is the Capital of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. It is a pleasant and even charming city, in large parts because of its famous lakes, shaded boulevards and verdant public parks. The city center is an architectural museum piece, its blocks of ochre buildings retaining the air of a peaceful and austere provincial town, contrary to the fast-living and bustling air of Saigon. The city of Hanoi is a small part now of Greater Hanoi, which has a land area of 2,139 sq.km and a population of about 3,000,000. In the past, Hanoi was first chosen by King Ly Thai To as the capital of the country and was named Thang Long (Ascending Dragon) in 1010. Through several successive dynasties, it remained as the country's capital city, the heart and soul of the whole nation, and has born a variety of names, including Dong Kinh (Eastern capital), from which the Europeans derived the name they eventually applied to all of northern Vietnam, Tonkin. The city was finally named Hanoi (the city in a bend of the river) by Emperor Minh Mang (Nguyen Dynasty) in 1831. From 1902 to 1953, Hanoi served as the capital of French Indochina. There are two main seasons in Hanoi, the hot and rainy season from May to October with the hottest month in July were average temperature is around 31° Celsius, and the cold and dry season with the coldest month in January with average temperature around 14° Celsius.
The Ethnology Museum
opened at the end of 1997, the museum has attracted the attention of visitors, ethnographers and researchers from all over the world. With its astounding collection of 1,000 objects, 15,000 photos and hundreds of tapes about the 60 ethnic groups of Vietnam, it has successfully recreated the daily life together with the religious rituals and the symbolic festivals of each ethnic group.
The Fine Arts Museum
numerous exhibitions of specific fine arts collections including ancient stone sculptures, antique pottery, ethnic minority paintings and lacquerware. The Vietnam Fine Arts Museum is a lively historical treasure depicting the origins and evolution of Vietnamese fine arts. The entrance is at No. 66 Nguyen Thai Hoc St. and the opening hours are 08:00-12:00 & 13:30 to 16:30, from Tuesday to Sunday.
Hon Gai Market
is located downtown Halong and is one of the most attractive stops on the tour to Halong. Here visitors can learn many interesting things about the life of local fishermen and find some lovely souvenir items such as coal carvings, ceramics and lacquerware. One of the highlights of Hon Gai market is its fresh seafood which varies according to the tide and the weather.
The History Museum
was once the museum of the Ecole Francaise d’Extreme Orient, the building remains one of Hanoi’s most stunning architectural showpieces. It preserves a large number of valuable artifacts from Vietnam’s turbulent past including prehistory, Dong Son culture, etc. to various Vietnamese dynasties as well as the Vietnamese struggles against foreign invaders.
the largest lake in Hanoi, and Lake Truc Bach are an attractive part of the city. The two lakes are a picturesque site in the heart of the country. In the past, it was once a resort for mandarins and kings. Now it is a very popular recreational place to enjoy fresh air, peaceful atmosphere and typical dishes. We wouldn’t forget to mention Tran Quoc Pagoda right on the shore of West Lake which is one of the oldest pagodas in Vietnam.
Lake Hoan Kiem & Ngoc Son Temple
It is considered to be the most beautiful lake in Hanoi, it is an enchanting body of water right in the heart of the city. The small island in the lake center is Ngoc Son Temple (Jade Mountain), founded in the 18th century and dedicated to the Scholar Van Xuong, the General Tran Hung Dao (who defeated the Mongols in the 13th century) and La To (patron saint of physicians). The Temple is reached via the wooden bridge constructed in 1885.
President Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum
the final resting place of President Ho Chi Minh, was constructed between 1973 and 1975 of native materials gathered from all over Vietnam. It now becomes a site of pilgrimage for Vietnamese as well as for foreign visitors. Just some steps from the mausoleum, visitors can visit One-Pillar pagoda resembling a lotus blossom and also the Ho Chi Minh Museum depicting an interesting view of President Ho’s life.
The Old Quarter
has history of over a thousand years, 36 streets with each taking a different name after its product. It remains one of Vietnam’s most lively and unusual places, where visitors can buy anything from precious stones to silk kimonos. Some of the specialized streets here include Hang Bac with a trip of snazzy jewellery shops or Hang Ngang with a row of clothing shops and tailors’. Moreover, a stroll through this historic Old Quarter with a stop at Dong Xuan Market is highly recommended for visitors who can get a good dose of Vietnamese culture and some insight into the country’s long history.
Temple of Literature (Van Mieu)
is a pleasant retreat from the streets of Hanoi. Founded in 1070 for the worship of sages of Confucianism, it constitutes a rare example of well-preserved traditional Vietnamese architecture and is well worth a visit. Vietnam’s first university was established here in 1076 to educate the sons of mandarins. In 1482, King Le Thanh Tong ordered the erection of stelae with inscriptions of the names, places of birth and achievements of the graduates who had taken examinations since 1442. The stelae are in a form of tortoises which surely give visitors many impressions. Presently, 82 stelae stand at the Temple of Literature.
Bat Trang ceramics village
is located half an hour’s drive from Hanoi, across the bridge Chuong Duong and down the northern bank of the Red River, brings you to one of the best-known villages in Vietnam. The residents of Bat Trang have been making ceramic objects for centuries. In their heyday, some 600 years ago, the artisans were responsible for providing dinnerware for the royal families of the capital city and China, while trader took Bat Trang plates, jars and ornamental items as far a field as Japan, Holland and France. Nowadays, by the help of techniques, Bat Trang village can produce its product in high volumes at low cost. Very few artisans still use a wheel to create pottery items but ceramics are still painted by hand.