history, as does the traditional stilt house and the One-Pillar Pagoda. Visitors to the city won’t want to miss the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum or the War Museum, and will enjoy the tree-shaded streets filled with French colonial architecture, bustling market places, and friendly residents.