(BEGODI)- I have heard much about the beauty in the East as well as in the West, about the wonderful capitals from all over the world. To be honest, I am partial toward Hanoi, the antique and dynamic Capital of Vietnam, with its unique geographical location, people have settled here along the Red River for a thousand years.
The typical weather of tropical monsoon type is represented in Northern Vietnam. Hanoi Weather is standardized for high rainfall hot summer and the dry cold winter. Although the weather is divided into two main seasons: rainy season (from January to September) and dry season ( from October to April), thanks to transition months, Hanoi still experiences all four seasons : spring, summer, autumn and winter.
Getting into Hanoi
There is a variety of ways to travel into Hanoi. If you want to save time, booking flights is your best option. Vietnam Airlines is the best choice if you are looking for a low-cost ticket and low chance of delays.
In addition, you can choose to travel by train, car, or even motorbike if you are already in Vietnam.
Meter taxis and hired cars are easy to find in Hanoi. If you plan an extended visit you might consider renting a bicycle or motorbike. The bus is also a very cheap option, with just VND 7,000 for every ride.
Alternatively, Uber and Grab are great and reliable to use, since you can view the fare before ordering the taxi. You can order a moped rather than a car to move more quickly, cheaply and get the full Hanoi experience.
Best time to travel to Hanoi
Visit in spring or fall for cooler weather. Vietnamese summer is extremely hot, making it difficult to spend long hours outside. Moreover, visit between October to April to avoid the rainy season. Torrential downpours are common during the rainy season, and parts of the city sometimes flood after a storm. Moreover, you can visit Hanoi during Tet or so – called the Vietnamese New Year’s Celebration, occuring in late January or early February. Tet is the time of many colorful parades and temple celebrations.
Hanoi must see attractions
As the capital of Vietnam, Hanoi owns a large number of must – see attractions. Museums and pagodas scatter the city, with Hoan Kiem Lake serving as the centre point to reach just about anywhere. Hanoi Old Quarter, the cultural, dining, entertainment and shopping heart of the city is worth consuming your time in discovering the essence of Vietnam’s capital.
Hoan Kiem Lake
This historic lake is the site of a foundational legend for Vietnam: Ho Hoan Kiem means “Lake of the Restored Sword”. Today, Hoan Kiem lake is situated inside a complex of Ngoc Son Temple. The Huc Bridge and Pen Tower that surround it create a picturesque natural scene. What should not be missed in this beautiful complex is the Turtle Tower, which lies in the middle of the lake. It is there to remind Vietnamese people of the Turtle God’s great assistance in history.
Hanoi’s Old Quarter: The 36 Streets
Located between the Lake of the Restored Sword and the Long Bien Bridge, a unique character of Hanoi’s Old Quarter can be noticed. The majority of the street names in this area begin with the word “Hang”. “Hang” means merchandise or shop. The guild streets were named for their product, service or location.
For example, Hang Bac is one of the oldest streets in Vietnam, historically functioning as a silver ingot factory. Bac means silver and appropriately, Hang Bac still sells silver today. It also has jewelers of different types: engravers, smelters, polishers and gold – leaf makers.
Hang Thiec is the street of tinsmiths. A neighboring street, Hang Non, makes hats.
Hang Mam is the union of two old streets. The name is derived from the various kinds of mam or fish sauces.
Hanoi Opera House
Located on the famous August Revolution Square, Hanoi Opera House is consider as one of the most famous cultural and architectural monuments of Hanoi.
Built in 1911 as a miniature copy of the Paris Opera house, The French government contributed to its restoration in the 1990s. Today it continues to be a performance venue for Hanoi’s high arts scene.
Temple of Literature in Hanoi
The Temple of Literature is often cited as one of Hanoi’s most picturesque tourist attractions. Originally built as a university in 1070 dedicated to Confucius, scholars and sages, the building is extremely well preserved. It is a superb example of traditional-style Vietnamese architecture.
Visiting the Temple of Literature will allow you to discover historic buildings from the Ly and Tran dynasties. This remains a revered place that has seen thousands of doctors’ graduate: a memorial to education and literature.
