13 interesting facts about Hanoi that will surprise you
Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, is the most popular and attractive city in North Vietnam, which is a must visit. Compared to Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi continues to preserve the traditional Vietnamese culture in all corners of the city, so here you will feel the country more authentically.
Almost all parts of Vietnam are accessible from Hanoi: you have road, rail and air routes at your disposal. From agricultural fields to centuries-old monuments, lakes, rivers, religious buildings, museums, universities, and shopping malls, everything is here. Get ready to immerse yourself in this city's rich history, which goes back at least 1,000 years.
Here are 13 interesting facts about Hanoi worth knowing.
1. Long Bien Bridge in Hanoi
It was designed by Alexander Gustave Eiffel, the creator of the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty.
Read also: Top 9 attractions in Paris
Hanoi's Long Bien Bridge, connecting Hoan Kiem and Long Bien, was designed by Alexander Gustave Eiffel, the same man who designed the Eiffel Tower in Paris and the Statue of Liberty in the United States. The area around the bridge is home to the poorest households, and many homeless people live under the bridge.
2. Narrow houses are built to avoid property tax
An interesting fact about Hanoi is that the houses are tall but very narrow, as the property tax depends on the width of the building. Because of this characteristic, these houses are called "tube houses. This tax law was introduced in the 19th century by the French.
3. Dog meat is very common
Dog meat is not found in the southern parts of Vietnam, but is quite common in the northern city of Hanoi. Even if you are not a vegetarian and like cow, pig, chicken and duck meat, you will still have a problem with dog meat. Who would want to eat "man's best friend?" You might think that's weird and wrong, but when it comes to the differences in cultures of different countries, you'll find that there's no right and wrong.
4. Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in Hanoi
Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam's beloved leader and an important political figure in world history, died in 1969 of heart failure. As soon as this happened, officials began planning the preservation of his body, and a group of scientists secretly flew into the country to begin the embalming process.
Read also: 7 Vietnam War Museums Worth a Visit
In 1975, the peace accords were officially signed and Ho Chi Minh's mausoleum was opened where his body was embalmed. Today the mausoleum is open to tourists and locals for the veneration of their cherished "Uncle Ho.
5. Lake Hoan Kiem is named after a unique 15th-century legend
Originally known as Luke Tui Lake, today it is known as Hoan Kiem Lake because of a famous 15th century legend--a fisherman named Le Tan once caught a sword in his fishing net. He later gave that sword to Leh Loi, leader of the Lam Son rebellion against the Chinese invaders.
One day Le Luy climbed up a banyan and, to his surprise, discovered the jeweled hilt of a sword given to him by Le Tan. Using this magic sword, Le Luoi won the battle and became the king of Vietnam.
One day the deity Golden Turtle appeared on the surface of Lake Hatch Tui and asked Le Loi to return the sword to the Dragon King. The deity took the sword, returned to the lake and, consequently, the lake is now called Hoan Kiem or "Lake of Swords".
6. Water puppet shows
A unique art form originating from North Vietnam. The most traditionally significant and best entertainment show in Vietnam is the water puppet show in Hanoi. Water puppetry in Vietnam dates back 1,000 years, presented by the Ly dynasty.
The original shows were performed in the real rice fields of the Red River of northern Vietnam, where experienced puppeteers stood in deep water and entertained local rice farmers. These days, having changed the setting and location, these shows have become of interest to all who visit Hanoi.
Rural Vietnamese customs, culture and traditions, such as fishing, harvesting and village folklore, are widely represented in these shows. During the performance, 7 to 11 puppeteers work simultaneously. They do their best to keep this ancient art alive. Thang Long Water Puppet Theater is the best and most popular show in Hanoi.
7. Hanoi means "City of Lakes"
Hanoi, literally meaning "city within rivers," is built on the banks of the Red River in the lowlands between rivers, causing Hanoi to contain traces of the many rivers that flow around the city and form lakes within the city. Some of the most popular lakes are Hoan Kiem Lake, Ho Thien Quang Lake, Truk Lake Bae Mau Lake and Tu Le Lake.
