Hanoi - Millennium capital of Vietnam

Hanoi, meaning "the city in the heart of the rivers", is the capital and second largest city of Vietnam. The old historical quarter, the villages existing from the French colony, the temples over one thousand years old, and many other picturesque sites ... make Hanoi one of the most attractive cities in Southeast Asia. In addition, the influences from China and France further enriched the city's culture.
Area: 3328.9 km2
Population: 7,558,956 inhabitants (2015)
Emperor Ly Thai To ordered in 1010 to transfer the capital of the country from Hoa Lu to Thang Long (Hanoi nowadays), inaugurating a period of prosperity of Vietnam after ten centuries of Chinese domination.
Located on the western bank of the Red River, the capital of Thang Long has privileges to develop the economy and defend the country: fertile land, population density.
Hanoi has been the capital of Vietnam for nearly a thousand years, during that time the city has endured many invasions, restorations, and changes of name. During the Nguyen dynasty (1802-1945), the capital of Thang Long was transferred to Hue. Since 1831, the name of Thang Long was changed to Hanoi and has been maintained until today.
After the revolution of August 1945, Hanoi city was once again designated as the capital of Vietnam.
Today, the millennium city presents a new physiognomy. Here is a lively city of 7 million inhabitants. New boulevards, streets and highways have emerged, many hotels and modern buildings are pushing everywhere giving the modern image to the capital of Vietnam.
The Old Quarter of Hanoi is compared to the ancient city of Venice by Westerners, until today it still remains the old original quarter in Vietnam. The old quarter was name "quarter of the 36 guilds" because each of its streets was (or is still) a craft cooperative, or guild. Street names originate from the thirteenth century, streets often called by "Hang" which means "craft cooperative" followed by the names of products.  There are, for example, Hang Gai (Hemp Street), Hang Ga (Chicken Street), Hang Bac (Silver and Gold treet) and so on. This place, full of history, is a place of trade and commerce unique in South East Asia.
Within these streets are interwoven the traditional houses, the historical monuments and the restaurants. This old quarter still retains its appearance of an ancient architecture with touching houses and busy streets. In a corner of the old quarter stands Dong Xuan market which was built at the time of the French in Vietnam. It is the largest market of the city.
Hoan Kiem Lake (or Sword Restored Lake) is beautiful as a flower basket in the heart of Hanoi city. The water surface of the lake is a large mirror reflecting the shadow of the old trees and weeping willows shaking in the wind.
The name of Hoan Kiem is related to the legend telling that the king Le Thai To gave up his sword to the golden turtle after his fight. There are two islets on the lake. The largest is Ngoc Islet located to the north of the lake, where the Ngoc Son temple (Jade Mountain Temple) is located. The Rua islet (the island of the Tortoise) is smaller, located to the south of the lake, on which there is an ancient tower.
Take the majestic red wooden bridge called "The Huc" to reach the Ngoc Son Temple (Jade Mountain Temple) on the large island connected to the shores of Hoan Kiem Lake. This famous temple pays tribute to several deities including the god of literature, Van De Xuong, General Tran Hung Dao and the genius of medicine La To.
Hanoi Opera House is a grand cultural monument built in 1902 and inaugurated in 1911. The Opera House has a classical but elegant beauty, where the major cultural and artistic events of the capital and the country take place.
Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum
Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum is the centerpiece of the Ho Chi Minh Complex, which consists of the Mausoleum (closed every Monday and Friday), Ba Dinh square, Presidential Palace, Uncle Ho’s House on stilts, One Pillar Pagoda. On foot, you visit this special complex by passing from one site to another.
Note: The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is usually closed for one month between September and December of each year when the remains of Ho Chi Minh are sent to Moscow for restoration. In this case, the visit of the Mausoleum of Uncle Ho is done only outside.
One Pillar Pagoda is an original monument within the complex of Dien Huu Pagoda. The pagoda is also called Lien Hoa Dai (means the lotus calyx).  It is of a square shape with a curved roof placed on a round stone pillar.  The pagoda was originally built in 1049, after the dream of King Ly Thai To seeing Buddha Quan Am (Guanyin) sitting on a lotus calyx. Through centuries and wars, the pagoda has undergone numerous changes and repairs, the most recent restoration was in 1922.
