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Destinations

HA NOI

Hanoi is the capital city of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam, lying in the center of Red river delta, bordered  by Thai Nguyen and Vinh Phuc provinces to the North, Ha Nam and Hoa Binh provinces to  the South, Bac Giang, Bac Ninh and Hung Yen to the East, Hoa Binh and Phu Tho to the West. Hanoi is 100km far from Hai Phong harbour.

Since its early ages, Hanoi had been the the center of culture, politics, economy and trade of the whole country. With its enlargment in August 2008, Hanoi is now the largest city in the country. The name “Ha Noi” has been derived from an ancient language which is literally known as a land area located in the inner side of Red River. It does not mean that the city is inside the river, but it is embraced by about 100 km of the Red River dykes.

 

Restored Sword Lake

 

Hanoi is the capital city of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam, lying in the center of Red river delta, bordered  by Thai Nguyen and Vinh Phuc provinces to the North, Ha Nam and Hoa Binh provinces to  the South, Bac Giang, Bac Ninh and Hung Yen to the East, Hoa Binh and Phu Tho to the West. Hanoi is 100km far from Hai Phong harbour. 

Since its early ages, Hanoi had been the the center of culture, politics, economy and trade of the whole country. With its enlargment in August 2008, Hanoi is now the largest city in the country. The name “Ha Noi” has been derived from an ancient language which is literally known as a land area located in the inner side of Red River. It does not mean that the city is inside the river, but it is embraced by about 100 km of the Red River dykes.

 

Area: 3, 328.9 km2

 

Population:  6, 699,600 inhabitants (2011) composed of 54 ethnic groups.

 

Topography: Ha Noi lies on both banks of the Red River, yet focuses heavily on the Red River's right bank. Ha Noi terrain with the average height of 5-20m above sea level can be seen to slope north-to-southward and west-to-eastward. Thanks to silts deposits, three quarters of its natural area is plain which sits on the Da River's right bank, on both banks of the Red River and tributaries of other rivers. Its hills and mountains mostly rise in districts of Soc Son, Ba Vi, Quoc Oai, and My Duc. Its urban area is home to low hills such as Dong Da Hill and Mount Nung.

Furthermore, Ha Noi is endowed with rivers (among which Red river and its tributaries are inland waterways), lakes and streams. 

 

Administrative units: At present, Ha Noi comprises 29 units divided into: 10 urban districts, 18 rural districts and 1 town.

 

Climate: Ha Noi lies on a tropical monsoon region; summer is hot and rainy, and winter is cold and humid. There are 4 seasons: spring (from January to April), summer (from May to August), autumn (from September to December), and winter (from December to January of the following year). Average annual temperature is 23.6%. Average annual humidity is 79% and average annual rainfall is 1,245 mm.

 

Sights of interest

Museums

 

 

                                                    Museum of History                                            Museum of Ethnology

 

Museum of History : (Vietnam National Museum of History) is located in Hoan Kiem district of Hanoi,  housed in a colonial French building which was completed in 1932. 

The exhibition system  is arranged chronologically from the primitive life in Vietnam to the August 1945 Revolution and the foundation of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. This historical process is displayed through more than 7,000 artifacts in a two-floor big building covering over 2,200 square meters, divided into four sections: Vietnam in the prehistory (section 1), the early national construction to the Tran Dynasty (section 2), Vietnam from the Ho Dynasty to the August 1945 Revolution (section 3), collection of the Champa stone sculptures (section 4).

 

Museum of the Revolution, located on 25 Tong Dan street, Hanoi. It was established in August 1959, formerly used by the Trade Department. It has been renovated and redesigned into 30 showrooms, containing more than 40,000 historical exhibits.

The main room presents Vietnam and the Vietnamese. The exposition continues with exhibits divided into the following topics:  national liberation movements of the Vietnamese against French troops before the Vietnamese Communist Party  was established  in the period 1858-1930, the national independence struggle of the Vietnamese under the leadership of the Communist Party from 1930- 1975 and then the social construction of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam from 1976 to 1994.

