In the past, under the domination of the French colonialist, Hanoi was separated into three regions which are French area, Vietnamese area and concession area.
Up till now, the French area has been know as the French Quarter.
Compared to the Old Quarter, French Quarter might be not as bustling as its neighbor but it would take you to another part of Hanoi soul – the charming and elegant one. Let us help you to grasp some must-know things about the area.
French Quarter in Hanoi mainly formed and developed during the French colonial period, from the early 20th century until the 1945.
These are the main areas for Vietnamese and French civil servants in Hanoi. The basic structure of a street is mainly for living with separate villas, works for the government such as the court, the office,…
Structurally, the French Quarter is based on the grid line. This structure is quite strong, therefore difficult to break.
In the French Quarter, most of the works were designed by French architects, much influenced by the style of colonial architecture. In addition, there are many villas, duplex houses, office buildings designed by Vietnamese architects or a collaboration between Vietnamese and French architects in the designing process. The details of cultural architecture, Vietnamese lifestyle has also been paid attention to these legacies.
Thus, the value of the neighborhood is the style of French architecture that has been reasonably changed for Vietnam in general and Hanoi in particular.
2. Attractions in French Quarter
Through the ups and downs of history, the French architectural works reflecting the mark of Indochinese architecture left in Hanoi still brings a unique beauty and also the romantic fragments for the city.
Many people come to Hanoi and love Hanoi also because of ancient architecture in the breath of modern life. Let’s take a look at the French-style architecture left over in the capital through these charming attractions.
2.1. Hanoi Opera House
Hanoi Opera House is one of the few French architectural works which is preserved almost perfectly. The theater was built for a long time, from 1901 to 1911. Inspired by the famous Opéra Garnier Theater in Paris, the Hanoi Opera House is actually a massive architectural work of its time, with a total area of 2,600m2.
The Opera House and the Opera House Square are home to many important historical events of the country such as rallies and demonstrations. This is where the National Assembly of Democratic Republic of Vietnam first met on March 2, 1946.
2.2. St. Joseph’s Cathedral, Hanoi
This is a well-known 19th century European style building. The Cathedral of Hanoi was built in 1884 and completed in 1886. The church’s style is a colorful Gothic architecture. The project is 64.5m long, 20.5m wide and two 31.5m high bell towers with large four-cornered stone pillars, topped with stone cross. When you come here, you will be overwhelmed by the solemnity of a religious architecture.
2.3. Hoa Lo Prison
Hoa Lo Prison was built in 1896 by the French colonialist, with the goal of detaining anti-colonialist and Vietnamese revolutionaries. This place is the most reminiscent of the heroic and painful past.
The artifacts displayed here are related to the struggle for independence of the Vietnamese nation. The prison site also features short documentaries, depicting scenes of American prisoners being detained there.
2.4. National Museum of Vietnamese History
National Museum of VietnameseLocated at No.1 Trang Tien street, National Museum of Vietnamese History was built from 1925 to 1932. It was followed the style of Indochinese architecture which means the surface structure is completely as same as French style at that time , but there was some architectural changes to adapt to climate conditions, landscape as well as traditional culture. Therefore, this Asian-European architectural combination has an elegant and unique beauty.
Today, the work is used as a museum to display and present historical materials and objects through periods and Vietnamese dynasties. On the premises of the museum, there are also cafes catering for visitors to relax after visiting and exploring history.
Each building is not only of artistic value but also of historical significance. It is in the hearts of those who have come to Hanoi that the past and the beauty of human values in the land of thousand years of civilization. If you have the opportunity to Hanoi, do not miss these interesting destinations.
3. Hotels, Cafés in the French Quarter
3.1. Hotel Sofitel Legend Metropole
This hotel could be considered an iconic of Hanoi’s colonial work with a grandeur and timeless charm unmatched in the city, or elsewhere in the region. The hotel lies in the heart of Hanoi since 1901 near the Opera House. It’s important role is hosting playwrights, ambassadors and heads of state.
Hotel Sofitel Legend Metrpole from outside
La Terrasse Du Metropole
The high-class restaurant is located in the hotel. It has a Parisian side-walk style with air-opened sitting place to enjoy the Hanoian view. The menu is also covered with French food and beverage.
Opening time: daily 11:00 – 24:00
Address: No.15 Ngo Quyen street
Au Delice & Le Restaurant d’Arthur Hanoi
The restaurant serves French cuisine as well as a wide range of drinks coming from many other countries in a homely setting.
