Hanoi is North Vietnamís lively capital city located in the north of the country and set amid the delta plains of the Red River. Compared to other southeast Asian cities that have developed into modern metropolisí at breathtaking speed, Hanoi could be described as being a provincial city.
In 1882, the French built their government offices around the cityís large Hoan Kiem Lake. The city became the capital of French Indo China. The lake is surrounded by splendid old villas and public buildings. In the early morning, several of the cityís inhabitants arrive to go about their traditional exercises.
The Chua Mot Cot Pagoda is one of the oldest religious buildings in Hanoi, a temple built upon a single column in the centre of a small pond. Legend has it that the childless king, Ly Thai Tong, saw the goddess of mercy in a dream, in which she presented him with a son. Soon afterwards an heir to the throne was born and thus the king ordered the construction of this pagoda and the future of the dynasty was assured.
Quan Thanh is one of the most beautiful Taoist temples in Vietnam and is located close to the national library southeast of the Temple of Literature.
Inaugurated in 1993, the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre is one of the finest examples of its kind in Vietnam and is so popular that its twice daily performances are completely sold out.
Quan Thanh is the richly adorned Temple of the Great God that dates back to the 11th century and is dedicated to the Vietnamese god of war. Tran Vu, who is also the patron saint of the north, has guarded the city for thousands of years. His temple is located on the banks of Lake West.
Over the centuries, Hanoi has frequently been conquered, lost its status as a capital city and also changed its name several times. But it has survived and is still full of timeless charm. It is most assuredly the pearl of North Vietnam!