Hanoi Travel Guide, Tourist Attractions

Hanoi is the capital city of Vietnam. King Ly Thai To moved the capital city from Hoa Lu in Ninh Binh Province to Hanoi in 1010 A.D.. It is said when the King arrived in Hanoi, he saw a five-colored dragon flying into the sky. Thinking it was a good holy sign, the King chose to build a new city in Hanoi. At the time, the King named the city Thang Long meaning the City of Ascending Dragon.

 Hoan Kiem Lake - Hanoi - Vietnam
Hoan Kiem Lake - Hanoi - Vietnam

 Back in the 11th century, Thang Long was protected by moats and citadel walls. There were two important areas in the capital city: the Royal Citadel and the business quarter. The King and the Royal Court lived and worked in the Royal Citadel; while the business quarter was where local residents lived, did business and exchanged goods. Thang Long Citadel was destroyed many times during the different wars in Vietnam and nowadays only the citadel walls are left.

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in Hanoi
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in Hanoi

The once business area of Thang Long is now called the Old Quarter which is still as busy, hustling and bustling as ever. The Old Quarter is a good area for shopping if you have a chance to travel to Hanoi.

 In the 19th century, the French came to Hanoi and built a new area along side the old areas of Hanoi, and that area now is known as the French Quarter. The French Quarter is known with wide boulevards, French-styled villas. There are a number of sidewalk cafes, fine-dining restaurants and luxury hotels in the French Quarter nowadays.

The French Quarter in Hanoi Vietnam
The French Quarter in Hanoi Vietnam

 Traveling to Hanoi now, you could easily have a pleasant time in the capital city of Vietnam with its laid-back atmosphere and the blend of the East and the West.

Truc Bach Lake - Hanoi - Vietnam
Truc Bach Lake, Hanoi, Vietnam

A/ Where to learn about the ancient history and traditional culture of Vietnam in Hanoi:

1/ Tran Quoc Pagoda
The Tran Quoc Pagoda, a Buddhist pagoda, was first built in 545 C.E. and it was named Khai Quoc celebrating the independent Kingdom of Van Xuan (The name of Vietnam then). The name of the pagoda was changed to An Quoc (Peace and Stability) in the 15th century and to Tran Quoc (Defending the Nation). Visiting this pagoda, you’ll understand much about the different periods of the Vietnamese history reflected in the names of the pagoda.

Tran Quoc Pagoda
Tran Quoc Pagoda

2/ Quan Thanh Temple
This is a very interesting temple built from the 11th century C.E. when the capital city of Vietnam was relocated from Hoa Lu to Thang Long (Hanoi nowadays). Don’t be fooled by most travel guides and traveler reviews of this temple: it is far more interesting than most common information...

Quan Thanh Temple
Quan Thanh Temple

The Quan Thanh Temple is dedicated to Huyen Thien Tran Vu, a Taoist temple. Leaving the legends aside, you take a look at the map of the temple in relation to the former Thang Long Citadel. You’ll find that the temple is located at a corner of the West Lake which is right to the north (slightly northwest) of the ancient Thang Long Citadel. This is important in protecting the northern side of the citadel from toxic engergy.

3/ Thang Long Citadel
This was the seat of the Royal Families of Vietnam for several centuries starting from the 11th century C.E. The former Royal Citadel was partially destroyed by wars and was reduced to Hanoi Citadel which was of smaller scale due to that the Imperial Citadel of Vietnam was in Hue in the 19th century and all other citadels in the Kingdom had to be smaller.

Thang Long (Hanoi) Citadel
Thang Long (Hanoi) Citadel

4/ The Temple of Literature
This is one of the most important spiritual and cultural site of Vietnam. Originally the temple – Van Mieu was built in 1070 C.E and dedicated to Confucius and Confucianism. In 1076 the National School of Quoc Tu Giam was built to the back of the temple making it the first university in Vietnam. There are 82 stone steles left showing names of those who had records during various Royal Exams conducted in the Vietnamese history for recruiting Madarins.

The Temple of Literature in Hanoi Vietnam
The Temple of Literature in Hanoi Vietnam

5/ The One Pillar Pagoda
The pagoda is dedicated to the Goddess of Mercy built in the 11th century next to the Buddhist Dien Huu Pagoda. While generally accepted theory of the pagoda says about a King’s dream, the meaning of the pagoda – Dien Huu (Forever Auspicious) along with the facts that hundreds if not thousands of metal needles found when excavating the bottom of the pond at the pagoda suggest that the hidden truths extend far beyond public knowledge.

One Pillar Pagoda
One Pillar Pagoda

One possible truth is that the Pagoda was built right on one of the Dragon Points of Hanoi (related to the Prosperity of Vietnam) where one of several talismans had been driven into the ground by a Chinese male witch during the time Vietnam was under Chinese yoke. The pagoda helped to ward off the effects of the talisman.

6/ Hoan Kiem Lake and Ngoc Son Temple
The Lake is in the heart of Hanoi between the Old Quarter to the North and the French Quarter to the South. This is amid the chaotic yet interesting activities of Hanoi nowadays. The lake has a lovely legend showing the wish of the Vietnamese: leaving the weapons and living in peace!

The Huc Bridge - Hanoi Vietnam
The Huc Bridge - Hanoi Vietnam

 

Vietnam's Airforce Museum in Hanoi
Vietnam's Airforce Museum in Hanoi