As the capital of Vietnam for almost a thousand years, Hanoi is considered one of the main cultural centres of Vietnam, where most Vietnamese dynasties have left their imprint. Even though some relics have not survived through wars and time, the city still has many interesting cultural and historic monuments for visitors and residents alike. Even when the nation's capital moved to Huế under the Nguyễn Dynasty in 1802, the city of Hanoi continued to flourish, especially after the French took control in 1888 and modeled the city's architecture to their tastes, lending an important aesthetic to the city's rich stylistic heritage. The city hosts more cultural sites than any other city in Vietnam, and boasts more than 1,000 years of history; that of the past few hundred years has been well preserved.
8. Old Quarter
The Old Quarter, near Hoàn Kiếm Lake, maintains most of the original street layout and some of the architecture of old Hanoi. At the beginning of the 20th century Hanoi consisted of the "36 streets", the citadel, and some of the newer French buildings south of Hoàn Kiếm lake, most of which are now part of Hoàn Kiếm district. Each street had merchants and households specializing in a particular trade, such as silk, jewelry or even bamboo. The street names still reflect these specializations, although few of them remain exclusively in their original commerce. The area is famous for its specializations in trades such as traditional medicine and local handicrafts, including silk shops, bamboo carpenters, and tin smiths. Local cuisine specialties as well as several clubs and bars can be found here also. A night market (near Đồng Xuân Market) in the heart of the district opens for business every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evening with a variety of clothing, souvenirs and food.
Some other prominent places include the Temple of Literature (Văn Miếu), site of the oldest university in Vietnam which was started in 1010, the One Pillar Pagoda (Chùa Một Cột) which was built based on the dream of king Lý Thái Tông (1028-1054) in 1049, and the Flag Tower of Hanoi (Cột cờ Hà Nội). In 2004, a massive part of the 900-year-old Hanoi Citadel was discovered in central Hanoi, near the site of Ba Đình Square.
A city between rivers built on lowlands, Hanoi has many scenic lakes and is sometimes called the "city of lakes." Among its lakes, the most famous are Hoàn Kiếm Lake, West Lake/Hồ Tây, and Bảy Mẫu Lake (inside Thống Nhất Park). Hoàn Kiếm Lake, also known as Sword Lake, is the historical and cultural center of Hanoi, and is linked to the legend of the magic sword. West Lake (Hồ Tây) is a popular place for people to spend time. It is the largest lake in Hanoi, with many temples in the area. The lakeside road in the Nghi Tam – Quang Ba area is perfect for bicycling, jogging and viewing the cityscape or enjoying the lotus ponds in the summer. The best way to see the majestic beauty of a West Lake sunset is to view it from one of the many bars around the lake, especially from The Summit at Pan Pacific Hanoi (formally known as Summit Lounge at Sofitel Plaza Hanoi).
10. Colonial Hanoi
Under French rule, as an administrative centre for the French colony of Indochina, the French colonial architecture style became dominant, and many examples remain today: the tree-lined boulevards (e.g. Phan Dinh Phung street) and its many villas, mansions, and government buildings. Many of the colonial structures are an eclectic mixture of French and traditional Vietnamese architectural styles, such as the National Museum of Vietnamese History, the Vietnam National Museum of Fine Arts and the old Indochina Medical College. Gouveneur-Général Paul Doumer (1898-1902) played a crucial role in colonial Hanoi's urban planning. Under his tenure there was a major construction boom.
Notable French Colonial landmarks in Hanoi include:
Presidential Palace; Grand Opera House; St. Joseph's Cathedral; Long Biên Bridge; Grand Palais; French School of the Far East; Hotel Metropole; Tonkin Palace (State Guest House); Hỏa Lò Prison;Cửa Bắc Church; Ministry of Foreign Affairs building; Supreme Court building; Indochina Medical College; Museum of Revolution; Central Station;
Hanoi is home to a number of museums: National Museum of Vietnamese History; Vietnam National Museum of Fine Arts; Vietnam Museum of Ethnology; Vietnam Museum of Revolution; Hỏa Lò Prison; Ho Chi Minh Museum; Hanoi Contemporary Arts Centre; Vietnam Military History Museum; Hanoi Museum;
Hanoi is sometimes dubbed the "Paris of the East" for its French influences. With its tree-fringed boulevards, more than two dozen lakes and thousands of French colonial-era buildings, Hanoi is a popular tourist destination.