 

Ho Chi Minh Museum: located at 3 Ngoc Ha Street, Ba Dinh district in Ba Dinh Square area, next to Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum.  The museum is inaugurated on May 19th, 1990 to celebrate the 100th birthday of President Ho Chi Minh.

It is 20.5 m - high building consisting of 4 floors with a total area of ​​10.000m2. The project was designed as a lotus flower, symbolizing the noble qualities of President Ho Chi Minh.

Display area, nearly 4.000m2,  introduces over 117, 274 original artifacts and photographs reflecting the life and career of President Ho Chi Minh, associated with important historical events of Vietnam and the world from the late 19th century to the present.

 

Vietnam Museum of Ethnology: located on a 13,200m2 - property in the Cau Giay district, about 8 km from the city center. It is widely considered to be the finest modern museum in Vietnam. Construction lasted from 1987 to 1995, and it was opened to the public on November 12th, 1997.

The exhibition building was designed by the architect Ha Duc Linh, a member of the Tày ethnic group, in the shape of a Dong Son drum and the interior architecture was designed by the French female architect Véronique Dollfus.

The Museum comes out of the recognition that Vietnam is a multi-ethnic country and that more attention should be paid to promote socio-cultural diversity. Vietnam Museum of Ethnology is worth a thorough visit, for those who are keen to learn about the multiculturality of Vietnam and for those who would appreciate some green space.

There are both indoors and outdoors section. The permanent in-housed exhibition focuses on the 54 officially recognized ethnic groups in Vietnam spread over 2 floors of the building. The outdoors space is a large garden displaying a number of real scale traditional houses of ethnic minorities, especially those who live in Northern and Central highlands.

 

Vietnam Military History Museum: located at 30 Dien Bien Phu Street, in the former 10,000 m2 - site of a  French military camp.

The exhibition area is 2,000m2 with 30 rooms, displaying artefacts and documents related to the foundation and growth of the Vietnam People's Army of different periods through 4 main contents:

• Artefacts on safeguarding  the country in the past;

• The Foundation of the Vietnam People's Army and the pre-uprising period using rudimentary weapons;

• Mature phase of National Defense and the Vietnam People's Army in the period 1946-1954 with the weapons, equipment, mock- up, maps of major battles, especially arterfacts related to Dien Bien Phu Campaign;

• The Vietnam People's Army against the U.S. until 1975: maps, diorama of the Ho Chi Minh campaign, artefacts of the battle are displayed here .

Outdoors is a collection of large weapons such as Soviet and Chinese equipment along with French and US-made weapons captured during years of warfare. The centrepiece is a Soviet-built MiG-21 jet fighter, triumphant amidst the wreckage of French aircraft downed at Dien Bien Phu battle and a US F-111.

Adjacent is the hexagonal Flag Tower, one of the symbols of Hanoi. Access is possible to a terrace overlooking a rusting collection of war materiel.
 

Vietnamese Women’s Museum: located at 36 Ly Thuong Kiet Street, Hoan Kiem district. It is established in 1987 and open to the public in 1995. It is a gender museum with functions of research, preservation, and display of tangible and intangible historical and cultural heritages of Vietnamese women and Vietnam Women’s Union. It is also a centre for cultural exchange between Vietnamese and international women for the goal of equality, development and peace.

The museum has three main galleries presenting  three main themes: Women in Family, Women in History and Women’s Fashion. Visitors have the opportunity to learn and understand traditional culture, marriage customs, childbirth and family life, traditional women’s clothing and the role of women in the defense of the nation.

In addition to the main exhibits the museum have temporary exhibitions relating to contemporary social issues that face women as a whole and the community.