Opening time: daily 9:00 – 22:00
Address: No.2B Ngo Thi Nham street
RICO Steak House
This is a classy South America dining restaurant which is best known for its extensive food menu comprising a mix of Australian and Argentinean beef dishes, pasta, salads and seafoods.
Opening time: 11:00 – 23:00
Address: No.56 Tran Quoc Toan street
AMATO is a Western style restaurant located behind the Hanoi Opera House. The menu offers a wide range of European delicacies.
Opening time: Mon – Sat 7:30 – 23:00
Address: No.1A Trang Tien street
Sen is a buffet restaurant which will impress everyone by its “colorful” cuisines. This restaurant is followed Asian style in the architecture as well as its foods.
Opening time: 18:00 – 22:00
Address: No.60 Ly Thai To street
Since the French quarter is home to luxury things so that shopping in this area involves high-end shopping malls and delicate boutiques as well as artistic showrooms by local artists and book stores.
Here, you can find high class brands such as: Dior, Louis Vuitton, Versace,..at Trang Tien plaza – a three-storey shopping mall located in Trang Tien – the most busy street in the neighborhood.
Also, there are other shopping choices for people who wanna look for local or chic designer art piece. Here are some galleries and boutiques highly recommended for this kind of demand:
Red Moon Gallery
Opening time: 10:00 – 18:00
Address: No.38 Trang Tien street
Thanh Bình Gallery
Opening time: 10:00 – 18:00
Address: No.25,27 Trang Tien street
Dong Phong Art Gallery
Opening time: 10:00 – 18:00
Address: No.3 Ly Dao Thanh street
Cho Hom market (This place is home to all kinds of fabric which would be the best choice for ones looking for material to make traditional customs)
Opening time: 6:00 – 17:00
Address: No.293 Tran Nhan Tong street
You’ve visited most places of French Quarter in Hanoi. If you’d love to have more information about French Quarter, please don’t hesitate to book a Free Tour with local guides.
Don’t come across Hanoi or rank it as one of spots in your extensive excursion, you should consider it as a true holiday for a couple of days, because Hanoi deserves to be the most impressive destination.
Hanoi is really different and unique. If you are expecting to see the animation of entertainment like Soul – capital of South Korea or the model development of skyscrapers and super-malls like Bangkok in Hanoi, you were wrong. Having undergone over 1000 years dominated under the Chinese invader and over 100 years struggling against the French colonist and the American empire, Vietnam has been developing and improving quickly. Through the length of history, the Vietnamese has still kept the true value of precious tradition and culture. Beside, a wide range of historical monuments or architectural structures were protected and restored with a view to preserving for the future generation. It is the reason why Hanoi puts on ancient and familiar appearance of heart-breaking but glorious past time. In a short interview with foreign tourists about “Is it worth visiting Hanoi?”, 9o percent of them told “Hanoi is really amazing. It is out of my expectation. I love the simple beauty of streets and moss pagoda and the hospitality of the Vietnamese and the nature and weather are great”.
So what makes millions of tourists strong impression on? And which fascinates you?
And what makes Hanoi worth visiting…
Firstly, I swear that all tourists feel socked with the traffic in chaos and deafening horns. It comes as surprise that the population in Vietnam is more 90 million people whereas the number of scooters and motorbikes accounts for 50 percent of that amount. You might burst into tear when waiting for crossing street for a long time or find it difficult to walk on pavement. Although transportation works in weird and crazy way, they are humane engines and machines. In Lodon or New York, when the traffic lights turn green color, all cars speed up automatically without noticing pedestrian or obstacle. It is very easy to crash or take after accident. But in Vietnam, crossing street is an art and you are brave artists. A tip for you: “Close your eyes – breathe deeply, go straight slowly with raising your hand”, the drivers avoid you cleverly by themselves. So it is not dangerous like you though. Keep calm and win all!
