Hanoi in Vietnam

Monday, 7 August 2017 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, UNESCO World Heritage
Reading Time:  10 minutes

Presidential Palace, formerly Palace of the Governor-General of French Indochina © flickr.com - helloandrew/cc-by-sa-2.0

Presidential Palace, formerly Palace of the Governor-General of French Indochina © flickr.com – helloandrew/cc-by-sa-2.0

Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam and the country’s second largest city by population. Its population in 2009 was estimated at 2.6 million for urban districts and 7 million for the metropolitan jurisdiction. The population in 2015 was estimated at 7.7 million people. From 1010 until 1802, it was the most important political centre of Vietnam. It was eclipsed by Hue, the imperial capital of Vietnam during the Nguyen Dynasty (1802–1945), but Hanoi served as the capital of French Indochina from 1902 to 1954. From 1954 to 1976, it was the capital of North Vietnam, and it became the capital of a reunified Vietnam in 1976, after the North’s victory in the Vietnam War. The city lies on the right bank of the Red River. Hanoi is 1,760 km (1,090 mi) north of Ho Chi Minh City and 120 km (75 mi) west of Hai Phong city. October 2010 officially marked 1000 years since the establishment of the city. The Hanoi Ceramic Mosaic Mural is a 4 km ceramic mosaic mural created to mark the occasion. Hanoi is sometimes dubbed the “Paris of the East” for its French influences. With its tree-fringed boulevards, more than two dozen lakes and thousands of French colonial-era buildings, Hanoi is a popular tourist destination.

As the capital of Vietnam for almost a thousand years, Hanoi is considered one of the main cultural centres of Vietnam, where most Vietnamese dynasties have left their imprint. Even though some relics have not survived through wars and time, the city still has many interesting cultural and historic monuments for visitors and residents alike. Even when the nation’s capital moved to Hue under the Nguyen Dynasty in 1802, the city of Hanoi continued to flourish, especially after the French took control in 1888 and modeled the city’s architecture to their tastes, lending an important aesthetic to the city’s rich stylistic heritage. The city hosts more cultural sites than any other city in Vietnam, and boasts more than 1,000 years of history; that of the past few hundred years has been well preserved. The Old Quarter, near Hoan Kiem Lake, maintains most of the original street layout and some of the architecture of old Hanoi. At the beginning of the 20th century Hanoi consisted of the “36 streets”, the citadel, and some of the newer French buildings south of Hoqn Kiem lake, most of which are now part of Hoqn Kiem district. Each street had merchants and households specializing in a particular trade, such as silk, jewelry or even bamboo. The street names still reflect these specializations, although few of them remain exclusively in their original commerce. The area is famous for its specializations in trades such as traditional medicine and local handicrafts, including silk shops, bamboo carpenters, and tin smiths. Local cuisine specialties as well as several clubs and bars can be found here also. A night market (near Dong Xuan Market) in the heart of the district opens for business every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evening with a variety of clothing, souvenirs and food. Some other prominent places are: The Temple of Literature (Van Mieu), site of the oldest university in Vietnam 1010; One Pillar Pagoda which was built based on the dream of king Ly Thai Tong (1028-1054) in 1049 ; Flag Tower of Hanoi (Cot co Ha Noi). In 2004, a massive part of the 900-year-old Hanoi Citadel was discovered in central Hanoi, near the site of Ba Dinh Square.

