The majority of visitors to Hanoi probably have no idea how large it actually is, because they never leave its core of Hoan Kiem Lake and the Old Quarter. Tourism goes from critical inside this sphere, to practically non-existent just outside it. By any reckoning, a neighborhood like Văn Chương should at least have some foreign visitors, even if it's just those who have gotten lost. From a map, it's still in the dead center of Hanoi! But nope. We didn't see a single one, despite spending an entire day here.
By far the largest lake in Hanoi, Hồ Tây, or West Lake, actually sits at the north of the city. At seventeen kilometers in circumference, it's not a lake you'd want to walk around. But a bike tour makes perfect sense.
Found within the same complex as the Citadel, the Military History Museum is spread across a couple buildings, and includes the famous Flag Tower of Hanoi.
Hanoi is surrounded by hundreds of so-called craft villages; communities which have historically dedicated themselves to a particular craft. Though they've lost much of their prominence in the modern age of industrialization and mass production, and many have been consumed by the expansion of Hanoi, some of them are still plugging away. One such place is the forging village of Đa Sỹ, thirteen kilometers to the southwest of the capital. This wasn't the first craft village we'd…
Ca Trù is a form of royal court music which dates back to the 11th century. The style almost died out completely after the reunification of Vietnam, but it's been making a comeback, led by musical scholars and organizations like UNESCO, who have named Ca Trù an example of Intangible Cultural Heritage. We went to see a performance by the Ca Trù Club at the Kim Ngân Temple in the Old Quarter. Though it got its start…
Vietnam's premiere art museum is housed inside a beautiful colonial-era building near the Temple of Literature in Hanoi. The three floors of the Museum of Fine Arts take visitors on a journey through the country's artistic history, with a special focus on lacquer painting and war-time themes.
Ironically referred to as the "Hanoi Hilton" by its American guests, the Hỏa Lò Prison complex is located in the center of Vietnam's capital. Today, the prison has been mostly demolished, though the guard house has been left intact and converted into a museum.
Without a doubt, Vietnam's most famous culinary export is phở: rice noodles cooked in a clear, rich broth, usually served with beef and veggies. And there's no place better to try pho than in its birthplace, Hanoi. Whether you eat it for breakfast, lunch or dinner, from a street stand or an established restaurant, in the traditional style or in one of its many variations, it's safe to say that you're going to enjoy your meal.
Hanoi has been conquered, occupied, liberated and renamed more times than any other city we've visited. In fact, upheaval seems to be the only constant in Hà Nội... or is that Long Biên? Or Đại La? Thăng Long, Đông Đô, Đông Quan, or Tonkin? Here's a concise rundown of the most important moments in this schizophrenic city's history. 2879 BCHuman presence in Northern Vietnam dates back to at least 6000 BC, but the first significant event in…
Thank you, Uncle Ho: our hero! Leader of the struggle to free Vietnam from foreign influence! As a humble token of our gratitude, we honor you inside this mausoleum, where your corpse will be injected with embalming fluid and displayed eternally to generations of patriots ... Uncle Ho? Why are you crying?