View Map

Overview

This is the jazz music capital of Vietnam, and always has been. Surprised? Most people are. Dour communists and exhortations to “build socialism” are what most people equate with Hanoi. And there's a bit of that. But this is also the literary, cultural and musical capital of the country. You are more likely to see men in corduroy jackets and berets discussing Dostoevsky than men in Mao suits discussing the Workers' Struggle. This is the city of Cha Ca La Vong, the country's oldest restaurant, spanning five generations. It is where the national dish, pho, was created and is still best expressed. Though small, it is a monumental city, ...

This is the jazz music capital of Vietnam, and always has been. Surprised? Most people are. Dour communists and exhortations to “build socialism” are what most people equate with Hanoi. And there's a bit of that. But this is also the literary, cultural and musical capital of the country. You are more likely to see men in corduroy jackets and berets discussing Dostoevsky than men in Mao suits discussing the Workers' Struggle. This is the city of Cha Ca La Vong, the country's oldest restaurant, spanning five generations. It is where the national dish, pho, was created and is still best expressed. Though small, it is a monumental city, in that so many of her buildings are monuments. French examples include the opera house and the Metropole Hotel (where the best jazz groups play nightly). Vietnamese offerings include the Temple of Literature, one of the oldest libraries on the planet. And the Bach Ma temple, oldest house of worship in the city. It is also a city of lakes, ponds and parks. Hoan Kiem Lake in the town center is a sacred place where Vietnamese independence from China was assured, commemorated by its Ngoc Son Temple. West Lake is where Senator John McCain parachuted into captivity and heroism. In the old quarter the streets are named for the guilds and merchants that originally occupied them. Hence: Chicken Street; Paint Street; Sail Makers Street. Nowadays, many of them could be called Tourist Shopping Street. But it's all good.

Richard Sterling
About the Expert

Richard Sterling is the author of Lonely Planet's World Food: Greece, Eyewitness Travel Guide Vietnam, and many other books.

view full overview

Richard Sterling for Triporati

Compare Flight, Car Rental, and Hotel Rates

Note: A new window will open for each site you select.

Note: A new window will open for each site you select.

Note: A new window will open for each site you select.

Now Happening in Hanoi

Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, is located in the Red River Delta, in the center of North Vietnam
  • Language: Vietnamese
  • Currency: Vietnam Dong
  • Research: Wikitravel | Wikipedia
  • Weather: Daylight | Rainfall
  • Current Time:

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Spring and summer