Because of the 2008 administrative regional expansion, Hanoi now spans about 3300km2. Its population of near 6.2 million people makes It one of the world’s 17 largest capitals.
Hanoi is a culturally rich city with over 1000 years of history. There are many priceless cultural and historical legacies of which UNESCO registered Thang Long Royal Palaces and Saint Giong festival as World Cultural Heritages and the Doctor Steels in the Temple of Literature as a World Documentary Heritage.
In the national tourist development strategy, Hanoi is supposed to play a crucial role as a travel hub in the north – one of the two most important tourist regions.
Hanoi’s superior advantages lie in the way It combines the culture and history of an over 1000-year- old capital with ecological and landscape beauty.
The capital’s attractive tourist sites include:
- The Temple of Literature
- Hoan Kiem lake – Ngoc Son temple
- Hanoi’s old quarter
- Thang Long Royal Palaces
- Ho Chi Minh complex in Hanoi
- Vietnam museum of ethnology
- West Lake landscape
- Bat Trang ceramic village
- Duong Lam ancient village
- Tay Phuong pagoda
- Ba Vi tourist and national park
- Perfume Mountain & surroundings
The Temple of Literature
The Temple of Literature is a top notch cultural vestige of the capital.
It was constructed in 1070 and dedicated to Confucius for his renowned sages and teacher Chu Van An.The temple held Vietnam’s first university which was established in 1076 as a foundation for great talents throughout the country.
The interior complex consists of: The grand gate, the big middle gate, Khue constellation pavilion, the pond, the steles pavilion with 82 stone steles concerning examinations from 1442 to 1779, the dedication hall and the upper palace. The main hall was restored in 2000 in traditional architecture and dedicated to King Ly Thanh Tong – founder of the temple, King Ly Nhan Tong – founder of the university and King Le Thanh Tong – the father of the doctors’ steles.
The Temple of Literature is a tourist magnet for both domestic and foreign visitors and also a favorite venue for Hanoi cultural activities and to honor excellent students. The pavilion of Khue constellation has been chosen as Hanoi’s symbol. In March 2010, UNESCO officially acknowledged the 82 doctor steles as a World Documentary Heritage.
Hoan Kiem lake – Ngoc Son temple
Hoan Kiem Lake is a natural lake of Hanoi. It is also known as the Sword Lake in association with the legend of the sword of King Le Thai To in the 15th century. The 12ha lake is situated at the very heart of Hanoi and surrounded by a large variety of plants. At the center lies the Turtle Tower and across the lake are Ngoc Son temple and The Huc bridge. Other surrounding historical sites include the statue of King Le Thai To, Lady Kieu temple or the pen tower…
Ngoc Son temple is dedicated to Guan Yu, La To, the Deity of Van Xuong (responsible for exams) and the national hero Tran Hung Dao, a glorified mortal by Vietnamese people. In 1865, the temple was restored by scholar Nguyen Van Sieu and combined with Tran Ba communal house, the pen tower and a crossing bridge to the isle create the complex of Ngoc Son temple – The Huc bridge – pen tower – ink tray gate.
The Huc bridge is famous for its vermilion paint and 15 bending arches. It literally means “the gathering of the dawning light”.
Both the pen tower and ink tray gate symbolize the ideology of Hanoi’s elite in the late 19th century.
Hanoi’s old quarter
Spanning about 100ha and initiated in the early 15th century, the quarter lies outside Thang Long Royal Palaces. Residents who lived on traditional crafts and trades created unique separate crafting streets. Harmonious moss covered roofs and jostling tube-shaped houses make up the soul of the old quarter. These blocks serve both as dwellings and stores. Each street’s name may start with “Hang”, followed by some specific craft or product: Hang Dao, Hang Chieu, Hang Ma, Hang Thiec… There are over 50 streets remaining. Next to Hang Chieu is Quan Chuong gate (or the Eastern gate), a well-preserved site of this special ancient quarter.
The 36 streets of Hanoi is an etymology of the old urban area. Strolling through the narrow streets is the one of the greatest pleasures for both native and foreign tourists to Hanoi.
Near Hang Ma street is Dong Xuan market, a major trading center of Vietnam.
