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Ha Noi

Hà Nội, literally the “city between the rivers”, is the capital and second biggest city of Viet Nam. The historical Old Town, the colonial French Quarter, ancient temples of more than thousand years of age and various scenic lakes and landmarks make up one of the most fascinating cities of Southeast Asia, with a mix of Chinese and French influences enriching the vibrant Vietnamese culture.

 

The compact city centre is bordered by the Red River (Song Hong) to the east as well as to the north and a railway line to the west with the Hoan Kiem Lake nowadays being its focal point of public life and an excellent point of orientation. North of the lake lies Hanoi’s historic heart, the Old Quarter (Phố Cổ Hà Nội). Most of the street names still originate from the 13th century when every guild had its own street, usually called “Hàng” meaning “merchandise” followed by the name of the product, which is produced or sold there. Since at that time the tax depended on the width of the house frontage, the area is famous for its so-called tube houses, buildings with narrow frontages of two to three metres with a length of 20 to 60 metres.

 

The city’s most prominent sights include the Temple of Literature (Văn Miếu), site of the oldest university in Vietnam dating back to 1070, the One-Pillar Pagoda (Chùa Một Cột), one of Viet Nam’s most iconic temples, the Flag Tower of Hanoi (Cột cờ Hà Nội), one of the few remains of the old Hanoi Citadel and one of the symbols of the city and many museums.

 

Hanoi’s narrow and crowded streets filled with various exotic scents, hawkers weaving through motorbikes and cyclos overloaded with fruits, livestock as well as human cargo create this unique fusion of old and new making it a reflection of the rapid changes the country is recently going through. There’s no better way of exploring this spirit of Hanoi than wandering around the streets, soaking up its sights, sounds and smells.

 

Hanoi's population of about 3.4 million is constantly growing (about 3.5% per year), a reflection of the fact that the city is both the economic heart of northern Vietnam and also the country's political center. Long-time residents of Hanoi are increasingly rare, even in the Old Quarter, where merchant families have lived for generations. Now, established merchants are just as likely to rent their storefront space and live elsewhere. Viet Nam is still a socialist country, but you'll find that people in Ha Noi, like many Vietnamese, have embraced capitalism with gusto.

 

Hanoi has been capital of Vietnam for nearly a thousand years, during which the city has endured numerous invasions, occupations, restorations and name changes. The Chinese ruled Hanoi and much of Vietnam off and on for centuries, until a Vietnamese general named Le Loi (the later King Le Thai To) finally secured the nation's independence in 1428. It wasn't until 1831 that the Nguyen Dynasty renamed the city Ha Noi, which can be translated as “Between Rivers” or “River Interior”. In mid-1800s, Viet Nam was colonized by the French and Ha Noi became capital of French Indochina in 1887.

 

The French administration imposed significant political and cultural changes on Vietnamese society. A Western-style system of modern education was developed, and Christianity was introduced into Vietnamese society. In addition, it was also the development of plantation economies to promote the exports of tobacco, indigo, tea and coffee. The French colonialists largely ignored increasing calls for self-government and civil rights.

 

A nationalist political movement soon emerged, with leaders such as Phan Boi Chau, Phan Chu Trinh, Emperor Ham Nghi and Ho Chi Minh calling for independence. During the Second World War the Japanese occupied Hanoi and the rest of Viet Nam (1940-1945), exploited the country for its natural resources. With the end of the war, the French resumed control of their colony. In response, Ho Chi Minh launched a liberation movement that led to eight bloody years of war with France. The French finally withdrew in 1954, leaving Vietnam divided in half at the 17th parallel, with Ho Chi Minh's communist Democratic Republic of Vietnam based in the north, and the Republic of Vietnam in the south.

 

It follows the bitter Vietnam War (the American War), during which Ha Noi suffered from heavy bombardments. Ha Noi became the capital of Vietnam when North and South Vietnam were formally reunited in July 1976.

 

 

Ha Noi: Getting around and transportation

 

Air: The international airport Noi Bai of Ha Noi has fewer direct international flights compared to HCMC, but most international destinations can be reached by direct flights. Vietnam Airlines (Tel. 3 943 9660, 25 Phố Tràng Thi) connects Ha Noi to destinations throughout Vietnam. Popular routes include to Da Nang, Dien Bien Phu, HCMC, Hue and Nha Trang, all served daily. Jetstar Pacific Airlines (Tel. 3 974 5555, 193 Ba Trieu Street) also offers daily flights to Da Nang and HCMC.

