Vietnam’s capital city - Hanoi is a city of numerous captivating faces. The traditional commercial bustle, street markets, chaotic traffic and fascinating shop house architecture of the Old Quarter contrast dramatically with the quiet lakes, historic temples, shady city parks and regal architecture of the French colonial districts.
Hanoi’s 1,000 year history has lent the city this fascinating blend of influences and styles - it's one of Vietnam Tours’ favorite cities! With its wide tree-lined boulevards, French colonial architecture, peaceful lakes and ancient oriental pagodas, Hanoi is an eclectic mix that offers something for everyone.
Join us to explore the shady gardens of the Temple of Literature, Hanoi’s ancient university, with its colorful Confucian temple. The Temple of Literature, built in 11th Century, was known as the country’s first university. In the third section of the temple, there was over 82 steles recorded name of Vietnam PhDs in every royal examination from 1442 until 1779. This is the pride of Vietnamese education and attracts both local & foreign visitors.
Visit the vast Ba Dinh Square, Hanoi’s political centre, and see Ho Chi Minh lying in state in his imposing mausoleum. Also visit his simple house on stilts, and the historical displays of the Ho Chi Minh Museum. Enter the gloomy confines of the infamous "Hanoi Hilton", the city prison built by the French and later used by the North Vietnamese to house American fighter pilots shot down over the north. You can take a cyclo tour around Hoan Kiem Lake. Hoan Kiem Lakemeaning"Lake of the Returned Sword" or"Lake of the Restored Sword" is one of the major scenic spots in the city and serves as a focal point for its public life. Tourists cannot miss the chance to enjoy a traditional Water Puppet Performance – a unique Vietnamese Art form hailing from Southeast Asia’s wet-rice culture. There are 3 shows per night at Thang Long Puppet Theater with the entrance fee is $4/persons first class ticket and the second class ticket is only $3/persons.
In addition to well-known spots within Hanoi, tourists can take part in short trips to visit different handicraft villages around Hanoi like Van Phuc Silk Village with weaving and silk products, Bat Trang Ceramic Village with vases, bowls, dishes and many other kinds of ceramic products.
Sightseeing in Hanoi
Ho Chi Minh Complex
- Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum – Officially inaugurated in 1975. This project was the result of a close collaboration between engineers from Vietnam and the former Soviet Union. The mausoleum is divided into three floors and the second is the centre of the construction, where the remains of the president are kept in a chamber, accessible through a series of passages and flights of marble stairs. Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum is open to the public from Tuesday to Sunday and usually closed from 5th September to 10th December for maintenance.
- Stilt House – Built in 1958, this house is where President Ho Chi Minh lived and worked from 1958 to 1969. The wooden tiled roof two-story house overlooks a garden where scented flowers are planted. The house has a green fence of hibiscus plants, reminiscing an image of his house in Nghe An Province. Presently, more than 250 documents and objects made of various materials in the stilt house have been kept intact and well-preserved to the state they were during his last days.
Temple of Literature– A famous historical and cultural relic consisting of Van Mieu and Quoc Tu Giam. Van Mieu was built in 1070 in honor of Confucius, his followers, and Chu Van An, a moral figure in Vietnamese education. Quoc Tu Giam - Vietnam’s first university, was built in 1076. It was the first educational school for royal family members, and it was later opened to talented students. Throughout its more than 700 years of activity, thousands of Vietnamese scholars graduated from this university. In 1482, Emperor Le Thanh Tong ordered the erection of stelae with inscriptions of names, places of birth and achievements of the graduates who had taken examinations since 1442 to 1779. Especially, 82 stone stelae have been recognized as World Documentary Heritage by UNESCO in 2010. At present, this site also preserves historical vestiges of a 1,000-year-old civilization such as statues of Confucius and his disciples, and ancient constructions such as Khue Van Pavilion – the symbol of Hanoi, Worshipping Hall.
Hanoi Old Quarter has remained the original street layout and architecture of old Hanoi. At the beginning of the 20th century the city consisted of only 36 streets, most of which are now part of the old quarter. Each street then had merchants and households specialized in a particular trade, such as silk traders, jewelers, etc. The street names nowadays still reflect these specializations, although few of them remain exclusively in their original commerce. The area is famous for its small artisans and merchants, including many silk shops. Local cuisine specialties as well as several clubs and bars can be found here also. A night market (near Dong Xuan market) in the heart of the district opens for business every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evening with a variety of clothing, souvenirs and food.
- History Museum – Founded in 1958, the museum contains a great deal of valuable objects, which reflect all the periods of Vietnamese history. Nearly 7,000 objects and documents depict vividly the long process of development of the Vietnam community, it undaunted and heroic struggle for thousand years, from its early history up to the August Revolution in 1945. The system of computers installed on the second floor is intended for visitors to search for information effectively.
- Fine Arts Museum – Officially inaugurated in 1966, the museum occupies the most important position in maintaining and promoting the treasures of Vietnamese cultural and artistic heritage. The presentation of museum’s permanent collections of important works of Vietnamese art offer the public unique insights into the culture and history of the Vietnam's ethnic communities.
- Museum of Ethnology – founded in 1997. The museum covers mainly the culture and ritual practices of the various ethnic groups of Vietnam - one of the key attractions of the museum is the open-air exhibition, which has houses of some ethnic groups and even displays inhabitants in traditional costume.
Pagodas and Temples
- Ngoc Son Temple - Extends out into the lake, with small but attractive grounds, displays on Vietnamese history and, more memorably, displays on the giant turtles, including a mummified specimen.
- One Pillar Pagoda – first built in 1049, during the reign of Emperor Ly Thai Tong. The delicate pagoda, built of wood on a single stone pillar, is designed to resemble a lotus blossom, the symbol of purity, rising out of a sea of sorrow.
- Quan Thanh Temple - formerly known as Tran Vu Temple, is a Taoist temple in Hanoi. Dated to the 11th century, the temple was dedicated to Xuan Wu, or Tran Vu in Vietnamese, one of the principal deities in Taoism.
- Tran Quoc Pagoda - the oldest pagoda in the city, originally constructed in the sixth century during the reign of Emperor Ly Nam De, thus giving it an age of 1,400 years. On the grounds of Tran Quoc is a Bodhi tree taken as cutting of the original tree in Bodh Gaya, India under which the Buddha sat and achieved enlightenment.
- Opera House - Erected by the French colonial administration between 1901 and 1911, the Hanoi Opera House is a small-scale version of the Paris Opera. The construction became the scene for several political events as well as the scene of street fighting during the fight for Hanoi. Presently, the opera house hosts national celebrations, ballet, symphonies, musical concerts and opera.
- Hanoi Hilton Prison - a prison used by the French colonists in Vietnam for political prisoners, and later by North Vietnam for prisoners of war during the Vietnam War when it was sarcastically known to American prisoners of war as the "Hanoi Hilton". The prison was demolished during the 1990s, though the gatehouse remains as a museum.