Thang Long Royal Palaces
Registered as a World Cultural Heritage in 2010, the complex is closely associated with the history of the Pre-Thang Long period from the 7th century up to now. The 20-ha complex encompasses the No.18 Hoang Dieu archeological site and the remaining ramparts of Hanoi’s ancient citadel such as the North Gate, South Gate, Princess Pavilion, Kinh Thien palace, stone dragons of Kinh Thien palace, D67 commanding shelter and Hanoi’s flag pedestal.
The No.18 Hoang Dieu archeological site, a center of this World Cultural Heritage, was discovered and excavated in 2002. Overlapping architecture impacts of various dynasties spanning from the 7th to 19th century are quite consistent. There are still many types of bricks used for the construction of palaces and temples. Each type of brick is attributed to a certain dynasty.
Ho Chi Minh complex in Hanoi
President Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum along with the Ho Chi Minh complex and museum form a memorial architectural, cultural and historical site of President Ho Chi Minh.
Ho Chi Minh mausoleum
Where the body of President Ho Chi Minh is stored. Commenced on September 2, 1973 and was inaugurated on August 29, 1975, the mausoleum was constructed on the former foundation of the stage of Ba Dinh square where President Ho read his Declaration of Independence on September 2, 1945.
Ho Chi Minh museum
Located near Ba Dinh square and behind President Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum. The structure was opened to the public on May 19, 1990 – the 100th birthday of the president.
Uncle Ho stilt house
Situated within Ho Chi Minh complex, Ba Dinh Dist., Hanoi. The stilt house was the dwelling and working place of President Ho since 1958 till his death (1969).
The house is encircled by a garden of hundreds of rare plants from throughout the country. In the front is Uncle Ho’s fish pond surrounded by all-year orchids.
Vietnam museum of ethnology
The museum is nested on a 3ha area on Nguyen Van Huyen street, Cau Giay District and was inaugurated in 1997. This museum stores artifacts, housing models, products, belongings and precious sources of documents of the daily life and customs of the 54 ethnicities throughout Vietnam.
Cultural activities of ethnicities often take place in the outdoor display area such as. These include a sacrifice of Dao people’s houses; shuttlecock kicking and còn throwing in Mong’s residence; grave houses of Co Tu people and reenacted weddings, funerals, water puppets and religious rituals in Kinh ethnic houses.
West Lake landscape
West Lake boasts its scenic beauty in the West Hanoi. The West Lake is the result of the Red River’s changing current. It covers 500ha, and is the largest lake in Hanoi.
The lakeside street measures around 17km and includes streets of Thanh Nien, Nghi Tam, Tay Ho, Nhat Tan, Buoi or Thuy Khue… It is also beautified by renowned pagodas and temples such as Tran Quoc, Kim Lien, West Lake pagoda or Quan Thanh temple. Since ancient times, various feudal dynasties have had their palaces erected around the lake for purposes of leisure. Rowing on the West Lake is an elegant pursuit to enjoy its breathtaking landscape. Recently, West Lake has witnessed some opulent structures erected as it has become a major tourist center of Hanoi.
Truc Bach lake
Next to the West Lake is Truc Bach lake. It was first mentioned in old accounts in the 17th century. Its northern side is home to Cau Nhi temple in
association with the capital moving legend of King Ly Cong Uan. Along with the West Lake, Truc Bach lake creates a harmonious natural complex in honor of the capital.
Quan Thanh temple
Dedicated to Saint Huyen Thien Tran Vu, one of the four Guardian Deities of Thang Long Citadel. The temple was built in King Ly Thai To’s reign (1010 – 1028) and ideally placed between the sides of Truc Bach lake and West Lake. Inside the temple is a grave and solemn black copper statue of Guan Yu weighing 4 tons. This black copper statue was the masterpiece of skilled artisans from Ngu Xa craft village.
Tran Quoc pagoda
Nested on an island of the West Lake, is Vietnam’s oldest pagoda, and was erected in King Ly Nam De’s era (544 – 548). It has undergone many restorations. The pagoda proudly holds a priceless statue of the Buddha in Nirvana and 14 steles recording precious historical information.
Kim Lien pagoda
Regarded as one of the most significant pagodas for its well-preserved old architectural patterns, this pagoda was built in 1631. It’s dedicated to Buddha and Princess Tu Hoa who taught people the skills of silkworm breeding and silk weaving. The pagoda is now located in Nghi Tam village, Quang An, West Lake District.
