4 Hours In: Hanoi

The Vietnamese capital may still look quaint and underdeveloped from the outside, but visitors who dig a little deeper will find it buzzing with hip new boutiques and restaurants.

Visit the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology for a crash course in the country's 54 ethnic groups, explained through beautiful displays of daily life. The sprawling grounds feature several examples of different tribal houses and tombs (Nguyen Van Huyen Street; vme.org.vn).

Dine at KOTO, a not-for-profit restaurant and vocational-training program for disadvantaged youths, which offers sandwiches, pastas and traditional Vietnamese dishes (59 Van Mieu Street).

Explore the Temple of Literature, Vietnam's first university. Founded in 1076, it's a rare well-preserved example of traditional Vietnamese architecture and a slice of tranquillity amid streets crammed with roaring scooters (Van Mieu Street).

Shop for stunning housewares and linens on Nha Tho Street, which is lined with chic boutiques like Mosaique and La Casa. Just around the corner on Hang Trong Street is Dome, a temple for stylish multicolored beddings. Art Vietnam sells contemporary works by both established and up-and-coming artists (7 Nguyen Khac Nhu Street).