The pagoda now is smaller than the original one, it is 3m long each side, the roof curved. The unique character of the architecture is that the Pagoda is placed on a stone pillar located in middle of a square lake. This is how the pagoda reflects the image of a lotus flower on the water.
Temple of Literature
Called Van Mieu - Quoc Tu Giam in Vietnamese and built in 1070 and 1076 by the emperor of the Ly Dynasty, the Temple of Literature was the first university in Vietnam. It was here that the first literary contest of the country took place, destined for the education of Vietnam's bureaucrats, nobles, royalty and other members of the elite. In 1484, the Emperor Lê Thánh Tông erected 116 steals of carved blue stone turtles with elaborate motifs to honour talent and encourage study.  Even today you can admire 82 of the 117 steals remained.
West Lake, the mirror of Hanoi, was once part of the Red River left behind when the river changed its course. The West Lake is attached to its mysterious legends of several thousand years. Around the lake you can visit a lot of beautiful places like: Nghi Tam village and Nhat Tan village specializing in flower cultivation, Kim Lien pagoda, Xuan Tao village with its Soc temple which worship Thanh Giong (a mythical folk hero in Vietnam’s history), Ke Buoi village with its traditional paper making, the Tran Quoc pagoda, the Quan Thanh temple ...
Tran Quoc Pagoda
Tran Quoc pagoda was built in the 6th century under the reign of Ly Nam De. The pagoda was built in the context where the country had been occupied by the Chinese empires. This is why it was named originally Khai Quoc (birth of the country) and Tran Quoc (defense of the country) during the later Le dynasty (1428 -1788).
Quan Thanh Temple
Not far from the Tran Quoc pagoda is Quan Thanh temple. It was built at the beginning of the Ly dynasty (1010 - 1225) and dedicated to Tran Vo, the guardian genius of the North. In the temple, you can admire the statue of the genius Tran Vo in black bronze. It is 4m high, weighing 4 tones, cast in 1677.
Museum of Ethnology is an attractive destination for visitors. As the name suggests, it presents the 54 ethnic groups living on Vietnamese territory, through 25000 objects of daily life. Created in November 1997 at the time of the Francophonie summit, it became a  must-see attraction of Hanoi. Vietnam is a multi-nationality country with 54 ethnic groups. The Viet (Kinh) people account for 87% of the country’s population and mainly live in the Red River delta, the central coastal delta, the Mekong delta and major cities. The other 53 ethnic minority groups are scattered over mountain areas (covering two-thirds of the country’s territory) spreading from the North to the South.
Cyclo tour in the old quarter of Hanoi
Relive Hanoi of the 50s with a cyclo tour (Duration about 1h00). Allow the rhythm of the pedals, discover the buzzing alleys of the ‘36 streets’ area - a place with unique charm and incessant activity: craftsmen, shopkeepers, tinsmiths, jewelers, calligraphers, carpenters, rattan or leather, notice also vendors of fans, votive objects, lacquers, silks, mats, paper, pipes, etc.
Water Puppet Show
Water puppets were created a thousand years ago by the farmers of the Red River Delta. It was then a pastime for the peasants, which was elevated to royal entertainment under the Ly and Tran dynasties. In olden times, the representations took place in flooded rice fields, on lakes or rivers. They now take place in local theaters. This typical and enchanting spectacle revives the scenes of everyday life with a backdrop of traditional music. You will be charmed, or at least amused, by the little wooden puppets moving on their own feet on the surface of water. Indeed, they are operated by an invisible mechanism under the water, which you will completely forget after a few minutes ... fascinating!
Duong Lam ancient village
Duong Lam is a beautiful ancient village located about 50 km to west of Hanoi center. It is spread over 800.25 hectares and has a population of more than 8,000 people.
The village includes 5 picturesque hamlets: Mông Phụ, Cam Thịnh, Đông Sàng, Đoài Giáp and Cam Lâm. Despite of industrialization - modernization, the ancient village still remains its precious cultural and historical values.
Cultural, Historical and Architectural Values
- The village gate is one of the few doors that still remain intact in the northern plains of Vietnam. Which has become the very familiar place for many generations of the village? It reflects the image of a Vietnamese traditional village.
