About the City of Hanoi
Hanoi is the capital and the second largest city in Vietnam. It covers an area of 3,344.7 sq km and had an approximate population of 65,00,000 in 2009. The city still retains its French colonial style.
The city is more than 1,000 years old and the earliest habitation was a citadel called Co Loa citadel, which was founded in about 200 BC. The region was annexed by the Han warriors in 197 BC and remained under Chinese domination for the next 1,000 years. In 1010, LyThai To – the first ruler of the Ly dynasty – shifted the capital here and renamed it Thang Long meaning soaring dragon. The name is still in use.
In 1831, the name Hanoi was given and the city was occupied by the French in 1873. It became the capital of French Indo-China in 1887. The city came under Japanese occupation between 1940 and 1945 and was re-occupied by the French in 1946. Finally, in 1954 it became the capital of independent North Vietnam and in 1976, it became the capital of unified Vietnam.
The city of Hanoi is located on the western bank of the Red River. It is located 85 km inland from the South China Sea. It lies in the delta region. Apart from the Red River, other rivers like Tich, Ca Lo, Duong, Cau, Nhue, Day, To Lich, and Kim Nguu also flow through the capital.
The city enjoys a humid subtropical climate. The summers are hot and humid while winters are dry and cold. Rainfall is concentrated between May and September.
How to reach (transport)
You can travel to Hanoi in the following ways:
- The city is served by the Noi Bai International airport, which is located 35 km to the north of the city. Regular flights are available to a number of destinations in Asia.
- Hanoi is connected by train to a number of places in Vietnam and to Nanning, China.
- Regular bus service is also available to various domestic destinations and to Shanghai in China.
Best time to Visit
The best time to visit Hanoi is in the autumn (mid-September to the end of November) when the weather is at its best.
Culture (fairs and festivals) and traditions
The vast variety of festivals celebrated in Hanoi is a reflection of its 1,000 years of history. Some of the major events are as follows:
- The Tet festival is the local New Year and is celebrated in February. The day is marked by family gatherings, fireworks, local cuisine, and other festivities.
- The Dong Nhan temple festival is celebrated in March. Dancing, music, and a human chess game are its major attractions.
- The Chem temple festival is celebrated in June. Dragon dance, dragon boat racing, and kite flying competition are the highlights of the festival.
- The mid-autumn festival is celebrated with moon cakes, various festive events, and giving gifts to children.
- The Vong Thi festival is a local festival held in October. It is celebrated with traditional music and cockfighting events.
- The Ung Thien communal house festival is held in November. It honors a number of goddesses with rites like washing of statues, preparation of food, and incense.
Points of interest (places to visit)
The most interesting sights of Hanoi are as follows:
- The Vietnamese Women’s museum is an informative museum containing histories of women heroines and family rituals surrounding Vietnamese women.
- The Ho Chi Minh mausoleum entombs the body of the illustrious leader, Ho Chi Minh. It details the events of the leader’s life and the presentation is very unique.
- The National Museum of Vietnamese history shows events from the 1,000-year-old history of the country.
- The Museum of the Vietnamese revolution contains detailed exhibits of the struggle of the Vietnamese against the French and the Americans.
- The Ngoc Son temple is memorable for the giant turtles, one of which has been mummified.
- The Hoa Lo prison was erected by the French, where many Vietnamese revolutionaries were executed. Today, it contains a museum showing the details of the brutal colonial regime.
- The Army museum demonstrates various battles that have been fought over 1,000 years.
Hanoi offers a variety of accommodations, but it is better to avoid the Old Quarters where rates are often higher and foreigners may face harassment. The 5-star hotels include Intercontinental, Sofitel Plaza, and Sofitel Legend while 4-star hotels include Tirant, Melia, Sheraton, etc. The 3-star hotels include Zephyr, Golden Lotus, and Classic Street. Two-star and budget hotels are also available.