These lakes are quiet places to visit while you are in Hanoi to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. An interesting fact about Hanoi is that even locals often refer to it as the "city of lakes.
Read also: 8 night markets in Ho Chi Minh City for evening shopping
8. Hanoi - the center of Vietnamese cuisine
As is commonly said, you begin to understand the history and culture of a city only when you try the local food. Unlike southern and central Vietnamese cuisine, Vietnamese food in Hanoi is rich in flavor, but not as sour, sweet or spicy as in other parts of the country.
Given the deep history that Hanoi has experienced, the local food is certainly a true reflection of Vietnam. Famous Vietnamese dishes that can be found in this city include Hanoi Pho, Banh Duc, Bun Cha (a dish that Obama and Anthony Bourdain tasted while in Hanoi), Pho rolls, Bun Thang and others. It is worth trying the traditional dishes of Hanoi while you are there to experience the best Vietnamese food.
9. Traffic in Hanoi is also an experience
Hanoi's chaotic and noisy yet exciting traffic is something you won't see anywhere else. Motorcycles pass you by, traffic rules are not enforced, and "signals" and "paths" are words that are not in the Hanoi dictionary.
You will always be advised to look in both directions before crossing the road in this city, just remain confident and pray to God that a bicycle will not collide with you. As the saying goes, "if you can survive rush hour in Hanoi, you can survive anywhere."
10. The Temple of Literature in Hanoi is on the VND 100,000 bill
Representing the spirit of learning and education in the country, the "Temple of Literature" was built in 1070 for Confucius and scholars. Khue Wang Tsak, the symbolic landmark of the temple, is a two-story pavilion built in 1805 consisting of four circular windows with rays representing the sun facing in four directions.
It is a symbol of literature, proudly illustrated on the back of the 100,000 dong bill.
Read also: Hanoi walking tours: free, gastronomic, sightseeing
11. Hanoi has the largest mosaic in the world
The Hanoi ceramic mosaic mural is a four-kilometer-long mural made on the wall of the dam system. The idea, proposed by Nguyen Thu Thuy, an art and culture journalist, was started in 2007 to take advantage of the dull and gray dam wall and turn it into the best art in Vietnam.
This project, which won the Guinness World Record for the world's largest mosaic, is a visual narrative reflecting Hanoi's rich history, culture and dynamism over the years. More than 600 people, including Vietnamese, foreign artists, artisans and children, came together using their artistic skills to turn this wall into Hanoi's most colorful creation.
12. Beer in Hanoi costs 5,000 VND (0.21 USD, 0.18 EUR, 16 Rupiah)
Known as the best place for nightlife in Hanoi, Bia Hoi is a haven for beer lovers, located on the corner of Ta Hien and Luong Ngoc Quyen streets in Hanoi's old quarter. You will see locals and tourists sitting here all day and night with a pint of beer in hand.
Bia Hoi is a popular Vietnamese draft beer with only 4% of alcohol and is known for its extremely cheap price from 5000 VND. You can also see improvised booths selling a variety of snacks and the beer itself. The atmosphere of this place, especially in the evenings, becomes very festive and you can get a true insight into Vietnamese nightlife culture right here.
13. Hanoi abounds with French colonial architecture
Hanoi is home to many examples of glorious French colonial architecture in the form of monuments, cafes, churches and more. Catholicism, a faith brought to Vietnam by the French, is still practiced by six million Vietnamese.
Consequently, the influence of French colonial rule was undoubtedly enormous and today you can see these chapters of Hanoi's history in the local magnificent architecture. The Hanoi Opera House, St. Joseph's Cathedral, the Presidential Palace, Long Bien Bridge and the National Museum of Vietnamese History are just some of the many buildings in which you will find French architectural influence. These are also some of the most popular tourist spots in Hanoi.
Here are some of the most interesting facts about Hanoi, the famous capital of Vietnam. What are you waiting for? Pack your bags and head to this city full of rich history, culture, incredible food, nightlife, and other great things.