Guide about Ha Noi
Area: 3.324,92 sq. km
Population:6,448.900 thousand habitants (April 2009).
-10 urban districts: Hoan Kiem, Ba Dinh, Dong Da, Hai Ba Trung, Tay Ho, Thanh Xuan, Cau Giay, Long Bien, Hoang Mai, Ha Dong.
- 1 city: Son Tay
- 18 rural districts: Dong Anh, Soc Son, Thanh Tri, Tu Liem, Gia Lam (Hanoi); Ba Vi, Chuong My, Dan Phuong, Hoai Duc, My Duc, Phu Xuyen, Phuc Tho, Quoc Oai, Thach That, Thanh Oai. Thuong Tin, Ung Hoa (former Ha Tay province) and Me Linh (a former district of Vinh Phuc province).
Ethnic groups: Viet (Kinh), Hoa, Muong, Tay, Dao...
Hanoi is the capital of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, the center of culture, politics, economy and trade of the whole country.
Hanoi is located in the Red River Delta, in the center of North Vietnam. It is encompassed by Thai Nguyen Province to the north, Vinh Phuc and Ha Tay to the west and south, Bac Giang, Bac Ninh and Hung Yen provinces to the east and south-east.Hanoi means ?the hinterland between the rivers? (Ha: river, Noi: interior). Hanoi?s territory is washed by the Red River (the portion of the Red River embracing Hanoi is approximately 40km long) and its tributaries, but there are some other rivers flowing through the capital, including Duong, Cau, Ca Lo, Day, Nhue, Tich, To Lich and Kim Nguu.
Climate: Hanoi is situated in a tropical monsoon zone with two main seasons. During the dry season, which lasts from October to April, it is cold and there is very little rainfall, except from January to March, when the weather is still cold but there is some light rain. The wet season, from May to September, is hot with heavy rains and storms. The average annual temperature is 23.2?C (73.7?F) and the average annual rainfall is 1,800mm. The average temperature in winter is 17.2?C (62.9?F), but can go down to 8?C (46.4?F). The average temperature in summer is 29.2?C (84.6?F, but can reach up to 39?C (102.2?F).
Hanoi is a sacred land of Vietnam. In the 3rd century BC, Co Loa (actually belonging to Dong Anh District) was chosen as the capital of the Au Lac Nation of Thuc An Duong Vuong (the King Thuc). Hanoi later became the core of the resistance movements against the Northern invasions. Located in the middle of the Red River Delta, the town has gradually expanded to become a very populations and rich residential center. At different periods, Hanoi had been selected as the chief city of Vietnam under the Northern domination.In the autumn of Canh Tuat lunar years (1010), Ly Thai To, the founder of the Ly Dynasty, decided to transfer the capital from Hoa Lu to Dai La, and so he rebaptized it Thang Long (Soaring Dragon). The year 1010 then became an historical date for Hanoi and for the whole country in general.For about a thousand years, the capital was called Thang Long, then changing to Dong Do, Dong Kinh, and finally to Hanoi, in 1831. This sacred piece of land thereafter continued to be the theatre of many fateful events.
Throughout the thousand years of its eventful history, marked by destruction, wars and natural calamities, Hanoi still preserves many ancient architectural works including the Old Quarter and over 600 pagodas and temples. Famous sites include the one Pillar Pagoda (built in 1042), the Temple of Literature (built in 1070), Hanoi Citadel, Hanoi Opera House, President Ho Chi Minh?s Mausoleum...
Hanoi also characteristically contains 18 beautiful lakes such as Hoan Kiem Lake, West Lake, and Truc Bach Lake..., which are the lungs of the city, with their surrounding gardens and trees providing a vital source of energy.
Many traditional handicrafts are also practiced in Hanoi including bronze molding, silver carving, lacquer, and embroidery. Hanoi has many famous traditional professional handicraft villages such as Bat Trang pottery village, Ngu Xa bronze casting village, Yen Thai glossy silk...