- The old laterite houses preserved in all the hamlets of the ancient village.
- The temple worships Giang Van Minh, to memorize the mental sacrifices of the country's ambassador in the 17th century.
 - The Mia pagoda, located in Đông Sàng hamlet. It is a very ancient pagoda with a typical Vietnamese style. The pagoda preseved 287 statues of Buddha and many precious relics. It is the fruit of the labour of Vietnamese craftsman-creator in 18th and 19th centuries.
Land of heroes
 Duong Lam village is the birthplace of many celebrities in many fields: historical, political, cultural, etc. It is the hometown of two heroes well known in history: the hero Phung Hung (8th century) and King Ngo Quyen (10th century).
Perfume Pagoda
Perfume Pagoda is located about sixty kilometers to south-west of Hanoi center. The site has its own beauty with limestone mountain surrounded and river. Getting to the pagoda requires a journey first by road, then by river, then on foot or by cable car. The boat trip on the river allows you to admire stunning landscapes, which will make you find the three hours (round trip) of the course too short.
In middle of magnificent landscapes, the site has a complex of Buddhist temples and shines built into the limestone cliffs of Huong Tich Mountain. The main sites are Thiên Trù temple (Heaven Kitchen), Giai Oan temple (of Forgiveness) - where divinities purify souls, soothe suffering, and the Perfume Temple or Perfume Pagoda in the Huong Tich Cave. In front of Giai Oan temple flows a stream called "exculpatory stream". According to legend, Buddha would have stopped here to forget any human concern. Its fresh and clear water seems to brings the soul of the pilgrim back into peaceful state.
For Vietnamese people, the Perfume Pagoda is a sacred place, so it becomes the site of a religious festival which draws large numbers of pilgrims from across Vietnam. The festival annual begins from the 6th day of the first month until the end of the third month according to the lunar calendar. It is the longest festival in the north of the country. Thousands of pilgrims travel to this sacred cave to pray for happiness and prosperity in the coming year. 
Bat Trang Ceramic village
Located on the left bank of the Red River, about ten kilometers from the center of Hanoi, Bat Tràng is renowned as one of Vietnam's most famous pottery villages. It is reached by a small road along Red River and through a beautiful agricultural area.
The history of Bat Trang village is related to the birth of ancient capital Thang Long (Hanoi nowadays). In the village history dates back to the 10th century, when King Ly Cong Uan relocated the capital in Thang Long. With the establishment and development of the capital, many businessmen, crafters from many areas come to settle down here to work and trade. Built over 700 years ago, the name "Bat Trang" means a large land where people are specialized in a trade.
As time went by, the village’s products have developed and become well known for the best quality, style and glaze, both inside and outside of the nation. Many of these are now customized for aristocratic families and religious needs. Its popular foreign markets are Japan, the Netherlands, Britain, Portugal, Southeast Asia, etc.,
Bat Trang ceramic village has become a popular destination for the young living in Hanoi (college or high school students) to visit during weekends. It has also become famous among foreign tourists who want to understand more about the historical and traditional values in each handicraft product. You can walk through the village and discover the earthenware and the porcelain that made it famous. The products can be found everywhere (in the main street, on the pavement, in the hous) and with a wide variety: cups, vases, dishes, bowls, wine pots, statues, decorative objects,...

From To Distance (km) Means of transport Duration of transport Road condition
Hanoi Ba Be 250 km Car (30 places maximum) 4 – 5 h Good
Hanoi Hoi An 800 km Plane 1h20  
Hanoi Hai Phong 108 km Car 2,5 h Good
Hanoi Ha Long 160 km Car 3,5 h Good
Hanoi Ha Giang 300 km Bus (30 places maximum) 7 h Good
Hanoi Hue 654 km Plane/ Train 1h10/ 9h  
Hanoi Lang Son 160 km Car 3,5 h Good
Hanoi Lao Cai 300 km Car 5 h Good
Hanoi Mai Chau 130 km Car 4 h Good
Hanoi Ninh Binh 90 km Car 2,5 h Good
Hanoi Saigon 1719 km Plane 2h10  

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