 

                     

                                                         Fine Arts Museum                                              Museum of  the Revolution                                                                    

Fine Arts Museum: located at 66 Nguyen Thai Hoc Street, housed in  two buildings that were once the pension for French officials’ daughters in Indochina. From June 26th, 1966 it became Vietnam Fine Arts Museum, with approximately 10,000 works (original and restored artifacts, replica, pictures) displayed in thematic rooms:

- Fine Arts in 54 - ethnic Vietnamese population

- Vietnam Fine Arts in primitive and ancient era (Neolithic, Bronze Age and early Iron Age)

- Fine Arts in feudal Vietnam (11th - 18th century)

- Ancient Vietnamese sculpture (renowned works from the 11th to the 19th century) .

- Vietnamese Folk paintings

- Vietnamese Modern Art technology

- Vietnamese Fine Arts before the August Revolution 1945

- Vietnamese Fine Arts during French priod (1946 - 1954)

- Vietnamese Fine Arts from 1954 to the present .

 

Architecture through different periods

 

Hanoi old Citadel

 

The Imperial Citadel of Thang Long is the cultural complex comprising the royal enclosure first built during the Lý Dynasty and subsequently expanded by the following dynasties: Tran, Le, Nguyen. The royal palaces and most of the structures in Thang Long were in varying states of disrepair by the late 19th century during the war. By the 20th century many of the remaining structures were torn down. Only in the 21st century are the ruin foundations of Thang Long Imperial City systematically excavated.

The central sector of the imperial citadel was listed in UNESCO’s World Heritage Site on July 31st, 2010.

 

Hanoi Flag Tower is part of the structures related to the Imperial City is the Flag Tower of Hanoi. Rising to a height of 33.4 m (41 m with the flag), it is frequqently used as a symbol of the city. Built in 1812 during the Nguyen Dynasty, the tower, unlike many other structures in Hanoi, was spared during the French colonial rule (1885 – 1954) as it was used as a military post.

 

 

                                        Pt Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum                                           Temple of Literature

 

Temple of Literature & National University

Originally built as a university in 1070 dedicated to Confucius, scholars and sages, the building is extremely well preserved and is a superb example of traditional-style Vietnamese architecture.

This ancient site offers a lake of literature, the Well of Heavenly Clarity, turtle steles, pavilions, courtyards and passageways that were once used by royalty. Visiting the Temple of Literature you will discover historic buildings from the Ly and Tran dynasties in a revered place that has seen thousands of doctors’ graduate in what has now become a memorial to education and literature.

Originally the university only accepted aristocrats, the elite and royal family members as students before eventually opening its doors to brighter ‘commoners’. Successful graduates had their names engraved on a stone stele which can be found on top of the stone turtles.

 

Pt Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum is a large memorial, built in the centre of Ba Dinh Square, which is the place where Pt Ho Chi Minh read the Declaration of Independence on September 2nd, 1945, establishing the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.

 The structure is 21.6 metres high and 41.2 metres wide. Flanking the mausoleum are two platforms with seven steps for parade viewing. The plaza in front of the mausoleum is divided into 240 green squares separated by pathways. The gardens surrounding the mausoleum have nearly 250 different species of plants and flowers, all from different regions of Vietnam.
Pt Ho Chi Minh's body is preserved in the cooled, central hall of the mausoleum, which is protected by a military honor guard. The body lies in a glass coffin with dim lights. The mausoleum is closed 2 months/ year (October and November) while work is done to restore and preserve the body but is normally open daily in the morning (except Monday  and Friday) to the public. Lines of local and foreign visitors pay their respects at the mausoleum.

 

 

                                                    Presidential Palace                                                   Pt Ho Chi Minh's House-on-stilt

 

The Presidential Palace is a hundred-year-old French colonial building in the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Complex surrounding Ba Dinh Square.

Completed in 1906, the Presidential Palace is a thoroughly French Beaux-Arts edifice painted mustard yellow. It was once the General Governor of Indochina residence during French colonial period.

The Palace is inextricably linked to Vietnam's French colonial past, so much so that when Pt Ho Chi Minh came back after Dien Bien Phu battle, he declined to live in the overtly luxurious parts of the palace. In 1958, a stilt house was built in the palace gardens and said to have served as his residence and office.

