Hanoi, also spelled Ha Noi, city, capital of Vietnam. The city is situated in northern Vietnam on the western bank of the Red River, about 85 miles (140 km) inland from the South China Sea. In addition to being the national capital, Hanoi is also a province-level municipality (thanh pho), administered by the central government. Area mun., 1,205 square miles (3,120 square km). Pop. (1999) city, 1,523,936; mun., 5,053,654; (2009) city, 2,316,722; mun., 6,451,909; (2014 est.) city, 3,292,000.
The region around present-day Hanoi was settled in prehistoric times, and the location was often chosen as a political centre by Chinese conquerors. In 1010 Ly Thai To, the first ruler of the Ly dynasty (1009–1225) of Vietnam, chose the site of Hanoi—then called Thang Long (“Rising Dragon”)—for his capital. Thang Long remained the main capital of Vietnam until 1802, when the last Vietnamese dynasty, the Nguyen (1802–1945), transferred the capital south to Hue. The city occasionally was renamed for periods of time, and one of these names, Dong Kinh, given to it during the Later Le dynasty (1428–1787), became corrupted by Europeans to Tonquin. During the French colonial period (1883–1945) the name Tonkin was used to refer to the entire region. In 1831 the city was renamed Ha Noi (“Between Two Rivers”) by the Nguyen dynasty.
Under French rule, Hanoi again became an important administrative centre. In 1902 it was made the capital of French Indochina. This was largely because of Tonkin’s proximity to southern China, where the French sought to expand their influence, and because of Tonkin’s mineral resources. Hanoi remained the administrative centre during the Japanese occupation (1940–45) of the territory.
In August 1945, following the Japanese surrender, the Viet Minh under the leadership of Ho Chi Minh seized power in Hanoi, and the city was established as the capital of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. The French, however, reasserted their control over Hanoi from 1946 until their defeat at Dien Bien Phu on May 7, 1954. Shortly thereafter Hanoi became the capital of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam).
During the Vietnam War, the bombing of Hanoi by the United States in 1965, 1968, and 1972 caused massive damage. Following the collapse of South Vietnam on April 30, 1975, North Vietnam extended its control over all of Vietnam. On July 2, 1976, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam was proclaimed, and Hanoi was established as its capital. The city observed its 1,000th anniversary in early October 2010 by staging a number of events that culminated with a massive parade on October 10.
Since 1954 Hanoi has been transformed from a primarily commercial city into an industrial and agricultural centre. Manufactures include machine tools, electric generators and motors, plywood, textiles, chemicals, and matches. Rice, fruits and vegetables, cereals, and industrial crops are grown in the surrounding area.
Hanoi is also a communications centre. Roads link Hanoi with other major Vietnamese cities, and railway lines provide access to its port of Haiphong; to Kunming in Yunnan province, China; and to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). Small oceangoing vessels can sail to Hanoi on the Red River, and many small rivers are navigable from the capital to most parts of northern Vietnam. Hanoi has two airports.
Many of Hanoi’s centuries-old monuments and palaces have been destroyed by foreign aggression and civil war, but there remain several historical and scenic points. Among the latter is Lake Hoan Kiem (“Lake of the Restored Sword”). Historical sites include the Co Loa citadel, dating from the 3rd century BCE; the Temple of Literature (1070), dedicated to Confucius; the Mot Cot (“One-Pillar”) Pagoda (1049); and the Temple of the Trung Sisters (1142). In addition, the Central Sector of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, built in the 11th century, was designated in 2010 as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The University of Hanoi, the Revolutionary Museum, the Army Museum, and the National Museum are important cultural institutions.
The climate in Hanoi is typical of the Northern region with characteristics of humid subtropical climate, hot summers, heavy rain and cold winters, little rain in the early season and drizzle in the second half of the season. Located to the north of the tropical belt, the surrounding city receives abundant solar radiation and high temperatures. And due to the impact of the sea, Hanoi has quite a lot of humidity and rainfall, averaging 114 rainy days a year. A clear characteristic of Hanoi climate is the change and difference of two hot and cold seasons. The hot season lasts from May to September, accompanied by heavy rain, with an average temperature of 28.1 ° C. From November to March next year is winter with an average temperature of 18.6 ° C. During this period, the number of sunny days of the city is very low, the sky is often covered with clouds and dew, in February, the average day is only 1.8 hours of sunlight. Along with two transition periods in April (spring) and October (autumn), the city has four seasons of spring, summer, autumn and winter.
According to Mastercard’s 2019 report, Hanoi is Vietnam’s most visited city (15th in Asia Pacific), with 4.8 million overnight international visitors in 2018. Hanoi is sometimes dubbed the “Paris of the East” for its French influences. With its tree-fringed boulevards, more than two dozen lakes and thousands of French colonial-era buildings, Hanoi is a popular tourist destination.
The tourist destinations in Hanoi are generally grouped into two main areas: the Old Quarter and the French Quarter(s). The “Old Quarter” is in the northern half of Hoàn Kiếm District with small street blocks and alleys, and a traditional Vietnamese atmosphere. Many streets in the Old Quarter have names signifying the goods (“hàng”) the local merchants were or are specialized in. For example, “Hàng Bạc” (silver stores) still have many stores specializing in trading silver and jewelries.
Two areas are generally called the “French Quarters”: the governmental area in Ba Đình District and the south of Hoàn Kiếm District. Both areas have distinctive French Colonial style villas and broad tree-lined avenues. The political center of Vietnam, Ba Đình has a high concentration of Vietnamese government headquarters, including the Presidential Palace, the National Assembly and several ministries and embassies, most of which used administrative buildings of colonial French Indochina. The One Pillar Pagoda, the Lycée du Protectorat and the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum are also in Ba Dinh. South of Hoàn Kiếm’s “French Quarter” has several French-Colonial landmarks, including the Hanoi Opera House, the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi hotel, the National Museum of Vietnamese History (formerly the École française d’Extrême-Orient), and the St. Joseph’s Cathedral. Most of the French-Colonial buildings in Hoan Kiem are now used as foreign embassies.
Since 2014, Hanoi has consistently been voted in the world’s top ten destinations by TripAdvisor. It ranked 8th in 2014, 4th in 2015and 8th in 2016. Hanoi is the most affordable international destination in TripAdvisor’s annual TripIndex report. In 2017, Hanoi will welcome more than 5 million international tourists.