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Ha Noi - The Capital City of Viet Nam

General information

Hanoi is the capital city of Vietnam and the country's second largest city. Its population in 2009 was estimated at 2.6 million for urban districts, 2.5 million for the metropolitan jurisdiction.

From 1010 until 1802, it was the most important political centre of Vietnam. It was eclipsed by Huế, the imperial capital of Vietnam during the Nguyen dynasty (1802-1945), but Hanoi served as the capital of French Indochina from 1902 to 1954. From 1954 to 1976, it was the capital of North Vietnam, and it became the capital of a reunified Vietnam in 1976. 

The city is located on the right bank of the Red River. Hanoi is located at 1,760 km (1,090 mi) north of Ho Chi Minh City and at 120 km (75 mi) west of Hai Phong city.

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Weather summary

Weather summary

There is not really a right or wrong time to visit Viet Nam as during most months of the year you will experience both sunshine and rain in varying quantities.  Welcome to a country with 2000 + miles of coastline and three different weather systems.

Whilst Viet Nam is typically warm and humid, the weather can vary significantly from one region to another due to the countries length. At times there has been snow in the mountainous far north whilst the beaches in the south enjoyed 32 °C and sunshine.

It pays to imagine the country as three separate destinations when researching weather for your intended visit and the following information will hopefully help you unravel the complexities.

Tours In Viet Nam

Highlights of Ha Noi - The Capital City of Viet Nam

Tran Quoc Pagoda
With origins dating back to the 6th century Tran Quoc is one of the oldest pagodas in Viet Nam. The pagoda's unique design features a visitor hall, two corridors and a bell tower. Inside are numerous statues, the most notable of which is the wooden statue of the Shakyamuri Buddha. The oldest stele was built in 1639 and depicts the pagoda's history. Several burial stupas in the garden are relics of one of the earliest Zen Buddhist groups in North Viet Nam.

With origins dating back to the 6th century Tran Quoc is one of the oldest pagodas in Viet Nam. The pagoda's unique design features a visitor hall, two corridors and a bell tower. Inside are numerous statues, the most notable of which is the wooden statue of the Shakyamuri Buddha. The oldest stele was built in 1639 and depicts the pagoda's history. Several burial stupas in the garden are relics of one of the earliest Zen Buddhist groups in North Viet Nam.

Truc Bach Lake
Truc Bach Lake is one of the many lakes in the city of Ha Noi, the capital of Viet Nam. It is known outside Viet Nam as the site where the US politician John McCain landed as a navy pilot during the Viet Nam War after being shot down.

Truc Bach Lake is one of the many lakes in the city of Ha noi, the capital of Viet Nam. It is known outside Viet Nam as the site where the US politician John McCain landed as a navy pilot during the Viet Nam War after being shot down.

The lake is located northwest of Ha Noi's Old Quarter, immediately adjacent to the eastern shore of the city's largest lake, the West Lake (Ho Tay), a former branch of the Red River whose west bank is nearby. Truc Bach Lake was separated from the West Lake by the construction of a narrow dike Co Ngu in the 17th century to allow raising fish. The inhabitants of the Truc Yen Village, located on the south shore of the newly formed lake, were in the business of making bamboo blinds and hence cultivated a small variety of bamboo. In 1957 and 1958, major Thanh Nien Road was built between the lakes. In 1730s, the Trinh Lord Trinh Giang had Truc Lam Palace constructed on the lake shore. The building first served as a pleasure palace but was later converted into a prison for royal concubines found guilty of crime. The silk they produced, known as "Bamboo Village Silk" became famous for its beauty.

The lake front is open only along Thanh Nien Road, the other sides are occupied by houses and residential streets. The lake is among the most seriously polluted in Hanoi. Nearby historical sites include: Quan Thanh Temple to the southwest of the lake, Chau Long Pagoda to the east, An Tri Temple.

On October 26, 1967, during the Viet Nam War, John McCain, then a US Navy pilot, was shot down by an anti-aircraft missile on a mission against a Ha Noi power plant and parachuted wounded into Truc Bach Lake, nearly drowning. A monument celebrating the downing was erected at the western shore on Than Nien Road; McCain saw it on his first journey to Vietnam in 1985.

Quan Thanh Temple
A Taoist temple in Hanoi, Vietnam. Dated to the 11th century, the temple was dedicated to Xuan Wu, or Trấn Vũ in Vietnamese, one of the principal deities in Taoism.

