Ha Noi


From :

Mai Chau : 160 km 3h30 6h 6h - - -
Son La : 300 km 6h 8h 8h - - -
Dien Bien Phu : 500 km 10h 11h 12h - 45mn -
Lao Cai : 315 km 6h 8h 8h 10h - -
Lang Son : 170 km 3h30 4h 5h h - -
Mong Cai : 300 km 6h 7h 8h - - -
Ha Giang : 290 km 7h 9h 10h - - -
Cao Bang : 270 km 7h 9h 10h - - -
Ba Be : 220 km 5h 6h 7h - - -
Ha Long : 155 km 3h 5h 6h - - -
Hai Phong : 85 km 2h 3h 3h 2h - -
Hue : 680 km 14h 15h - 12h 1h10 -
Da Nang : 800 km 17h 18h - 20h 1h10 -
Kon Tum : 1200 km 36h 40h - - 1h20 -
Buon Ma Thuot : 1400 km - 50h - - 1h40 -
Nha Trang : 1280 km 36h 30h - 22h 1h40 -
Sai Gon : 1800 km - 40h - 36h 2h -

EN41101hanoiGeographic location

Ha Noi, the Vietnamese capital is located at the heart of the North Viet Nam. This unavoidable stage is thus the starting point towards other cities of North Viet Nam, and often allows easy transits from a tour to another.

Located at the North-West extremity of the Red River delta and before the mountains of the North-Northwest, Ha Noi is right next to the Red river making it thus a city packed with water! The 64 lakes of the city, as well as its numerous parks and trees shading over the avenues and streets make it a very pleasant city. Admittedly, Ha Noi is a big and well spread city and the traffic and the intense activity can be somewhat ‘’aggressive’’ but we soon realize that Ha Noi is divided in numerous little nice corners, giving the city a more human feel. In this way, the city is often called Ha Noi the Peaceful City, Ha Noi the Traditional City in opposition to Sai Gon with its appearance of a big and modern city…

Ha Noi has experienced deep architectural modifications during the French colonization. In this way, in the North of the Hoan Kiem lake, considered as the city Center, is located the Chinese area, the 36 professions area, with a multitude of small streets…whereas the South’s architecture is more of a Western style with big, parallel and perpendicular avenues.

The outskirts and suburbs of the city are big, essentially in the South West. While the city Center is preserved from big towers, thanks to the law of preserving natural heritage, estates and others towers and skyscrapers are rapidly growing all around the city. Finally, the East area, separated from the Center by the Red River, is slower to develop, for lack of bridges crossing the River. All of this is going to evolve rapidly when you know about the city development plans for the years to come and also about the evolution of the population: the number of inhabitants is said to triple in the next fifteen years to come!!!


Must-see and must-do activities

Apart from being the political and administrative center, Ha Noi is also the cultural capital of Viet Nam. You will find here a great number of museums of the Country.


I particularly advise you the Museum of Ethnography of Viet Nam, built with the help of the French cooperation and inaugurated by M. Chirac. This essentially implies that all the texts and explanations are translated into French. This museum, a little outside of the city, is extremely well presented with an indoor exhibition of costumes, outfits, objects, tools but also with a big garden where houses from different ethnicities have been constructed. It allows us a better understanding of this Vietnamese cultural mosaic and to fully acknowledge the richness of this population. Should you visit it before or after your trip in the North, I do not really know what to advise you, both solutions have their advantages and drawbacks. If you visit the museum before, you can realize the multitude of minorities and can have a different look when traveling, but if you visit the museum after, you may be able to find answers to questions you asked yourself during your trip in the North.

It is also nice to take a day to walk around by foot in the Western area of the city. You can start with the Ho Chi Minh Museum; it is an interesting visit because it allows us a better understanding of the recent history of the country and its evolution, then, the must-see single-pillar Pagoda located right next to the museum. You can then walk up North, and pass by the big esplanade of the Mausoleum, big and impressive but not very aesthetic. You can pass by some major government buildings: Presidential Palace, Ministers of Foreign Affairs, National Assembly and numerous Embassies. You will then arrive at the big Westlake, where apart from visiting the Tran Quoc Pagoda and the Quan Thanh Temple, you can also have lunch along the lake’s shore. I would then advise you to go down South where you can visit the temple of Literature. Temple of Literature or ‘’Van Mieu’’ is in reality the first University of Viet Nam. Recently restored, its buildings and gardens are a true haven of peace…Finally, if your strengths allow you to, you can end your day with the visit of the Fine Arts museum, just in front of the Temple of Literature.


Most of you will wish to be accommodated in a hotel in the Old Quarter, which is quite understandable given the animation of the area! It is really pleasant to move around by foot or by bicycle in those little streets where each one of them represents a profession: silk, shoes, metal… Walking around the Hoan Kiem Lake is also very pleasant with the visit of the Ngoc Son Temple, place where the sword has been restituted. Finally, in the area, I would advise you to attend a water puppets show. This puppet show is an ancestral tradition of Asia, coming from the fact that people did not want to interrupt their show during the raining season. In this way, all the legends and little scenes of daily life are to be reanimated for an hour. It’s entertaining, instructive and the music is worth to attend to as much as the puppets effects!

Last but not least, less famous, the Museum of Vietnamese Woman is, in my opinion, worth the detour because it allows a better understanding of the role and status of the Vietnamese Woman in the History of the Country and of modern society. If you have more time, numerous other museums, temples and pagodas can also be visited…


How long should I stay?

It is common to sacrifice cities to the joy of excursions. In the case of Ha Noi, I find it a shame because the city is worth staying at between one and three days I think.


Ha Noi has all types of hotels, from the little motels to the great luxury hotels.


Luân’s opinion

I think that you understood how much I like the city of Ha Noi ! Apart from the historical and cultural dimensions, I like the atmosphere of the city, its little cafés, its lakes and parks, its population… I won’t talk more about it at the risk of sounding chauvinistic and also out of respect for my friends of Sai Gon… Lastly, museums are closed on Mondays!