Considered as Hanoi’s largest freshwater lake, West Lake houses many of the city’s historic places of interest around its perimeter. This includes Vietnam’s oldest pagoda and one of Vietnam’s four sacred temples.
The lake attracts many locals and tourists seeking respite from the busy city, providing a sanctuary of great natural beauty. There are plenty of quiet spots to enjoy in the sizeable lush gardens surrounding the lake.
West Lake is a beautiful place to while away an afternoon. There are boats for hire and even lunch at a floating restaurant for a novel dining option. Notable points of interest at West Lake include Tran Quoc Pagoda which was built in the 6th century, making it Vietnam’s oldest temple.
Street–style cuisine in Hanoi
Not only unique in its nature and seasonal – changing weather, Hanoi is also renowned for street food and drinks with reasonable prices. Let’s take a glance at some of the most popular food in Hanoi:
You cannot truly say that you have been to Hanoi without having consumed a bowl of Pho.
A prominent feature of Vietnamese cuisine, Pho is a broth–based noodle soup that comes in several different variations. Typically, broths are made from chicken, beef or seafood.
Different chefs often have different specialties when it comes to taste, flavor combinations and spices.
Bean and vermicelli with shrimp paste
This dish consists of fishcakes, pork, and tightly compressed vermicelli bits cut into cubes. All of them are then eaten dipped into a shrimp paste and accompanied with fresh herbs. Be careful with shrimp paste, it is super pungent so only a tiny drop is enough.
Vietnamese sandwich (Banh Mi)
Banh Mi is one of the most ingenious French and Asian creative exchanges. A fluffy baguette is stuffed with pate, cold meats, cucumber and picked carrots. In Hanoi, this sandwich will be finished off with hot sauce and mayo drizzled on top. This is one of the favorite meals on the go with many Vietnamese people, at only VND 20.000 (less than $1!).
Egg coffee is a Hanoi specialty! A raw egg yolk is whipped furiously with strong drip coffee and sweetened condensed milk. A soft and creamy hybrid is created, and tastes almost like a custard. So delicious! It’s like a dessert and caffeine fix in one. This is a must try when visiting Hanoi!
Best Places to stay at Hanoi
If you are still confused about accommodation, let’s go through some of the favorite spots for travelers in Hanoi. All of them are located in the heart of capital or not far from attractive destinations, for maximum convenience and comfort.
- Eco Hotel Hanoi – 26-28 Eastern Gate, Old Quarter, Hanoi
- New Vision Hotel – 68 Hang Bo Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
- Hanoi Crystal Hotel – No 9, Hang Thung Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
- Sunset Westlake Hanoi – 491 Lac Long Quan Street, Tay Ho District, Hanoi
Army Hotel Hanoi – 1A Nguyen Tri Phuong Street, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi
Hanoi Code: 4. Note the recently added “3” in front of all local numbers
For example: Old dialing style: 1234567( from within the city) or 04 1234567 (inter – provincial) or +84 4 1234567 (from overseas)
New dialing style: 3 1234567 ( from within the city) or 04 3 1234567 (inter – provincial) or +84 4 3 1234567 (from overseas)
Emergency phone numbers
Ambulance – First Aid: 115
Weather forecast: 1080
Domestic long distance telephone service: 101
International telephone service: 110
General information service: 1080
Law Consultancy service: 1088
Phone number enquiries: 116
There are plenty of internet cafes all over the city. Some of the better cafes, particularly in the Old Quarter have computers that are Skype – capable for international phone calls. There are also plenty of cafes with free WiFi.
Shopping in Hanoi
Whether a shopaholic or not, buying some sort of souvenir is always necessary. In Hanoi, Shopping at the Old Quarter is the best idea. Some streets like Hang Bac Street and Hang Gai Street (Silk Street) still retain their particular trades after hundreds of years. Hanoi is capable to satisfy your desires, ranging from gimmicky souvenirs to Vietnamese farming hats or even a hand-made silk evening gown.