Visiting Hanoi in Vietnam.

Where to stay and things to do in Hanoi - The Old Quarter restaurants, markets, gardens, temples and Lakes.

Hanoi is Vietnam's second largest city and an ideal starting off point for an extended touring holiday to explore Vietnam. This particularly the case if intending to travel down the country i.e. heading south more or less along the coast of the South China Sea. Hanoi is the oldest and one of the most attractive capital cities in South East Asia - Ha Noi "city within the river bend" - was founded in 1010 by Emperor Ly Thai To. Hanoi city was built around a huge citadel and settlements to provide for the Royal Court which grew up around the east side - Hanoi Old Quarter.
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The Old Quarter and a quiet street, Hanoi, Vietnam. Railway line going throug The Old Quarter in Hanoi. A high and narrow Hanoi tube house, Vietnam. Street Fruit Stalls in The Old Quarter of Hanoi, Vietnam.
Hanoi's Old Quarter has plenty of small hotels - these are not full of facilities generally speaking, just clean fairly spacey rooms usually offering a decent breakfast for not too much money. If you want more facilities and plusher - more expensive - hotels the best ones are probably up by the two lakes - see our top banner picture for a view of this area. One of the things which seems to be typical of hotels in the Old Quarter (our own experience and and mirrored by other people we met who were staying in the Old Quarter) is that hotel staff are extremely friendly and always helpful - advice on where to go sightseeing and so on.
Hanoi railway line with fruit sellers - Hanoi Old Quarter, Vietnam. A typical small Hanoi restaurant - Cathedral area, Vietnam. Lovely old Hanoi buildings, Vietnam. A side street in Hano, Vietnam.
Also if you wish to book trips from them to say Ha Long Bay there was not marking up the prices and/or trying to rip you off.
As far as for eating out in Hanoi - the Old Quarter has plenty of street food available, some cafes but not too many actual restaurants however the ones that are about offer good basic food at low cost. There are much more plushy (and therefore somewhat more expensive) restaurants around the French area and even more expensive hotels out by the two large lakes. There are also quite a few places to eat around the side streets within the Cathedral area which is just a few minutes walk from Hoan Kiem Lake.
Street vendors selling fruit - Old Quarter, Hanoi, Vietnam. Shops and market stalls in Hanoi, Vietnam. One of Hanoi's Old Quarter sidestreets, Vietnam. Tube Houses in Hanoi.
The Old Quarter remains as a mixture of narrow streets lined with shops and stalls and with each street specialising in a particular product or craft - with 36 distinct craft guilds the area was nicknamed the "36 streets". It is is a very interesting area to walk around, busy and noisy with 1000s of motorbikes, old narrow long tube houses (taxes were levied on the frontage of the houses so they were constructed only 2 metres wide however the depth was not taxable so the houses are often two stories high and go back a long way). There are several markets around - Dong Xuan Market is a very colourful and busy undercover market and Hang Ma Street is where you will find brightly coloured lanterns for sale.
One place of interest is Guiding Light Mosque which is at no.12 Hang Louc - it is difficult to actually see from the street as it is somewhat hidden amongst the clutter. The Mosque was built in the 1890s by the Indian Islamic community for traders and civil servants and is of interest because it is the only mosque in Northern Vietnam.

Yhap Rua sat in HHoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi. The Huc Bridge at Hanoi, Vietnam. A nice bridge at Bay Mau Lake, Hanoi, Vietnam.

Hoan Kiem Lake - Hanoi Old Quarter (Lake of the Restored Sword).

Located close to the Old Quarter the Hoan Kiem Lake is one of the Hanoi's most popular areas to wander around especially in the evening. There is seating everywhere and also there are numerous flower beds (all very well kept of course) - a meander around the Lake takes around 30 minutes or so. In the centre of Hoan Kiem Lake is the Thap Rua (turtle tower) - which is a popular haunt of a variety of birds. To the south of Hoan Kiem Lake there is another much larger lake called Bau Mau Lake (3rd picture along) - this is situated within quite large grounds and you do have to pay a small fee to go in. There are probably meant to be quite a few facilities including a narrow gauge railway which loops round most of the area, paddle boats and so on but it all did seem a bit run down. Nevertheless the lake and park is a nice walk during the day though not too sure about being around there late at night.

Den Ngoc Son Temple, Hanoi, Vietnam.Den Ngoc Son Temple Dragon, Hanoi, Vietnam.

Den Ngoc Son Temple - Hanoi Old Quarter - Vietnam.

One of the main features of Hoan Kiem Lake is the beautifully red painted The Huc (Sunbeam Bridge) which leads to the Den Ngoc Son (Jade Mountain Temple). The temple was founded in the 14th century and is dedicated to General Tran Hung Dao who is a national hero as he defeated the Mongols in 1288, also to Van Xuong - God of Literature, to Lai To - Physician and finally to Quan Vu - a marshal arts expert. Very popular and busy (opening times are 0730-1900) at most times there is a minimal entrance fee to the Temple - you can walk onto the bridge anytime free of charge but in the evenings it is totally packed out with youngsters.
Den Ngoc Son Temple in Hanoi, Vietnam. Entrance gate to Den Ngoc Son Temple, Vietnam. Garish colours Den Ngoc Son Temple - Old Quarter, Hanoi View inside Den Ngoc Son Temple, Hanoi, Vietnam.

Quan Chuong Gate, Hanoi, Vietnam.

Located at Hang Chieu Street, Quan Chuong (Gate of the Commander of the Regiment) is the only remaining ancient gateway to the Old City of Hanoi and is so named in honour of an army officer who fought the French there in 1873 - originally there were 36 gateways into the City.
Our items about Hanoi - including day trips which can be easily done from the city.
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