"Good morning Hanoi !" Top 5 Page for this destination Hanoi by kokoryko

Hanoi Travel Guide: 2,833 reviews and 6,249 photos

Hoan Kiem Lake and the old city of the 36 guilds

I Landed in Hanoi in the middle of the morning and, after leaving my luggage in the hotel I went out to feel a bit the atmosphere of the surroundings and to try not to be caught by the inconveniences of the jet lag.
It was a bit what I expected, heavy traffic, millions of bikes on the streets, very busy streets, and a big lot unexpected, the quiet Hoan Kiem Lake surroundings and these young persons who smiled, laughed, asked me thousands of questions, even shared some food with me, I was. . . enchanted! This was my first contact with Hanoi, and I knew I would have a nice stay, nice discoveries. It was a wonderful first impression.
Ah, good morning Hanoi, in reference to “Good morning Vietnam”, a “moving” and humorous movie from Barry Levinson, with Robin Williams, telling about censorship and free expression in broadcasts directed to American soldiers Vietnam at the beginning of the war

A long bustling history

Vietnam has been occupied by foreign forces many times during the past and this history of occupation, colonisation, fight for freedom left probably traces in the local people’s way of looking at the world; it is shown in the interesting museums, the historical buildings, the pagodas, the mausoleum, and there is a sort of “collective” atmosphere in Hanoi, totally different from Saigon (I visited few years ago). Hanoi displays few witnesses of brilliant artistic and intellectual from the past, like the Temple of Literature, but many wars and occupation troops managed to erase Vietnamese identity in some way (This is my impression, it may have to be nuanced).
Chinese occupied North Vietnam several times between the fifth and the 16th century, the Mongols invaded the country at least three times in the 13th and 14th century.
In the 19th century, the French colonised Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia; they destroyed a lot in Hanoi and surroundings but also left many buildings, a “French quarter”, roads and bridges, factories, a railway, etc. . . . In recent history after the defeat of the French in Dien Bien Phu, Vietnam has been divided in North and South and we all know what happened later! Vietnam is still officially a communist country, and the visitor can see it at every street corner, but there is nothing oppressive, and since about ten years the country is opening itself to the world and there are more and more visitors. The emblem of modern Vietnam is not a dragon or a tortoise as it was during the rule of past dynasties, but the glorious (for many Vietnamese) red flag.

Walking in the old city and around the lakes

The best way to feel Hanoi, to get it to know a (little) bit is to walk; the historical center is not very extended, many places to visit are there or in the immediate surroundings, and walking is the best way to have some contact with the people. There are many places you will meet fellow tourists and if you walk at night, or in more “remote” places you will see many surprises, like pagodas or temples on the shores of West lake, pieces of real life of the locals, funny street scenes, sometimes, very quiet and peaceful places, all this and more kept my eyes wide open. I share a bit. Bicycle, flowers, never ending traffic in the background, peaceful and hectic, this was “my” Hanoi.
I spent 10 days in Hanoi, on a working trip, adding week ends to the working days during which I woke up early to see Hanoi during quiet time; I visited also late night and when some appointment was cancelled, I jumped on a bike-taxi to see some place far from the city centre, and tried to fill my eyes as much I could.

My photographs are not works of art, my writings are not literature.
Be kind, I posted them here, and I would appreciate you ask if you intend to display them elsewhere! Merci!

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Wonderful people, and beautiful old city
  • Cons:Quite noisy on the streets!!
  • In a nutshell:Walk in the streets
  • Intro Updated Feb 3, 2008
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Reviews (72)

Comments (22)

  • thuyduongvn's Profile Photo
    Aug 9, 2012 at 12:01 AM

    hi i live in ha noi and im so happy you like my city !

  • Jim_Eliason's Profile Photo
    May 22, 2012 at 7:11 PM

    great tips

  • AngMimi's Profile Photo
    Mar 20, 2012 at 9:56 AM

    Hermann, I've read so many times of your wonderful Hanoi page, hope to visit Hanoi one day. I used to have my hair cut by my vietnamese barber friend HAI at our hostel corridor. I wonder if he is still there. :-))

  • Aidy_p's Profile Photo
    Sep 29, 2011 at 9:01 PM

    Good guide to what one can do in Hanoi. Thanks!

  • planxty's Profile Photo
    Nov 3, 2009 at 4:50 PM

    Hermann, what a wonderful Hanoi page. I intend to visit soon, and it has been most helpful. fergy.

  • Greggor58's Profile Photo
    Oct 28, 2009 at 6:08 PM

    Finally made it back to complete my tour of Ha Noi with you the other evening..wonderful pages..I can only hope to see and experience what you were able to during your visit.How much time were you able to spend here?Great Page.Thanks for sharing here!

  • Mar 11, 2009 at 11:22 PM

    nice view! I have a comparison with my own view!Where are you fr?

  • enigma58's Profile Photo
    Nov 28, 2008 at 8:14 PM

    Very enjoible to read your pages...will be in Vietnam this January 09...hope to see you . Rasa

  • Tijavi's Profile Photo
    Oct 1, 2008 at 3:17 PM

    Like Montreal, you did sound you had a great time in this bastion of French culture in SE Asia. Thanks for this more in-depth look into Hanoi. But do you know why there aren't that many stray dogs in Hanoi? Hahaha...

  • spunkmuffin's Profile Photo
    Jul 28, 2008 at 5:45 AM

    Wow! Judging by the number of bikes, it's a good thing they started requiring them to wear helmets! Still the discipline is impressive.


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