Another reason why you should pay Hanoi a visit is Religion
There is no official religion in Vietnam but Buddhism, Catholicism and Caodaism are the most popular ones. However, the number of Bud and Catholic is too small in comparison with Vietnam’s population. So you are not afraid whether your action is suitable for the rule of that religion or not. It is suggested that you should wear shirt with sleeves and trousers under knees, when you go into sacred places such as pagoda, church or temple. In majority of the Vietnamese’s thought, there are two worlds existing at the same time. It is indicated that when you pass away, you will never disappear or vanish. You only go to the other one and continue living. It explains for weird actions like burning votive paper on special days in a month or setting an ancestral altar in every house. Besides, thousands of pagodas was also built to express the strong belief in the law of causality and optimistic ideas like one good turn deserves another or curses come home to roost.
To have a deep insight in culture and belief of the Vietnamese, I recommend you some appealing sites: The Big Church, Tran Quoc Pagoda, Bach Ma Temple, Ngoc Son Temple.
+ The Big Church: It was erected by French in 1884 and opened for public in 1888. To build church for French Catholics to congregate, the French destroyed Bao Thien Pagoda – one of the most important pagodas at that time. But nowadays the image of it has attached to routine life of Hanoi residents and become symbol and pride of them as well. Located on 40 Nha Chung Street in the Old Quarter, you should spend a few minutes coming across to enjoy a lemon juice and contemplate its charming beauty at twilight.
+ Bach Ma Temple: It dates back to the XXI century and is considered being one of the oldest temples in the city. With a mysterious story, the temple is known as a sacred place to honor a white horse that guided Ly Thai To king to the site, where he chose to construct his citadel walls. Located right on Hang Buom, Bach Ma Temple attracts many tourists to tranquil space and scented incense.
+ Tran Quoc Pagoda: Going out of the hustle and bustle of city, you come into absolutely peaceful, quiet space with an unexpected spiritual aspect. Not only the oldest temple is but it also the most marvelous is in the city. Moreover, the façade of it directs to the West Lake – the biggest lake in Hanoi and absorbs in first sun lights in the early morning. Because it is quite far from the Old Quarter you should take a taxi to visit it at least one time.
+ One Pillar Pagoda: it is the symbol of Vietnam and ranked with Eiffle tower of France or Liberty Statue of America. Although One Pillar Pagoda isn’t a great structure, its historic meaning and cultural value is invaluable. Taking inspiration from a lotus blossom, it is a Buddhist temple with the origin from the dream of the King. With special architecture, a building stands on only one pillar in Thien Quang lake like transferring vitality and fertile for land. It’s very important for Vietnamese people because Vietnam was still an agricultural country at that time.
The diversity of groups makes a significant contribution to colorful national character. Because of the harmonious combination between Chinese, Indian and French culture and the unique features of Vietnam, it is easy to make visitors a feel curious and interesting. At present, there are 54 different ethnic minority groups inhabiting Vietnam, each of whom has own customs and habits which has still been respected and preserved up to now. Among them, the Kinh people account for nearly 90 percent of Vietnam’s total population. Should you not want to miss precious knowledge of groups, Vietnam Museum of Ethnology and Women’s Museum will be the best choices for you.
+ Vietnam Museum of Ethnology: With total area of more 2.000 m2, it is worth for you spending a half day to discover it. Coming here, you will be immerse in thousands of lively exhibits and fabulous information as well as cultural identity about 54 ethnic groups of Vietnam. Besides, it is very useful for researches and people to want to learn about historic value and ethnography.
+ Vietnamese Women’s Museum: There are few museums on the world displaying and praising about women. But in Vietnam, the role of women in war as well as the great contributions to build country nowadays is indispensable. To express the gratitude to the dedicated services Vietnamese women have sacrificed for family and nation, Vietnam Women’s Union decided to build the one. All document is disposed according to each of periods and topics to highlight the role of them as well as serve for tourists visit more conveniently.
Lunar New Year: It often happens in late January and early February and lasts for a half of one month. This is traditional holiday of nation because it contains a significant meaning. It is not only a period of transition from old year to New Year but also an opportunity for family reunion. On the last day of the year, everyone is exciting to clean their houses, go shopping to prepare to welcome to New Year. Besides, if you have chance to be invited to stay your Vietnamese friend’s home, you will be courteous about types of cake or fruit they lay on altar. “Chung” cake is the most popular with Vietnamese people because it is symbol of gathering and wealth. To decorate house becoming colorful, the Vietnamese often buy kumquat or cherry blossom which represent for money and luck. Burning votive paper is also traditional to see 3 saints off returning sky. On these days, adults wish the old long life span and children wear pretty dress to ask for lucky money.
