Vietnam Hanoi: Last Day at Cathedral & Leaving Vietnam

Travel Period: 21 Sep – 28 Sep 2014

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Saint Joseph Cathedral

The oldest church in Hanoi, it is a late 19th -century Neo-Gothic style church which was constructed by the French Colonial Government when it took over Hanoi and opened in 1886.  It was closed down for a while from 1954 to 1990, when Viet Minh took control of North Vietnam and persecuted priests.


We had a hearty breakfast on our last morning and took a cab to our last itinerary in Hanoi, the Saint Joseph Cathedral. It is very near and in the Hoàn Kiếm District. As Catholics, we are curious about this important landmark in the midst of the busy streets of Hanoi. 

Alighting outside the gate, the Cathedral looks impressive with its granite stone slab exterior in Gothic Style. 

We walked in the massive gate and begin our exploration of the interior.

First, we note down the rules. There were a few people praying in the pews so we were as quiet as possible. The Sunday Mass had not started as it was still very early.

We walked along the sides so as not to disturb others and reached the front to look at the altar, where a statue of Saint Joseph with Jesus was in the centre. We sat down at a pew and did some silent praying on our own.

Along the sides, there were separate altars for Mother Mary and Jesus. We admired the architecture of the old church for a while before proceeding outside.

There was a long mural by the roadside and the church looked quite gloomy and imposing against the sky…

Satisfied with our short exploration of the place, knowing now how it was exactly like, we went back to the hotel to pack up.


Someone had given a Non La hat to Dar during our Ha Long Bay trip and we let him wear it around since there was no place to stuff it. The hotel staff were tickled by his “farmer” look, especially since he happened to be wearing a shirt (due to church visit). Someone even took a photo with him.

Soon, we headed to the airport, saying goodbye to the hotel staff whom had treated us well these few days. 

When we arrived, we found the airport incredibly stuffy. What was wrong? As we walked past the shops with sales people but no lights on, we realised that their electricity had been cut off. There was no air-conditioning running in the entire airport but the main lights were still on. I think it’s another of those “save electricity” moment which the city imposes every now and then (It happened to us on the second day we arrived in Vietnam).

To use up our remaining Vietnamese money, we bought some food souvenirs at the airport and donated the rest in a box to help some charity. After that, it was a long suffering wait in the enclosed area (perspired so much…) before we could get on the plane.

To summarise, it was an interesting 8 days 7 nights trip in Vietnam and we felt we had learnt a lot being in a country rich in culture and history. Most importantly, we managed to visit Ha Long Bay, one of the natural wonders in the world. Read all about our visits to the various places in Hanoi and Ha Long Bay in our Summary Itinerary Post