 

Bus: Ha Noi has a number of long-distance bus stations, each serves a particular area. The bus stations are quite well organized, with ticket offices, fixed prices and printed schedules. You should consider buying tickets the day before you plan to travel on the longer-distance routes to ensure a seat. Kim Ma bus station in central Ha Noi (corner Nguyen Thai Hoc and Giang Vo) has buses to the north-western part of Vietnam. Gia Lam bus station (Tel. 3 827 1569, Ngoc Lam Street) is dedicated for buses to destinations northeast of Hanoi, including Ha Long Bay (40 Thousand Dong, 3.5 hours), Hai Phong (35 Thousand Dong, 2 hours), Lang Son (50 Thousand Dong, 3 hours).

 

The bus station is 2km northeast of the city centre (taxi around 50 Thousand Dong). Better to reach is the Luong Yen bus station in the southeast of town, serving the same places. Giap Bat bus station, which is 7 km south of Ha Noi (Tel. 3 864 1467, Giai Phong Street) serves areas south of Hanoi, including Ninh Binh (28 Thousand Dong, 2 hours) and Hue (80 Thousand Dong, 12 hours). Another alternative is My Dinh bus station (Tel. 3 768 5549, Pham Hung Street), which serves a range of destinations, including Ha Long, Lang Son, Cao Bang, Dien Bien Phu. Many open-ticket tours through Vietnam (like Sinhcafe) start or finish in Hanoi. Tourist-style minibuses (also private tour) can be booked through most hotels and cafés. Popular destinations include Ha Long Bay and Sapa. Open buses leave usually in the evening: ${bigcity_Hoi_An:"Hoi An"} (US$13, 18 hours), ${bigcity_Hue:"Hue"} (US$10, 13 hours), ${bigcity_Nha_Trang:"Nha Trang"} (US$20, 31 hours), ${bigcity_Ho_Chi_Minh_City:”Saigon”} (US$25, 42 hours).

 

Train: The main Hang Co train station of Ha Noi (Tel. 3 825 3949; 120 Le Duan Street) serves trains going south. English speaking staff (counter 2) is dedicated to help foreigners to purchase tickets, which would be best to buy at least one day in advance, for example to ensure a seat or sleeper. Trains going north (Lao Cai and Lang Son) and east (Hai Phong) however, depart from Gia Lam (eastern side of the Red River). The webpage of the Viet Nam Rail (Duong Sat Viet Nam; www.vr.com.vn) with some current timetables is however still in an improvable status.

 

Taxis: There are a lot of bad stories about taxis in Ha Noi, which is known for bad reputation. Ask a restaurant or hotel to call one for you to insure you don’t get cheated. The following taxi companies have good reputations: Airport Taxi (Tel. 3 873-333), Hanoi Taxi (Tel. 3 853-5353), Mai Linh Taxi (Tel. 3 822-2666)

West Lake

vietnam.com 2013-09-12

The West Lake, which is more precisely on the northwest part of the city, is the largest among lakes in Ha Noi. Former time, the West Lake was an integral part of the Red river. As the Red River changed course, the lake has formed its own shape. The West Lake is the source of many legends associated...

Hoan Kiem Lake

vietnam.com 2013-09-12

Hồ Hoàn Kiếm (Lake of the Returned Sword) was once a part of the Red river (Song Hong). Through thousands of years of changes in the geography, the lake moved to its present position far away from the river. The lake is the focal point in the old quarter of Ha Noi. According to the legend, during...

The Hanoi Old Quarter

vietnam.com 2013-09-23

As Vietnam’s capital and center of tourism and trade in the country, Hanoi is an entirely busy city. Hundreds of motorbikes, SUVs and buses spiraling the streets while thousands of pedestrians walk about from one store to other and pushing their way through the noisy crowd is an everyday scenario...

Hanoi: places of interest

vietnam.com 2013-09-12

As the capital of Vietnam for almost a thousand years, Ha Noi is one of the cultural center of Viet Nam. Despite the battles of the many wars and several occupations, Ha Noi retains much of its historic atmosphere.

Fine Arts Museum

vietnam.com 2013-09-12

The Vietnam National Fine Arts Museum (Bảo tàng Mỹ Thuật Việt Nam, admission 20,000 Dong) is located in Nguyen Thai Hoc Street, Hanoi. It has become a prime tourist destination, since the museum exhibits in great detail the history of fine arts in Vietnam displaying comprehensive collections with...

One-Pillar Pagoda (Chùa Một Cột)

vietnam.com 2013-09-12

Close-by the impressive presidential palace is a treasure and a landmark of Ha Noi. It appears somewhat bizarre, but is a small and fine gem: „the Một Cột Pagoda” (One-Pillar Pagoda). The name is immediately evident, its second name is Pagoda of the goddess Quan Âm. Quan Âm is the goddess of the...

Luala Café: Fine Dining and Fashion

vietnam.com 2013-09-12

A new coffee shop has opened in Hanoi. And in line with the capital city’s fine dining and fashion trend, Luala Café sits at par with its competitors by offering contemporary gourmet cuisine, light meals and high-quality beverages in a luxurious four-storey boutique style establishment.

