Hanoi (Hà Nội) will be the first meeting point in northern Vietnam for many travelers. Hanoi is a place that is still trying to retain its original and distinctive rich history, heritage, and attractiveness, in some contrast to Ho Chi Minh City. The whole of Vietnam is experiencing great economic growth and the country is rapidly changing, similarly, the city is undergoing a large transformation. New housing and commercial areas are growing up, and new branded stores are opening.
Please try to read the whole article, then you’ll learn what to watch out for in Hanoi, what to visit, how to get from the Noi Bai International airport to the city center, and something about the weather in Hanoi. In every article about interesting places, you will find a detailed map marked with places in the area. What interested me in Hanoi? the special communist-capitalist subculture, the historical monuments, the lively life of the residents, and the excellent street cuisine, cafés, and restaurants.
Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam, with approximately 8 million inhabitants. It’s the second-largest city of Vietnam and with its central location is the best springboard for visiting the region of northern Vietnam. Trains travel north every day destined for Lao Cai City which lies approximately 10 km from the border with China. From Lao Cai city you can go west towards the popular site of Sapa and Lai Chau and east towards Bac Ha and Ha Giang. Trains from Hanoi also serve the provinces of Lang Son and Ninh Binh and reach Ha Long to the east and to the south of Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh City).
Before 1010 Hanoi was known as Thang Long, in 1831 this city was renamed Hanoi. In 1883 it was the capital of the French protectorate (Tonkin). Becoming the capital of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam happened in the years 1954 – 1976 and the capital of the United Socialist Republic of Vietnam happened in 1976. Large areas of Hanoi were built during the French occupation. This was reflected in French architecture, which can be seen here.
You can’t miss a visit to the Old Quarter, right here you can feel the atmosphere of Hanoi, unwind with a stroll around the lake and you’ll find the perfect restaurants with local cuisine. Almost always you will see the lively daily life of the Vietnamese, tai chi, dancing, playing badminton, or crawl. Skateboards and roller skates are also not an exception. In the Old Quarter, there are plenty of shops with different goods from food to clothing. Hanoi is also a cultural center of Vietnam.
There are a lot of different categories of tourist accommodation. Most of them are very decent and a very good starting point for future visits to Hanoi, the best place for eating. Prices are low and start from 150,000 Dong. You can also book luxury and expensive hotels. Look at the following menu and book accommodation now. Agoda offers a very wide range of quality accommodation at very good prices in Hanoi.
A renowned place for nightlife and sitting with beer and food is Bia Hoi Corner in the Old Quarter. Hundreds of plastic chairs, beer for 5000 Dongs, and the local specialties in the local atmosphere are unforgettable. Hanoi is good for walking, there are no hills, but you have to watch out for motorcycles.
Paradoxically despite the communist regime, there are a lot of luxury shops of the world’s leading manufacturers of various goods. There are great differences between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh city, the behavior of the population, a weak nightlife, slower construction of new buildings, the economically strongest city is now Ho Chi Minh (Saigon). Hanoi is quieter, more intimate than Ho Chi Min. In Hanoi, an effort has been made to maintain the original character of the city. But also in Hanoi new buildings are growing and the city is slowly being upgraded.
In the western part of Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi, you will find the most interesting monuments, that you can see here. Hanoi Cathedral, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and Museum, One Pillar Pagoda, Temple of Literature, The Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, and Tran Quoc pagoda, Quan Su Pagoda (a short walk from here is the main train station), Hanoi Ceramic Mosaic rural, Lenin park… All places that are not far away from each other, it is worth a visit and you can explore them on foot.
The Imperial Citadel of Thang Long and the earlier historical city of Thang Long was a fortified complex in Hanoi, which for centuries served as the political, cultural, and economic center of Hanoi and of northern Vietnam. It is a large historical complex, a short walk from Lenin Park, where you can see the old unique historical relics, the fort, the museum of historical objects, pottery, and other remains. The whole place is very quiet and peaceful, good for relaxation away from the busy part of Hanoi. In 2010, it was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. In some places, there is ongoing excavation work and the foundations of the fort were discovered for example, with ponds, wells, and other archaeological monuments. Tickets cost 300.000 Dongs and the visit takes at least half a day.
If you want to relax from the bustle of motorbikes, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is an ideal place. It is a short walk from the center of Ba Dinh square. The area around the mausoleum is closed from traffic. Construction of the granite mausoleum was completed in 1975 and this is the building where the embalmed body of Ho Chi Minh lies. The body rests in a glass sarcophagus and it is illuminated by spotlights. In the mausoleum, it is forbidden to take pictures and you must keep calm, everything is overseen by guards. Ho Chi Minh announced the independence of Vietnam on Ba Dinh Square on September 2nd, 1945. Ho Chi Minh museum and One Pillar Pagoda is about 300m from here.
One of the most important museums in Vietnam is the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology in Hanoi. The museum preserves the cultural heritage of 54 ethnic groups in Vietnam. Artifacts, objects, habits, dwelling, clothes, photos, and more can be found in this museum. Vietnam Museum of Ethnology has 2 exhibitions – outside, where you can see old houses and buildings of the inhabitants, and inside, with the rest of the exhibits. All year round a lot of travelers and residents go to this museum. The best idea is to visit some of the villages directly with minority residents in the north of Vietnam.
One of the oldest and most important monuments in Hanoi is The Temple of Literature (Van Mieu). To can get there from the city center in about 10 minutes by taxi, or from Hoan Kiem Lake, when you are walking it’s about an hour. The temple was founded in1070 by the emperor Ly Thanh Tong and is a dedication to the Chinese philosopher Confucius. About six years later the university was founded, where the children from the royal family were taught, and selected students and the aristocracy visited this university. They then worked as teachers and propagandists of Confucian teachings.
This long temple complex is divided into 5 courtyard walls. The great walls also prevent the ambient noise of passing motorbikes, and there is relative calm making this a very good place for relaxing in Hanoi. Admission is only 10,000 dong. The Temple of Literature has been repaired several times and is maintained and still retains its original character.
In the center of Hanoi is the famous Hoan Kiem Lake (Lake of the Returned Sword). A lot of tourists and even locals come here to play sports, take pictures or just to relax. It is good to walk here in the evening, this place has its own atmosphere. The history of this lake is connected with the turtle. According to legend, the turtle lived here in the 15th century and gave the magical sword to King Le Loi. The King won the battle for independence and defeated the Chinese Ming dynasty.
The sword was returned to the tortoise, and she has this sword always with her. There used to be plenty of turtles in the lake, but they were caught and exterminated, and today only one rare turtle lives here. On the lake is The Temple of the Jade Mountain (Ngoc Son) and Turtle Tower. In the Jade Mountain Temple is held on certain days cultural music performances with traditional Vietnamese musical instruments.
In Hanoi, a well-known tourist attraction, which can be visited in the center of town near Hoan Kiam lake. This attraction originally came from Vietnamese villages where the theater with puppets in the water was played. It became very popular and the theater was founded in 1969 in Hanoi. The first performance with puppets and people was played in 1990 in Hanoi Thang Long Theatre.
Water Puppet Theatre is mostly performances of farmers (simple village life, growing the rice, raising the buffalo …) and glimpses of historical legends. The puppets are made from the wood of fig trees and their height is almost 90 cm. There is traditional Vietnamese music and narration is in the Vietnamese language. Water Puppet Theater in Hanoi – certainly worth a visit.
Before going to Vietnam, travelers should apply for a Vietnam visa at the Vietnamese Embassy or apply for a Vietnam visa online via BDATrip visa services.
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