Hanoi - a thousand-year-old fairy tale in a modern version

The largest city in Vietnam remains Ho Chi Minh City in the south of the country. This is where most deals are concluded in the country, which can boast of one of the highest economic growth rates in Asia in recent years. Just like New York and Los Angeles in the USA, the biggest cities in Vietnam are constantly competing with each other. ...

If we ask a resident of Ho Chi Minh about the average Hanoian, he will quickly explain that his "brothers" in the north are cold and closed, stingy and complex, proud and inflexible, which is an additional motivation for most visitors to Hanoi to try to get to know the thousand-year-old the capital.

Attractions at every turn

In 1010, Emperor Ly Thai To transferred the imperial seat to the Thang Long citadel, which was renamed Hanoi in the nineteenth century by the rulers of the Nguyen dynasty (Nguyen is also the most common Vietnamese surname). Today, the city with its romantic mix of old Asia and French heritage is an excellent starting point for learning about Vietnamese history and culture, as well as delicious Vietnamese specialties and typical products. Walking through the winding streets of Hanoi's Old Town is like reading a comic book, in which we meet new heroes and new plots on every page. Unfortunately, the modern way of life has also invaded the streets of the old town, and the concept of streets that offered only certain products is increasingly giving way to tourist agencies, internet cafes and pirate DVD stores. The 36 streets of the old town have existed since the Middle Ages, and each of them is named after a craft that flourished there six centuries ago. The old town ends at Hoan Kiem Lake, which is not the only lake in the city, but it is the most popular, mainly because of the Thap Rua Pagoda in the middle of the lake and the Den Ngoc Son Pagoda, built on a small island in the northern part of the lake. One of the sights that will be seen on postcards all over the country is the red bridge that connects the shore of the lake with the island, always crowded with tourists.

city quarter
city quarter

In the western part of the city, Dien Bien Phu Street will lead us to the Chua Mot Cot or One Pillar Pagoda and the Presidential Palace and the 11th century Art Museum and Temple of Literature, with the first Vietnamese university where Confucianism was taught. Of course, the Old City and centuries-old pagodas are not the only attractions of Hanoi. In the Hai Ba Trung area, we can observe beautiful French villas from the end of the nineteenth century, which today mainly host foreign embassies. Unfortunately, Vietnam still cannot do without an all-powerful party that clings tenaciously to power. Although the country, especially its southern part, resembles a neon jungle of foreign capital more than a communist fortress, Hanoi is still the headquarters of the Communist Party, which still carries the memory of 'Uncle Ho' in its heart. Ho Chi Minh was a communist revolutionary and leader of Vietnam in the 1950s and 1960s, and his image still adorns every important building and public space in the country. The mausoleum, built in 1975, in which his embalmed body rests, stands in Ba Dinh Square, and around it are arranged the most important state institutions, including the Ho Chi Minh Museum. Every day, the mausoleum is surrounded by groups of visitors, who are subject to a strict visiting regime, among other things, it is strictly forbidden to bring cameras or mobile phones into the mausoleum.

Let's go shopping
For a long time, the streets full of fake Chanel and Vuitton handbags were considered the dumping ground of the fashion world, but Hanoi is also awakening as a fashion center. We will feel the Western influence especially in modern shopping centers. The last in the collection is Vincom City Towers, which combines five floors of stores with internationally established names, a diverse catering offer and a Megastar Cinema complex. We will get a more authentic experience while shopping in the old city quarter, where countless shops offer Vietnamese ceramics, silks, traditional instruments and lacquered wood products, and on Hang Bong, Hang Gai and Nha Chung streets it is worth browsing among a large selection of reproductions of paintings and paintings with local themes that are particularly popular among tourists. Since everything that reminds us of the time of a few decades ago is coming back into fashion, the so-called propaganda art is especially popular, offering reproductions of communist posters with punchy slogans and, of course, indispensable T-shirts with a yellow star or the image of Uncle Ho. Nha Tho and Hang Bong streets and their surroundings are becoming known as Hanoi's version of New York's Soho, with local and foreign designer boutiques such as Australia's Contraband (23 Nha Chung) and Things of Substance (5 Nha Tho), while not far away is reaping increasing fame fashion accessory boutique Ipa-Nima (59G Hai Ba Trung) by designer Christine Yu. Nha Tho Street is also famous for interior design shops, such as Mosaique (22 Nha Tho) or Red Door (15 Nha Tho). Interesting boutiques also open on the shores of the West Lake, where the more affluent locals and the colorful international community live. Creative seamstresses and designers should instead look for silk or linen at the Cho Hom and Cho Dong Xuan fabric markets, or pitch their ideas to the tailors and seamstresses on Hang Gai Street, who sew beautiful creations in just one day.

Red bridge
Red bridge

Asian flavors and nightlife

Despite the abundance of excellent restaurants, the best thing to do in Hanoi is right on the street, you just have to think about what goes on in the kitchen, how they wash the dishes and other little things, and surrender to the tastes of bun cha (roasted pork with noodles) and pho (Vietnamese version of Slovenian beef soup with noodles) or delicious Vietnamese spring rolls. Cam Chi Street in the southwestern part of the old town has dozens of small restaurants that prepare rice and noodles in different ways and where you can eat with the locals. The latest innovation in the city is a local variant of kebab, but the lamb has been replaced by pork, and the pie is just ordinary bread, but especially young Vietnamese are enthusiastic about the novelty. Despite its wide range of 'street cuisine', Tong Tuy Tan remains the city's most famous restaurant street. Nightlife in Hanoi does not mean wild partying in discotheques (people who want such fun gather at the Solace discotheque), but above all socializing with drinks. Vietnamese people are not night owls, so most bars close before midnight, but that's why parks and lake shores are already full at five in the morning, because Hanoians like to exercise their bodies by playing badminton or practicing Thai-chi before they go to work. Those who still can't do without night entertainment can enjoy live music at Minh's Jazz Club (31 Luong Van Can) and Seventeen Saloon (98B Tran Hung Dao), enjoy an evening at the beautiful Hanoi Opera House (1 Trang Tien) or we watch a water puppet show that will take us into the world of Vietnamese legends and traditions.

Info Box

Ho Chi Minh Museum: 19 Ngoc Ha St., Ba Dinh
Vincom City Towers Shopping Mall: 191 Ba Trieu, Hai Ba Trung
Fashion accessories store Ipa-Nima: www.ipa-nima.com
Bar Press Club, 59A Ly Thai To, Hoan Kiem, www.hanoi-pressclub.com
Highway Restaurant 4: 5 Hang Tre, Hoan Kiem (traditional Vietnamese cuisine, where they also serve crocodile or swallow meat or fried crickets)

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