Quan An Ngon Restaurant

vietnam.com 2013-09-12

"Quan An Ngon got started in Ho-Chi-Minh City five years ago, and judging by the lunch and evening crowds, its new Ha Noi branch seems to be as popular as its southern predecessor.

Cha Ca La Vong Restaurant

vietnam.com 2013-09-12

This is a restaurant (with another location in Ba Dinh) with a long tradition, operated by family Doan since several generations. It is said to be Vietnam’s oldest restaurant located in Hanoi.

Dinh Lang Thuy Ta Restaurant

vietnam.com 2013-09-12

Set right on Lake Hoan Kiem this restaurant has a great view of the lake and the lake side shops as it is set on the first floor of a stand alone building.

Street Fruit Extraordinaire

vietnam.com 2013-09-12

During summer, and even on ordinary days, there’s nothing better than digging your teeth into fresh, cool fruits to beat the heat. But in the streets of Vietnam, eating fruits plain and simple doesn’t cut it. Hanoians are especially particular with their food and even fruits have to be jazzed up for...

La Verticale Restaurant

vietnam.com 2013-09-12

On a side street in the centre of Hanoi, right next to a lovely little art gallery, La Verticale, a wonderful French/Vietnamese restaurant sits. Though in Hanoi it is looked by many as among the classiest places to dine, it is also a place where people want a pure moment of discovery. Probably this...

Grand Plaza Hanoi Hotel

vietnam.com 2013-06-25

Located on Tran Duy Hung Street, adjacent to the National Convention Center, Grand Plaza Hanoi Hotel is in the heart of the new administration, business and up-scale residential area of Hanoi.

The Splendid Star Grand Hotel

vietnam.com 2013-06-25

The Splendid Star Grand Hotel is a new extension of the local family-owned Splendid Star group. It is located near the center of the Old Quarter, with only a 5 minute walk to Hoan Kiem Lake. We are located on a small street next to St. Joseph’s Cathedral, away from the busy traffic of Hanoi. There...

Golden Lake Hotel

vietnam.com 2013-06-25

Golden Lake hotel is ideally located at the very heart of Hanoi, surrounded by many cafes, restaurants and typical shops, especially just a minute walk to the famous Hoan Kiem Lake.

Asian Ruby Hanoi Hotel

vietnam.com 2013-06-25

Welcome to dynamic Hanoi. The city of the old and the new, the traditional and the modern. This place boasts elegant French-style colonial architecture, all alongside with high-rise buildings, excellent food, lively temples and top fashions and the trendy. With wise location in the heart of Hanoi,...

Splendid Star Suite Hotel

vietnam.com 2013-06-25

Splendid Star Suite is the result from learning serving-client experiences at three of our prior hotels, aiming at satisfying customers best. Splendid Star Suite is an excellent blend of modern architecture and tasteful design; also all rooms come with a balcony or a large window with large space,...

Ariva Eden Hotel Hanoi

vietnam.com 2013-06-25

Right in the centre of Hanoi, delighted by scenes of the city, held in an exquisite combination of classic European and Asian architecture, bearing fine art in each interior detail, built from strictly selected materials, the Ariva Eden Hotel Hanoi offers various services that create a luxury...

What other people think Create New Comment

Amazing Sharing

Irfanji 2010-05-14

I Like also veitnam, when i see these picture,i remember my last visit,thsi is a great place,thanks for remembring my memories,

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Important information for me!

M S Rahman 2010-05-14

This year I am planning to travel Vietnam, specially Hanoi city for my paper presentation. This website contains lots of information about Vietnam and Hanoi. Thanx.

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Ha Noi

Bradley Cox 2010-05-11

Vietnam has so many good places to visit just like Ha Noi

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Nice Place

isshmen 2010-04-28

I will visit Vietnam, Ha Noi this summer.. I hope to find here many friends..

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nice Hanoi

taradita 2010-04-28

Hanoi has been inhabited since at least 3000 BC. One of the first known permanent settlements is the Co Loa citadel (Cổ Loa) founded around 200 BC.

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Hanoi

knug 2010-04-28

Reading this article makes me remember when I watched vietnam war movies much. This town almost always used as a background, I think Hanoi is such a nice place to visit.

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Best way to experience Vietnam

R.S.Dennie 2010-04-17

If you want to make the most of your Vietnam experience, Ha Noi is the very place to start off. The whole city packed with French architecture, beautiful lakes, excellent restaurants, and really busy streets with lots of people, cars and motorbikes rushing about will give tourists a truly Vietnamese cultural experience. Its got the best hotels around which are priced just right, and the food - - - awesome!

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