A Taoist temple in Hanoi, Vietnam. Dated to the 11th century, the temple was dedicated to Xuan Wu, or Trấn Vũ in Vietnamese, one of the principal deities in Taoism. As one of the Four Sacred Temples of the capital, Quan Thanh Temple is located near West Lake in a ward of same name, Quán Thánh Ward, and is one of the leading tourist attractions in Hanoi.

Legend has it that Quán Thánh Temple was established during the reign of Emperor Lý Thái Tổ (reigned 1010–1028) and was dedicated to Tran Vu, Deity of the North in Taoism, whose symbols of power are the serpent and turtle. It is one of the Four Sacred Temples that were built in four directions to protect the capital from malevolent spirits. In Hanoi, there is also a second Tran Vu Temple in Gia Lam district. Although smaller than Quan Thanh Temple, Tran Vu Temple is also dedicated to Tran Vu with a 9-tonne statue of the deity. Considered a masterpiece of Vietnamese bronze casting and sculpture, it is the second biggest bronze statue in Vietnam

Nowadays, after many geographical changes to the city layout, Quan Thanh Temple is located on the corner of Quan Thanh Street and Thanh Nien Street, facing West Lake. It is a short walk from Truc Bach Lake where pilot and future United States senator John McCain was shot down in October 1967.

Water puppet show
Water puppetry (Vietnamese: Múa rối nước, lit. "puppets that dance on water") is a tradition that dates back as far as the 11th century CE when it originated in the villages of the Red River Delta area of northern Vietnam. Today's Vietnamese water puppetry is a unique variation on the ancient Asian puppet tradition.

Water puppetry (Vietnamese: Múa rối nước, lit. "puppets that dance on water") is a tradition that dates back as far as the 11th century CE when it originated in the villages of the Red River Delta area of northern Vietnam. Today's Vietnamese water puppetry is a unique variation on the ancient Asian puppet tradition.

The puppets are made out of wood and then lacquered. The shows are performed in a waist-deep pool. A large rod supports the puppet under the water and is used by the puppeteers, who are normally hidden behind a screen, to control them. Thus the puppets appear to be moving over the water. When the rice fields would flood, the villagers would entertain each other using this form of puppet play.

Water puppetry is considered to have originated in the delta of the Red river in Vietnam in the 11th century, and the art remains highly developed today in this country. Some of the earliest troupes were found in the Nguyen Xa commune, Đong Hung district, Thai Binh province. 

In ancient Vietnam, the rural Vietnamese believed that spirits controlled all aspect of their lives, from the kitchen to the rice paddies. The Vietnamese devised water puppetry as a way to satisfy these spirits, and as a form of entertainment, using what natural medium they could find in their environment. In ancient times, the ponds and flooded rice paddies after harvest were the stage for these impromptu shows.

This art form is unique to North Vietnam and only found its way to the world stage in recent years as a result of normalized relations with the West. During the early 1990s the country's three foremost companies, the National Puppet Theatre, the municipal Thang Long Puppet Company of Hanoi and the Ho Chi Minh City Puppet Company gained increased international attention. The main venues in Vietnam itself are the Thăng Long Water Puppet Theatre in Hanoi and the Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theatre in Saigon.

 

Restored Sword Lake, Ngoc SonTemple & Turtle Tower
In 15th century, it was named Restored Sword (Hoan Kiem) Lake after the legend of Emperor Le Thai To, which is somehow similar to the story of King Arthur and the Lady of the Lake's.

The lake was once part of the Red river (song Hong). Throughout thousands of years of geographical changes, the lake moved eastward to its present position kilometers from the river. Before the famous historical legend of King Le Loi here, Hoan Kiem Lake used to be called Luc Thuy Lake (or Green Water Lake) since the water was green all the year round. In 15th century, it was named Hoan Kiem Lake after the legend of Emperor Le Thai To, which is somehow similar to the story of King Arthur and the Lady of the Lake's.

Now please close your eyes and turn back time to the Le Dynasty 6 centuries ago to witness the legendary story. During the war against the Minh aggressors, King Le Thai To was given a precious fairy Sword by the Golden Turtle God. After 10 years of continuous struggling, the King finally defeated the Chinese and reclaimed the nation’s independence. After that, on a nice day, while boating on lake Luc Thuy, a large turtle came towards him.

It immediately grabbed the sword with its mouth and submerged. The king mourned the lost of such a valuable sword, yet could not find either the turtle or the sword. He realized that the God must have lent him the sword to drive back the enemy, but then that his nation was free, the sword must be returned. Hence, King Le Thai To named the lake Ho Hoan Kiem or Lake of the Restore Sword after this episode.  

