Hanoi, Vietnam: Travel/Tourist Information Guide
Vietnamese capital Hanoi is located at the Red River Delta, in the center of North Vietnam. The name Hanoi means "the hinterland between the rivers”. In 2015, it was estimated that Hanoi, with its metropolitan area, is a host to around 7, 7 million residents. During the dry season, which lasts from October to April, it is cold and there is very little rainfall, except from January to March, when the weather is still cold but there is some light rain. The wet season, from May to September, is hot with heavy rains and storms.
Its very turbulent and rich history, riddled by wars, be it with Chinese, French, Americans, or even civil war, left it with plenty of monuments and museums which speak volumes, each for its own era and significance. Coupled with the hastiness and rapid economic development, it is easy to see why Hanoi is one of the most important and visited cities in Southeast Asia.
Bearing this in mind, Hanoi has developed its infrastructure to be a modern and vibrant city, with an abundance of hotels, some of which are worldwide luxury chains, hostels, private accommodation, bars, night clubs, restaurants, etc.
History of Hanoi
Hanoi and its residents can be very proud of the richness of the city’s history. Some researches date the first constant settlement at where is now Hanoi to as far back as 10,000 years ago. What is now known for certain is that the city was founded in 1010, by the emperor Ly Thai Tho, in order to protect his people from the constant conquering charges by the Chinese.
Hanoi served as Vietnam's capital until the Emperor Gia Long decided to move the capital to Hue in 1802. In 1864, the French came and seized the city, making it the capital of French Indochina. Later on, the Japanese took over the control of the city in 1940, and remained here until the end of the WWII in 1945. The Vietnam War lasted from 1965 to 1975, during which time Hanoi was the capital of the North Vietnam. After the war, Ho Chi Minh made it once again the capital of the whole of Vietnam, which it remains to present day.
Hanoi Attractions and Landmarks
A city this as rich in history in culture as Hanoi, is bound to have no shortage of historic sites and attractions. Some of Hanoi’s most important and famous ones are: Hanoi Old Quarter, where most of the social life in Hanoi is still centered; Hoan Kiem Lake & Ngoc Son Temple; world famous Museum of Trade Ceramics built in 1858, where all sorts of ceramic items can be seen; Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, whose importance and purpose are obvious from its very name; Vietnam Women’s Museum, which pays a tribute to the women of Vietnam; The Perfume Pagoda, known locally as Chua Huong or ‘inner temple’, settled at the center of a revered and sacred site featuring a maze of Buddhist temples built into the limestone cliffs; Dong Xuan Market, housed within a four-story building on the northern edge of Hanoi Old Quarter; Ba Vi National Park; Hanoi Opera House, built in 1911 by the then ruling French, which some argue is even more beautiful than the Paris Opera; History Museum, containing articles dating back from prehistoric period; Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, one of the most visited attractions in Hanoi. It is the final resting place of Ho Chi Minh, the most iconic and popular leader of Vietnam; Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, which was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010, an entire millennium after it was built; One Pillar Pagoda, said to represent a lotus flower growing up out of the water, and these are only a few of them.
Modern day Hanoi
Being the capital city of Vietnam, there are several ways to get in Hanoi. The first and easiest one is by plane via the Noi Bai International Airport. It is a little bit further away from the city, but visitors can easily get to the city from the airport by taxi, public bus, private car or shuttle buses. There are a great number of airlines that run flights through the Noi Bai airport. Another way to get in the city is by train. There are trains from and to Bejing from the Gia Lam Station. From the main Hanoi station, trains leave to Hue, Nha Trang, and from the Tran Quy Cap station the trains go to Lao Cai, and Sapa. The final way to get in the city is by bus. There are public bus services that leave from the Giap Bat bus station and they go to Hue, Hoi An, Dalat, Mui Ne, Ho Chi Minh City, Nha Trang, and other cities in Vietnam.
Hanoi gains much of its profit through trade from large networks of waterways, railways, and highways in the Red River Delta. Motorcycles and mopeds have become the preferred means of transportation. The local government is making efforts to alleviate traffic jams. In 2011, they launched one of their projects into action. During the first stage, they plan to install an additional 12.5 km into a light rail network.
Rapid economic and industrial development enabled the government to invest significant means into the infrastructure and tourism, as well as preservation of the most important landmarks. This lead to a boom in the number of visitors, which in turn lead to even more income invested in Hanoi and entire country’s development. Agriculture is very important in Hanoi, just like in every other part of the country. Vietnam has a 95% literacy rate, thanks to the comprehensive public education policy lead by the previous and current governments. Due to this fact, most locals, especially the younger ones, have a very good command of some foreign language, making it even more attractive to visit Hanoi.
Night life in Hanoi is becoming more western- like, with some clubs and bars offering exclusively foreign food and drinks. It seems that Hanoi has decided to inscribe its name as a touristic Mecca and is there to stay.