Sights of Hanoi, Vietnam

Although Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) is bigger, Hanoi is really the capital of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Hanoi is a busy and vibrant city in the north of the country. Previously, the city of Hanoi was known as Thang Long. This name was given by the first king of the Ly dynasty, Ly Cong Uan. Another nickname for Hanoi was given by the Indochinese Federation. They called Hanoi ‘Little Paris of the East’. The French influences of this period are still evident in the chic French Quarter. Buildings such as the Opera House, Hotel Sofitel Legend Metropol and the Presidential Palace are wonderful examples of this. And buildings such as the Lotte Center Hanoi and Trade Center Royal City are also examples of the ubiquitous modernization. The most charming thing about the city of Hanoi are the differences in this. In the old quarter you can completely immerse yourself in the culture and deep-rooted rituals of the country and the city. Old crafts are still fulfilled here with great enthusiasm and on the other hand you can also see contemporary fashion, modern restaurants, cozy bars, art studios and other entertainment. Hanoi with its many scooters, busy streets, smells and colors is really a city where you have to explore. Every bend will probably provide you with new insights or sometimes a completely new view of the city.

Top 10 sights of Hanoi

#1. The Old Quarter
According to, Hanoi Old Quarter is the historical center of the city. It actually covers the whole area between Tran Nhat Duat, Ngo Quyen, Trang Thi and Phung Hung streets. This old district in the capital of Vietnam is also one of the most visited parts of Hanoi. The houses mainly consist of the typical narrow buildings, as you often encounter in Vietnam. However, the depth is unprecedented. Behind this are often workshops, storage areas and homes. It is particularly nice to take a walk through the old quarter of Hanoi. You discover the ‘real’ life. Trade is conducted everywhere and you can admire all kinds of crafts up close. In particular, the hardware store street and the street with wood are great to walk through. Other fun and/or fascinating sights in the old quarter of Hanoi are: the Ngoc Son Temple at ‘Hoan Kiem Lake’, the Duong Xuan Market, the cozy Ta Hien street and St. Joseph’s Cathedral. South of the old quarter is the French Quarter, which is also very worthwhile.

#2. Ho Chi Minh mausoleum
On the edge of Bach Thao Park you can visit the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum. You will not easily overlook the building. Around 1973, this more than twenty-one-meter high mausoleum was built on the place where Ho Chi Minh used to read the declaration of independence to the people. Despite the request to be cremated, Ho Chi Minh was embalmed and laid in state in this mausoleum. In this way, visitors can still visit and admire it. Ba Dinh Square, where the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum is located, is filled daily with visitors eager to pay a visit to the former leader. For young children this can be a less pleasant experience.

#3. Ho Chi Minh Museum
Not far from the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum is a museum dedicated to this freedom fighter. The current Ho Chi Minh Museum was opened in 1990, the year in which Ho Chi Minh would celebrate its 100th birthday. The museum dedicates time to the different stages of Ho Chi Minh’s life. Starting with his childhood and youth, his many travels and of course the fight against the communist party. The last episodes in the life of this national hero conclude the whole. For more clarity, it is recommended to visit the Ho Chi Minh museum accompanied by a guide.

#4. Dong Xuan market
The indoor Dong Xuan market is immensely popular in Hanoi. Both locals and visitors to the city know their way to this popular place in Hanoi. The Dong Xuan Market was established in 1889 under the French regime in Hanoi’s Old Quarter. The market has since been restored and adapted several times. The current appearance was mainly obtained at the end of the last century. The market now has three floors, all of which are filled with clothing, bags, jewellery, toys, vegetables, fruit, small dishes, household items, art, shoes and much more. The Dong Xuan Market can be found at Hang Khoai and Cua Dong Streets in the north of the Old Quarter.

#5. The Colonial French Quarter
The most modern part of Hanoi is located in the colonial French Quarter. This district of Hanoi can be found south of the old quarter. It starts at Trang Tien, Le Thanh Tong streets and stops approximately at Hanoi Railway Station. The French Quarter of Hanoi is characterized by beautiful buildings built in colonial style. Think of the beautiful opera house ‘Nha Hat lon Ha Noi’, chic shopping centers such as Trang Tien Plaza and the beautiful Sofitel Legend Hotel. Other fun and fascinating sights in the French Quarter are the Women’s Museum on Ly Thuong Kiet Street, Hoa Lo Prison, Hanoi Police Museum, Quan su Pagoda and the delightful Thong Nhat Park in the south.

#6. Tran Quoc Pagoda
In the beautiful park-like surroundings of Hanoi you can visit the Tran Quoc Pagoda. This Buddhist pagoda in the north of the city is the oldest pagoda in Hanoi. The location on the narrow island on Lake Ho Tay is exceptionally beautiful. The Tran Quoc Pagoda was already mentioned during the reign of Emperor Ly Nam De. This indicates that temple is more than fifteen hundred years old. A Bodhi tree can also be admired at the temple. This sacred tree within Buddhism was donated around 1959 by the former president of India Rajendra Prasad. All kinds of offerings are regularly brought to Tran Quoc Pagoda in the hope that prayers will be heard.

#7. Water Puppet Theater Thang Long
In the old center of Hanoi you can attend a fun performance in a puppet theater. The most special thing about visiting a performance in the Thang Long theater is that it takes place partly on the water. All kinds of myths and other stories from Vietnamese culture emerge in the performances. The art of puppet theater was developed during the Ly Tran dynasty in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. It was often used during the king’s birthday celebrations. The ‘ordinary’ public can now also enjoy this form of art. There are several performances to visit every day. You can already get a ticket at the entrance for any later performances. Thang Long Water Puppet Theater is located on Dinh Tien Hoang Street.

#8. Hoan Kiemmeer
The spacious Hoan Kiem Lake of Hanoi is located almost on the separation between the old quarter and the French part. The Hoan Kiem lake is a wonderful resting place in the often chaotic city. Selfies are often taken or people enjoy the beautiful view on the red bridge ‘Cau The Huc’, which provides access to the Ngoc Son Temple. According to legend, Emperor Le Loi was sailing here by boat when suddenly a golden turtle ‘Kim Qui’ floated above. He asked him to return the magic sword ‘Thuan Thien’, which he had previously received from Kim Qui. And so the sword with which King Le Loi had won his war with China was returned to the lake. Hoan Kiem means ‘more of the returned sword’.

#9. Ceramic mosaic wall
Those who enter the city of Hanoi by bus will immediately discover the beautiful mosaic-covered wall. The more than six kilometers long wall was built in 2007 and then covered. The design comes from the journalist Nguyen Thu Thuy, who won an architecture competition with it. The almost one meter high wall was decorated with all kinds of colorful passages from the past and present of Hanoi and Vietnam. Children from Vietnam have also been given the opportunity to express their creativity here. Ultimately, Hanoi’s ceramic mosaic wall earned a Guinness Book of World Records entry as the longest ceramic mosaic inlaid wall in the world.

#10. Hotel Sofitel Legend Metropol
The most beautiful and probably most expensive hotel in Hanoi is the five star Hotel Sofitel Legend Metropol. This chic hotel is located in the city’s French Quarter, within walking distance of the equally stunning Opera House. Hotel Sofitel Legend Metropol exudes class. From the terrace of the hotel you can see the city passing by. But you also pay something for such a beautiful place. For example, a cup of coffee is priced as you would expect in Paris. The interior of the Sofitel Legend is very tasteful and can be called a bit classic.

Hanoi, Vietnam

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