By road: Hanoi is 93km from Ninh Binh, 102km from Haiphong, 153km from Thanh Hoa, 151km from Halong, 474km from Dien Bien Phu, 658km from Hue, 763km from Danang, and 1,710km from Ho Chi Minh City.
By air: Noi Bai International Airport, over 35km from the city center, is one of the biggest airports of the country with various international and domestic routes. There are domestic flights from Hanoi to Danang, Dien Bien, Ho Chi Minh City, Hue, Nha Trang and international flights to many countries in over the world.
By train: Hanoi Railway Station is Vietnam's main railway station. It is the starting point of five railway lines leading to almost every province in Vietnam.
West Lake is the biggest lake in central Hanoi, covering 500 ha in Tay Ho district. It is one of the main attractions of Hanoi City.
In the ancient times, this place used to be a famous resort reserved for kings and mandarins. Many beautiful palaces and monuments were built on the bank of the lake, among them are Thuy Hoa Palace, Tu Hoa Palace, Ham Nguyen Sanctuary, Kim Lien pagoda and Ngoc Dam Palace.
The 14-km path around the lake leads to different places of interest such as Nghi Tam and Tay Ho flower villages, the peach gardens of Nhat Tan and the famous Tay Ho Temple. Situated on an island in the West Lake is the Tran Quoc pagoda, the oldest pagoda of Vietnam built in 541. Its ancient towers mirror in the lake water.
Inside the pagoda there is a very precious statue, that of Buddha Sakyamuni entering Nirvana, a masterpiece of Vietnamese sculptural art.
Location: Vietnam Museum of Ethnology is located on Nguyen Van Huyen Street, Cau Giay District, Hanoi.
Characteristic: It contains more than 10,000 objects, 15,000 black and white photos and hundreds of video tapes and cassettes which depict all aspects of life, activities, customs, and habits of the 54 ethnic groups of Vietnam.
The Vietnam Museum of Ethnology opened at the end of 1997. Since then, it has attracted the attention of visitors as well as ethnographers and researchers from all over the world.
The museum has successfully recreated the daily life together with the religious rituals and the symbolic festivals of each ethnic group in Vietnam. Visitors have the opportunity to admire costumes, embroidery as well as outside stilt houses and habitats from the different groups.
All displayed objects mingle and supplement one another to create a colourful and diversified picture of Vietnamese culture. An open-air exhibition in the museum’s spacious and peaceful ground features ethnic houses from all over Vietnam.
The displayed object area is divided into 9 parts:
- Introduction of Viet (Kinh).
- Introduction of Muong, Tho, Chut ethnic groups.
- The ethnic groups belong to the Tay, Thai, and Kadai groups. Visiting hours:
8:00 - 17:00 all days; except Mon and holidays, Tet in a year.
- Regular Admission: 20,000VND.
- Free Admission: Children under 6 years of age and to Vietnam’s ethnic minority members.
The outdoor exhibition area is only large enough for the most popular architectural styles to be presented. Already presented are the E De long house, the Tay stilt house, the Dao house half on stilts and half on earth, the H' Mong house whose roof is made of pomu wood, the Viet house with tile roof, the Gia Rai tomb, the Ba Na communal house, the Cham traditional houae, the Ha Nhi house made with earth-beaten walls.
There are future plans to present the Co Tu tomb and the surrounding completion of the Viet house. Between the houses, there are trees indigenous to the area of each house, zigzagging paths and a meandering stream crossed by small bridges. The outdoor museum is being realised step by step.
Location: Vietnam History Museum is located at No. 1 Trang Tien Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi; behind the Hanoi Opera House.
Characteristic: Vietnam History Museum was founded in September 1958 and it contains a great deal of valuable objects, which reflect all the periods of Vietnamese history.
The museum is a beautiful architectural work. It provides an area of 2,000m² for exhibition. on the ground floor are theme rooms:
From 8:00 to 11:30 and from 13:30 to 16:30 all days.