The tourist destinations in Hanoi are generally grouped into two main areas: the Old Quarter and the French Quarter(s). The "Old Quarter" is in the northern half of Hoàn Kiếm District with small street blocks and alleys, and a traditional Vietnamese atmosphere. Many streets in the Old Quarter have names signifying the goods ("hàng") the local merchants were or are specialized in. For example, "Hàng Bạc" (silver stores) still have many stores specializing in trading silver and jewelries.
Two areas are generally called the "French Quarters": the governmental area in Ba Đình District and the south of Hoàn Kiếm District. Both areas have distinctive French Colonial style villas and broad tree-lined avenues. The political center of Vietnam, Ba Đình has a high concentration of Vietnamese government headquarters, including the Presidential Palace, the National Assembly and several ministries and embassies, most of which used administrative buildings of colonial French Indochina. The One Pillar Pagoda, the Lycée du Protectorat and the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum are also in Ba Dinh. South of Hoàn Kiếm's "French Quarter" has several French-Colonial landmarks, including the Hanoi Opera House, the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi hotel, the National Museum of Vietnamese History (formerly the École française d'Extrême-Orient), and the St. Joseph's Cathedral. Most of the French-Colonial buildings in Hoan Kiem are now used as foreign embassies.
Since 2014, Hanoi has consistently been voted in the world's top ten destinations by TripAdvisor. It ranked 8th in 2014, 4th in 2015 and 8th in 2016. Hanoi is the most affordable international destination in TripAdvisor's annual TripIndex report. In 2017, Hanoi will welcome more than 5 million international tourists.
A variety of options for entertainment in Hanoi can be found throughout the city. Modern and traditional theaters, cinemas, karaoke bars, dance clubs, bowling alleys, and an abundance of opportunities for shopping provide leisure activity for both locals and tourists. Hanoi has been named one of the top 10 cities for shopping in Asia by Water Puppet Tours. The number of art galleries exhibiting Vietnamese art has dramatically increased in recent years, now including galleries such as "Nhat Huy" of Huynh Thong Nhat.
Nhà Triển Lãm at 29 Hang Bai street hosts regular photo, sculpture, and paint exhibitions in conjuncture with local artists and travelling international expositions.
A popular traditional form of entertainment is Water puppetry, which is shown, for example, at the Thăng Long Water Puppet Theatre.
To adapt to Hanoi's rapid economic growth and high population density, many modern shopping centers and megamalls have been opened in Hanoi.
Major malls are:
+ Trang Tien Plaza, High-end Mall on Trang Tien street (right next to Hoàn Kiếm Lake), Hoàn Kiếm District
+ Vincom Center, a modern mall with hi-end CGV cineplex, Ba Trieu Street (just 2 km from Hoan Kiem lake), Hai Bà Trưng District
+ Parkson Department Store, Tây Sơn Street, Đống Đa District;
+ The Garden Shopping Center, Me Tri – Mỹ Đình, Nam Từ Liêm District;
+ Indochina Plaza, Xuan Thuy street, Cầu Giấy District;
+ Vincom Royal City Megamall, the largest underground mall in Asia with 230,000 square metres of shops, restaurants, cineplex, waterpark, ice skating rink; Nguyen Trai street (approx 6 km from Hoan Kiem Lake), Thanh Xuân District;
+ Vincom Times City Megamall, another megamall of 230,000 square metres including shops, restaurants, cineplex, huge musical fountain on central square and a giant aquarium; Minh Khai street (approx 5 km from Hoan Kiem Lake), Hai Ba Trung district;
+ Lotte Department Store, opened September 2014, Liễu Giai Street, Ba Đình District;
+ Aeon Mall Long Bien opened last October 2015, Long Bien District;
Hanoi has rich culinary traditions. Many of Vietnam's most famous dishes, such as phở, chả cá, bánh cuốn and cốm are believed to have originated in Hanoi. Perhaps most widely known is Phở - a simple rice noodle soup often eaten as breakfast at home or at street-side cafes, but also served in restaurants as a meal. Two varieties dominate the Hanoi scene: Phở Bò, containing beef and Phở Gà, containing chicken. Bún chả, a dish consisting of charcoal roasted pork served in a sweet/salty soup with rice noodle vermicelli and lettuce, is by far the most popular food item among locals. President Obama famously tried this dish at a Le Van Huu eatery with Anthony Bourdain in 2016, prompting the opening of a Bún chả restaurant bearing his name in the Old Quarter.
