The The Huc Bridge at Hoan Kiem Lake, in Hanoi

Hanoi

Hanoi is the elegant capital city of Vietnam sprawling its way along the Red River banks. There are many lakes, parks and leafy quarters which make the Hanoi just freshly green all year round. Hanoi was first built in 1010 by King Ly Thai To who checked and found out that Feng-shui of Hanoi was exceptionally good for the prosperity of the kingdom that time; Hanoi was called Thanh Long meaning "the city of ascending dragons" then.

Hanoi Old Quarter
A street in the Old Quarter of Hanoi Vietnam

 

Hanoi Hoan Kiem Lake
Hanoi Hoan Kiem Lake

Hanoi's architecture is the blend of Vietnamese, Chinese and French. The city is known to the locals as three main areas: The Ancient Citadel Area (11th century) which was home to the Royal Family; The Old Quarter (Ancient Business Area) dating back from the 11th century was the business quarter of old Hanoi; The French Quarter with French architecture dating back from the 19th century was home to the French residents of Hanoi during their time here.

The Old Quarter with the Hoan Kiem Lake is in the city's center; the Ancient Citadel Area with the West Lake is to the West and the French Quarter is to the South. All goods on earth could be found in the Old Quarter with narrow hustling bustling streets. There's a night market on the nights on Friday, Satury and Sunday from Hang Ngang and Hang Dao streets to Dong Xuan Market. The ancient citadel area now is the seat of the government, you may like to visit Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, the Presidential Palace and the One Pillar Pagoda in this area. The French quarter is home to fine-dining restaurants, luxurious hotels and street cafes.

Hanoi's Tourist Highlights:
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum dedicated to the most revered man of the country. This is where Ho Chi Minh rests permanently. Visiting the mausoleum, the visitors are to be respectful both in dress (long pants and sleeved-shirts) and in attitude. All electronic devices such as cameras, hand phones...are to be deposited before entering the mausoleum.
Opening hours: 08:00 - 11:00 A.M except for Monday and Friday.

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
President Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

The Presidential Palace and Ho Chi Minh’s Houses: Perfect French and hill tribe architecture, nice park and interesting history. The Presidential Palace was the General Governor of Indochina Building, now it's the office of the president of Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh Houses were where he lived from 1954 - 1969. There's also a former bomb shelter nearby.
Opening hours: 08:00 -11:00 and 13:30 - 16:00. On Monday and Friday: 08:00 - 11:00.

 
The Presidential Palace Hanoi Vietnam
The Presidential Palace
 
 
Ho Chi Minh House on stilts Hanoi Vietnam
President Ho Chi Minh's house on stilts

The One-pillar Pagoda: One of the unofficial symbols of Hanoi, dedicated to the Goddess of Mercy. It was first built by Kinh Ly Thanh Tong who happened to have a dream being led to a lotus flower pond. It turned out that was not a good dream and to clear the omen the Pagoda wast built in 1049. The original one was destroyed by the French. The current one was rebuilt later right at the former site which used to be the Royal Garden.

One Pillar Pagoda Hanoi Vietnam
The One Pillar Pagoda
 
Tran Quoc Pagoda, Quan Thanh temple and the West Lake are all located to the west of the Old Quarter with leafy streets, stunning lakes and cozy sidewalk and floating cafes. The Tran Quoc Pagoda (Nation-founding Pagoda) located on the Golden Fish Peninsula in the West Lake (Ho Tay) was built first in 545 A.D. It represents the independence tradition  of Vietnam and was built by King Ly Nam De who got short-lived independence back to the country from the Chinese that time. Quan Thanh Temple was built in 1010 dedicated to a magician or a patron saint who helped the locals against the bad spirits.

Water Puppet Performance: Thang Long Water Puppet Theater is located on one corner of Hoan Kiem Lake and near the Old Quarter. This is claimed to be a unique art of Vietnam which was invented by the residents of the Red River Delta to entertain themselves in the flood days.

Hanoi Opera House is located in the French Quarter with Frech style. There are different shows for Vietnamese dramas, performances, music performances with musician from around the world. The performance calendar is advertised on local newspapers such as Vietnam News and tickets can be obtained at the entrance.

Hanoi Opera House
Hanoi Opera House

Hanoi offers many museums which offer good understanding of Vietnam.
History Museum shows the history of Vietnam with antiques artifacts. The museum is located on Tran Quang Khai Street, behind the Opera House of Ha Noi.
Open hours: 07:30 - 11:30 & 13:30 - 16:30. Closed on Monday.

 

Vietnam History Museum in Hanoi
Vietnam History Museum in Hanoi

Army Museum: History of the country and of the country army from 1930 with the formation of the Communist Party. There are many good artifacts including wreckage of B52 bombers, F111 fighter aircrafts and different kinds of weapons from the war. The museum is located on Dien Bien Phu Street, the Ancient Citadel Area.
Open hours: 07:30 - 11:30 & 13:30 - 16:30. Closed on Monday and Friday.

Hanoi Army Museum
Hanoi's Army Museum with artifacts from the wars in Vietnam

Ethnology Museum display very good information about the different ethnic groups of the peoples of Vietnam. It also has amazing collections of the Vietnamese traditional houses. The museum is located on Nguyen Van Huyen Street, 7km from the city center.
Open hours: 07:30 - 11:30 & 13:30 - 16:30. Closed on Monday.