Prehistory, Vietnam from the Time of National Building to the Tran Dynasty. The second floor features Vietnam from the Ho Dynasty to the Nguyen Dynasty and contains a section on Cham Culture.
Nearly 7,000 objects and documents depict vividly the long process of development of the Vietnamese community, its undaunted and heroic struggle for thousand years, from its early history up to the August Revolution in 1945. The system of computers installed on the second floor is intended for visitors to search for information effectively.
The exhibits provide systematic, scientific and reliable information for those who want to understand and research on the history of Vietnam. The museum is a tourist attraction for people inside and outside Vietnam.
Location: Vietnam Fine-Arts Museumis located at 66 Nguyen Thai Hoc Street, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi.
Characteristic: Vietnam Fine-Arts Museum is a lively historical treasure depicting the origins and evolution of Vietnamese fine arts.
In June 1966, house No. 66 on Nguyen Thai Hoc Street in Ba Dinh District was transformed into the Vietnam Fine Arts Museum. Two-storey building displays the art works.
The exhibition system is divided into 5 parts:
- Fine arts of Prehistory: Consist of the objects from the Bronze Age and Iron Age.
8:30 - 17:00 all days; except Mon.
8:30 - 21:00 on Wed and Sat.
Contact for guided visit:
in Vietnamese, English and French.
The Vietnam Army Museum is located on Dien Bien Phu Street in Hanoi. The area formerly consisted of barracks the French and covers 10,000sq.m divided into 30 showrooms.
It opened in December 1959. It contains objects and documents related to the establishment and development of the Vietnamese armed forces. There are many artifacts on display left over from past conflicts.
The evolution of the Vietnamese National Army and the Vietnamese People's Army (1946-1954) is depicted with weapons, maps and objects from the famous Dien Bien Phu Campaign.
The period of fighting against the United States, which ended in 1975, is represented through maps and models of the Ho Chi Minh Campaign, plus items that once belonged to Vietnamese soldiers.
Several large and impressive piece such as heavy weapons retrieved from enemy forces and shards of planes are also on exhibit.
Temple of Literature (Van Mieu)
Location: Temple of Literature is located on Van Mieu Street, 2km west of Hoan Kiem Lake.
Characteristic: Van Mieu - Quoc Tu Giam is a famous historical and cultural relic consisting of the Temple of Literature and Vietnam’s first university. The Temple of Literature was built in 1070 in honour of Confucius, his followers and Chu Van An, a moral figure in Vietnamese education.
Quoc Tu Giam, or Vietnam's first university, was built in 1076. Throughout its hundreds of years of activity in the feudal, thousands of Vietnamese scholars graduated from this university.
In 1483 Quoc Tu Giam was changed into Thai Hoc Vien (Higher Educational Institute). After decades of war and natural disasters, the former construction was completely destroyed. In preparation for the celebration of the 1000th anniversary of Thang Long (present day Hanoi) another construction has been built following the model of the previous Thai Hoc Vien on the same ground. The work includes the front hall, the back sanctuary, lean-tos on the left and on the right, the courtyard, and subsidiary structures. This site preserves historical vestiges of a 1,000-year-old civilization such as statues of Confucius and his disciples (Yan Hui, Zengshen, Zisi, Mencius), and ancient constructions such as Khue Van Cac (Pavilion of the Constellation of Literature) and the Worshipping Hall.
Ngoc Ha Temple
Ngoc Ha Temple was named after an old village, Ngoc Ha camp, one of 13 camp in the West of Thang Long (the old capital of Vietnam) formed in Ly Dynasty "Huyen Thien Hac De" deity is worshipped in this temple. Ngoc ha Temple was built to satisfy the customary religious need of worshipping a village deity and also a place for community meeting.
Until now no documents concerning the temple's establishment have been found. However, people in the village know that the temple was built a long time ago and as the original structure was destroyed, the present is a replacement.
The date written on the temple shows that it was restored in the 10th Thanh Thai Year (1899). By investigating relics and records kept in the temple, it is estimated that the temple was built at the end of Le Dynasty and be repaired many times in Nguyen Dynasty.
