Hanoi is located in the Red River Delta, in the center of North Vietnam. Hanoi means “the hinterland between the rivers” (Ha: river, Noi: interior). Hanoi’s territory is washed by the Red River (the portion of the Red River embracing Hanoi is approximately 40km long) and its tributaries, but there are some other rivers flowing through the capital. At different periods, Hanoi had been selected as the chief city of Vietnam under the Northern domination. In the autumn of Canh Tuat lunar years (1010), Ly Thai To, the founder of the Ly Dynasty, decided to transfer the capital from Hoa Lu to Dai La, and so he rebaptized it Thang Long (Soaring Dragon). The year 1010 then became an historical date for Hanoi and for the whole country in general. For about a thousand years, the capital was called Thang Long, then changing to Dong Do, Dong Kinh, and finally to Hanoi, in 1831.
Ba Be National Park
Ba Be National Park is 18 kilometers from Cho Ra town, which is accessible by car from Hanoi. The scenery on the way is pleasant, mostly lowland, rice paddies and cornfields with minority villages, but not the dramatic mountain scenery you find in other parts of Vietnam.
Total time: full day. Nam Dai village (Hamong). Hard trek. Total time: full day.
Hanoi Opera House
The exterior is a delightful mix of French neo-classical design with shuttered windows, wrought iron balconies and tile friezes. Construction of the Hanoi Opera House began in 1901 and was completed in 1911.
The Hanoi Opera House is one of Hanoi’s grandest buildings.
Hoan Kiem Lake
The legend goes like this, in the 15th century Emperor Le Thai To vanquished the Chinese invading with the help of a magical sword. After that whilst rowing on the lake an enormous turtle seized the sword from his grasp.
Hoan Kiem Lake is the heart of Hanoi.
The Emperor took this as a sign of divine intervention and that peace had been restored. In honor of the event he named the lake Ho Hoan Kiem Lake of the Restored Sword.
Hoa Lo Prison
Notable inmates included Republican senator John McCain and Douglas Peterson who later became the first post-war US Ambassador to Vietnam. In 1996, a modern, 26-story office block was built on the site. However, large sections of Hoa Lo have been preserved and converted into a museum.
Better known as The Hanoi Hilton it became famous during the American War as many US POWs were incarcerated here.
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
Inside an imposing building lies the embalmed body of the founder of modern Vietnam. You must dress properly for visiting the mausoleum, silence should be observed when entering the tomb and definitely no photographs, in fact, all bags must be left outside.
Visiting Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum is an unforgettable experience.
Museum of Ethnology
The museum is widely acknowledged as the best in the country and has an extensive display dedicated to Vietnams 54 Ethnic minority peoples as well as a comprehensive array of exhibits inside. There are also traditional tribal houses reconstructed within the grounds.
This is a must-see for anyone intending to visit either Mai Chau or Sapa, or anyone interested in Vietnams cultural diversities.
Ngoc Sonc Pagoda
The pagoda was built in honor of Saint Van Suong – the spirit of literature and wisdom and Tran Hung Dao, one of Vietnam’s most famous generals. Surrounded by water and shaded by trees.
Ngoc Son Pagoda stands in Hoan Kiem Lake.
One Pillar Pagoda
King Ly Thai Tong built one of Hanoi’s most famous landmarks, the One Pillar Pagoda in 1049 in honor of the Goddess of Mercy.
The pillar was destroyed in 1954, but the pagoda was quickly rebuilt.
Quan Thanh Temple
The temple honors Saint Tran Vu, a legendary figure who helped King An Duong Vuong chase away demons during the construction of Co Loa Citadel. The central feature of the temple is a giant, black, bronze statue of Tran Vu cast in 1667.
Quan Thanh Temple was built during the reign of King Ly Thai To (1010 – 1028).
Temple of Literature
The complex consists of five separate courtyards with different paths that would originally have been reserved for the Emperor and his mandarins and highlighted by the Khue Van Pavilion.
Dating back to 1070, the Temple of Literature was the site of Vietnam’s first university and was used to educate the sons of Royal families.
The Old Quarter
In the early 13th century guilds and artisans clustered their shops around certain streets. As time went by, the narrow lanes adopted the names of the particular guild or goods sold there. Hence you can still walk from Fish Street to Tin Street to Bamboo Street. It’s a great place to explore on foot with numerous photo opportunities.
A walk through the Old Quarter, also known as the 36 streets offers a glimpse into Vietnamese life from ages ago.
Tran Quoc Pagoda
The pagoda’s unique design features a visitor hall, two corridors and a bell tower. Inside are numerous statues, the most notable of which is the wooden statue of the Shakyamuri Buddha. The oldest stele was built in 1639 and depicts the pagoda’s history.
With origins dating back to the 6th century, Tran Quoc is one of the oldest pagodas in Vietnam.