Hanoi. Ha Noi. Anyway, you spell it, it is the beautiful capital of Vietnam. It sits on the western bank of the Red River and is the cultural, political, religious and economic hub of North Vietnam.
The beginning of the 11th century was also the real beginning of Hanoi although it was known then as Thang Long. Even then it was the political and cultural center of Vietnam. Many years passed until 1831 when Thang Long was renamed Hanoi and the writing of its current history really began. The French conquered Hanoi in 1873 and it was the administrative center of French Indochina and in 1902 gained the nickname “Little Paris of the East”. The French colonial period ended but their influence continued in the food, architecture and other areas. Couple this with traditional Vietnamese culture and values and you have a city that is unique, elegant, charming, magnetic and noble.
Walking the Hanoi streets today exposes the visitor to this unique culture and history that also includes recent events. There are historic monuments ranging from the Temple of Literature built around the year 1070 to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum built in the 1970s. Of course, there are many other temples and attractions such as the Thang Long Imperial City, Turtle Tower – Ngoc Son Temple, One Pillar Pagoda, Co Loa City, and the Perfume Pagoda. This is just a small list and just part of what makes Hanoi so irresistible. There are narrow old streets worn by innumerable bicycles and of course the charming Old Quarter with its old buildings, good street food, shopping, and busy streets. If one wearies of the hustle and bustle of the Old Quarter, a stroll around nearby Hoan Kiem Lake is a nice respite. Locals enjoying the lake might also invite you to participate in some Tai Chi or line dancing or Zumba or recommend their favorite coffee spot. Traditional craft villages are another salient Hanoi feature and it is worth adding exquisite handicrafts such as Bat Trang pottery to one’s luggage. Fauna is also abundant in Hanoi and can be enjoyed just traveling around the city or by seeing some famous ornamental plants at one of the famous flower villages such as Nhat Tan or Quang Ba. Finally, there is food. Hanoi cuisine is some of the best in the world. There is, of course, the French influence but also local dishes such as Pho Cuon (big rice noodles wrapped around beef and fresh herbs), Pho Hanoi (beef noodle soup) and Bun Cha (grilled pork and noodle) and even some crazy foods such as snake. Hanoi food can be enjoyed at five-star establishments, local restaurants or street food carts. It is all magnificent.
Time does not stand still and Hanoi has absorbed many other Western and Eastern cultures. One can’t escape Western music or Chinese goods or the latest fad from other places. The world is just too connected now. However, rather than just capitulate and try to become something else, Hanoi has absorbed and blended these cultures with their own and retained a distinctive Vietnamese flavor. One might hear Lady Gaga or Bruno Mars while enjoying Hanoi’s ancient streets, beautiful lakes and monuments, incredible food and warm and friendly people.
The best Things To Do in Hanoi are: Visit the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, Watch Water Puppet Performance, Take in the view from Long Bien Bridge, Enjoy a morning stroll around Hoan Kiem Lake, Have a Beer Hoi, Go shopping at the Old Quarter, Go to Hanoi Weekend Night Market…etc
Located in the north of Vietnam, the city of Hanoi experiences a wide range of weather conditions. Though the weather is commonly divided into a rainy season (from May to October), and dry season (from November to April), Hanoi has four seasons. April and October are transition months that essentially form two mini-seasons and allow […]
Culture! History! Energy! Hanoi is a tourist mecca. But at least one exclamation point is missing from the previous list: Food!! City streets are named after the ingredients that form the basis for Hanoi’s famous foods. Imagine google maps directing you on such streets as Hang Mam (fish sauce), Hang...
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