- Half day Cultural Tour (min 2 Paxs)
- Expert English speaking local guide
- All entrance fees during guided time
- Transfer by modern air-conditioned vehicles
General Information About Ha Noi City
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, the “City within the River’s Bend,” was founded by Emperor Ly Thai To in AD 1010, near Co Loa, the ancient capital of the first Viet state dating back to the 3rd century BC. Ly Thai To structured this city, then known as Thang Long, around the massive citadel. To the east of this, a settlement of guilds was established to serve the needs of the royal court. By the 16th century, this area had developed into Hanoi’s celebrated Old Quarter.
The arrival of the French in the 19th century marked a period of reconstruction, as they tore down parts of the citadel and some ancient temples to make way for the new European quarter. However, this cultural vandalism was compensated for, to a large extent, by the magnificent colonial architecture they bequeathed the city. During the first Indochina War, the city’s central districts escaped largely unharmed, and subsequently, in 1954, Hanoi was proclaimed the capital of independent Vietnam. Sadly, this was not the end of its violent history as it was then plunged into the conflict-ridden years against the US. Hanoi entered the 21st century a little run down yet structurally sound despite the years of warfare. The Opera House is still grand, as is the Sofitel Metropole Hotel.
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.
Hanoi Old Quarter
Buzzing with noise and activity, the Old Quarter is the oldest and most lively commercial district in Hanoi. During the 13th century, several artisans settled along the Red River to cater to the needs of the palace. Later, the crafts became concentrated in this area, with each street specializing in a particular product. Over the years, 36 distinct crafts guilds came into existence, and the area earned its nickname of 36 streets. Today, with narrow alleys packed with hundreds of small shops, restaurants, and ancient tube houses, the Old Quarter retains its historic charm.
Best sports activities in Ha Noi City
Hanoi, Vietnam has a remarkable range of activities catering to almost every market segment. There are plenty of family friendly activities in Hanoi, and children are never bored when holidaying anywhere in Vietnam. For young couples and singles, Hanoi offers an exciting and diverse nightlife and is considered one of the culinary capitals of Vietnam. Hanoi is also a world-class shopping venue for shopaholics. Click the activity links below for further information.
About Pool Game
The Saigon Pool League was started early in 2014 and in the short time since has grown from just eight teams to a vibrant league of 35 teams playing in four structured divisions (three 8–ball and one 9–ball) with 20 bars taking part. Eight–ball league matches are played on a Thursday night and the newer and smaller 9–ball league plays on Monday nights. In excess of 260 players are now registered. In just two short years pool has grown to be one of the best sports and leisure activities in Saigon.
The 8–ball League has everything from the top Premier Division for the better players, through the mid–level Championship Division for intermediates to the Social Division which is more light–hearted but still contains some very good players. The–9 ball only has one division at the moment. Players of all abilities are made very welcome and should contact Chris Lee at The Saigon Pool League for details.
Ho Chi Minh City Culture and History
Physical evidence exists to suggest that the earliest inhabitants of Vietnam settled here as far back as half a million years ago, with significant settlements appearing in what is now Hanoi some 10,000 years ago. The arrival of the Han Chinese in 214 BC marked the beginning of civilisation in the area, with the establishment of a military post here bringing development to the greater area.
The Chinese exercised considerable control over local tribal inhabitants for a number of centuries using brute force as a means of ruling, and gaining themselves reputations as oppressors. By 938 AD, however, the locals had organised themselves under the leadership of Ngo Quyen and prepared to rebel. An autonomous Vietnamese state was subsequently created, although it fell into anarchy following Ngo Quyen's death.
Hanoi found order again in the four centuries that followed and successfully become the political seat of the country. With this new-found importance, the city began embellishing its appearance with grand architecture, erecting important buildings such as the Grand Royal enclosure and the Temple of Literature, as well as Vietnam's first university. Developments didn't go unnoticed by outsiders, and Hanoi became an attractive target for the Chinese, Khmer and Kublai Khan.
At the beginning of the 15th century, the city fell to the Chinese again, but on this occasion their control was short-lived. The locals vehemently defended their territory under the leadership of warrior Le Loi. Under Le Loi, the Chinese were rapidly ousted and Vietnamese independence was reestablished.
French troops arrived in 1864, adding Hanoi to the list of Vietnamese cities already under their control. Local resistance was futile against the might of the French army and consequently Hanoi's citizens resigned themselves to French control for close to a century. The French were eventually forced out following a serious of battles with the Viet Minh.
During WWII, Hanoi, like many destinations in Indochina, fell to the Japanese. Japanese occupation began in 1940 and it wasn't until 1945 that they were successfully removed by the Viet Minh with the assistance of the United States who donated arms and money to the war effort.
The Vietnam War lasted from 1965 to 1975, during which time Hanoi managed to sustain very little in the way of damage owing to the fact that the conflict was concentrated mainly in the south of the country. When the north and south were reunited after the war, Ho Chi Minh City was demoted as the country's capital and the title subsequently bestowed upon Hanoi.