Hanoi Ethnology Museum
Nha Rong of the Banar People at Hanoi Ethnology Museum

Fine Arts Museum: surprising traditional fine arts of Vietnam along the nation’s history including ceramics, paintings, sculptures. The museum also has an amazing collection of Vietnamese contemporary fine arts. The museum is located on Nguyen Thai Hoc Street, behind the Temple of Literature.
Open hours: 07:30 - 11:30 & 13:30 - 16:30. Closed on Monday.

Ho Chi Minh Museum: Ho Chi Minh’s life and Vietnamese history
Open hours: 07:30 - 11:30 & 13:30 - 16:30. Closed on Monday and Friday.

Air force Museum: Vietnamese air force and aircraft displays. The museum is located on Truong Chinh Street, 7 km from the city center.
Open hours: 07:30 - 11:30 & 13:30 - 16:30. Closed on Monday and Friday.

Women Museum: Vietnamese women achievements including collections of traditional women costumes and modern fashion designs. The museum is located on Ly Thuong Kiet Street.
Open hours: 07:30 - 11:30 & 13:30 - 16:30. Closed on Monday and Friday.

Ho Chi Minh Trails Museum: the legendary Ho Chi Minh trails. The museum is located 25 km far from the city center. You take a taxi and drive past Ha Dong Town (Ha Tay Province), near Ba Na Bong Do.
Open hours: 07:30 - 11:30 & 13:30 - 16:30. Closed on Monday and Friday.

Hoa Lo Prison Museum: used to be called “Hanoi Hilton”, home to the US prisoners of war. The museum is located on Hoa Lo Street, between Ly Thuong Kiet Street and Hai Ba Trung Street.
Open hours: 07:30 - 11:30 & 13:30 - 16:30. Closed on Monday.

Hanoi Hoa Lo Prison
Hanoi's former Hoa Lo Prison

Travel and Tours

Hanoi can be explored for 1-2 days depending on the interests of the travellers. For those interested in temples and pagodas, there are many around, some were dated back to the 6th century B.C. Hanoi is where you can find the best museums in Vietnam ranging from history, fine arts, women... to ethnology. Touring the museums is a good way to learn about Vietnam, especially for the travelers who have a limited amount of time for their travel & tours.

Hanoi Street food
Street dining in Hanoi could be as sensational as at any fine-dining restaurants in town

Thong Nhat Park, Botanical Garden, the Zoo and the West Lake are good places for those who like to get fresh air and to get relaxed. The Old Quarter of Hanoi offers exotic traffic experience, good shopping items, traditional culinary experience and the exotic old markets. The French Quarter is where you find the French influence in the weathered colonial architecture and fine-dining delights.

Hanoi is a good base to explore the surrounding countryside and the mountains of northern Vietnam. From Hanoi you can day-trip to the heart of the Red River Delta with fresh green rice paddies, towering rock formations and century-old temples and pagodas. For the active and adventure travellers, then there are plenty of opportunities to join in the adventures of a life-time with trekking or biking expeditions to the far northern mountains.

The The Huc Bridge Hanoi Vietnam
The The Huc Bridge (The Bridge of the First Sun Beams) at the Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi

Accommodation
There is a wide choice of accommodations in Hanoi ranging from basic family-run hotels to luxurious 5 star ones. Those around the Old Quarter and the French Quarter have the highest rates of the same categories and very convenient for touring, dining and shopping. Booking accommodation in Hanoi is difficult in high tourist seasons and early bookings are recommended.

Getting there and away
By air:  There are daily flights between Ha Noi and major cities in Vietnam such as Hue, Dien Bien Phu, Da Nang, Nha Trang, Da Lat and Ho Chi Minh City.

There are also direct flights between Ha Noi and major hubs in the world such as those in the US, Europe, Australia, Japan and other South East Asian countries. Please contact Paradissa Travel for further details for the flights from your location.

Hanoi Noi Bai Airport
Hanoi Noi Bai Airport

By train: There are daily trains between Ha Noi and other cities in Vietnam such as Ho Chi Minh City, Nha Trang, Da Nang, Hue, Quang Binh, Quang Tri....The trains are in fairly good conditions with hard seats, soft seats, air-con soft sleepers....But they are not yet to be luxurious. The trains between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City take 30 hours to 42 hours depending on each type. There’s also a tourist train for the travellers who wish to travel between Beijing and Hanoi.

By road: The road system is Vietnam has been dramatically improved since 2000. There are daily buses between Hanoi and most other destinations in Vietnam. You can also travel between Hanoi and Vientiane (Laos) by road.

Hanoi Old Quarter
The Old Quarter of Hanoi Vietnam

Getting around
On foot: Ha Noi is fairly a small capital city and can be explored on foot in 1-2 days with a relaxing pace. The Old Quarter, the French Quarter and the West Lake areas are good for walking tours. The only thing to be remembered when taking part in the exotic traffic of Hanoi is to move slowly and decisively forward. Other vehicles will weave around you. The crossing-stripes and traffic lights are for decoration and for luring tourists onto the streets only. For many travellers, traffic in Vietnam has been highlights of their tours.

Xe Om (motorbike taxi): There are many Xe Oms around every street corner of Hanoi. You must remember that it’s fun and somewhat adventurous traveling on motorbike, still the price has to be agreed before setting off.

Taxi: There are many taxi companies operating in the city. There are ubiquitous that you don’t have to remember their contact details.