Today, we still can see its general architectural structure with ancient features such as gables, roof edges which were in the form of flying dragons and clouds. Many items of altar decoration of great artistic value are kept carefully in the temple. Besides being an architectural heritage, Ngoc Ha temple is also a historical site of anti-French activities in the late 19th century, even the August 1945 revolution and resistance war against the French from 1946 to 1954.
Hoan Kiem Lake, or the Lake of the Restored Sword, is located directly in the centre of Hanoi. The name is derived from a legend involving Emperor Le Thai To, in which he came across a giant tortoise while cruising on the lake. The tortoise took his sword that had secured victory against the Chinese aggressors of the Minh Dynasty. The emperor named the lake after this episode.
Every morning, the surrounding park fills with locals who arrive to exercise and play badminton. By the way, there still are a few tortoises who call this area home.
Hoan Kiem was already considered the most beautiful lake in Hanoi when Ngoc Son Temple was built on a small island during the 19th century. Saint Van Xuong, considered one of the brightest stars of Vietnam's literature and intellectual circles, was worshipped here. National hero Tran Hung Dao was also worshipped after he lad the Vietnamese people to victory over both Mongolian and Chinese invaders.
The temple as it is seen today is the result of renovations made by Nguyen Van Sieu in 1864. A great Hanoian writer, sieu had a large pen-shaped tower built at the entrance of the temple. on the upper section of the tower are three Chinese characters: ta thanh thien, which means that to write on the blue sky is to imply the height of a genuine and righteous person's determination and will.
Also at the entrance are: a dai nghien, or ink stand, carved from stone and resembling a peach, which is placed on the back of three frogs on top of the gate to the temple; and The Huc, or the place where the first rays of morning sunshine touch.
On the way to the temple are several cau doi, parallel sentence boards, placed on the wall. cau doi were part of traditional word puzzles played by Hanoi's intellectual class.
President Ho Chi Minh's Residence
Location: In Ba Dinh District, Hanoi
Characteristic: Located in a large garden at the back of the Presidential Palace is a nice road covered with pebbles and bordered with mango trees that lead to a stilt house, Uncle Ho's residence and office from May 1958 until his death. The perfume of jasmine flowers and roses is omnipresent.
At the back is a garden of fruit trees, where the luxuriant milk fruit tree donated to Uncle Ho by his southern compatriots in 1954 stands between two lines of Hai Hung orange trees. Other valuable trees belonging to more than 30 species supplied by the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Forestry, and several provinces represent the wide variety of trees growing in Vietnam. There are also trees imported from foreign countries, such as Ngan Hoa trees, miniature rose bushes, areca trees from the Caribbean, Buddhist bamboo trees, etc. Dozens of varieties of beautifully hang from the trees which blossom all year round.
Many people know the story of how Uncle Ho came to live in a small stilt-house rather than a grand palace. But it is worth retelling. Ho Chi Minh was never one for large houses and comfortable living. He was just 21 when, in 1911, he set out to travel "the five continents and the four oceans" to seek ways of saving his country. For 30 years he lived a nomadic life, changing addresses constantly. When he came back to Vietnam in 1941, he led the revolution against colonial rule and read the country’s historic Declaration of Independence at Ba Dinh Square in Hanoi on September 2, 1945. Not long afterwards, the French attempted to reassert control of their former dominion, and Ho Chi Minh and his generals were forced into the north-western mountains. During the resistance war of 1946-54, Uncle Ho reverted to his nomadic ways, for the only means of avoiding detection and capture was to live life constantly on the run. He moved from one hide-out to another several times a month, and only lived in stilt-houses. When the war was won in 1954, the Party, Government and Ho Chi Minh came back to Hanoi. But Uncle Ho eschewed the trappings of authority. A true egalitarian, he chose to live a simple life: he wore brown cotton garments and rubber sandals made from car tyros, and lived in a worker’s cottage out the back of the Presidential Palace. In 1958, Uncle Ho revisited the former resistance base in the north-west and saw some of the stilt-houses where he had spent the war years. When he got back to Hanoi, he said he wanted a similar stilt-house built on the grounds of the Presidential Palace itself. The Party commissioned an architect from the Department for Army Barracks to design the house, but told him to submit his plans to Uncle Ho for comment before work began. The initial design had three rooms, including a toilet. But Uncle Ho wanted the house to remain faithful to the real thing. "The stilt-house must have only one or two rooms, small rooms at that, and definitely no toilet," he said. The architect amended the designs, and the stilt-house that Ho Chi Minh moved into on May 17, 1958, had two rooms of just 10sq.m each. He lived and worked there for the remaining 11 years of his life.
