Hanoi Travel Guide
Hanoi is the capital city of Viet Nam.
It is located in the north of Vietnam, about 1000 kilometer north of Ho Chi Minh City. In many ways Hanoi characterizes the old Vietnam, the French Vietnam of colonial days.
It is perhaps one of the most European cities of Southeast Asia. With an old style feeling on the streets and in the back alleys it will make any visitor think of what the Pulitzer award wining author had once commented on Hanoi-“a city caught in the warp of time, a place of history and icons, some dead, some still living to remind one that here the past never dies”.
But at the same time Hanoi is also Vietnam’s capital city and therefore exhibits what typical Asian capital cities exhibit-full of busy of people, not-so aesthetically pleasing government building and crowded streets.
These typical Asian characteristics of the city together with the French colonial architecture probably make Hanoi quite a charmingly unique city.
The average temperature in Hanoi city is usually between 55 degrees (or 13 degree Celsius) and 92 degrees (or 34 degree Celsius). The best time to visit Hanoi is between November and February. The weather is usually at its best during this period.
The air route is the best way to reach Hanoi. It is one of Vietnam’s major international gateways, the other being Saigon. The Noi Bai airport is located about 45 minutes away from the city. There are plenty of taxis at the airport and they usually cost anywhere between $15 and $25 depending on the bargaining power of the traveler. There are also buses that take travelers to the city.
Hanoi has a quite a few places of interests for tourists. Traveling around by cyclo is a good way to get an overview of the city. Many cyclo drivers speak English, but are savvy to tourists and will do their best to charge as much as possible.
Therefore, it is always best to agree on a price before taking a ride.
Cyclo drivers are usually good but “unofficial” tourist guides. They can be fountains of information. As a tourist, you can ask them to show you their favorite streets, noodle shops or street markets, to see something you might not have found on your own. You can never predict what you might discover!
While at Hanoi, a tourist should never forget to check out the following:
Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum:
Not always open but if one gets a chance to go in without waiting in line, one shouldn’t miss the opportunity.
Hoan Kiem Lake:
Hanoi is characterized by the charming Hoan Kiem Lake where many of the city’s young and old promenades at all times of the day and evening.
At the north end of the lake is the Ngoc Son Temple, a picturesque Vietnamese vista, often used as a backdrop for wedding photos.
The Old Quarter:
This place is also known as the 36 Streets. Each street represents a different industry, and is filled with nooks and crannies that defy imagination.
There is a street for shoes and shoemaking equipment. Then there is an herbal medicine street. Then a steel girder street, a plumbing street, a funeral street and, of course, there are food streets!
It is a group of religious shrines set in deep limestone grottoes and about 36 miles (60 km) from Hanoi.
Explore Cuc Phuong National Park:
In addition to beautiful forest and stunning limestone hills, this National Park has 1880 species of flora. Even though Cuc Phong is only 140 km from Hanoi, there is no public transport. Therefore it is always better to hire a car or motorbike.
Hanoi is a food lover’s paradise. In fact Hanoi is food heaven, even for those who do not claim to be a fan of exotic culinary delights. The French/Asian cooking mix is a delight for all the senses, and restaurants can be found on any corner. Trying the exotic dishes is surely a great way of enjoying Hanoi.
Considering everything, Hanoi is a great place to visit. It is city that is neither totally Asian nor totally European. A rare mix of both! This is perhaps what makes Hanoi a unique and wonderful place to visit. Probably because of this reason, tourism business is growing very fast in Hanoi as more and more travelers are becoming interested in checking out this one-of-a-type exotic city!