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Home Page> Attractions> The Northern Attraction> Hanoi - The Capital of Vietnam

Hanoi - The Capital of Vietnam

In Vietnamese, Hanoi is always written separately, comprising two words: "Ha" meaning "river" (Red River) and "Noi" meaning "inner". However, before getting its present name, the capital city of Vietnam has undergone a complicated history filled with different stories for thousand years. After proclaiming independence from China in the 1010, Hanoi, then known as "Thang Long", was established as the capital of Vietnam under the first Dynasty of Ly. After the legend telling of the appearance of a golden dragon flying up from the Red River before the King’s eyes, the city was named “Thang Long”, meaning the "Ascending Dragon". Throughout the Ly, Tran and Le Dynasties ruling over Vietnam, Hanoi was developed as the capital covered with splendid palaces and temples until it was left abandoned when the capital was moved to Hue in 1831. The name of Hanoi was then used to call the city on the bank of the Red River.
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  • Under the French Occupation, Hanoi became the center of Indo-China. Large parts of the present-Hanoi still witness the French’s vestiges with broad & shady boulevards as well as gracefully French-styled architecture, creating a charming atmosphere of the colonial past and making Hanoi distinct from other Asian capitals. Along with European architectural works, historical vestiges from the ancient times are also well preserved, enhancing its typical beauty despite a great devastation during the wartimes. Hanoi city is composed of the Old Quarter and the French Quarter. Embellishing the city are many lakes, the largest ones are Hoan Kiem Lake, West Lake, and Truc Bach Lake. All of them are lined with roads under verdant shadows, providing a romantic ambiance for the city.
  • Production of traditional handicrafts is still active in Hanoi such as bronze mounding, silver carving, lacquer, and embroidery, making Hanoi the center of arts.
  • Although being the capital city, Hanoi still retains its leisurely pace in a quiet atmosphere compared to the more bustling Ho Chi Minh City. However, Hanoi deserves to be the capital of Vietnam thanks to its typical culture accumulated along the passage of time which defines best what Vietnam is.
Major attractions in Hanoi (travel vietnam)

Hoan Kiem Lake or the Restored Sword Lake

Lying in the heart of the Old Quarter, Hoan Kiem Lake embraces a miraculous legend of the city, telling about King Le Loi's relaxation trip by sampan on the lake after the victory over Chinese invasion. During his trip, a Golden Tortoise suddenly emerged to take back a holy sword given to the King by the God to protect the country against the enemy, and then disappeared into the lake, leading to its name today – Hoan Kiem Lake. In the middle of the lake, the Thap Rua (The Tortoise Tower) stands on an islet and becomes the symbol of Hanoi.
Around the lake, the pleasant scene of local people, who go jogging, do their traditional exercises, eat ice creams or relax under the shade of trees dotted on the lake bank, has illustrated well the simple happiness of Hanoi people.

Ngoc Son Temples
Also known as the "Jade Mountain Temple", Ngoc Son temple is situated not far from the Tortoise Tower, and can be reached by a red-painted wooden bridge called The Huc Bridge or the Sunrise Bridge. Ngoc Son Temple is built in the 19th century, dedicated to General Tran Hung Dao, a hero who fought against Mongolian invasion in the 13th century.

The Temple of Literature
The temple was constructed with the traditional Vietnamese architecture in 1070, dedicated to Confucian cult which broke the Buddhist monopoly in education.
The temple was then regarded as the first university in Vietnam. Throughout a 900-year history, thousands of Vietnamese elites graduated from this university. On the temple's grounds, there can be seen a lot of Vietnamese structures such as Khue Van Pavilion served as the meeting place of scholars in the past, the Worshipping Hall as well as the statue of Confucius.

One Pillar Pagoda
One Pillar Pagoda was built by the Emperor Ly Thai Tong in 1049 in order to thank the Goddess of Mercy for giving him a son. It was built of wood on a single stone pillar, designed to resemble a lotus blossom, a symbol of purity.

Historical Museum
Formerly used to be the French Far East School, the museum now houses an extensive collection of objects of the pre-historical and the beginning periods of the national history.

Fine Arts Museum

The Fine Arts Museum gathers a large collection of Vietnamese prestigious artifacts including sophisticated sculptures, paintings, lacquer wares, ceramics and other traditional art products.

Army Museum
War vestiges as well as weapons of the Chinese, the Soviet, the French and the United States can be found in this museum. There are also exhibits representing stories of Vietnam wars in different aspects.

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
The construction of Ho Chi Minh mausoleum started in 1973 despite his request for cremation. The mausoleum was built on the site where Ho Chi Minh read his Declaration of Vietnam's independence on 2 September 1945. On the same day 24 years later, he left forever. His body is well preserved in a glass coffin. This site should not be missed when you visit Hanoi.

Ho Chi Minh's Residence
Situated behind the mausoleum, a wooden house built on stilts was the place where Uncle Ho used to live from 1958 to 1969. The house was built with the style of Vietnamese ethnic minorities and has been preserved from the day when Ho Chi Minh went far away forever.

Dong Xuan Market
This is the most dynamic area of Hanoi with a number of shops displaying various kinds of goods. Located to the north of the Old Quarter, the market provides a variety of goods from basketry and carpets to local specialities.
Even the French wine and the Russian vodka are also sold here at a surprisingly cheap price with the guarantee of their origins. Stalls of colorful flowers enhance the liveliness of this market. Many kinds of traditional medicinal herbs are also available in this market.

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