Last Updated: 16th Feb 2011
Although Ho Chi Mihn City is the largest city in the country, Hanoi on the banks of the Red River in the North, is the capital of Vietnam and is a thriving modern city with over 5,000 years of history.
The city first became prominent when the ruler of what was then Vietnam moved his capital to what is modern day Hanoi because he believed he saw a dragon rising out of the Red River. Many years later, Hanoi is still the capital and the relics of its long history are mixed throughout the modern city.
Much of the city has survived the wars and social changes that Vietnam has gone through and the city is littered with temples, pagodas and citadels.
Not only are the man-made features of the city a highlight, but the parks, gardens and lakes also add to the mix and feel of the city.
Like Ho Chi Minh City, the French influence in Hanoi is undeniable with the layout of the city’s main boulevards and buildings reminiscent of the planning and layout of Paris. This is also mixed with a strong Chinese and traditional Vietnamese influence to go along with its more modern buildings and skyscrapers.
Hanoi is the cultural capital of the country and is home to more museums and galleries than any other city in Vietnam.
Ho Chi Minh Museum and Mausoleum
Visiting the shine and preserved body of Ho Chi Minh, the leader of the Communist North Vietnam, can be an eerie experience but in almost total contrast to the sombre mausoleum, the nearby museum dedicated to the former leader of Vietnam showcases his life in almost flamboyant style.
You can also visit Ho Chi Minh’s home where he lived and worked until his death in 1969, 6 years before the end of the Vietnam War.
Although the museum houses a huge collection of artefacts, relics, planes, tanks, weapons and machinery from the Vietnam War, the museum displays also cover almost 200 years of Vietnamese military history.
h2. Museum of the Vietnamese Revolution
This museum chronicles in detail the Vietnamese revolutions and victorious struggles first against the French and then the US.
The Hanoi Hilton
Also known as Hoa Lo Prison, it was originally built and used by the French to hold Vietnamese freedom fighters. It was then used by North Vietnam to hold captive US soldiers. Now a museum, it gives an insight into the brutal realities of prison life, particularly under French rule.
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