Mid-Autumn Festival – a happy day of children: It is held on August 15th of lunar calendar, corresponding to late September to early October. This is the day any child waits for because it is a good time for them to joy with interesting activities and receive a lot of presents from their parents. Star lanterns, funny masks and colorful toys are indispensable things to decorate street brighter than ever. Mooncakes have appeared in western countries as a form of delicacy on this day. If you are lucky to have chance to visit Hanoi in September, don’t miss joining with us to have funny memories.
Hanoi is worth visiting because of the war
It is sad that many people knew Vietnam as a nation of war or an aggressive country through two resistances against French colonists and American empires producing a stir in world. However, part of the truth is not the truth. There is nothing can compensate for what Vietnam has been through. Those were unjust wars full of blood and tears which dyed the color of national flag red. Do you know the meaning of the yellow star with 5 wings in the middle of flag? It symbolizes for undying confidence in day nation is totally independent.
There are some recommendations for war historical relics:
+ Hoa Lo Prison: Hoa Lo prison was constructed by French colonist in 1896 with a view to detaining Vietnam communists, patriotic soldiers and political prisoners. With the area of nearly 13.000 m2, Hoa Lo was one of the largest and most heavy-duty structures in Indochina at that time. Nowadays, people have known it as the hell on earth or Hanoi Hilton. So Why does it have two co
ntrary names? At the same place, however, how the French treated Vietnamese prisoners and how the Vietnamese treated the American pilots were absolutely different. Two stages, two periods and unknown stories behind harsh war will come out when you spend a little time visiting it.
+ Vietnam Military History Museum: Visiting Vietnam Military History Museum, you contemplate the remains of war like airplanes, weapons, missiles,…on display. Besides, you will fascinate with brilliant tactics and strategies of Vietnam and understand why a poor nation struck against powerful enemies. It’s a shame that you miss such an attractive site.
+ Ho Chi Minh Complex: Including Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Ho Chi Minh Museum, presidential palace and historical relics, Ho Chi Minh complex covers the whole of Ho Chi Minh’s life and give us detail information about the process of finding the way to save Vietnam from the yoke of slavery of French colonists and American empires. Through the historic artifacts and document, we will have more understanding of the struggle of Vietnamese people and his great sacrifices for the independence and freedom of Vietnam’s country.
+ The Imperial of Citadel: For more 20 centuries of existing with under control of 13 dynasties, Thang Long Citadel has become one of the longest running continuous seats of power in the world. Have been listed in UNESCO’s World Heritage Site in 2010, the Imperial of Citadel becomes one of highlights in Hanoi. Visiting here, you will discover ancient royal palaces of the King and princesses, the ruins and secret tunnels. Besides, through contemplating exhibits both above and underground, you likely understand about striking strategies and tactics of leaders in the past. I believe keeps you exciting during 1 hour.
+ Flag Tower: It was used to be symbol of the city during the French colonial rule (1885 – 1954). Built in 1806, Flag Tower is a remaining relic without being devastated by French before withdrawing. Nowadays, it has stood there proudly with red flag and yellow star.
Worthy city Hanoi to visit – Stunning Views
+ Long Bien Bridge – the oldest bridge in Vietnam: Getting out of the bustle of busy street in the Old Quarter, you will step in space of past and wild nature which makes tourists a strong impression on most. Built by the French at the end of 19th century, it has existed for thousands of years and witnessed the ups and downs of history of Vietnam nation. With the classic architecture of the west, the bridge is compared with Eiffel tower of France but in a different aspect. It may be the most beautiful at twilight when the whole city is lighted up, intensive heat of sun is less and everyone returns home in a hurry. Enjoy a beer can and take some memorial photos.
+ Temple of Literature: Built in 1076, Temple of Literature was the first national university in Vietnam to educate the King’s son and then extended to teach the nobles and royalties. With the peaceful and sacred atmosphere, Temple of Literature’s become an attractive site for both foreign tourists and Vietnamese people who want to learn about the origin of education as well as the fondness of study of Vietnam. If you visit Hanoi, you shouldn’t miss to touch the head of the turtle because it will bring luck to you during that year. Through 5 courtyards, you will feel be delighted as though each of history pages was opening ahead of your eyes.
