Viet36 proposes you to discover all about Hanoi! You will find in this comprehensive section all the interesting information you need to know for your stay in Vietnam.
Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam. It is located in the north of the country, bordering the Red River (Sông Hồng) which flows into the Gulf of Tonkin. Its name means “the city beyond the river” which is explained by its geographical position. Hanoi is the second largest city in Vietnam, after Ho Chi Minh City. The population density is high with about 6.5 million inhabitants.
The city of Hanoi is full of contrasts, on the one hand the incessant effervescence expressed by a dense and twirling traffic, on the other hand an apparent calm with well preserved ancestral traditions.
Hanoi is a unique city that leaves most travellers amazed and touched by their time here. It is such a mixture of smells, colours, haphazard buildings, and overlapping histories that no one is left indifferent. We, Vietnamese, think that Hanoi represents Vietnam well!
– Area: 3328.9 km2 – Hanoi is the largest city in Vietnam.
– Population: 6,699,600 (according to the recent 2011)
– Density: 1,979 people/km².
Climate Hanoi – When to go to?
Hanoi is considered to have four seasons. With two transition periods (April and October) between the two hot and cold seasons, Hanoi has four seasons: spring, summer, autumn and winter.
Spring in Hanoi usually starts in February and ends in April. Summer lasts from May to July. Autumn occurs around August, September and October. Winter comes in November and ends in January of the next year.
The best time to visit Hanoi is from October to December and February to April, when temperatures are mild, with plenty of sunshine and little rainfall. The winter months of December and January are an interesting alternative, but the weather is cooler and greyer. In summer the temperatures can be unpleasantly high, the climate is humid with heavy rainfall.
How to get to Hanoi?
Noi Bai International Airport
Behind Tan Son Nhat in Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi Airport is the second largest airport in Vietnam. It is located in Soc Son district, 45km north of central Hanoi.
It offers domestic flights to all major cities in Hanoi and international flights to major Asian cities such as Singapore, Hong Kong, Macau, Taipei and Tokyo.
From Europe, there are numerous connections with European cities such as Paris (several flights per week), Amsterdam (three flights per week), Copenhagen (every Thursday), Madrid (every Monday, Friday)…
Connections to other continents such as Sydney (every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday) San Francisco (every Monday, Wednesday and Friday).
Once at the airport, you can take a shuttle bus (40,000 DONGS, approx. 1 hour) to the centre. They run every 20 minutes between 4.30am and 9pm. You can also take a taxi to the city centre (approx. 200,000 DONGS).
Hanoi Railway Station
Hanoi Railway Station is located at 120 Le Duan Street. The main building is easily recognizable: an old building dating from the French Indochina period, overlooking Le Duan street, a very important North-South axis of Hanoi. In the past, the street was known as Mandarin Street, from where the main communication routes to the important parts of the country started: South Vietnam, the mountainous North, the coastal provinces to the East.
It is in this main building that one can find the main Vietnamese Railway ticket offices for the North-South routes (Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City).
Ticket sales for the Hanoi – Lao Cai or Hanoi – Hai Phong line are located in another, much smaller building overlooking Tran Quy Cap Street on the west side of the station.
In recent years, the infrastructure of the Hanoi station has been modernised, and the hall area is covered by wifi. Many chairs are installed for passengers waiting for trains. However, the car and bus parks are still narrow, sometimes it’s a bit chaotic at rush hour!
Once on the platform of the station, it is important to know this: the North-South trans-Vietnamese trains (to Ho Chi Minh city) are recognized by their names starting with SE (so we have SE 1, SE 2, SE 3, SE 4, SE 5…). Whereas Hanoi – Lao Cai trains are identified by their names starting with SP (so we have SP 1, SP 2, SP 3, SP 3…).
How to get around Hanoi?
Compared to other Asian capitals, Hanoi is not so big, so visiting the city centre and the 36 corporations district is easily done on foot. But to reach other sites a little further away, the easiest way is to take a taxi. The prices will seem remarkably low compared to France: two or three euros for a 5 km trip.
The bus network is also well developed and very cheap, but it is of course more complicated to find your way around.
What to see and do?
Of course, there are many other places in Hanoi full of charm and culture, such as the Hanoi Ethnography Museum, Hoan Kiem Lake, the One Pillar Pagoda, the Temple of Literature… We detail these sites in this section: Sites to see
But let’s see below a very particular site to visit when you go to – The 36 streets of Hanoi!
If there is a place that must be mentioned when talking about Hanoi, it is the district of 36 streets. This place is considered as the soul of Hanoi. It is indeed difficult to imagine visiting the capital without walking the famous 36 streets and corporations in Hanoi, it is an essential place of our capital. And yet, in the past, some innovative spirits evoked the idea of demolishing the old district in order to build large “buiding”… Fortunately, the municipality never listened to them, and even if, the money was missing to execute this project. And yes, poverty has its good side, it has preserved this national treasure where it is good to walk.
The authenticity of these places is miraculously maintained in the middle of this city in perpetual movement!
Some foreign friends have said: “If your Hanoi didn’t have it anymore, it would be quite ordinary”. They generally prefer Hanoi to Saigon, because Hanoi has a thousand-year-old history. The soul of the city remains in this district, which is distinguished from the new one by its craftsmen’s and traders’ shops.
