I have done all the obligatory sights on my previous visit, so I had time to see the neighborhoods of Hanoi, and talk to the people who live there. I had a guide who took me to the hidden little alleys and distant places where tourists do not normally venture. I have seen barbecued dogs.
Also went to the national park Bavi, and climbed 1600 steps to the temples on the hills. They were built only last year, in the traditional style. I doubt that the government would care as much if Uncle Ho (Ho Chi Minh) hadn’t visited the place, making it a pilgrimage stop.