Hanoi

Travel guide - Hanoi

The second-most populous city in Vietnam, Hanoi has more than a thousand years of history. Experience the city’s elegant heritage, such as the Temple of Literature, as you enjoy an original encounter between Asian and European architectural influences. As orderly as it is picturesque, Hanoi stands out by this confluence of two worlds, which results in a refined style exemplified by the colourful and surprising 36 Streets neighbourhood.

The history of the Tiny Dragon of Asia

Hanoi was founded in 1010 and remained the capital of Vietnam for many centuries. Hanoi reveals its long history through traditional monuments such as the many temples found in the old city. Explore its avenues lined with yellow houses to discover the longstanding local heritage, embodied by the Temple of Literature: Van Mieu. Built in 1070, this temple dedicated to Confucius is one of the oldest monuments in the capital. Pass through its sculpted doors, guarded by two stone dragons, to immerse yourself in the Vietnamese serenity of the house’s courtyard pagoda.
In contrast with the temple’s pointed roofs and ancestral elegance, the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum, modern and massive, stands out as a distinctive example of the local heritage. This building is all about angles, minimalist lines and honouring the “father of the nation”.

A touch of France

A former French colony, this city still displays marks left from the colonial period, notably in public buildings such as train stations and markets. It is an unforgettable experience to walk down a road where French elegance is intermingled with Vietnamese charm through the entrance to a building, an interior courtyard or the shape of the shutters.
The Hanoi Opera House was modelled on the Opéra Garnier in Paris, based on plans by Broyer and Harlay. It is one of the city’s most unusual monuments, whose neoclassical columns reveal the interconnectedness of European influences and local cultural heritage. Another surprising building is St. Joseph’s Cathedral, whose two neo-Gothic towers stand out against the lush natural backdrop. It is a miniature Notre-Dame de Paris!

The multifaceted old town of Hanoi

In the oldest quarter of Hanoi, you will find the 36 streets, which once housed the different trades of the city. Today, this maze of streets and lively alleyways is the ideal place to discover local craftsmanship. In the grilled fish street, local cuisine is obviously the focus—and in particular, cha ca, a speciality of the area. There is a peaceful, cheerful ambiance here, which you will discover as you chat with fabric sellers or buy some kebabs to go.
Beneath the trees of Hang Bac Street, amidst the branches and old buildings painted yellow and white, you can climb one of old Hanoi’s oldest streets, which was once home to the city’s minters. Here you will find jewellery shops and workshops where you can buy a unique souvenir to take with you when you leave.

Folklore and spirituality

Far from the Asian megalopolises ruled by concrete and metal, Hanoi has preserved a certain gentleness in its way of life. While the Red River crosses the country and the neighbouring rice fields sculpt picturesque landscapes, Hanoi cultivates proximity with nature. Through its parks and especially its lakes, local folklore is expressed in places like the “Lake of the Returned Sword”, Hoàn Kiếm Lake, in the middle of which is found a Buddhist stūpa with holy tortoises living inside. In this zen, peaceful atmosphere, you can admire traditional architecture while recharging your batteries. Distance yourself a little from the city to get closer to one of Hanoi’s most important natural sites, West Lake, where you can admire Trấn Quốc Pagoda while you enjoy a tranquil bicycle ride.
Through its proximity with the Red River and its history, the city of Hanoi is a unique place in Southeast Asia. Its European allure, picturesque monuments and tranquility make it an original destination at the heart of the Tiny Dragon of Asia, Vietnam.

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