Today, the stilt-house and its furnishings have been preserved must as they were in the 1960s. In the area under the house, Ho Chi Minh would receive visitors and meet members of the Political Bureau. In the centre of the floor is a long table, with wooden and bamboo chairs around it. Uncle Ho used a rattan armchair in the left-hand corner to sit and read, or rest. In another corner are three telephones that he used to talk to the Political Bureau, the Operations Department and others, and a steel helmet that he wore during the years of the American War.
In the right-hand corner, he kept an aquarium with goldfish to amuse visiting children. The two rooms of the stilt-house are sparsely furnished. one, the bedroom, contains only a bed and wardrobe. The other, the study, houses a table, chair and bookshelf. His appliances were just the bare necessities: a palm-leaf fan, a brown paper fan, a bamboo mosquito catcher, a little thermos-flask, a bottle of water, a radio-set given by Vietnamese nationals in Thailand, and a small electric fan – a gift from the Communist Party of Japan. A little brass bell used to hang on the door. In the stilt-house, Uncle Ho received top cadres, children and his close friends. He spent most of his time writing letters, revolutionary articles encouraging "good people, good deeds," and documents of great historical value on important political tasks such as his 1966 Call against US Imperialism, for National Salvation. Plants and trees were grown in the area around the stilt-house, as Uncle Ho was a poet with a great love for nature and pet animals. The garden is bordered with hibiscus, and the gate of climbing plants is typical of rural Vietnam. The front garden is decorated with little bushes of fragrant jasmines and eglantines, while at the rear is a stand of star-fruit trees from the country’s south. Spring sends the garden into a colourful riot of mangoes, white blossoms, and orchids. Uncle Ho regularly practiced martial arts and taichi with the guards in the garden, also the place where he once conducted people singing the famous song Unity, like a real orchestra conductor. In front of the stilt-house is his fish-pond, teeming with fish that he fed with great care. He only had to clap his hands and they came in shoals for food. The house clearly reveals his humility, his erudition and his love of simplicity and nature.
As late Prime Minister Pham Van Dong once wrote: "It is not merely a landscape, but a way of life; it speaks of a priceless joy that the current civilisation seems deprived of, with its polluted mega-cities and cluttered high-rise apartments.
Today, visitors flock to the stilt-house to remember what kind of a man Uncle Ho was, and to celebrate his memory - a man of sophisticated intellect yet simple pleasures, of revolutionary ideas yet of peaceful disposition.
Ho Chi Minh Museum
Location: Ho Chi Minh Museum is located at 3 Ngoc Ha Street, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi; near Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum.
Characteristic: The museum is a four-story building covering a total area of 100ha and designed in the shape of a lotus flower as a symbol of President Ho’s noble character.
This museum was completed on 9 May 1990 for the 100th anniversary of President Ho Chi Minh’s birthday.
From 8:00 to 11:00 and from 13:30 to 16:30 all days.
The main showroom displays 117,274 documents, articles, pictures and exhibits illustrating the historical events that took place during President Ho Chi Minh’s life, as well as important events that occurred in the rest of the world since the end of the 19th
The museum contains other rooms such as a library, a large hall, meeting rooms and research rooms.
