A lot of people in the world have heard of Hanoi capital as a peaceful city. However, this is based on the news about Vietnam War. In fact, the city has got a long history of feudal period and contemporary days, leading it to include numberless historical and modern places of interest for an exciting discovery. Just visit some famous Hanoi sightseeing spots, and probably, you will have a new opinion about it.
But what are such destinations? Although the inner city is not really sizable, unless you gain some information about them, you are likely to be lost. In fact, Hanoi’s center consists of certain districts. They are Hoan Kiem, Dong Da, Hai Ba Trung, Tay Ho and Ba Dinh. To make your travel more convenient, I advise you to start from the Old Quarter in Hoan Kiem District.
HANOI SIGHTSEEING SPOTS – HOAN KIEM DISTRICT
The Old Quarter
Plus the French Quarter, the Old Quarter contributes to the distinction of Hoan Kiem District nowadays. It was formed on the basis of 36 streets each of which sold a typical product such as paper, silver, bronze, silk. Throughout hundreds of years, their main operations have disappeared gradually. And currently, their history is only remembered from their names. However, it doesn’t mean that everything has gone since numerous traditional stores and historical buildings have still remained until now. Going around the Old Quarter to attend Bach Ma Temple, Hanoi Ancient Gate or Hanoi St Joseph’s Cathedral, you will be given an opportunity to understand a part of Vietnamese people’s life at that time.
I recommend you to have a trip to Dong Xuan Market at night to explore Hanoi’s nightlife. Different from a tranquil atmosphere during the daytime, the Old Quarter becomes dynamic and bustling owning to colorful gift shops, food streets and lively bars close to the market. One more thing I notice is that most hotels and hostels in Hanoi are located in this old zone due to the high demand for accommodation. That’s why you can find a suited one to you simply.
Hoan Kiem Lake
Lying in the southern east of the Old Quarter, the lake seems to be the green pearl of the city. With many legend related to it, Hoan Kiem Lake, or The Lake of Returned Sword is also the icon of Hanoi as well as of Vietnam. Some long-standing properties you should visit there are The Turtle Tower, and Jade Mountain Temple, or Ngoc Son Temple, and The Huc Bridge. Especially, the temple will provide much information about large soft-shell turtles which have stayed in the lake for a long time ago.
Additionally, at the weekend, all streets around the lake are only for pedestrians. The use of vehicle is unallowable, but you can embark on plenty of addictive deeds held by local people.
The French Quarter
In the south of Hoan Kiem Lake is the French Quarter. Obviously, it was created by the French over a century ago, the time the Vietnamese call “French colonial period” starting from the late 19th century to 1945. To facilitate the process of colonization in Hanoi, the French cleaned a spacious area near Hoan Kiem Lake to erect French-style buildings for the head offices of governmental departments and housing. Intriguingly, the majority of these have been kept hitherto. Passing through the roads looking like a chessboard by bike, you can observe Hanoi Opera House, Hoa Lo Prison, Government Guesthouse, The National Museum of Vietnamese History, or Sofitel Legend Metropole to feel how impressive and unique their outsides are.
Long Bien Bridge
As you might know about Eiffel Tower designed by Gustave Eiffel, interestingly, this French men also architected a construction in Vietnam. And that is Long Bien Bridge. Similar with Eiffel Tower, the bridge is mainly made of steel. But it’s used for railway transportation across Red River. Having the age of over 100 years old, and suffering from heavy destruction from the U.S bombs during Vietnam War, it has still stood steadily in the northern east of the Old Quarter. For striking photos, you should travel there once.
HANOI SIGHTSEEING SPOTS – BA DINH DISTRICT
Ho Chi Minh Complex
The most important Hanoi sightseeing spot is Ho Chi Minh Complex. Because it is where Vietnamese national hero, President Ho Chi Minh, stayed, worked and then rest forever. Every year, the site welcomes hundreds of thousands of local and foreign visitors. Frequently, they firstly attend Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. Thí is due to the place only open in the morning from Tuesday to Thursday and at the weekend. And then, they go to Ho Chi Minh Stilt House and Ho Chi Minh Museum nearby to learn the history of the President. During the time you walk in the mausoleum, taking photographs is disallowed.
One Pillar Pagoda
Not far from Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, One Pillar Pagoda is an amazing religious building constructed in Ly Dynasty nearly one millennium ago. Based on the only stone colonnade, the pagoda looks like a lotus flower, the symbol of purity in Buddhism belief, blooming in a pond. Due to this special feature, it becomes another must-visit destination in Hanoi.
Ba Dinh Square
In front of Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is Ba Dinh Square, a spacious open area to hold political events every year in Vietnam. If you present in the square on Vietnam’s National Day, you will see a magnificent march performed by thousands of people.
The Imperial Citadel of Thang Long
On the opposite site to Ba Dinh Square is The Imperial Citadel of Thang Long. In the past, it was a majestic system of innumerable premises for the multiple purposes of living built up gradually throughout many dynasties. But now, it’s only reflected by unearthed vestiges. As a result, this place is very suitable for those fond of archaeology.
Museum of National Military History
On the condition that you want to study about Vietnamese military history, this location can fulfill your desire. There are a lot of the documents and pictures about the establishment of Vietnam’s army. Moreover, you can see certain weapons used during latter-day wars. Meanwhile, you can also have a look at Flag Tower, an additional stunning architecture.
HANOI SIGHTSEEING SPOTS – TAY HO DISTRICT
Actually, Tay Ho District has got this name from a lake called the Westlake. This water area is the largest lake in the inner city. And it’s also another Hanoi sightseeing spot in the north of Ba Dinh District as well. It is so large that it would take you about 1 hour to complete a ride around the lake. Some sports such as swimming, canoeing, fishing are allowable.
For historical sites, you should not miss Tran Quoc Pagoda and Tay Ho Temple. Both of the two places are inside the oases in the western shore of the lake. Or in the case you want to satisfy your hunger, the most illustrious dish in the Westlake you could try is shrimp in batter.
HANOI SIGHTSEEING SPOTS – DONG DA DISTRICT
The Temple of Literature
The last suggestive tourist attraction is the Temple of Literature, or Van Mieu Quoc Tu Giam in Vietnamese. This site is also the first university in Vietnamese feudal period. It’s where royal members and bureaucrats got educated. The place includes 5 courtyards each of which has some separate properties. The two prominent aspects are Khue Van Pavilion near the entrance, and loads of turtle statues on which the names of the elite who gained the best results in national examinations were carved. Remember that you mustn’t touch on such sculptures.
Anyway, all Hanoi sightseeing spots mentioned in this writing are the attractions you should attend to enjoy the holiday in Vietnam. After that, you will understand why Hanoi is turning itself into a new tourist-attracting capital in Asian countries.