+ The West Lake – the largest lake in Hanoi: There is a romantic street dividing the lake into two parts. At night, the lake becomes colorful and mysterious with floating restaurants on the water and entertainment activities. Along this street, there are several pagoda and church opening free for tourists, so you can do sightseeing without paying ticket. You will be in a good mood and fresh with breezing wind when walking with your partners in your trip and enjoy some ice-cream and street food.
Last but not least, AMAZING FOODS. Food Lovers should visit Hanoi.
Coming to Hanoi, you will be satisfied the demand for food maximumbecause Hanoi is known as a paradise for cuisine. All first floors of houses in the Old Quarter sell something from dishes for breakfast and dinner or local specialities to nosh. Don’t worry about the shortage of fresh food since there are always small markets near eating places and residential areas. All ingredients are available and safe for hygiene. Specially, it is such the cheap street food that you can buy and eat many things with a tight budget. Night market, for example, is ideal place which only opens at every weekend nights. Beside the famous food like Pho, Bun Cha, Banh Mi, you can find local food such as mixed sweeten fruit, mixed ill noodle,…and many other unnamed food.
How diverse beverage is! Just know that the Vietnamese are creative and eager to learn but the ability of creating beverage is surprising. There are some drinks with special flavor out of expectation which you only taste in Vietnam. Egg Coffee is a typical example of an idiom sentence: the difficulty emerges the wisdom. It is invented in late 19th century because of the shortage of sugar. So the makers used egg yolk instead for sugar to decrease strong flavor of coffee. Nowadays, it becomes one of best beverages any tourist should try at least one time in Vietnam.
As far as you might know Vietnam is a tropical nation with monsoon climate, so there is a diversity of fruit. Having some kinds of fruit you have never seen before in any countries on the world. Each of seasons has typical kinds of fruits. For instance, in summer, we have longan, lychee, custard apple or mango, whereas in winter we have pomegranate, guava and orange. Fruit sometimes becomes a reason for your travelling in Vietnam.
The Old Quarter
With 36 streets designed chess model by French, nowadays the Old Quarter turns into the cultural center and a must-see place in Hanoi. When wandering around the Old Quarter, you will seem separated and exciting as though you went astray in maze of 100-year-old houses and a great variety of products, shops and hotels. Sometime, you are attracted by the dark and narrow alleys with 1 meter wide and wondering that why people can live cramped in such small space and insufficient light. But they don’t know that at the end of those alleys is an absolutely different world and how hard life of residents either. Sometime, you are into the way local people sitting on the short chairs to drink coffee in the morning or interested in routine activities around the lake. Behind houses you see, people you meet are stories interesting and moved which making you astonish.
The Sword Lake
The Sword Lake is home to legends dating back to thousands of years ago with aim to connecting people. It will be great if you have someone like a guide to tell you about all stories. They are sensational factors which fascinate you and keep you exciting all the time. Also, thanks to tour guide you will gain useful knowledge of meaning of architecture, reliefs as well as Vietnamese’s history. It is said that the sword lake is a microcosm of the whole life of Hanoi people and contains soul of the Vietnamese. At the weekend, the street around the lake becomes a sidewalk for pedestrian and no traffic can annoy you. It means you are free to enjoy a good time with your buddies and participate in folk games which students organize to bring people closer as well as protect the cultural value wearing out by the time. Moreover, only in the weekend, night market is opened to welcome everyone to the world of food and souvenir. Join the line of crowded people, you will feel an animated night in Hanoi.
To end of your tour perfectly, watching a water puppet show is the best suggestion. It is a traditional art of Vietnam dating back as far as the 11th century. By clever hands and creative brain, artists make puppets up of wood or bamboo and control them at their discretion on water with colorful light system. A performance often presents in 2 hours but it reappear lively all activities of peasants happening in routine days. Sometime it gives negative problems in social, sometime praises or satirizes something or somebody. So it is necessary for you to learn a little about Vietnam culture before engaging in stories and rhythm of show.
There are four seasons in a year but fall is the best one. You will allergic to intensive heat of summer days in Hanoi. It is so hot that you will be lazy and only want to stay in your hotel or sweat profusely for walking tour. So it is quite uncomfortable for tourists getting used to cool climate like London or Paris to adapt it in a short time. About winter, it would be good for you if you come from chilly areas because Vietnam winter with wind freezes to the bone. It is suggested to bring several thick coats in order to enjoy your holiday without feeling ill at ease with hash weather. The reason I recommend you to visit Hanoi in fall is at that time both the weather and nature is great. You will feel