Ha Noi City Nightlife
Hanoi’s nightlife scene offers a multitude of interesting things to see and places to go well after the sun sets. The city’s lively bars and glitzy nightclubs are conveniently set around Hoan Kiem Lake in the Old Quarter, where you can enjoy great tunes and all sorts of booze as well as mix and mingle with fun-loving locals and expats.
However, a night out in Hanoi is not complete without sitting back on plastic stools and enjoy bia hoi (Vietnamese draft beer) along the bustling streets. Due to the Hanoi’s rather strict laws, nightclubs and bars usually close at midnight, but you can find some that remain open (and busy) until the local authorities show up. Read on to find out what to do at night in Hanoi.
Top 10 Nightlife Experiences in Ha Noi
1. Bia Hoi Junction
This junction in the centre of the Old Quarter is the absolute classic night time activity in Hanoi. You really haven’t seen the city until you have spent a few hours soaking up the atmosphere and maybe sinking a few beers at the most famous Beer Hoi (Fresh Beer) spot in Vietnam. Several shophouses have plastic stools spilling out onto the streets, with beers being served for as little as VND10,000 (less than US$1) and street vendors serving steamed peanuts, beef jerky and other exotic snacks. The beer is quite weak compared to European standards, but for an all round experience it is quite something. Open throughout the day and late into the night.
2. Water Puppet Theatre
Another classic night spot in Hanoi and one for those who enjoy a more cultured evening, the Water Puppet Theatre is a must-do when visiting the city for the first time. The ancient art form of water puppetry has a long association but the original – and widely regarded as the best – theatre in town is the Thang Long Puppet Theatre. Puppets dance and slide gracefully over the water, depicting stories of ancient myths and folklore which are easy to grasp for foreign guests. Booking tickets in advance is highly recommended, especially on weekends.
3. Minh’s Jazz Club
Minh’s Jazz Club is unparalleled as a place to witness the finest musicians in Hanoi. Live music fans will love the dark interior, which leaves all of the attention squarely on the talented performers on stage. Minh himself – widely regarded as the best Vietnamese jazz performer in history – is sometimes here in person, jamming with his immensely talented band, as well as international performers. Drinks are not cheap, but when you factor in the quality of the live entertainment, prices are more than fair.
4. Funky Buddha Club
Funky Buddha Club is renowned as a place to go in Hanoi for some bass heavy beats and a young crowd of foreign tourists, backpackers, and expats (and a smattering of Vietnamese). Located in the centre of the Old Quarter, this narrow, two storey bar and club plays house music all night long, with the music gradually getting louder until the fairly strict police step in. Drinks are reasonably priced and there is a live DJ every night.
5. Hanoi Press Club
Hanoi Press Club is an upscale bar offering excellent service and a sophisticated ambiance, both inside in their gentleman’s club style bar and out on the large, third floor terrace. A well stocked bar offers excellent wines and cocktails as well as some tasty bar snacks. There is live music from Thursday to Sunday and a special buy-one-get-one-free on select drinks every Thursday.
6. Vietnam Central Circus
For some family-friendly fun, head down to the Vietnam Central Circus which features a big top tent, live performances and simple fairground games within a large park in the south of the city. Featuring clowns, acrobats and animal performances, the Central Circus in Hanoi follows a fairly predictable schedule, but it can be a lot of fun. Located next to Thien Quang Lake, it is a 10 minute taxi ride from the Old Quarter.
7. Hanoi Opera House
The stunning Hanoi Opera House is one of the most spectacular examples of colonial architecture in Vietnam, and spending a night of culture at a live opera or musical performance lives long in the memory. Shows aren’t on constantly but be sure to check with the concierge at your hotel to see if any performances are scheduled during your stay. Advanced booking is imperative. Located in the centre of the French Quarter of Hanoi, it is worth going to appreciate the Hanoi Opera House at night, even if there is no performance scheduled.
8. Legend Beer
Legend Beer is a third storey bar with a sweeping terrace overlooking downtown Hanoi and Hoan Kiem Lake. There is no where better in Hanoi to enjoy an ice cold beer and watch the night time escapades of Hanoi’s inhabitants. Due to the low level of the terrace, the fervent action of the streets below is almost at touching distance so you can feel part of the city, yet relaxed at the same time. Legend Beer brews its own drinks, with wheat beer, lager and a dark stout all available in several sizes. They also have a decent menu of German-style dishes such as pork knuckle and sausages.
9. Dragonfly Bar Lounge
Dragonfly Bar and Lounge is a longstanding night spot in the Old Quarter of Hanoi that attracts a fairly even mix of young Vietnamese and youthful expats. The music varies between hip-hop and party pop music and there is space to dance if you get in the groove, although most people prefer to mix and mingle. Perhaps due to the amount of backpackers that frequent Dragonfly, large cocktails are popular here and are noticeably good value. Head upstairs to enjoy a shisha pipe with a range of flavours available.
10. Sunset Bar at InterContinental Hotel
When the hectic nature of Hanoi gets too much, retreat to the chilled surroundings of Sunset Bar at InterContinental Hanoi West Lake. Relax on the comfortable daybeds and couches on a chilled-out wooden deck, complete with serene views overlooking West Lake. This is a superb designer spot to enjoy a cool evening cocktail far away from Hanoi’s crowds.