Tay Ho pagoda
In Quang An ward, was formerly an ancient village in the East of West Lake. It is dedicated to lord Lieu Hanh, a talented woman long known as the mother. On every 1st and 15th day in lunar calendar, pilgrims flock here to pray for fortune and luck.
Bat Trang ceramic village
Bat Trang is a 600-year-old village near the Red River, 15km Southeast from Hanoi. It is famous for crafting handmade ceramics.
Bat Trang’s pottery industry reached its peak in the 16th – 17th century.
Thus, many ceramic religious items in pagodas, shrines, temples and communal houses nationwide originated in Bat Trang. Bat Trang was a pottery center of the ancient Thang Long and gained fame throughout the country. Nowadays, tourists can visit the village a its communal houses, old houses, narrow alleys, wharfs, ceramic market, stores, workshops or furnaces.
Duong Lam ancient village
On the outskirts of Son Tay town, Duong Lam ancient village boasts 8 nationally registered sites and was the first ancient village to be registered as a National Historical Site in 2006. Duong Lam is typical of Vietnamese old villages with communal houses, temples, pagodas, shrines, village gates, banyan trees, wharfs, outposts, clan temples and laterite houses unique to the culture of the Red River Delta. It is considered an “outdoor museum of the rural and agricultural lifestyle” of Vietnam. Duong Lam has survived time’s harsh challenges to protect its mysterious charm and secrets.
Duong Lam is also the birthplace of two kings: Phung Hung and Ngo Quyen and of the Giang Van Minh or Lord Lady Mia (a concubine of Lord Trinh Trang)…
Tourist sites include: Ngo Quyen mausoleum and temple, Mong Phu communal house dedicated to Ngo Quyen, Giang Clan’s temple, Mia pagoda and some 200 to 400-year-old houses.
Tay Phuong pagoda
Situated on the peak of Tay Phuong hill (formerly Cau Lau mount) of about 50m in Thach Xa commune, Thach That, Hanoi, the long standing pagoda underwent various restorations from the 16th to 18th century and includes 3 parallel partitions: the altar, main hall and rear palace. Each area comprises two piled roof layers and walls of well- processed Bat Trang bricks.
The pagoda boasts some masterpieces of religious sculpture arts, including chiseling, reliefs and statues. There are 42 gold-plated statues of jack fruit wood such as the Buddha of Three Worlds, Lama, Tuyet Son, Kannon, Diamond statue or the statues of 16 Arhat…
Tay Phuong pagoda is a unique religious structure to representing Vietnam’s fine art in the Post-Le period (17th – 18th century).
Ba Vi tourist and national park
The park is an attractive resort complex of spectacular landscape in Ba Vi mountains (Ba Vi District, Hanoi) lying in the town Son Tay.
Go 16km further to Hai Fountain, and row on the lake; visitors will never be disappointed with an otherworldly experience in the fresh air and fairy landscape.
Among the sites are the Ho Chi Minh temple, Saint of Tan Vien mount temple and some remains of the resort built by the French in the 1940s at the height of 2000m above sea level. Ba Vi National Park is truly a valuable outdoor lab and ecological site of biodiversity.
There are currently some resort areas around Ba Vi National Park for weekend excursions including: Khoang Xanh, Ao Vua, Heavenly Mountains – Ivory Fountain to Da Waterfall…
Perfume Mountain & surroundings
The Perfume Pagoda is in Huong Son commune, My Duc district, about 70km away from Hanoi’s center. Its surroundings which encompass thousands of hectares, provide many rich natural wonders from mountains, streams, villages, pagodas (18 pagodas and temples) and caves.
Pilgrims to the Perfume Mountain complex usually follows three main routes: Perfume Mountain, Long Van and Snow pagoda.
Main routes to the Perfume pagoda: from Duc wharf, go down Yen fountain to Tro wharf (Thien Tru wharf) to visit Trinh temple, Thien Tru and climb to the finest and most famous grotto – Huong Tich. In the 17th century, during a trip to the site, Lord Trinh Sam sealed five Chinese characters on the grotto “Nam Thien De Nhat Dong” (the finest grotto under the Southern sky).