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City Profile:  Hanoi

Flickr | Sam SherrattVietnam has been plagued by the memory of the Vietnam War. Its most famous city, Saigon, became so well known due to its pivotal role in the war and being the centre of the French colonial IndoChina era. It has been hard to establish itself as one of the places to visit in South East Asia. In fact, none of its cities feature in the top 30 South East Asian destinations, yet it has so many unique experiences on offer, especially in Hanoi.

Flickr | Pierre Doyen 


What so many people don’t know is that Vietnam’s capital city is also saturated in history that now offers unique architecture, food and natural beauty. The word ‘Hanoi’ means ‘city inside rivers’ and the city is over 1,000 years old! It still has its old quarters which used to make up the entire metropolis.  Only 36 streets existed, all named after the type of market stalls that used to trade there, for example ‘Food Street’ still survives there. It is a quaint and enchanting area that has been around since the beginning of the city’s conception.

Flickr | Nicolas WeydertIt is a cultural hub, Vietnam’s first university was established there and it even has a bridge that was once the longest bridge in the whole of Asia! It was designed by none other than Alexandre-Gustav Eiffel, the man behind the statue of liberty and of course the Eiffel Tower.


Since it is called the city inside rivers, there are obviously plenty of water based activities. Nothing beats the biking and boat day trips that really make the most of the natural landscape and weather in Hanoi. Some of the most traditional and oldest experiences on offer are the water puppet shows. You can enjoy one of Vietnam’s top performance arts without burning a hole in your pocket as tickets usually cost less than £15.

Flickr | Yuxuan Wang Hanoi is the gateway to many other areas that have a lot to offer. You can travel to some of the craft villages along the Red River, just take a boat straight form Hanoi and spend some time doing things like pottery with green mountainous backdrops.

Flickr | tpp1001 In 2010, Hanoi entered the Guinness Book of World Records for creating the largest ceramic mosaic which reached a length of 16,902 square feet, which is the same as 1,570.2 square metres! The city is full of artistic endeavours, in fact although it is a very small place; it is home to some of the best museums, it has over 20 museums to visit! The Women’s Museum harbours some of the most fascinating and well preserved artefacts showcasing the role of women in Vietnamese society throughout history as has been a well reviewed hit with visitors.

Flickr | Adam Hinett
We couldn’t leave out the topic of food! Vietnamese cuisine has been heavily influenced not only by its traditional foods, but also French and Chinese delicacies due to the time it spent under the rule of both those countries. From high end restaurants to classic street food, Hanoi offers unforgettable feasts. The Vietnamese food scene is so much more than Pho, which is highly regarded for good reason, but it is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the delicious food scene in Hanoi.  From steamed rice rolls to flavoursome fish and meat dishes a plenty, not finding good food in Hanoi would be difficult!  

Flickr | HoangP


All in all, Hanoi is the perfect spot to immerse yourself in the Vietnamese culture in the easiest way possible, since the city has something to offer on every corner. It is suitable for a long vacation or a long weekend, either way, you will be able to experience things you can only experience in Hanoi! It is the cultural and historical centre of Vietnam so it is not to be missed. If you want to travel with purpose, then take a look at our trips to Vietnam which includes the South East Asia Ethical Adventure Trail. You can experience 3 astouding countries and do a placement, which will make a positive difference to the local communities!


By Hanna-Johara Dokal - Online Journalism Intern

Frontier runs conservationdevelopmentteaching and adventure travel projects in over 50 countries worldwide - so join us and explore the world!

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