Hanoi, the beautiful capital of Vietnam, is full of character, history and quaintness. The city has undergone the wrecks of war and has been segregated from the rest of the world by a government until as lately as the 90s. Along with its noisy streets and signs of rapid development, you can see layers of the past Chinese and French periods.
Formerly known as Thang Long, Hanoi stands ashore the Red River with its large part built during the French occupation, which is revealed from its charming broad boulevards and French-style architecture. Among the ubiquitous street hawkers, farmers, scooters and their resonating horns and other citizens eating street foods or practicing Tai Chi, you can find the originality and basic culture of Hanoi.
What to See?
The Old Quarter of Hanoi is a must-see. It is formed of four districts, viz. Hoan Kiem, Hai Ba Trung, Ba Dinh and Dong Da. The more modern Western districts like Cau Giay, Ha Dong, Thanh Xuan and Nam Tu Liem are full of skyscrapers and shopping malls.
Hoan Kiem District
Hoan Kiem District is the center of the city with the iconic Hoan Kiem Lake or Sword Lake at its core. Its northern half is covered by the charming Old Quarter while the southern half is full of pleasant shady streets, villas and mainly French architecture.
Majority of tourist spots of Hanoi are located in Hoan Kiem District, including Hoan Kiem Lake, the Huc Bridge, Ngoc Son Tample, Hoa Lo prison, the neo-Gothic Hanoi Grand Cathedral, Hanoi Opera House, Eiffel-designed Long Bien Bridge and a number of museums.
Hai Ba Trung District
The French-style streets with shady trees can be seen in the northern part of this district. It also contains many universities.
Ba Dinh District
This district houses the president’s palace, Ho Chi Minh mausoleum and embassies of most nations. It also houses the One-Pillar Pagoda and the newly discovered Thang Long Citadel. Here too in the eastern part there is a French Quarter with large boulevards with big shady trees.
Dong Da District
This is the seat of Vietnam’s first university. It is mostly residential.
Vietnamese Women’s Museum
This museum is recently renovated and has many permanent exhibitions telling information of the female heroines in the history of Vietnam. There are also exhibitions about the Vietnamese traditions and rituals centered on women, beautiful ethnic handmade costumes, and more.
Hoan Kiem Lake
A pleasant park in the downtown and a must-see, Hoan Kiem Lake is a favorite spot of locals who practise Tai Chi at dawn here.
What to Do?
Don’t miss Hanoi cooking class tours which is a delightful experience of all culinary things, hands-on cooking classes, tours to street food and cafés and visiting the local wet market. Thus you not only learn to make the delicious Vietnamese food but also enjoy local street food and markets.
Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre
This is an enchanting experience during your Hanoi trip. Live musicians and wooden men, women and dragons tell the Vietnamese legends dancing on and splashing water.
These are only a very few attractions of Hanoi. You have to experience it all and enjoy everything this lovely city has to offer. So, consider a visit to Hanoi this holiday and take a slice of a unique and fabulous culture.