Built in the 15th century, this district of merchants and craftsmen forms a triangle on the northern shore of Hoan Kiem Lake (Lake of the Restituted Sword). This historic heart of the capital retains its ancient style and human scale. You can stroll around on foot or by pedicab, and forgetting the noise of the scooters, it is not difficult to imagine what the city looked like in the past with its swarms of merchants and vendors, craftsmen and street vendors: jewellers, calligraphers, carpenters, sellers of fans, patterned objects, lacquers, silk, mats, paper, pipes, manufacturers of chests, jars, rattan or leather objects…
Where to stay in Hanoi?
The old quarter of Hanoi and its surroundings are filled with a large number of hotels of very different categories and styles. So, no need to worry about a shortage of rooms if you plan to visit Hanoi!
From backpacker rooms to luxury categories, all ranges are available. Likewise, prices exist for every category of wallet! On average, hotels in Vietnam are much cheaper than in Europe.
To book a hotel, it’s very simple, go to the specialised websites or call our agency to get the best prices in the framework of a trip organised by our care.
Here are some recommendations of hotels in Hanoi: The 10 best hotels in Hanoi
All about Hanoi – Festivals
Hanoi – the heart of Vietnam is considered a treasure trove of beautiful cultural traditions. It is a place where the traditional festivals of the Vietnamese people take place. These festivals are spiritual nourishment for Vietnamese people in general and Hanoians in particular. If you are lucky enough to be in Hanoi during these festivals, you will have a unique experience.
Dong Da Festival
Dong Da Festival is held on the 5th day of the first lunar month every year. It is a festival to commemorate the resounding victory of the 1788 uprising led by Emperor Quang Trung (Nguyen Hue) against the Chinese. Here you can participate in a variety of activities such as wrestling competitions, lion dances and human chess games on the Dong Da mound.
Perfume Pagoda Festival
Located 70km southwest of Hanoi, Perfume Pagoda is a collection of Buddhist temples and pagodas nestled in the limestone cliffs of Mount Huong Tich (Perfume Footprint Mountain). It is known as one of the most famous religious places in Vietnam.
Therefore, it is also a pilgrimage destination where people from all over the country flock. It is the longest festival in the north of the country, starting on the 6th day of the 1st lunar month and continuing until the last week of the 3rd lunar month. By coming here after Tet, the tourist can both visit Buddhist temples, contemplate the perfect combination of river, mountains, and rice fields; and also participate in various religious activities.
The Giong Festival at Soc Temple is held every year from the 6th to the 8th day of the first lunar month. In Vietnamese popular belief, Thánh Gióng – Phù Đổng Thiên Vương is one of the four immortal genies. According to the legend, after defeating the Ân invaders, from the top of Soc Mountain (Phu Linh commune), the Holy Giong flew to the sky. In fact, this festival is organized under the inspiration of this legend. It includes traditional rites: Illumination ceremony, procession ceremony, incense and bamboo flower offering ceremony. The Gióng Saint’s Day has been recognized in 2010 by UNESCO as an intangible heritage of humanity.
Co Loa Festival
Located 16 km north of Hanoi, Co Loa – “the spiral citadel” was founded by King An Duong Vuong who ruled from 214 to 208 BC. The Co Loa festival is held from the 6th day to the 16th day of the 1st lunar month. In these days, many ancient legends and ceremonies reappear; for example, the procession in honour of the king and the genies. The ‘elders’ play cards and chess. The young people play traditional games (swing, wrestling, tug-of-war, crossbow shooting, rice cooking competitions, cockfights, etc.).
Pig Procession Festival
The Pig Procession Festival is held on the 13th of the first lunar month every year. It is the biggest and most important festival of the villagers in La Phu, Hoai Duc, Hanoi. Each hamlet prepares a large pig by holding a solemn ceremony of worship to a tutelary deity who was an ancient general under the Hung kings. The hamlet that has the most beautiful and biggest pig will win the first prize. In addition, in this festival, there are teams of dragon dance, lion dance.
Bat Trang Ceramic Village Festival
Bat Trang Ceramic Village is located on the left bank of the Red River, about 10 km from downtown Hanoi. Its subtle ceramic products are known both inside and outside the country. Every year, Bat Trang village holds a festival from the 14th to the 16th day of the 2nd lunar month. This festival is for the purpose of honouring the tradition of Bat Trang village and reminding the children of the root. In addition to the traditional rituals, it is also an opportunity to introduce ceramic products to tourists. So, if you attend, you can admire the ceramic products made by the skillful hands of the craftsmen.
Master Pagoda Festival (Chùa Thầy)
Every year, the Thay Pagoda Festival is held on the 7th day of the 3rd lunar month. It is an occasion to memorise the contributions of the monk Tu Dao Hanh, the founder of Vietnamese water puppetry. In this festival, there is a tablet procession, worship of Buddha, performance of water puppets. For some tourists, it is not only a pilgrimage but also an opportunity to contemplate the beauty of a cultural heritage, where traces of personalities, senior monks of several periods are still engraved.
Now you know more about Hanoi, if you want to build a trip to Vietnam to discover other beautiful destinations in the country, please contact me.