Vietnam's national dish phở has been named as one of the Top 5 street foods in the world by globalpost.
Hanoi has a number of restaurants whose menus specifically offer dishes containing snake and various species of insects. Insect-inspired menus can be found at a number of restaurants in Khuong Thuong village, Hanoi. The signature dishes at these restaurant are those containing processed ant-eggs, often in the culinary styles of Thai people or Vietnam's Muong and Tay ethnic people. Dog eating used to be popular in Hanoi in 1990s and early 2000s but is now dying out quickly due to strong objections.
Hanoi, as the capital of French Indochina, was home to the first Western-style universities in Indochina, including: Indochina Medical College (1902) – now Hanoi Medical University, Indochina University (1904) – now Hanoi National University (the largest), and École Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de l'Indochine (1925) – now Hanoi University of Fine Art.
After the Communist Party of Vietnam took control of Hanoi in 1954, many new universities were built, among them, Hanoi University of Science and Technology, still the largest technical university in Vietnam. Recently ULIS (University of Languages and International Studies) was rated as one of the top universities in south-east Asia for languages and language studies at the undergraduate level. Other universities that are not part of Vietnam National University or Hanoi University include Hanoi School for Public Health, Hanoi School of Agriculture, Electric Power University and University of Transport and Communications.
Hanoi is the largest center of education in Vietnam. It is estimated that 62% of the scientists in the whole country are living and working in Hanoi. Admissions to undergraduate study are through entrance examinations, which are conducted annually and open to everyone (who has successfully completed his/her secondary education) in the country. The majority of universities in Hanoi are public, although in recent years a number of private universities have begun operation. Thăng Long University, founded in 1988, by Vietnamese mathematics professors in Hanoi and France was the first private university in Vietnam. Because many of Vietnam's major universities are located in Hanoi, students from other provinces (especially in the northern part of the country) wishing to enter university often travel to Hanoi for the annual entrance examination. Such events usually take place in June and July, during which a large number of students and their families converge on the city for several weeks around the intense examination period. In recent years, these entrance exams have been centrally coordinated by the Ministry of Education, but entrance requirements are decided independently by each university.
Although there are state owned kindergartens, there are also many private ventures that serve both local and international needs. Pre-tertiary (elementary and secondary) schools in Hanoi are generally state run, but there are also some independent schools. Education is equivalent to the K–12 system in the U.S., with elementary school between grades 1 and 5, middle school (or junior high) between grades 6 and 9, and high school from grades 10 to 12.
Education levels are much higher within the city of Hanoi in comparison to the suburban areas outside the city. About 33.8% of the labor force in the city has completed secondary school in contrast to 19.4% in the suburbs. 21% of the labor force in the city has completed tertiary education in contrast to 4.1% in the suburbs.
Country-wide educational change is difficult in Vietnam, due to the restrictive control of the government on social and economic development strategies. According to Hanoi government publications, the national system of education was reformed in 1950, 1956 and 1970. It was not until 1975 when the two separate education systems of the former North and South Vietnam territories became unified under a single national system. In Hanoi in December 1996, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam stated that: "To carry out industrialization and modernization successfully, it is necessary to develop education and training strongly [and to] maximize human resources, the key factor of fast and sustained development.
