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Hanoi is famous for numerous rivers, lakes, and mountains alongside and in the surroundings. Scattered around are places of sight-seeing, which are so much attractive thanks to green lands full of streams, rivers, and mountain, such as Tam Dao, Con Son, Kiep Bac, etc.
Hanoi is also well known for typical tropical seasoned place of South East Asia with four seasons: fresh, green and cool in Spring, a bit hot in Summer, fine in Autumn, and cold in Winter. Yet the most interesting thing is that all those take place in most sites of the capital.
“Leisuring around the rivers in the suburbs or walking down the green mountains like Soc Temple in Soc Mount, Ve Linh Mount, Phuc Tuong Mount, etc, in autumn brings in such a great feeling. Believe me, you will taste the cool and fresh air as if the most delicious desert after such a busy time”, said a busy trader during her stay in Hanoi.
Before being named “Hanoi” as present, the capital had had several names throughout history. In 1010, Ly Thai To, the first ruler of the Ly Dynasty, moved the capital of Đại Việt (the Great Viet) to the site of the Đại La Citadel.
Claiming to have seen a dragon ascending the Red River, he renamed it Thăng Long (Ascending Dragon) - a name still used poetically to this day with the belief that this was good omen of the country’s future. It remained the capital of Vietnam until 1397, when the capital was moved to Thanh Hoa, also known as Tây Đô (Western Capital).
Thăng Long then became Đông Đô (Eastern Capital). King Minh Mang, under the Nguyen Dynasty, has laid the name “Hanoi” on the capital since 1831. This means “a city lying Between Rivers or River Interior”, which are Red and Day rivers. Hanoi became the capital of Vietnam when North and South Vietnam were reunited on July 2, 1976.
Many historians reckon that the city was established more than 1,500 years ago. Therefore, with the length of living, Hanoi is very rich of cultural, historical and traditional values.
Historical Places to visit
Within the “River Interior City”, there are a number of historical and beautiful places to get by. Mentioning about Hanoi, what comes first to tourists’ mind is the ever first historical University of the capital and also the nation - Van Mieu - Quoc Tu Giam (Translated as “The Literature Temple”).
Besides its foremost meaning, Van Mieu is also the place to worship Confucius, setting doctor steles. Youngsters and youth always come here to pray for success by touching the rock tortoises’ head before any examinations, cause it is believed to be very sacred.
Since Vietnam is a Buddhism-oriented nation, its capital has been the Buddhism center for centuries. As a result, it is not surprising that there are as many as about 600 temples and pagodas in Hanoi.
For Buddhist tourists, among many great pagodas, Tran Quoc Pagoda should be the first to pay a visit. It is not only the oldest one among those 600, (6 century years old), but also one of the most gorgeous and sacred.
The second that is worth visiting is Mot Cot Pagoda (One-Pillar pagoda), another symbol of the capital. Its special architecture is similar to a lotus on the top of water.
Located near the two symbolic pagodas and right in the middle of the capital it is the historical Lake – Hoan Kiem Lake (Lake of Returned Sword), and Ngoc Son Temple with 100% natural beauty.
Related to the Lake, Vietnam has a classic story telling about King Le Loi after winning over Minh invader, returned the magic Sword to the Tortoise down in the Lake. Since then, the Lake was named “Hoan Kiem”. It is more surprising that up to now, the historical Tortoise still sometimes appear up the Lake surface for a moment.
As for Catholics coming to Hanoi, there are also great Churches to come for praying and/or visiting. From 19th century, many Catholic churches were built in here. The biggest one is Cathedral. And Cua Bac church is a beautiful original typical French architect.
As you may have found out, Hanoi is more an antique and peaceful city than a modern one. This might be seen quite clearly when you take a walk around the 36 Old Quarter.
This is a typical characteristic of Hanoi with small old streets, tube houses which still remain their shape from 19th century. Additionally, the beauty of Hanoi in the past is also found in the ancient citadel, right nearby.
Historical places that worth to pay a visit cannot be without Ba Dinh Square, the political area where President Ho Chi Minh read the Independent Declaration on the September 2nd, 1945. As famous as this is the House of Parliament, Presidential Palace, President Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, etc.
To know more about Vietnam in general and Hanoi in particular, both in terms of history, tourists should spend one or two days on visiting the nation’s Ethnology, Military, History, Ho Chi Minh,... museums. These will open a huge detailed picture of this antique and beautiful historical city.
Talking about Hanoi’s culture, there must be a long time to complete the story. The initial Hanoi’s famous cultural thing is a series of traditional handicraft villages, such as Bat Trang ceramic and pottery village, Hang Bac silver-making street, Ngu Xa bronze-making, Phu Do noodle-making, Yen Phu incense, and Ngoc Ha flower, and Dong Ho picture villages.
All of them have existed for centuries, and are still famous for 99% hand-made and 100% nature-originated products.
Hanoians are extremely good at making and tasting food. They have so many delicacies, for example, Banh cuon (steamed rice roll), Cha ca La Vong (La Vong grilled fish), Pho (noodle) with chicken or beef, Nem (spring roll), and so on. it can be said that this is the most attractive thing for foreigners to come and feel a “special Hanoi through Hanoi specialties”.
Adding more to Hanoi's culture, kinds of arts play very impotant role. Hanoi’s famous culture also lies in Folk performances, which are Water Puppet, Cheo, Tuong and A Dao… (a traditional kind of music performances).
