Hanoi with “Hà” translating to river and “Nội” translating to interior refers to Hanoi’s embracement of two surrounding rivers. The capital of Vietnam is the second largest city in Vietnam and has extensive transit options which make Hanoi an excellent starting point for traveling in Vietnam.
From Hanoi, trains travel to Sapa, the Lao Cai, Bac Ha, Ha Giang, Lang Son and Ninh Binh provinces-with the dubious Halong Bay on land, Halong Bay maritime, and Ho Chi Minh City. Hanoi allows connections with people inside the capital city, but also it allows connections for destinations on the outskirts of the capital.
History of Hanoi
Beginning in the 11th century, the Old Quarter in Vietnam stemmed from a giant swamp with snakes and alligators. The Old Quarter progressed into a puzzle of 36 streets all steaming with artisans in the 13th century. These artisans were traveling to the Vietnam capital because of the assembled guilds that were located in the city. The Hanoi streets became labeled for whichever craft the artisans were producing there, and have remained to this current day. Venturing through the Old Quarter in Vietnam, people can find street names: Hang Bac-street of silver, Hang Dao-street of silk, Hang Be-street of bamboo rafts, and Hang Mam-street of fish sauce. Most of these streets still specialize in selling the merchandise indicated by the specified street signs.
One Pillar Pagoda
Regarded as one of the two most iconic temples in Vietnam, the One Pillar Pagoda was built in 1049 after Emperor Ly Thai Tong dreamt of the bodhisattva of compassion, Quan Am, presenting a son to him on top of a lotus flower. The central pillar symbolizes a lotus flower stem sprouting from the mud and the tiny temple of three square meters represents the blossom and is dedicated to Quan Am for enlightening Emperor Ly Thai Tong.
Temple of Literature
An iconic location peacefully placed in the midst of the bustling capital of Vietnam, the Temple of Literature, created in 1076, it was the first university in Vietnam. The Vietnam landmark is composed of five serene courtyards. The number five is perceived sacred because of the five essential elements: Earth, fire, metal, water, and wood. From the original 150 stone tablets materialized by King Le Thanh Tong’s idea to honor scholars, 82 are left with adornments of successful students’ names. This Vietnam point of interest is still frequented by young scholars who touch the heads of the stone turtles before examinations.
Ho Chi Minh mausoleum
Located in the Ba Dinh district, the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is an area closed off to traffic with serene scenery. Frequented by Vietnamese people from all over the country, the marble mausoleum is home to the embalmed body of President Ho Chi Minh. This precious destination in Vietnam is adjacent to the One Pillar Pagoda and an excellent place to retreat in the city.
Hoan Kiem Lake
The Hoan Kiem Lake is home to The Rising Sun Bridge, the Jade Island Temple, and The Turtle Tower along with a Vietnamese population of turtles. A beloved destination in Vietnam. Hoan Kiem Lake is revered for the legend told within the lake’s name: “Lake of the Restored Sword”. In the 14th century, King Le Loi received a piece of metal from the lake that he crafted into a sword and used to oust the Chinese Ming Dynasty from Vietnam. While the King was boating in the lake after his success, a golden turtle came and took the sword back to the depths of the lake. The sword came from, and was returned to the lake. When visiting the lake at 5 am, you can see locals practicing activities such as tai chi and yoga.
For children, a ride in a pedicab through the Old Quarter to the Hanoi Water Puppet Theater will serve as entertainment. A well-revered tourist attraction near Hoan Kiem Lake, the Hanoi Water Puppet Theater features acts of ancient art dating back to the 10th century. During crops off-seasons, the agricultural Vietnamese farmers performed puppet shows for their villages. The water puppeteers still stand in water while controlling the puppets to remain true to the tradition of the Vietnamese farmers.