Hanoi travel information
capital city has to be one of Asia’s most fascinating
cities offering a unique blend of oriental and western charm.
It is a city of exotic brightly painted temples and pagodas,
elegant ochre-washed colonial villas, bustling narrow streets
and alleys, grand tree-lined boulevards and shaded lakes.
First established as Vietnam’s capital in 1010, when
it was known as Thang Long, the city’s
name changed several times before it eventually became Hanoi
The Temple of Literature, the site of Vietnam’s
first university, dates back to 1070 and its peaceful gardens
and pavilions offer a relaxing respite from Hanoi’s
busy streets. Today Hanoi is still a city that attracts many
of the country’s intellectuals as well as artists and
Paintings by Vietnam’s new generation of artists can
be seen for sale in the dozens of galleries that have sprung
up in recent years in and around the city’s Old
Quarter. It is here in the Old Quarter that Hanoi
began life as a commercial centre over a thousand years ago.
The original 36 streets that make up the
Old Quarter are named after the goods once sold there such
as silk, paper, silver, copper, herbs, cotton, fish and chicken.
Nowadays the goods on sale are more likely to be t-shirts,
sunglasses or embroidered table cloths but step back from
the main streets and you will still find shops specializing
in candlesticks, pagoda flags, engraved headstones and traditional
musical instruments amongst others.
Just to the south of the bustling Old Quarter streets is
Hoan Kiem Lake, an oasis of calm right in
the centre of the city. Old men, students and weary tourists
stop to rest in the shade on the park’s benches while
local residents begin their day with a lakeside tai chi workout.
Some of the capital’s finest colonial buildings can
be found in the area of Hoan Kiem Lake including the magnificent
Opera House, History Museum and the Metropole
couple of kilometers west of Hoan Kiem Lake are the imposing
granite structure housing Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum.
The mausoleum overlooks Ba Dinh Square, the
square where President Ho Chi Minh read Vietnam’s Declaration
of Independence at the end of World War Two. Nearby is the
lotus flower-shaped temple of the One Pillar Pagoda,
first built in 1049, and the grand palace that was once the
residence of the Governor-General of French Indochina.
Like Ho Chi Minh
City, Hanoi also has some great shopping, particularly
in the Old Quarter where bargains include silk, embroidery,
handicrafts and original works of art. There are some interesting
day trip options from Hanoi including Hoa
Lu, the site of Vietnam’s first capital, Tam
Coc Caves, the Perfume Pagoda and Hoa
Binh, the home of many ethnic minority groups.
Related Hanoi Tours:
City Tour - Full day from US$ 42
Tour - Getaway - 3Days/ 3Nights from US$ 133
Bay Tour - Indochina Sails Junk Cruise - 2 days from
Villages Tour - Full day from US$ 39
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