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Hanoi Overview - Hanoi Travel Information - Hanoi Muslim Tours VietnamHanoi – the capital of Vietnam, the center for economy, politics and Vietnamese culture. It is the second largest city in Vietnam and a must see for tourists.
The oldest and one of the most attractive capital cities in Southeast Asia, Hanoi exudes a rare sense of gracious charm and timelessness. At its core exists a 600-year-old ancient quarter, augmented by a century-old colonial city. Today, the rich cultural heritage of both blends in perfect harmony with growing modernization, as Hanoi claims its position as the heart of Vietnam.

Hanoi is a fascinating blend of East and West, with Chinese influence from centuries of dominance and French design from its colonial past. It is largely unspoiled by modern architecture of the 1970s and 80s and is now going through a modernization that is making it a rising star in Southeast Asia.
Anyone who has ever visited Hanoi will probably tell you that it may be the most beautiful city in all of Asia. People have settled here along the Red River for a thousand years. Nestled along wooded boulevards among the city’s two dozen lakes you will find architectural souvenirs left by all who conquered this great valley, from the Chinese who first came in the last millennium to the French, booted out in our own century.

The trip into the city from Noi Bai Airport takes about an hour and offers some poignant glimpses of modern Vietnamese life: farmers tending their fields, great rivers, modern highways that abruptly become bumpy roads. The drive is especially breathtaking at dusk when the roads fill with bicycles, and everything takes on the same deep colors as the modern paintings you see in Hanoi’s galleries. Somehow the setting sun seems enormous here as it dips into the cornfields on the horizon.
On the edge of the city the road dissolves into a maze of winding, narrow, wooded lanes. You are surrounded by roadside artisans, shops and taverns, then by graceful villas and commuters on bicycles, cyclos and motorbikes. Modern buildings appear from nowhere, looking so out of place that you have to wonder if they were dropped from the sky and just left where they came to rest. While you tell yourself that nothing as preposterous as Hanoi can be so beautiful, you cannot help but be dazzled.

Today, Hanoi is emerging as an elegant, cultured, and affluent city, where museums and galleries coexist with chic shops and fashionable restaurants. One can wander, in a few minutes, from the narrow streets of the Old Quarter to the imposing mansions and buildings lining the leafy boulevards of the former French Quarter. Hanoi’s past has also ensured a superb culinary legacy, where French and Chinese cuisines blend marvelously with the Viet traditions. The same is true of Hanoi’s lively arts scene, which is among the most sophisticated in Southeast Asia.

Getting around.
Meter taxis and hired cars are easy to find in Hanoi. If you plan an extended visit you might consider renting a bicycle or motorbike.
The north end of Hoan Kiem Lake is Hanoi’s “ground zero.” Practically all the city’s economical hotels, tourist shops, and cafés catering to visitors are located here. Not only is it the oldest part of the city, it is the busiest and most interesting. Every street is winding, intimate, and shady. At night the lights of storefronts keep the streets lit and animated.

Depending on which guide book you read, this district of Hanoi is variously called the “Old Quarter,” the “Ancient Quarter,” and “36 streets.” It is wedged between the northern shore of Hoan Kiem Lake, the walls of the ancient Citadel, and the levies that protect the city from the Red River. The 36 little streets in the quarter are each named for a commodity once sold by all the businesses on that street. Streets here are named for the medicine, jewelry, fans, copper, horse hair, chicken, and even coffins once sold on them. This explains why the names of some of the longer streets inexplicably change after one or two blocks. As you explore, you will still happen upon entire blocks of tinsmiths, tailors, paper goods merchants, and lacquer ware makers.

In the Ancient Quarter the most appealing mode of transportation for those who do not care to enjoy the “36 Streets” on foot is the cyclo. Often they are driven by men wearing pea-green pith helmets that make them look like soldiers. Settle on the fare in advance (a dollar or less one way). Most drivers will also quote you an hourly rate and will take you to all the obligatory cultural and historical spots.

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