Hanoi, the capital city of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, is located in the central part of the country on the Red River Delta banks, with the beautiful Haom Kiem Lake at its heart. The city is also the cultural, economic and political center of the country. Steeped in history, Hanoi is regarded as a sacred land of the country.
A visit to Hanoi is truly a great experience, with its tree-lined boulevard, ancient temples, gleaming lakes, and splendid French edifices. No wonder why Hanoi is sometimes referred to as the ‘Paris of the East.’ When comes to its history, Hanoi served as the capital and the seat of power of many empires, apart from being marked by a range of wars and natural calamities. Today, Hanoi has emerged into a modern city, al though still retaining its old world charm.
The city boasts of such a great number of attractions that it takes weeks to explore all of them. Among the attractions in Hanoi that deserve a special mention are ancient architectural splendors including more than 500 pagodas and temples.
Just few among them are the One Pillar Pagoda – erected in 1049 and which takes after a blooming lotus; Ambassadors Pagoda – the seat of Buddhism in the country; Tran Quoc Pagoda – the oldest of its kind in the city; pagoda in the region; Quan Thanh Temple – dedicated to Huyen Thien Tran Vo; the Temple of Literature – constructed in 1070 and devoted to the worship of Confucianism; and Ngoc Son Temple which located in the center of the Hoan Kiem Lake. Equally fabulous are the colonial structures seen here, all of which are an elegant mix of Chinese, Edwardian, French, neo-Persian, and a fusion of neo-Vietnamese and French.
For a peep into the history of the place, nothing would be better than taking a visit to its interesting museums such as Fine Arts Museum, with an exquisite collection of sculpture and paintings; Vietnam Army Museum, which has on display artifacts related to the armed forces of Vietnam; History Museum, exhibiting artifacts dating back to various periods of the history of the country; and Ho Chi Minh Museum exhibiting an array of art and artifacts ranging from press articles and pictures of the times of Ho Chi Minh to memorabilia of the 19th century.
Likewise, to discover the ethnicity of the place, a tour to Bat Trang pottery village, Ngu Xa bronze casting village, and Yen Thai glossy silk, where you can see artisans engaged in a variety of artistic works including bronze molding, embroidery works, and silver carving and lacquer, would be a great experience.
Other not to miss attractions in Hanoi are the Presidential Palace – a fantastic chateau located within the Ho Chi Minh’s Relic area; Hanoi Cathedral constructed over the former Bao; Hanoi Flag Tower whose focal point is a three platforms and a military watch tower offering panoramic views of the city; Hanoi Opera House which hosts various performances; the mausoleum of President Ho Chi Minh where you can find the body of Ho Chi Minh encased in a glass coffin; Co Lao Historical Site, containing remains dating back to the Bronze and Iron Ages, and the elegant French Quarter – a fine example of surviving colonial structure in the world, with beautiful boulevards enclosed by well-designed French style mansions.
Above all, superb are the more than 15 lakes in Hanoi, such as, Hoan Kiem Lake – the main leisure area in the city, West Lake – the largest lake in the city, and Truc Bach Lake, each of which are bounded by picturesque gardens and trees.
While your stay at Hanoi, you can savor the sumptuous specialties of the region such as pho or beef noodle soup, nem ran, gio lau or pork sausage, and cha ca. A variety of seafood and vegetable specialties are also available. Hanoi is also a shopper’s paradise, with its teeming Old Quarter, boasting of vibrant, traditional narrow streets filled with market places and shops selling jade carvings, Russian Vodka, porcelain, and wickerwork.
With these gamuts of attractions, Hanoi draws holidaymakers from different parts of the world year-round. Hence, the city has accommodation choices to suit every taste and pocket. Dining choices available here are enticing, and one can savor refined French cuisine with the latest in fusion dishes from around the world.