The Palace interior is not open to tourists, unless you're a diplomat or visiting foreign dignitary - Ambassador-designates present their credentials to the President of Vietnam at the Presidential Palace.

 

Pt Ho Chi Minh’s house on stilt is surrounded by gardens and pond at the rear of the Palace is wide open. The stilt house's design is based on traditional houses from the Vietnamese northwest, which reminded Pt Ho Chi Minh of the houses in which he took refuge from the French while he was still a revolutionary. Pt Ho Chi Minh lived there from 1958 until his death in 1969.

 

St.Joseph’s Cathedral is located on Nha Tho street, Hoàn Kiếm district. The late 19th-century neo-gothic style church serves as the cathedral of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hanoi to nearly 4 million Catholics in the country.

Construction began in 1886 and was one of the first structures built by the French colonial government in Indochina when it opened in December 1886. It is the oldest church in Hanoi.

 

 

                                                     St Joseph's Cathedral                                    Hanoi flag tower    

                                                                      

Opera House

 

Opera House was erected by the French colonial administration between 1901 and 1911. It was modeled on the Palais Garnier opera in Paris and is considered to be one of the architectural landmarks of Hanoi.

After the departure of the French the opera house became the scene for several political events as well as the scene of street fighting during the fight for Hanoi. The opera had depended on touring artists performing French and Italian repertoire during the colonial period for a mainly French audience. Today the orchestra of the opera overlaps with theVietnam National Symphony Orchestra and calls on the Hanoi Philharmonic Orchestra of the Hanoi Conservatory and has seen many premieres of operas and musicals by Vietnamese composers.

 

Ancient Pagodas and Temples

  

                           Ngoc Son temple                                       Quan Thanh temple                               Tran Quoc pagoda

                             

Ngoc Son temple  next to Lake of the Restored sword : the temple was erected in the 18th century. It honors the 13-century military leader Tran Hung Dao who distinguished himself in the fight against the Yuan Dynasty, Van Xuong, a scholar, and Nguyen Van Sieu, a Confucian master and famous writer in charge of repairs made to the temple in 1864. Jade Island is connected to the shore by the wooden red-painted The Huc Bridge (i.e.Morning Sunlight Bridge).

Quan Thanh Temple sits on the southeastern corner of West Lake (Ho Tay). While not especially large, the temple is one of the city’s oldest–it dates back to the 11th century–and amongst the four designated as its most sacred. At the heart of the main shrine is an impressive bronze statue depicting Huyen Thien Tran Vu (usually shortened to Tran Vu), one the higher-ranking Taoist deities and often known as the God of the North. He’s also of particularly revered by martial artists–the reason that martial arts classes are hosted at the temple. The statue was cast in 1677, stands 13 feet high and weighs in at nearly 4 tons.

Tran Quoc pagoda, at about 1400 years old, is definitely Hanoi’s oldest temple. It sits on the tiny Golden Fish Island on West Lake (Ho Tay), joined to the lake banks by a causeway. It’s a picturesque spot, but the temple wasn’t always here. Originally, in the 6th century, the pagoda was built on the banks of the Red River. When the changing course of the river threatened to wash the temple away, in 1615 the building was moved to its current location.

 

  

                              One pillar pagoda                                           Thay pagoda                                  Tay Phuong pagoda

 

The One pillar pagoda was originally built by the Emperor Ly Thai Tong in 1049. According to the annals, the heirless emperor dreamed that he had met the Goddess of Mercy, who while seated on a lotus flower, handed him a male child. The Emperor then married a young peasant girl and had a son and heir by her. As a way of expressing his gratitude to the Goddess or Mercy, he constructed a pagoda here in 1049. The One Pillar 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. The original wooden pillar is destructed during the French evacuation in 1955 and then was rebuilt by the new government.

