Teeming with culture, history, great restaurants and nightlife, Hanoi offers a fantastic introduction to Vietnam. High-rise buildings are rare in this city which is striving to retain its character. Instead, grand colonial buildings, tranquil lakes and a maze of narrow streets provide the intriguing contrasts.
Hanoi is an elegant city located on the banks of the Red River with tranquil Hoan Kiem Lake at its heart. North of the lake are the bustling streets of the Old Quarter, each street named after the trade that used to take place there.
Following years of rampant inflation, poverty and repression, the government introduced economic reform or doi moi in 1986, allowing people to own their own businesses. Now Hanoi has been totally transformed and visitors are entranced by the city and its residents.
The wide boulevards and large colonial buildings reflect Hanoi’s period as a French Protectorate, whilst other areas are truly Vietnamese with a muddle of narrow streets which bustle from dawn to dusk.