Hanoi, Vietnam


Hanoi skyline by Ongbac9999

Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam and also the country's second largest city, with a city population of 2.6 million and metropolitan population of 6.5 million in 2009. The city is a fascinating blend of East and West, combining traditional Chinese and Vietnamese influences with a French flair. Hanoi was largely unscathed during the decades of war from the 1950s to 1970s. Today, the city is experiencing a building boom and one of the most rapidly developing city in Southeast Asia.
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Hanoi was established more than a thousand years ago and since its establishment, experienced several invasions, occupations, restorations and name changes. The Nguyen Dynasty gave the city its modern name of Ha Noi in 1831, but transferred their power to Hue and remained there until 1887, when the French made Saigon (present day Ho Chi Minh City) and then Hanoi the capital of all French Indochina. Hanoi changed hands again in 1954, when it was ceded to the Viet Minh forces after almost a decade of fighting and became the capital of North Vietnam (Saigon was the capital of rival South Vietnam). Upon reunification of North and South Vietnam in 1976, Hanoi became the capital of the entire country.

Hanoi retains much of its older charm of bygone eras, despite the battles that have raged over it. The Old Quarter is second only to Hoi An for its uninterrupted stretches of colonial and pre-colonial architecture and wonderfully narrow streets. The city trades the commercial boom and sprawl of Ho Chi Minh City in the South for a more understated charm, worth enjoying for an extra day or two. With the countless transport options and travel agents, Hanoi makes a perfect base for exploring Vietnam's northern region.

Hanoi's Old Quarter by Daniel6651

As you walk along the street, you may find that people start talking to you. It is a cultural norm here for locals to make conversation with strangers. They might ask you where you are from and other general questions. It takes awhile to get used to. However, there are times when you find this friendliness extremely helpful, such as when you are lost or need help. The Tourist Information Centre, (Dinh Tien Hoang), located just north of Hoan Kiem Lake, can provide a fairly useful map. The Centre also offers limited free internet and English-language advice.

Busy street in Hanoi by Jrwooley6

Hanoi's climate is tropical, with wet and hot weather during much of the year with high temperatures ranging between 22°C and 33°C (72°F and 91°F). But due to the city's northern latitude, temperatures can drop drastically in the winter time (December to February). The windy chill and dampness during this period means winter weather can feel cold and dropping to as low as 7°C (45°F), though temperatures usually range between 13°C and 18°C (55°F and 65°F).

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