 

Tay Phuong Pagoda dated from the 17th century, has an architecture that is a masterpiece of  wood carving in Vietnam. Its frame made of wood covered with tiles. The shape of roof is a curve, on the edge of temple roof decorated by a statue of dragon. The pagoda is situated on a hill, after climbing 238 steps of laterite to reach the pagoda gate. A collection of 62 wooden statues, masterpieces of the 18th century is displayed on the shelves, on both sides of the main altar.

 

Thay pagoda, 30 km southwest of Hanoinot far from Tay Phuong pagoda, was built in the 11th century during the reign of King Ly Nhan Tong. At first, it was a small pagoda managed by Monk Tu Dao Hanh.

The pagoda consists of 3 structures: the outer part, Ha Pagoda, is a place for offerings and ceremonies; the middle part, Trung Pagoda, is a place for worship of Buddha; and the inner part, Thuong Pagoda,  is a place for worship of Monk Tu Dao Hanh. In front of the pagoda is Long Tri pond, in the middle of which is a stage called Thuy Dinh, where water puppet performances are held.

 

Perfume pagoda (Huong Pagoda) is a large complex of Buddhist temples and shrines built into the  limestone Huong Tich mountains. It is the site of pilgrimage for local people from across Vietnam. The main altar  of this complex is located in Huong Tich Cave. The pilgrimage season at Perfume Pagoda is during the Huong Pagoda festival, when hundreds of thousands of pilgrims make their way to Huong Tich cave and the other temples lasting from mid January to mid March.

 

 

                          Perfume pagoda                                                                       Duong Lam village

 

Duong Lam village, located some 60km to west of Hanoi, is the first ancient village recognised as a national relic by the Ministry of Culture and Information.

The ancient village has a history of about 1,200 years with many houses dating back up to 400 years. One special thing about the village is that most of the buildings here are made of laterite and mud, two materials that are abundant in the area. Laterite is used on house walls, gates, wells, temple walls, and so forth. The mud is taken from ponds. Apart from its historical and tourism values, Duong Lam ancient village is an important place for scientists to study resident communities in ancient agriculture. The village gate, banyan, well, communal house are important factors in classifying Duong Lam ancient village.

 

Commercial centers

 

Hanoi Old Quarter /or/ 36 old streets and guilds quarter is a well-known area for the history, the architecture, the enormous amount and diversity of products and even the everyday life of its residents.

The Old Quarter marked its appearance in the 11th century, when King Ly Thai To decided to build his palace. From a group of workshop villages surrounding the royal palace, the Old Quarter has gradually transformed into craft cooperatives, or guilds and soon gained its reputation as the business trading areas of the Red River delta. Skilled craftsmen migrated to the Quarter to live and work together in the same guilds, which were made specialized for artisans performing similar products.

The Old Quarter still retained much of the original traits that interest tourists, especially those with architectural passion. The houses in this quarter, called “tubular houses”, are short and narrow but have great length.

Visitors will certainly be eager to wander along the old streets to drop by stores and buy specialties. In addition, visitors as well as city dwellers can go to the night market taking place along some walking old streets.

 

 

                                                       Hanoi Old Quarter                                                      Dong Xuan market

Dong Xuan Market  is located only 600 m north of Hoan Kiem Lake, originally built by the French administration in 1889.

At the end of 19th century, the Old Quarter of Hanoi had two main market places, one at Hang Duong street and the other at Hang Ma street. In 1889, these two markets were closed and replaced by the original Dong Xuan Market which was built by the order of the French administration in 1889 as one of the main new architectures of Hanoi, together with Long Bien Bridge which was located nearby and completed in 1902.The market was located at the Hanoi's Old Quarter which was only 600 m north of Hoan Kiem Lake. 

Dong Xuan Market has been renovated several times with the latest in 1994 after a fire which almost destroyed the market. Nowadays, Dong Xuan Market is the largest covered market of Hanoi where the wholesale traders sell everything from clothes, household goods to foodstuffs.

