Broad boulevards lined with buildings of French-inspired architecture, little roadside galleries filled with artwork, charming people in native hats and dress mixing with individuals wearing outfits are what awaits those on a Vietnam tour of Hanoi, the location referred to as the cultural capital.
Hanoi, the country's second largest city (which has a population of 6 000 0000 and covering 900 square km about the banks with the Red River), is said is the core in the country- something easily proven by a walk through the streets of the French-colonial city with its lakes and temples. Readily navigable by walking, there is a lot to see and do here at a fairly easy pace; start your Vietnam tour from Hanoi and you may certainly feel the strong sense of laid-back tranquillity that only a timelessly old settlement might have.
History. Going back to as early as three centuries before Christ, Hanoi was previously called Thang Long, and was renamed Hanoi in 1831 at a time when Hue was the administrative centre. Present-day Hanoi, however, was largely built in the French occupation- a well known fact reflected in broad streets and charming French inspired buildings which might be characteristic of town.
Old Quarter. Hoan Kiem District (aka the existing Quarter), considered the city's business hub and main tourist destination, is probably the most definitive of Hanoi. A stroll from the area is tantamount to stepping back in time - its streets are filled with scooters, traders and folks simply out for the leisurely stroll neighborhood. Here, you'll find ancient commercial streets named after their original businesses dating back about 1,000 years, including names of cotton, jewellery, herbs, and silk. Although of the concerns are already substituted with newer businesses, once can still comprehend the sense of how it would be a long time ago, and achieve a feeling of rich, old customs. Preserved shop-houses built a bit more than a century ago with street-facing facades and multiple courtyards inside are alongside with hip cafes, bars, restaurants, bakeries, boutique shops and galleries and museums.
Places to Visit. Ho Chi Minh, the country's most widely used leader (recognized to his people as 'Uncle Ho') rests within a glass case with the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in central Hanoi (albeit against his wishes). A trip to Uncle Ho's final resting place is an extraordinary experience over a Vietnam tour- in the end, it is not just a normal attraction, it's actually a section of a nation's history. For anyone visiting, it might do well to consider the reverence the locals have for Uncle Ho-dress with respect (no shorts, sleeveless shirts and miniskirts) everyone has got to deposit their bags and cameras before heading in.
The world-famous Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre in Hanoi is really a performance art rooted inside a tradition dating back the 1200's, from a time when rice paddy fields were flooded and villagers can make entertainment by waiting in the waist-deep water with the puppets performing in the water. Large rods to compliment the puppets appeared as if these were moving throughout the water, with the puppeteers hidden behind a screen. They might tell traditional folk stories through operatic songs, together with an orchestra playing traditional music using drums, wooden bells, horns, bamboo flutes and cymbals. Today, the tradition continues.
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