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    Hanoi Travel Guide

    Hanoi VietnamA city of lakes shaded boulevards and verdant public parks where jeans-clad young lovers stroll beside their venerable elders practising elegant, slow-motion shadow boxing. Hanoi's prosperous shop owners exemplify Vietnam's new economic reforms while traditional ways along the merchant guild streets in the Old Quarter live on as a reminder of the city's rich cultural heritage.

    Hanoi, capital of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (SRV), is different things to different people. Most foreigners on a short visit find Hanoi to be slow paced, pleasant and even charming. Physically, it's a more attractive city than Ho Chi Minh City there is less traffic, noise and pollution with more trees and open spaces. Some have called it the Paris of the Orient - which 'Parisians could consider either an insult or a compliment. Hanoi's centre is an architectural museum piece, its blocks of ochre buildings retaining the air of a provincial French town of the 1930s. The people of Hanoi are known for being more reserved and at the same time more traditionally hospitable - than their southern compatriots.

    Hanoi used to be notorious among travellers as a place to avoid. Many western visitors (both backpackers and businesspeople) were routinely harassed by the police, especially at the airport where officials would arbitrarily detain and fine foreigners as they were trying to leave.

    Hanoi's reputation for harassing foreigners and resisting economic reform caused most foreign investment to flow into Ho Chi Minh City and other places in the south. Resistance to reform is strongest among ageing officials, but geriatric revolutionaries in the prime of senility are being forcibly retired. The younger generation with no romantic attachment to the past is more interested in the side of the bread that is buttered. Altitudes have changed fast and the Hanoi of today is dramatically different from just a few years ago. Foreigners have returned in the term or tourists, business travellers, students and expatriates. Foreign investors are now looking at Hanoi with the same enthusiasm that only a few years ago was reserved exclusively for Ho Chi Minh city.

    Hanoi Travel GuideThe first beneficiaries of the city's recent economic resurgence have been the shop and restaurant owners. No longer is a shopping trip in Hanoi limited to a large state owned department store specializing in empty shelves. Colour and liveliness has returned to the streets - unfortunately, so has the traffic, Buildings are being repaired and foreign companies are now investing in everything from joint-venture hotels to banks and telecommunications. Hanoi, and the rest of the north, has great potential to develop export-oriented manufacturing industries - a potential now only beginning to be realized.


    Hanoi is located in the Red River Delta, in the center of North Vietnam. It is encompassed by Thai Nguyen, Vinh Phuc provinces to the north, Hoa Binh and Ha Nam to the south, Bac Giang, Bac Ninh and Hung Yen provinces to the east, Hoa Binh and Phu Tho to the west.

    Hanoi means "the hinterland between the rivers" (Ha: river, Noi: interior). Hanoi's territory is washed by the Red River (the portion of the Red River embracing Hanoi is approximately 40km long) and its tributaries, but there are some other rivers flowing through the capital, including Duong, Cau, Ca Lo, Day, Nhue, Tich, To Lich and Kim Nguu.

    Hanoi Tourism

    Throughout the thousand years of its eventful history, marked by destruction, wars and natural calamities, Hanoi still preserves many ancient architectural works including the Old Quarter and over 600 pagodas and temples. Famous sites include the One Pillar Pagoda (built in 1049), the Temple of Literature (built in 1070), Hanoi Citadel, Hanoi Opera House, President Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum...

    Hanoi also characteristically contains 18 beautiful lakes such as Hoan Kiem Lake, West Lake, and Truc Bach Lake..., which are the lungs of the city, with their surrounding gardens and trees providing a vital source of energy.

    Many traditional handicrafts are also practiced in Hanoi including bronze molding, silver carving, lacquer, and embroidery. Hanoi has many famous traditional professional handicraft villages such as Bat Trang pottery village, Ngu Xa bronze casting village, Yen Thai glossy silk...

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