West Hanoi © Hieucd/cc-by-sa-4.0 Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum © flickr.com - kkinjo/cc-by-2.0 New City Trung Hoa © Hieucd/cc-by-sa-4.0 Presidential Palace, formerly Palace of the Governor-General of French Indochina © flickr.com - helloandrew/cc-by-sa-2.0 State Guest House © Xcanbiet/cc-by-sa-3.0 Times City Mall © Hieucd/cc-by-sa-4.0 Trang Tien Plaza © flickr.com - blue_quartz/cc-by-sa-2.0 Trung Hoa Nhan Chinh Area © Hieucd/cc-by-sa-4.0
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Presidential Palace, formerly Palace of the Governor-General of French Indochina © flickr.com - helloandrew/cc-by-sa-2.0
A city between rivers built from low land, Hanoi has many scenic lakes and is sometimes called “city of lakes.” Among its lakes, the most famous are Hoan Kiem Lake, West Lake, and Bay Mau Lake (inside Thong Nhat Park). Hoan Kiem Lake, also known as Sword Lake, is the historical and cultural center of Hanoi, and is linked to the legend of the magic sword. West Lake (Ho Tay) is a popular place for people to spend time. It is the largest lake in Hanoi and there are many temples in the area. The lakeside road in the Nghi Tam – Quang Ba area is perfect for bicycling, jogging and viewing the cityscape or enjoying lotus ponds in the summer. The best way to see the majestic beauty of a West lake sunset is to view it from one of the many bars around the lake, especially the Sofitel Plaza rooftop bar. Under French rule, as an administrative centre for the French colony of Indochina, the French colonial architecture style became dominant, and many examples remain today: the tree-lined boulevards (e.g. Phan Dinh Phung street) and its many villas and mansions, Grand Opera House, State Bank of Vietnam (formerly The Bank of Indochina), Presidential Palace (formerly the Palace of the Governor-General of French Indochina), St. Joseph’s Cathedral, and the historic Hotel Metropole. Many of the colonial structures are an eclectic mixture of French and traditional Vietnamese architectural styles, such as the National Museum of Vietnamese History, the Vietnam National Museum of Fine Arts and the old Indochina Medical College. Gouveneur-Général Paul Doumer (1898-1902) played a crucial role in colonial Hanoi’s urban planning. Under his tenure there was a major construction boom. Critical historians of empire have noted that French colonial rule imposed a system of white supremacy on the city. Vietnamese subjects supplied labor and tax revenue, but the privileges and comforts of the city went to the white population. French efforts at rat eradication revealed some of the colonial city’s racial double-standards.

A variety of options for entertainment in Hanoi can be found throughout the city. Modern and traditional theaters, cinemas, karaoke bars, dance clubs, bowling alleys, and an abundance of opportunities for shopping provide leisure activity for both locals and tourists. Hanoi has been named one of the top 10 cities for shopping in Asia by Water Puppet Tours. The number of art galleries exhibiting Vietnamese art has dramatically increased in recent years, now including galleries such as “Nhat Huy” of Huynh Thong Nhat. Nha Trien Lãm at 29 Hang Bai street hosts regular photo, sculpture, and paint exhibitions in conjuncture with local artists and travelling international expositions. A popular traditional form of entertainment is Water puppetry, which is shown, for example, at the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre. With rapid economic growth and extremely high population density, many modern shopping centers and megamalls have been opened in Hanoi.

Hanoi has rich culinary traditions. Many of Vietnam’s most famous dishes, such as pho, cha ca, banh cuon and cốm are believed to have originated in Hanoi. Perhaps most widely known is Pho—a simple rice noodle soup often eaten as breakfast at home or at street-side cafes, but also served in restaurants as a meal. Two varieties dominate the Hanoi scene: Pho Bo, containing beef and Pho Ga, containing chicken. Bun cha, a dish consisting of charcoal roasted pork served in a sweet/salty soup with rice noodle vermicelli and lettuce, is by far the most popular food item among locals. President Obama famously tried this dish at a Le Van Huu eatery with Anthony Bourdain in 2016, prompting the opening of a Bun cha restaurant bearing his name in the Old Quarter. Hanoi has a number of restaurants whose menus specifically offer dishes containing snake and various species of insects. Insect-inspired menus can be found at a number of restaurants in Khuong Thuong village, Hanoi. The signature dishes at these restaurant are those containing processed ant-eggs, often in the culinary styles of Thai people or Vietnam’s Muong and Tay ethnic people. Hanoi is also home to much of the dog eating culture of Vietnam, with several restaurants offering the dish in the Old Quarter and surrounding areas. Bia Hoi, a local take on a Czech style beer allegedly introduced by guest engineers in post liberation Hanoi, is also a local specialty. This beer is light, gassy, with a very neutral pallet which agrees with the local diet quite well. It contains no preservatives and is therefore “fresh” beer. It is usually purchased for around 5-10,000 dong per glass or around 25 to 40 cents. The beer is produced by a variety of the local breweries and is the tent pole item for many local eateries generally referred to as “bia hoi” which serve a variety of local dishes.

Read more on LonelyPlanet.com – Hanoi, Wikitravel Hanoi, Wikivoyage Hanoi and Wikipedia Hanoi (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.






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