Since its opening, the museum has welcomed millions of domestic and foreign visitors. It is open daily from 8 to 11 am and 1.30pm to 4.30 pm. Photography is forbidden. Cameras and bags must be left at the reception. Entrance ticket costs 5,000VND.
Ngu Xa Festival
Time: The 17th day of the first lunar month.
Place: Nam Trang Village, Truc Bach Ward, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi.
Objects of worship: A Di Da Buddha, Ancestor Saint Nguyen Chi Thanh.
Characteristics: Exhibit productions of bronze casting, cock fighting.
The bat cong palanquin procession is carried by 36 young and strong youths, going around the village. In the anniversary of the ancestor's death, people eat steamed glutinous rice, meat of pig's head dipped in salt and bean sprouts sour. The offerings on the anniversary of the death of ancestor are prepared by the 3 families: Nguyen, Tran, and Le which include steamed glutinous rice, gelded cocks, sweet short cake (banh khao - made of roast glutinous rice flour), green bean cake (banh dau).
Ngu Xa Spring Festival also exhibits productions of bronze casting. Casters display these products on the row of tables covered by bright red cloth: dinh, vases, cranes, Buddha statues, tigers, dragons... Besides, villagers even hold cock fighting contest
Le Mat Village Festival
Time: The 23rd day of the third lunar month.
Place: Le Mat Village, Viet Hung Ward, Long Bien District, Hanoi.
Objects of worship: The village's tutelary god of Hoang Family.
Characteristics: Snake dance.
Le Mat Village opens the festival to commemorate Hoang Duc Trung who had merit of taking poor people from Le Mat Village to the capital city to reclaim the wasteland to set up 13 barracks in the west of Thang Long Citadel (Ba Dinh District now). The festival involves water procession from the village well, carp catching, carps offering to god, feast (offerings) procession of 13 barracks in Ba Dinh District to the village then offer to god. Snake dance, processions of Ga ong (heavy cock), Lon ong (fat pig), contest of speciality cooking includes "Tam xa dai hoi" (3 kinds of snake: copperhead, krait, coluber), "Ngu ho chau lam" (5 frogs feast) and "Ly ngu vong nguyet" (big carps feast, feast of making of raw fish and vegetables).
CO LOA FESTIVAL
The Co Loa Festival is held annually from the 6th to the 16th of the 1st month of lunar calendar. It takes place in the pagoda that honours An Duong Vuong in Co Loa Commune, Dong Anh District, Hanoi City.
On the 6th day of Tet, the literature procession is preceded by a flag that symbolizes the 5 elements (metal, wood, water, fire and earth), a musical company, and a sacrifice.
The Literature Stand set at the Imperial Court's Sedan Chair is shaded by a parasol. In the courtyard, one can see many colorful festival flags and Dai Flags (great ones) fluttering in the wind.On either side of the temple gates are a couple of red horses and white horses with colorful saddles.
Preceded by the literature procession is a sacrificial ceremony that lasts until 12 PM. After this ceremony, there is the god procession of 12 villages. Besides these processions, there are many activities such as swinging, rice cooking, singing Vietnamese popular opera and other events.
On the 16th day of the first lunar month, the festival is closed with a thanksgiving ceremony.
Time: From the 14th to the 16th day of the second lunar month
Place; Bat Trang Communal House, Bat Trang Commune, Gia Lam District, Hanoi.
Objects of worship: Han Cao To and Lu Hau, Cai O Minh Chinh Tu Royal Highest, top-ranking general Phan, Ho Quoc Genie, Bach Ma Genie.
Characteristics: Water procession, ancestral tablet washing, contest of composing ca tru song to sing on the worshipping ceremony.
Bat Trang Village is famous for pottery. The village is located near the bank of the river, includes sacred communal house, pagoda, temple, shrine. The village festival involves water procession, ancestral tablet washing, a procession of ancestral tablet to the communal house to worship. The offering to the village's tutelary god is a barbecued young fat buffalo. They put the whole buffalo on the large table with six big feasts and four trays of steamed glutinous rice. After worshipping, the offerings are shared out for every family.