Hanoi is served by Noi Bai International Airport, located in the Soc Son District, approximately 15 km (9 mi) north of Hanoi. The new international terminal (T2), designed and built by Japanese contractors, opened in January 2015 and is a big facelift for Noibai International Airport. In addition, a new highway and the new Nhat Tan cable-stay bridge connecting the airport and the city center opened at the same time, offering much more convenience than the old road (via Thanglong bridge). Taxis are plentiful and usually have meters, although it is also common to agree on the trip price before taking a taxi from the airport to the city centre.
Hanoi is also the origin or departure point for many Vietnam Railways train routes in the country. The Reunification Express (tàu Thống Nhất) runs from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City from Hanoi station (formerly Hang Co station), with stops at cities and provinces along the line. Trains also depart Hanoi frequently for Hai Phong and other northern cities. The Reunification Express line was established during French colonial rule and was completed over a period of nearly forty years, from 1899 to 1936. The Reunification Express between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City covers a distance of 1,726 km (1,072 mi) and takes approximately 33 hours. As of 2005, there were 278 stations on the Vietnamese railway network, of which 191 were located along the North-South line.
The main means of transport within Hanoi city are motorbikes, buses, taxis, and a rising number of cars. In recent decades, motorbikes have overtaken bicycles as the main form of transportation. Cars however are probably the most notable change in the past five years as many Vietnamese people purchase the vehicles for the first time. The increased number of cars are the main cause gridlock as roads and infrastructure in the older parts of Hanoi were not designed to accommodate them. On 4 July 2017, the Hanoi government voted to ban motorbikes entirely by 2030, in order to reduce pollution, congestion, and encourage the expansion and use of public transport.
There are two metro lines under construction in Hanoi now, as part of the master plan for the future Hanoi Metro system. The first line is expected to be operational in 2019, and the second in 2022.
Persons on their own or traveling in a pair who wish to make a fast trip around Hanoi to avoid traffic jams or to travel at an irregular time or by way of an irregular route often use "xe ôm" (literally, "hug bike"). Motorbikes can also be rented from agents within the Old Quarter of Hanoi, although this falls inside a rather grey legal area.
There are several gymnasiums and stadiums throughout the city of Hanoi. The biggest ones are Mỹ Đình National Stadium (Lê Đức Thọ Boulevard), Quan Ngua Sporting Palace (Văn Cao Avenue), Hanoi Aquatics Sports Complex and Hanoi Indoor Games Gymnasium. The others include Hàng Đẫy Stadium. The third Asian Indoor Games were held in Hanoi in 2009. The others are Hai Bà Trưng Gymnasium, Trịnh Hoài Đức Gymnasium, Vạn Bảo Sports Complex.
On November 6, 2018, it was announced that in 2020, Hanoi would become the host of the first FIA Formula 1 Vietnamese Grand Prix on a street circuit on the outskirts of the city.
Hanoi has two basketball teams that compete in the Vietnam Basketball Association (VBA), the Hanoi Buffaloes and Thang Long Warriors. Hàng Đẫy Stadium is home for two football clubs, Hà Nội FC and Viettel FC, both participating in V.League 1;
20. Health care and other facilities
Some medical facilities in Hanoi: Bạch Mai Hospital; Viet Duc Hospital; Saint Paul Hospital; 108 Hospital; Hôpital Français de Hanoi; International SOS; Hanoi Medical University Hospital; Thanh Nhan Hospital; Vinmec International Hospital; Viet Phap Hospital; Thu Cuc General Hospital; K Hospital; Medlatech Hospital;
21. City for Peace
On July 16, 1999, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) presented the title “City for Peace” to Hanoi because the city met the following criteria: Exemplary action against exclusion and in support of the dialogue between communities; Exemplary urban action; Exemplary environmental action; Exemplary action to promote culture; Exemplary action in the field of education and especially civic education.
Hanoi is the only city in Asia-Pacific that was granted this title.
2019 North Korea–United States Hanoi Summit in Hanoi, Vietnam once again proved that it deserved of this title.
You’ve simply arrived and want to peer the sights. Positive, Hanoi is full of tombs, temples, museums, and monuments. However what about the actual Hanoi adventures?