Since the reign of King Le Trung Hung (XVI century), every King in the Le dynasty, and Lord Trinh have all contributed to the beauty of the lake. Lord Trinh Giang built Khanh Thuy shrine on Ngoc island on the north end of the lake. He also had the two man made hills built across fromNgoc son Shrine. At the end of the Le Dynasty, Khanh Thuy was toppled by Chieu Thong. A philanthropist named Tin Trai built Ngoc Son pagoda, which was renamed into Ngoc Son shrine during the reign of Thieu Tri III (1843) as it was no longer a Buddhist shrine. Instead, it became  a shrine of Van Xuong, a deity, in charge of literature and the various tests required to become a Mandarin. It has also been a shrine of General Tran Hung Dao, a national Hero who secured numerous victories against the Mongols. 

Hence, Hoan Kiem Lake is now situated inside a complex of Ngoc Son Temple, The Huc Bridge, Pen Tower in the surroundings, making a sparkling colorful natural picture! Ngoc Son has undergone a lot of renovations, one among which was the addition of Thap But (translated as Pen Tower) on its hill, which was once called Dao Tai. Three words were inscribed on the tower: "Ta Thien Thanh" or "write on blue sky". Inside the gate a pool resembling the shape of an ink well was added. Beyond the ink well is The Huc bridge, which means "where the sun light is absorbed". The bridge leads to Dac Nguyet Lau (or "Moon Light tower") - Ngoc Son shrine. Beyond the gates to the shrine, there are two walls called bang Rong and bang Ho (dragon and tiger slate), where the names of those who passed the national test were inscribed. 

What could not be missed in this beautiful complex is the Turtle Tower, which lies in the middle of the Lake, so as to remind Vietnamese people of the Turtle God of his great assistance. It was told that King Le Thanh Tong used to fish here. Lord Trinh also built the structure to house his entourage while visiting the lake. 

 

Temple of Literature
The temple was built in 1070 then reconstructed during the Tran dynasty (1225–1400) and in subsequent dynasties. For nearly two centuries, despite wars and disasters, the temple has preserved ancient architectural styles of many dynasties as well as precious relics. Major restorations have taken place in 1920, 1954 and 2000.

The temple was built in 1070 then reconstructed during the Tran dynasty (1225–1400) and in subsequent dynasties. For nearly two centuries, despite wars and disasters, the temple has preserved ancient architectural styles of many dynasties as well as precious relics. Major restorations have taken place in 1920, 1954 and 2000.

"In the autumn of the year Canh Tuat, the second year of Than Vu (1070), in the 8th lunar month, during the reign of King Ly Thanh Tong, the Temple of Literature was built. The statues of Confucius, his four best disciples: Yan Hui (Nhan Uyen), Zengzi (Tang Sam), Zisi (Tu Tu), and Mencius (Manh Tu), as well as the Duke of Zhou (Chu Cong), were carved and 72 other statues of Confucian scholars were painted. Ceremonies were dedicated to them in each of the four seasons. The Crown Princes studied here." 

In 1076, Vietnam's first university, the "Quoc Tu Giam" or Imperial Academy, was established within the temple to educate Vietnam's bureaucrats, nobles, royalty and other members of the elite. The university remained open from 1076 to 1779. In 1802, the Nguyen monarchs founded the Huế capital where they established a new imperial academy. The academy at the Hanoi temple lost its prominence and became a school of the Hoai Duc district.

Ho Chi Minh complex, the heart of Vietnamese people
Viet Nam takes pride on in the very first President – Ho Chi Minh (or Uncle Ho), the National Liberation Hero, who founded the Democratic Republic of Viet Nam. This national pride is expressed through the construction of the Ho Chi Minh Complex in Ha Noi.

Viet Nam takes pride on in the very first President – Ho Chi Minh (or Uncle Ho), the National Liberation Hero, who founded the Democratic Republic of Viet Nam. This national pride is expressed through the construction of the Ho Chi Minh Complex in Ha Noi.

President Ho Chi Minh was born in May, 19th 1890 in Nghe An province and passed away on September, 2nd 1969 in Hanoi. He was recognized by UNESCO as one who “devoted his whole life to the national liberation of the VietNamese people…”. To honor his life, the Ho Chi Minh Complex was established after his death. The complex consists of Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum, Ba Dinh Square, the Presidential Palace, Uncle Ho’s House on stilts, One pillar pagoda and the Ho Chi Minh Museum. 

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