The The Huc Bridge at Hoan Kiem Lake, in Hanoi
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 city just freshly green all year round. Hanoi was first built in 1010 by King Ly Thai To who checked and found out that Fengshui 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's architecture is a 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.
 
Traffic in the Old Quarter of Hanoi
Traffic in the Old Quarter of Hanoi
 
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 north-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 of Friday, Saturday 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 one of the most revered men of the Vietnam. 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 north-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 who often haunted their life.

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 musicians 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 displays 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
 

What to do, Travel and Tours, Holidays and Vacations in Hanoi

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 date 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 in Vietnam.

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 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 in 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 in 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
 
For luxury travel in Hanoi, Paradissa would recommend:
- Staying at the century-old 5-star hotel, one of the best rated luxury hotels in Vietnam. The hotel is located right in the French Quarter.
- Dining at the renowned and elegant fine-dining restaurants in town for the best cuisine of northern Vietnam.
- Visiting the city’s historical and cultural landmarks accompanied by a knowledgeable tour guide from Paradissa.
- Visiting the Ethnology Museum, the Fine Arts Museum, the Women Museum which helps you with good understanding of the Vietnamese peoples, arts and fashion trends.
- Sampling the great coffee of Vietnam by the Great Cathedral or in the Old Quarter.
The Old Quarter of Hanoi
The Old Quarter of Hanoi

For shutterbugs, Paradissa offers photo tours in Hanoi which help you to capture the Heart and Soul of the capital city. The tour takes a full day from dawn to dark.

For foodies, Paradissa offers Hanoi cooking tours & Hanoi street food tours which guarantees your satisfaction.

For city adventure tours, Paradissa offers tours of Hanoi on the back of a motorbike which whisk you to less-seen corners of the city and which engage you into amazing life in Hanoi day and night!
 
For golfers, Hanoi has several international standard golf courses in the city itself. Besides, Hanoi is the base city for playing golf games at the finest golf courses in Vietnam which are located just outside the city. Paradissa offers Hanoi luxury golf tours and Vietnam luxury golf holidays. Please do not hesitate to contact us for a customized luxury golf vacation of your dream!
 
Hanoi has several tour companies and tour operators. When you contact a tour company or a tour operator for your vacation in Hanoi and/or in Vietnam, then it is indispensable you keep it clear:
- The tour companies or tour operators have to possess the legitimate licenses: they must be permitted and licensed by Vietnam National Administration of Tourism. This could be easily checked directly with Vietnam National Administration of Tourism itself or with Hanoi Tourism Department. There are quite a few so called tour companies, travel agencies and tour operators and they have no licenses at all. Doing business with a legitimate company, you are most guaranteed with a hassle-free vacation. Should situations come up, the licensed company has the means to cover the losses if any for you.

- The staff of the tour companies or tour operators have to be fluent in English or your native language. This is to keep communications clear. Misunderstandings due to language barriers may complicate the matters: you get what you don’t wish for and they wont’ be helpful when something should come up.

- The staff have to be experienced and quick in responding to your requests. This ensures your travel wishes are well understood from the beginning and that you get what you wish for and have paid for. Experienced staff are helpful and make your vacation a wonderful experience from the beginning!
 
A panorama of Hoan Kiem Lake in central Hanoi, Vietnam
A panorama of Hoan Kiem Lake in central Hanoi, Vietnam
 

Accommodation in Hanoi
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.

How to travel to and from Hanoi/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, Phu Quoc Island 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

How to get around Hanoi
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, experiencing the traffic in Vietnam has been among 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. They are ubiquitous that you don’t have to remember their contact details.