 

Shopping malls: Vincom, Trang Tien Plaza, Ruby Plaza

 

Entertainment places

 

Parks are spread in differents districts in Hanoi where locals may do morning exercises or profit fresh air in summer .

 

Botanical gardens are located just above the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum complex northwest of the Old Quarter, providing  an excellent respite from Hanoi's busy streets.

 

Ba Vi national Park, Ao Vua waterfall

Ba Vi national park , 50km west of Hanoi center, dotted with fresh alpine climate, has long become an ideal destination for local and foreign tourists. In the middle of the hills, there is a block of high mountain that includes 3 peaks (Vua peak, Tan Vien peak and Ngoc Hoa peak) creating the name of Ba Vi.

In the middle of mountainside, there are many waterfalls flowing down every day and it forms the attractive places among which Ao Vua is very famous.

 

 

Popular theaters

 

                                   Water puppet                                                                                 Ca tru

 

Water puppet show is a traditional art performance that dates back as far as the 11th century when it originated in the villages of the Red River Delta area of northern Vietnam. The puppets are made out of wood and then lacquered. The shows are performed in a waist-deep pool. A large rod supports the puppet under the water and is used by the puppeteers, who are normally hidden behind a screen, to control them. Thus the puppets appear to be moving over the water. When the rice fields would flood, the villagers would entertain each other using this form of puppet play.

Water puppet show may be watched at Vietnam National Puppetry theater  or at Thang Long Water Puppet theater.

 

Ca tru  is a complex form of sung poetry found in the north of Vietnam using lyrics written in traditional Vietnamese poetic forms. Ca trù groups comprise 3 performers: a female singer who uses breathing techniques to create unique ornamented sounds, while playing the clappers or striking a wooden box, and two instrumentalists who produce the deep tone of a three-stringed lute and the strong sounds of a praise drum. Some Ca Tru performances also include dance. The varied forms of Ca Tru fulfill different social purposes, including worship singing, singing for entertainment, singing in royal palaces and conpetitive singing.

Ca tru may be heard at Thang Long Ca Tru theater or at Hanoi  Ca Tru Club.

 

 

Traditional handicrafts village

 

Bat Trang porcelain and pottery village

Is the type of ceramics made in the village of Bat Trang, located in the suburban outskirts of Hanoi, in an area rich in clay suitable for making fine ceramic. Bat Trang ceramics are considered as the best known porcelain products in Vietnam. The history of china making in this village can be traced back as far as the 14th century AD. During the past centuries, Bát Tràng china products have travelled in European trading ships to all parts of the world.

 

                                Bat Trang porcelain and pottery village                                                  Van Phuc silk village              

        

Van Phuc silk village

Also named Ha Dong silk village as it is located in Ha Dong District, 10km from Hanoi center. The village is the cradle of Vietnamese silk, the origin of best silk and silk-making industry of Vietnam, which is attached to a long-lasting history of more than two thousand years. 

Van Phuc  silk is known for its smooth and lightweight appearance, and qualities that enable it to be dyed more colors to suit a variety of skin tones. In order to cater for the changing demands and tastes of customers, Van Phuc silk producers are expanding their silk and garment repertoire: traditional glossy, embroidered silks, double layers, wrinkled silks, and of course, more colours, hues and weights, for which they have invented new techniques in dying and thermo-processing the threads.

Situated on the bank of Nhue river, the village still preserves its traditional aspect such as its well next to the banyan, its communal house.

 

Quat Dong embroidery village

It is a traditional village of handicraft from 17thcentury. The embroidery in Quat Dong has been reached to the sophiscated and refined level. The traditional craft has been in existence for thousands of years, first marked by embroidered letters on clothes and silk in the first century.

 

Ngu Xa bronze casting village

The village of Ngu Xa is located to the west of Hanoi, near to the Truc Bach Lake and  the West Lake. 
Ngu Xa represents the talent of Vietnamese bronze casters. Their products over the last 500 years have become great masterpieces of national art.

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