Hanoi is the perfect foil for the seething mass of humanity that is Ho Chi Minh City. With a population of four million and a more genteel style than its southern counterpart, Hanoi is the cultural capital of Vietnam and its heart and soul.
A great place to explore on foot, there is a lot to see and do here. Vietnam's capital lies on the banks of the Red River, some 100 kilometres from its mouth. Human settlements here date back as far as the 3rd century BC.
Previously known as Thang Long, it was renamed Hanoi in 1831 at a time when Hue was the capital. Large areas of present-day Hanoi were built during the French occupation, reflected in its broad boulevards and French-inspired architecture, which give the city a definite charm.
Hanoi is famous for numerous rivers, lakes, and mountains alongside and in the surroundings. Scattered around are places of sight-seeing, which are so much attractive thanks to green lands full of streams, rivers, and mountain, such as Tam Dao, Con Son, Kiep Bac, etc. Hanoi is also well known for typical tropical seasoned place of South East Asia with four seasons: fresh, green and cool in Spring, a bit hot in Summer, fine in Autumn, and cold in Winter. Yet the most interesting thing is that all those take place in most sites of the capital.
Talking about Hanoi’s culture, there must be a long time to complete the story. The initial Hanoi’s famous cultural thing is a series of traditional handicraft villages, such as Bat Trang ceramic and pottery village, Hang Bac silver-making street, Ngu Xa bronze-making, Phu Do noodle-making, Yen Phu incense, and Ngoc Ha flower, and Dong Ho picture villages. All of them have existed for centuries, and are still famous for 99% hand-made and 100% nature-originated products.
Hanoians are extremely good at making and tasting food. They have so many delicacies, for example, Banh cuon (steamed rice roll), Cha ca La Vong (La Vong grilled fish), Pho (noodle) with chicken or beef, Nem (spring roll), and so on. It can be said that this is the most attractive thing for foreigners to come and feel a “special Hanoi through Hanoi specialties”.
Adding more to Hanoi's culture, kinds of arts play very impotant role. Hanoi’s famous culture also lies in Folk performances, which are Water Puppet, Cheo, Tuong and A Dao… (a traditional kind of music performances).
Ha Noi Sightseeing
From Ha Noi, there are lots of surrounding sites to explore. Inside the city, Ho Chi Minh Complex (Including Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Museum, One Pillar Pagoda) is a place that most travelers should not miss. Temple of Literature – some minutes walking from HCM Complex – is the oldest university in Vietnam. To have an overview of Northern Vietnam’s culture in general or Ha Noi in paricular, pay a visit to these places: Museum of Ethnology, Tran Quoc Pagoda, Museum of Women, Hoa Lo Prison, Hoan Kiem Lake with Ngoc Son Temple nearby, Museum of History… Get farther to around 10-20km into the “widen Ha Noi”, traditional trade villages such as Bat Trang Ceramic Village, Duong Lam Ancient Village, Van Phuc Silk Village … are so attractive for their unique characteristic.
Ha Noi is also the initial point for those who want to extend the visit to the famous Ha Long Bay, Ninh Binh Province (Hoa Lu Citadel, Bai Dinh Pagoda, Nature Reserves Center of Tam Coc, Trang An, Kenh Ga, Van Long…) to the East or Mai Chau Valley, Sapa Hill Station to the North West; or Ba Be Lake, Ha Giang mountainous province … to the North East.
- Airport code: HAN (Noi Bai International Airport). Noi Bai airport is 35km from Hanoi, about 1 hour drive. You can get into the city by taxi or minibus. Domestic connections with Dien Bien Phu, Hue, Danang, Nha Trang, Buon Me Thuot, Dalat, Pleiku, Qui Nhon, Phu Quoc, Vinh, Can Tho, Hochiminh City.
- Hanoi train station located at 120 Le Duan St. There are regular daily connections with Hochiminh city. Advance booking is required. There are also trains to Haiphong, Lang Son, Beijing, Kunming (China).
- There is a good coach service to go to other cities and provinces. There are some main coach stations in Hanoi:
• Gia Lam Station which is located on Nguyen Van Cu St., Long Bien District. Minibuses and coaches depart for Haiphong, Halong Bay, Lang Son and northern, eastern, north-western and the north-eastern provinces.
• Luong Yen Station: located at 03 Nguyen Khoai Street. Daily bus going to Quang Ninh Province (including Ha Long & Mong Cai), Hai Phong ...
• My Dinh Station is at 20 Pham Hung Street, Cau Giay Dist., Hanoi. From here, daily coaches depart for the western provinces and towns.
• Southern Station, 255 Giai Phong Road. Buses depart for all provinces, cities and towns in the South.
• Nuoc Ngam Station: a certain 1km from Southern Station, this Station operates most buses to North Central Land such as Thanh Hoa, Nghe An, Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Hue …