Hanoi has been the capital of Vietnam for almost 1,000 years! It’s the place where numerous dynasties have left their mark and has more cultural sites than anywhere else in Vietnam…and they’re mostly well-preserved. There is still much French influence from when it was the capital of French Indochina (1902-1945). Some people refer to Hanoi as the ‘Paris of the East’ due to its tree-lined boulevards, lakes, and colonial buildings today. Following the First Indochina War and the creation of the State of Vietnam, Vietnam was finally free of French occupation.
It was then when Ho Chi Minh came in and declared Hanoi the capital of North Vietnam, a coalition of communists and Vietnamese nationalists. Following the Vietnam War, Hanoi was made the capital of reunified Vietnam.
Being the capital city, there’s an ever-growing influx of people in the city. There are an overwhelming amount of motorbikes (that the country is actually trying to ban by 2020 in the Old Quarter at least), but that’s part of what gives Hanoi its character. In fact, there was only a rise in cars in the last five years or so.
No matter what your means of transportation, most visitors will stay in the Old Quarter or French Quarters of Hanoi. While there, there are 10 things you must see in Hanoi…
1. Imperial Citadel of Thang Long
2. Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
3. Ba Dinh Square
4. One Pillar Pagoda
5. Old Quarter
6. B-52 Plane Wreck
7. Hoa Lo Prison
8. Trompe-l’oeil Murals
9. Tran Quoc Pagoda
10. West Lake
Where to Sleep?
The Hanoi Club Hotel and Lake Palais Residences
After having spent one night in the Old Quarter, we realized that it wasn’t particularly what we were looking for. We wanted to experience Vietnam, rather than get sucked into a flood of tourists…so we took off to the West Lake area of Hanoi. There we found the beautiful Hanoi Club Hotel and Lake Palais Residences. It is located directly on the shores of West Lake, offers beautiful views, and looks over the Tran Quoc Pagoda. It was just what we needed.
Walking into our Premier Double Room with Lake View, we knew we’d made the right decision. The room was quite spacious, the bed was comfortable, and the floor-to-ceiling windows in the bathroom made it feel that much more spacious.
They have a stellar swimming pool, gym, and complimentary breakfast too. And, if you’re into golfing, you can go hit some balls at their very own driving range, or if you’d rather get a massage at their spa, you can do that too.
The staff couldn’t have been nicer, and I highly recommend The Hanoi Club Hotel on your next visit to Vietnam’s capital city!
*Hotel photos by Jerre Stead.