Besides plentiful cultural relics, Hanoi boasts many scenes of beauty. The most popular ones in Hanoi are peaceful lakes. Standing around all the city’s lakes are great and high green trees with large shadows on sunny days. Also, they are sources of inspiration for artists.
The famous Hoan Kiem Lake (mentioned above), West Lake, Truc Bach, Bay Mau Lake, etc., are the undeniable green, fresh, and peaceful beauties of the capital.
Lots of songs and poems have recommended their beauty from time to time, season to season. “West Lake in the Autumn afternoon, peaceful flat water surface from far far away is so much appealing…”, those beautiful popular song words are always ever bear in mind by Hanoians as time goes by.
Water Park near West Lake is another side of sight-seeing places with all colorful and playful water games to play. This is really suitable for children. But it is strongly suggested that they should always be accompanied by their parents when playing strong-feeling games there!
A green and peaceful Hanoi, a fast-growing hospitable city with great tourism potentials, is now open and warmly welcome friends from all over the world.
Hanoi day tours
Tours in and around Hanoi city are available at all duration and price levels from different travel agencies, in which short-length city tours (one day or half a day) and day tours from Hanoi are most popular among tourists thanks to its low prices and flexible time arrangements.
Hanoi is a mix of busy modern life and sustainable values preserved for generations. As such, this capital city has become extremely attractive to tourists especially with Culture and History tours.
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Hanoi Is The Way to Go
1. Romantic classic beauty:
The classic beauty of Hanoi is certainly the first thing that pulls tourists back to the ancient capital. The way the city is shaped and glued together is so charming that the only thing you could do is to keep your eyes on the road and contemplate the intoxicatingly traditional, cultural and ancient feel of Hanoi. You will definitely be charmed by the antique narrow streets of the Old Quarter which seem to stay unchanged for hundreds of years, and excited about the history of each street and every alley.
While the shores of Hoan Kiem Lake are unparalleled for tourists watching, wide boulevards to the west of the Old Quarter with fanatic French colonial architecture could thrill you as you find yourself cornered in the old times. The tranquility of Hanoi with tree-lined streets and ancient houses will bring you to peace, which might be a luxury for those coming to Ho Chi Minh City. An array of traditional and cultural attractions in Hanoi is waiting for you to discover.
If you come to Vietnam in the autumn or the winter, you should not miss a chance to enjoy the cool or even sometimes bitter cold weather in Hanoi. Wandering around Hanoi, feeling the cold sneaking into your clothes and your hair, then dropping by a street vendor to enjoy a toasted corn on the cob, you would wonder if anything is more unique.
Meanwhile, you will soon unconsciously be lured by milk flowers infusing the cool air of the autumn with a tart-sweet fragrance exclusively belonging to Hanoi. For people who are in love with dynamic and buzzing life, cold days in Hanoi in their eyes are perhaps a little bit boring and lacking in vitality; yet, in fact, staying in the country a little longer, they are bound to treasure such days in a growing Hanoi. Only in these days can they savor a different Hanoi, a Hanoi with a sense of nostalgia.
Reaching Hanoi in hot summer days is not a bad idea either. When it hits the peak of the summer, the scorching hot of Hanoi may discourage the enthusiasm of the most passionate tourists about wonderful sightseeing trips. But definitely you do not have to wait so long for a sudden heavy shower, coming fast and leaving even faster; contemplating Hanoi after the rain is an amazing experience, rest assured.
3. Food vendors and Coffee
Where in Vietnam that you cannot walk down the street without encountering a food vendor? It must only be here, in Hanoi, the city of gastronomy and street vendors. Perhaps in other cities, there is no lack of delicious cuisines but only in Hanoi, you could enjoy specialties of three regions of Vietnam, not to mention the interesting way to savor these appetizing dishes. Who would come to Vietnam for an international banquet anyway?
Crouching down on stools several inches off the ground to relish delicious foods, sniffing the smell of stuffs in the making while contemplating the daily life of the local people, you could once again find peace of mind. That cultural flavor you could never get when eating at a proper table and chairs in a restaurant.
Also, the habit of drinking coffee of Hanoians could convey a subtle nuance of the capital city. The coffee culture here is totally different from other places. Full of ice in a black or a white coffee is a typical glass of coffee in HCMC, but in Hanoi, you could enjoy the darkest, strongest coffee and sip it for a long time while watching people travelling back and forth.
4. Take it Slow - Take it Easy - Take it Beautifully
With a population of 7 million, the pace of living Hanoi has the feel of a small town, quiet and peaceful, totally different from other emerging cities. Although the life in Hanoi is getting more and more hectic, you could easily find the silence in the noise. Hanoians live more slowly, willing to spend hours for a glass of their favorite coffee, idle chats and even for daydreaming.
5. Cool beer
Is there anyone crazy enough to waste two months of salary coming to a South-east Asian city just to enjoy nice and cheap cool beer in a corner of ancient streets? Hanoi itself has such power.
A long time ago, Bia Hoi is considered one specialty of the capital city, a reason for nostalgia of many Hanoians living far away from the city. And when tourists are flooding to this peaceful city, the antique street named Ta Hien is getting more famous, gathering a rendezvous of people from all walks of life.
Foreign tourists bring here a lease of life with informal handshakes, streams of cheery laughs, and “no-border” wishes. A cultural feature of the so called “foreign street” has gradually formed, contributing to the beauty of a Hanoi full of vitality. Further from an ideal place for cool beer, Hanoi is the place of cultural convergence, cultural exchange and mutual understanding.
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Tuan Chau , Ha Long, Quang Ninh
Tuan Chau , Ha Long, Quang Ninh
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