Hanoi is the oldest capital in South-east Asia and the second largest city in Vietnam right after Saigon (HCMC). It is located in the North of the country some 150 kilometres from the South China Sea and the breathtaking Halong Bay. Hanoi is not only the centre of politics but also offers many exciting historic and cultural places to be discovered and a vibrant street life to be enjoyed day and night.
- Introduction to Hanoi
- About Hanoi
- Top places in Hanoi
- Photographs of Hanoi
Hanoi , which lies on the bank of the Red River was founded some 1000 years ago , when in 1010 the emperor Ly Thai structured the city around a massive citadel. This area later became the Old City, and today is one of the most popular district of Hanoi. 2010, the year of our visit officially marked 1000 years of the establishment of the city.
Top places in Hanoi
The centre of Hanoi can be divided into many different areas including the most popular Old and French District located respectively to the north and south of the lake. Further west is the Bah Dinh District which is the political heart of the city.
Some of the key attractions in those areas include:
- Hoan Kiem Lake
- Ho Chi Minh complex
- National Museum of Vietnamese History
- St-Joseph Cathedral
- Temple of literature
- Fine art museum
- Bach Ma temple
- Dong Xuan Market
Hoan Kiem Lake
The Hoan Kiem Lake, a quiet oasis in the heart of the old city is one of the symbols of the capital. This beautiful city lake offers plenty of places all around it to sit down and enjoy an a break while contemplating the waters, away from all the streelife chaos of the capital.
Ho Chi Minh complex
The Ho Chi Minh complex is one of the biggest attraction of the capital. It consists of many different buildings and monuments including a museum, a stilt house, the one pillar pagoda and the famous Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum located on the grand Ba Dinh Square.
National Museum of Vietnamese History
The National Museum of Vietnamese History located west of the Hoan Kiem lake is perhaps one of the most interesting and well kept museum in Hanoi. It offers a vast collection from Vietnamese history from all the different periods of the country’s evolution. On the first floor are displayed tools and artefacts from the prehistoric age, the bronze age, the early plan of the citadel and many other objects from the early days of the country. On the second floor, are in display items from the Ho Dynasty, followed by the Chinese Ming occupation period and way up to the Nguyen dynasty which unified the entire country.
The St-Joseph Cathedral located a couple blocks east of the Hoan Kiem lake is a charming French style church. The Church street in front of the cathedral is also worth visiting, packed with numerous lovely French style cafes and restaurants.
Temple of literature
The temple of literature located east of the old city is one of the most charming and most visited place in Hanoi. It was founded in 1070 and once served as Vietnam’s first university. The Temple courtyard displays some magnificent stone tablets, each mounted on the back of a tortoise and displaying the past graduate names.
Fine art museum
The Fine art museum located across the Temple of literature offers a beautiful collection of Vietnamese silk paintings, Buddhist art, and revolutionary art of the 20th century wars.
The Bach Ma temple located in the heart of the old city, near the famous Dong Xuan Market is a small but really charming pagoda. It is said to be the oldest building in the area, dating from the city’s foundation in the 11th century. Locals believed the primary function of the temple was to guard the city against evil spirits.
Dong Xuan Market
The Dong Xuan Market located north of the Bach Ma temple, is the oldest and largest covered market of the capital. This three storey building offers everything one may ask, from clothing and household items to meat, fruits and vegetables.
Hanoi is an interesting mix of Chinese and French influence with a largely unspoiled modern architecture from the 1970s and 80s. Today it is looking towards the future and should definitely be a must visit place on your list when visiting Vietnam.
Photographs of Hanoi