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Hanoi

  • Hanoi, Vietnam's capital, has a population of around 6.5 million, but this is estimated to be growing at a rate of 3.5% each year. The bustling city has all the advantages and disadvantages of your typical Asian capital. Buildings that date back to the colonial era, be it Chinese or French, stand next to towering business centres which rub shoulders with pagodas and temples. It is a place of contrasts, ...
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  • A city of history and culture, the bustling Hanoi is the capital of the country, and a city full of charm.
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  • As is the case with all of Vietnam's cities, Hanoi's markets bring the city to life from dawn until dusk.
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  • The most efficient means of transport for avoiding traffic jams is undoubtedly the two-wheel variety, but having said that you really need to know what you're doing!
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  • Quang Ba is Hanoi's largest wholesale flower market and is open every day from 2:00am!
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  • Hanoi is home to various types of monument, including colonial buildings, traditional buildings, and others built in honour of H Chi Minh.
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  • Amid the hustle and bustle, which gives the city its charm, you'll find little gardens here and there for those in search of some genuine tranquillity.
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Amy Adejokun
Amy Adejokun Expert destination Vietnam

Hanoi, Vietnam's capital, has a population of around 6.5 million, but this is estimated to be growing at a rate of 3.5% each year. The bustling city has all the advantages and disadvantages of your typical Asian capital. Buildings that date back to the colonial era, be it Chinese or French, stand next to towering business centres which rub shoulders with pagodas and temples. It is a place of contrasts, where authenticity blends with modernity and urban frenzy with meditation, and it is this contrast which lends this historical city a special identity. From Hanoi you can easily reach, by land or sea, Halong Bay, considered by many to be the eighth marvel of the world, where tourists from all over the world flock to enjoy a cruise among the islands strewn across the turquoise blue sea. Whether you visit Halong Bay by land or by sea, it should be an essential stop-off on your travels in Vietnam; you will undoubtedly be enthralled by its mysterious atmosphere...

Hanoi: what to do?

In Hanoi, go for an early morning walk around Lake Hoan Kiem and then head to the Old Quarter for a strong Vietnamese coffee and a fresh baguette. You can also stroll through Dong Xuan market and enjoy the atmosphere which reigns day and night. This is the perfect place to shop for fabrics, shoes and tableware as well as fruits, vegetables and fish.
In the area surrounding Hanoi, visit Cuc Phuong National Park for an excursion into the countryside. This will take you 90 miles from Hanoi and travelling by bus from the capital will take you around 3 hours, so single day trips are not ideal. Alternatively, you can organize transport through a travel agency in Hanoi but this option will obviously be a little pricier.
In Halong Bay, go on an overnight cruise around the bay; visit the archipelago in a kayak and bathe in the turquoise blue water. It is also worth taking a walk in the night market, or going to visit the fishing harbour in the old part of Halong.

In Hanoi, visit the old town, the ethnology museum, the pagodas, including the one-pillar pagoda built in the shape of a lotus flower, the Temple of Literature dedicated to Confucius, the mausoleum and Ho Chi Minh's house on stilts. If you're travelling with children, we recommend that you go to the water puppet theatre on the banks of Hoan Kiem Lake, where 4 shows are put on every day. We also recommend a visit to the old citadel, which has recently opened to the public.
In Halong Bay, visit Dau Go cave, monkey island, Quan Lan Island and its fine sand beach, the Van Don archipelago, which is an ecological paradise, and the national park of Cat Ba Island.

  • The beautiful colonial architecture
  • The UNESCO Worl Heritage site of Halong Bay
  • Despite being Vietnam's capital, Hanoi still manages to offer tourists a relatively peaceful atmosphere
  • Large cities in Vietnam are well known for scams so make sure you book any tours or transport through a reputable agency or hotel
  • Hanoi is the most polluted city in Southeast Asia
  • Unlike Ho Chi Minh, dollars are not as widely accepted in Hanoi

Hanoi: what to visit?

Coasts

Reminders

Many tourists find it difficult to communicate on arrival in Hanoi as most locals do not speak a word of English. Whilst this can seem annoying when you are tired from your flight and just want a simple taxi ride to your hostel or hotel, it can actually be a positive thing. At least the Vietnamese are trying to protect their language from English encroachment. Moreover, it is not hard to learn the basic phrases with a guidebook or a dictionary and the locals will appreciate the effort that you are making to learn their language.

To avoid

Although it can seem tempting to make like the locals and rent a motorbike to get around the city, if you are not an expert driver, this can be extremely dangerous. It is much more relaxing to choose a bike instead. Also avoid accepting any offers of hotels or tours from youths when you step off the train at Haiphong as you will very probably end up as the victim of a scam.

Hanoi: what to eat?

There are a number of exotic treats to be sampled in Hanoi. For the adventurous traveller, many restaurants in Hanoi serve cobra dishes which come in several forms - from a shot of cobra blood to snake cakes and even snake spring rolls. Do be careful where you eat cobra though (reputable restaurants where locals eat are the best bet) - after all, it is a venomous snake and if it is not prepared correctly, you may end up digesting some of this venom. For those wanting a slightly less risky dinner, head to the Old Quarter for a good choice of cheap food and street stalls. Here you will find everything from eel soup to international classics such as donuts and coffee.

Hanoi: what to buy?

Hanoi has some of the finest silks in Southeast Asia. The village of Van Phuc in Hanoi is well known for the high quality silks produced there and you can buy products made with this material all over the city but especially on a little street named Hang Gai, just near the Old Quarter. Also in the Old Quarter are plenty of art stores selling a whole range of pieces. Here you can find old Communist advertisements from, during and just after the Vietnamese War, as well as hundreds of canvases and pastel paintings. All the artwork here is relatively cheap - ranging from $2 to $25.

Hanoi Reviewedhotels
  • 7.7 /10
    Rated by Easyvoyage
    Hilton Hanoi Opera
    Hanoi - Vietnam
    Hotel Hotel 0 Etoile(s)

    This a true Hilton establishment in the heart of Hanoi that will ...

  • 6.6 /10
    Rated by Easyvoyage
    Ba-Tho 99 bateau
    Hanoi - Vietnam
    Hotel Hotel 2 Etoile(s)

    This boat, built entirely of wood, offers cruises in Halong Bay ...

  • 6.1 /10
    Rated by Easyvoyage
    La Than Hotel
    Hanoi - Vietnam
    Hotel Hotel 2 Etoile(s)

    The imposing and rather charmless Than Hotel is not the sort ...

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