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Hanoi Travel Guide

Why? Visitors to Vietnam should not miss out on a holiday in Hanoi, the 1,000-year-old capital, a low-rise city of lakes and peaceful parks. A Hanoi holiday is a pleasant, unhurried experience of exploring the historic Old Quarter with its arts and crafts bargains, and strolling the streets of the French Colonial sector.
When? Situated in northern Vietnam, Hanoi has hot and humid weather most of the year, with most of its rainfall falling between May and September (summer). The best time to holiday in Hanoi is between September and December, when humidity levels are lowest.
Who for? Travel to Hanoi is for serious travellers who are drawn to Vietnam to experience its beauty, wonderful food, friendly people and unique culture. The city is a great base from which to explore the surrounding countryside.
More Info: Know before you go on a holiday in Hanoi by consulting our comprehensive, up-to-date Hanoi travel guide. The guide is essential reading for anyone planning to travel to Hanoi, containing basic information like entry requirements, health and safety, as well as details of attractions and excursions.


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Hoan Kiem Lake © Nguyen The Hai

Vietnam's small and pleasant capital lies at the heart of the northern Red River Delta, and is a city of lakes, leafy boulevards and open parks with a French colonial feel.

Hanoi was founded in 1010, and became the centre of government for the Indochina Union under French rule in 1888. In 1954 it became the official capital of independent Vietnam. Today ancient crumbling buildings dating from the 11th century lie scattered among grand French colonial residences, while shrines and monuments to Vietnam's first president, Ho Chi Minh, sit in the shadow of modern high-rise buildings. The streets of the Old Quarter preserve age-old customs, where trade takes one back half a century, and temples, pagodas and monuments reflect the historic character of Vietnam.

Although a city of historical importance, and the social and cultural centre of Vietnam, it is a surprisingly modest and charming place, far slower and less developed than Ho Chi Minh City in the south. Hanoi has retained its appealing sense of the old world, despite the onset of a brisk tourism trade in 1993, absorbing the boom of hotels, travellers' hangouts and Internet cafes, and the gradual infiltration of western-style food and fashions into the once inaccessible city.

As the early morning mist rises from the serene Hoan Kiem Lake, tracksuit-clad elders perform the slow movements of tai chi, like park statues coming to life. Streets fill with activity, mopeds and bicycles weave among pedestrians, while cyclo drivers (three-wheeled bicycle taxis) clamour for attention, and postcard vendors cluster around tourists like bees sensing an open honey pot.

Hanoi is fast becoming one of the most enticing and interesting cities in Asia. As a cultural centre there are traditional water puppet shows, and music and dance performances. It is also a good base for excursions to the beautiful Halong Bay, or into the Hoang Lien Mountains inhabited by several hill tribes.

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