Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam for nearly 1000 years, possesses an eclectic East-West blend. A city with a backdrop that breathes history, Hanoi provides a fascinating kaleidoscope – an empire that absorbed the Cham and other cultures, a Southeast Asian Colony followed by a French colony and finally home to a Communist regime. Hanoi’s diverse neighborhoods reflect its history and lend it much of its flavor and charm. Its tiny, local colonial cafes, its numerous noodle soup stalls everywhere, its group of exercising elders by the lakes – all are scenes that greet you here.
The Red River, a part 하노이 가라오케 of Vietnam’s heritage, is the setting for Hanoi. Known as the “city of lakes”, Hanoi’s center and outskirts are interspersed with lakes. Set between the city’s Old Quarter and its French Quarter, Hoan Kiem Lake, in the city’s center, houses the Turtle Tower Pagoda and a lovely park surrounding its banks. Known as the “Lake of the Restored Sword”, it takes its name from an ancient legend where the emperor Le Loi returned a magic sword to the golden turtle god who resided in its depths, the pagoda honoring the swords return. On the lake, the water Puppet Theater is held. A traditional form of art, puppeteers stand waist-deep in the water performing a variety of traditional plays with wooden marionettes. Near the lake’s northern shores, Ngoc Son, the Jade Mountain Temple, can be reached via a magnificent red bridge.
Ho Tay, West Lake, is Hanoi’s largest lake, spanning 17 km along its shores. Located in the very heart of the city, the lake is surrounded by manicured gardens, elegant villas and palaces and temples including Tran Quoc pagoda, the oldest in Vietnam, and Quan than Temple, on the ancient Hanoi’s four sacred temples. A central part of Hanoi life, it is a popular place for recreation. Other lakes, including Thien Quang Lake and True Bach Lake dot the city and include historic sites such as the Vien Truc Lam Palace, originally a place of worship and later a women’s prison, the Holy Mandarin Temple and the Chou Long Pagoda.
More than 2000 years old, Hanoi’s Old Quarter, or 36 Streets Market, is the vibrant center of life here. The hustle -bustle begins at dawn here and slows down at around 10 pm. The first area settled in Hanoi, the Old Quarter adheres to the guild concept, where artisans gathered together in an area to share resources. As such, many of the streets here are named after the products sold – s bamboo is sold on Bamboo St., and on Silk St. silk is sold and so on. Life here spills out to the streets from the tunnel homes, long, narrow buildings, which line the streets and extend deep beyond the store front, housing an inner courtyard and behind, residential quarters.
The Old Quarter is also home to Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum, a replica of Lenin’s mausoleum, and the House on Stilts, Ho Chi Minh’s simple home representing his communist ideals. The Van Mieu or Temple of Literature is probably the most impressive site here. Considered a most important spot, it originally functioned as an elite university. One of Hanoi’s holiest sites since its beginnings in the 11th century, the complex houses 5 interconnected courtyards, manicured lawns and ancient temples and monuments of Confucius scholars and is undoubtedly one of Hanoi’s most beautiful landmarks.
The French Quarter teems with beautiful colonial buildings and wide boulevards. Many French buildings from the 19th century remain. – the Opera House, a replica of the Palais Garnier in Paris; the Governor’s Palace, an ornate colonial style building, the Presidential Palace and St. Josephs Cathedral to name just a few.
Hanoi, at its best at dawn, is a hive of energy, the markets ablaze with color and movement, armies of women doing aerobics and early morning wedding parties posing for photos. As the capital of Vietnam, Hanoi’s lovely tree-lined boulevards, lakes and parks, its French colonial buildings and elegant squares all meld to lend Hanoi a distinctive ambiance that makes it unique in this region.