Hanoi capital lies at the heart of the northern Red River Delta, and is a city of lakes, leafy boulevards and open parks with a French colonial feel.
Hanoi was founded in 1010, and became the centre of government for the Indochina Union under French rule in 1888. In 1954 it became the official capital of independent Vietnam. Today ancient crumbling buildings dating from the 11th century lie scattered among grand French colonial residences, while shrines and monuments to Vietnam's first president, Ho Chi Minh, sit in the shadow of modern high-rise buildings. The streets of the Old Quarter preserve age-old customs, where trade takes one back half a century, and temples, pagodas and monuments reflect the historic character of Vietnam.
Although a city of historical importance, and the social and cultural centre of Vietnam, it is a surprisingly modest and charming place, far slower and less developed than Ho Chi Minh City in the south. Hanoi has retained its appealing sense of the old world, despite the onset of a brisk tourism trade in 1993, absorbing the boom of hotels, travellers' hangouts and Internet cafes, and the gradual infiltration of western-style food and fashions into the once inaccessible city.
As the early morning mist rises from the serene Hoan Kiem Lake, tracksuit-clad elders perform the slow movements of tai chi, like park statues coming to life. Streets fill with activity, mopeds and bicycles weave among pedestrians, while cyclo drivers (three-wheeled bicycle taxis) clamour for attention, and postcard vendors cluster around tourists like bees sensing an open honey pot.
Hanoi is fast becoming one of the most enticing and interesting cities in Asia. As a cultural centre there are traditional water puppet shows, and music and dance performances. It is also a good base for excursions to the beautiful Halong Bay, or into the Hoang Lien Mountains inhabited by several hill tribes.
The cultural and historic remains are huge attractions for tourists and locales alike. Sightseeing in Hanoi is a major attraction for tourists thronging the city in droves.
You can catch amazing sights of the ancient buildings rich in history and culture on sightseeing tours in Hanoi. The serene Hoan Kiem Lake is a major attraction of Hanoi. Ngoc Son on the banks of the lake is another major attraction of Hanoi. The Old Quarter with its 36 winding streets is a lively center located at the north of the lake. The remains of Hanoi Hilton’ or Hoa Lo Prison is a must see on sightseeing tours in Hanoi. Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum, Ho Chi Minh’s House and Museum and the tiny One Pillar Pagoda are huge draws for tourists. Several museums are found scattered across the city. Vietnamese National History Museum, the National Museum of Ethnology, the National Museum of Fine Arts and the Revolution Museum are the most notable museums of Hanoi. All museums remain closed on Mondays and some remain closed also on Fridays. You should also visit the major attractions of Hanoi like he Temple of literature, Bach Ma Pagoda, Dong Xuan Market, Lang Pagoda, Lien Phai Pagoda, President Palace Memorial Site, Quan Thanh Pagoda, St. Joseph's Cathedral and Tran Quoc Pagoda, on sightseeing tours of the city.
Best time to visit
The climate is generally agreeable. Hanoi is most pleasant from February to April and September to November avoiding the heat and the rain. The official peak season in Vietnam is from September to April.
Tourist season runs from late June through August and October through Tet, the grand New Year's celebration that takes place in late January or early February. Hanoi is worth visiting during the festival times as the city celebrates in a grand manner. Just make sure that you book your accommodations and transportations prior to the time of your visit because Vietnamese tend to travel in the summer and around Tet, making it difficult to get the booking in time.
Tips for travellers
Hanoi the social, cultural and economic center of the country is one of the most captivating cities in Southeast Asia. The city has countless attractions to offer. Hanoi also has certain useful information that are helpful and beneficial for the visitors.
The most pleasant weather to visit Hanoi is from February to April and September to November avoiding the heat and the rain. The official peak season in Vietnam is from September to April. Hanoi health information offers a detailed account on International health clinics in the city. The capital of Vietnam, Hanoi has moderately sound health care facilities with a large number of general hospitals and specialty hospitals.
Hanoi city also offers list of emergency phone numbers on which you can contact in case of any help or aid like police, fire, ambulance etc. Hanoi also has Foreign Consulates in Hanoi so that you could access them during emergency and other needs.