Hanoi is the capital city of Vietnam and is a very popular destination for international travelers. Usually, people either start their trip there or end it. Either way, it’s a fantastic city that’s worth visiting. But before going there, let’s delve deeper into some fun facts about Hanoi.
The houses are narrow in order to avoid taxes
This might sound bizarre but the property tax in Vietnam is actually based on the width of the building. Therefore, the houses are very narrow in order to avoid paying a lot of taxes. The taxation law was first introduced by the French in the 19th century, when they colonized Vietnam.
You will encounter dog meat
Unfortunately, what they say is true – dog meat can be found in Vietnam. It’s pretty common in the northern parts of Vietnam such as in Hanoi, but you won’t really find it in the south. This might sound terrible to you, but do bare in mind that there’s a difference in culture and what might seem strange and unethical to you, is deemed okay for others.
The famous Ho Chi Minh mausoleum is in Hanoi
The beloved revolutionary leader of Vietnam Ho Chi Minh was an important political figure in world history. He died in 1969 due to heart failure. When this happened, a team of scientists were flown into the country so that they could start the process of embalming. Officials had already planned his preservation. When the peace agreements were signed in 1975, the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum, where his body is rested, was initiated. Today, you can visit the mausoleum during opening hours and visit the final resting spot for the country’s beloved ‘Uncle Ho’.
Water Puppetry originates from the north
Vietnam’s best entertainment and traditionally significant show is the water puppet show in Hanoi. It dates back 1,000 years ago when it was introduced by the Ly Dynasty. Today, you can go to water puppet shows in Hanoi and learn more about the Vietnamese culture. One of the best, and most popular, puppetry shows in Hanoi is in Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre.
‘City of lakes’
The name Hanoi literally means ‘city inside rivers’. The capital city is built on lowlands between rivers. Some of the most popular lakes are West Lake, Hoan Kiem lake, Truc Bach lake, Ho Thien Quang Lake, Thu Le lake, Bay Mau lake, amongst others. West lake is a must when visiting Hanoi. It’s almost impossible to miss it, since it’s located in the city centre. If you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, you can always go to one of the calm and serene lakes.
Egg coffee originates from Hanoi
If you’ve never tried egg coffee, you have to. Egg coffee originates from Hanoi and there’s really no better city to try it than here. The man behind the now famous egg coffee opened up his own small café shop where both travelers and locals alike can enjoy this delicious drink. His café is called “Cafe Giảng” and has become a highly popular place. The egg coffee itself is more like a dessert than anything and consists of black coffee, condensed milk, sugar, whisked egg and other secret ingredients. It’s a must-try when in Hanoi!
The beer is the cheapest in the world
Want to drink beer the way locals do it? Head to the popular Bia Hoi junction and sit on a plastic stool while enjoying some of the cheapest beer in the world. For only 5,000 VND (USD 0.21) you can get a tall glass of beer. The junction is always buzzing with life. There’s also a few makeshift stalls that serves a variety of snacks, if you’re not in the mood to drink on an empty stomach.
There’s lots of old French colonial buildings left
Hanoi is perhaps the most famous city for its old and glorious French colonial architecture. You can find churches, monuments, cafes, and other types of stores that has French architecture. The time during the French colonization impacted the country and today you can see those chapters in the history of Hanoi, that is being told my these gorgeous buildings. St. Joseph’s Cathedral, The Hanoi Opera House, Long Bien Bridge, Presidential Palace and the National Museum of Vietnamese History are just amongst a few French colonial style buildings.
Amongst the cheapest cities
Hanoi was the cheapest city in the world in 2012, if you wanted to stay for a one night stay for two at a four-star hotel. It also included dinner, cocktails, a bottle of wine and a taxi ride. Nowadays, the prices has started to rise as more and more travelers are turning their eye to Hanoi and the country’s becoming wealthier. Still, Hanoi and the rest of Vietnam remains incredibly affordable so if you’ve ever wanted to travel but don’t feel like you have the means to – visit Vietnam!
Remember to apply for your Vietnam visa before entering the country. Most nationalities are required to do so but there are a few exceptions. If you’re one of those who needs a visa, you can get it either by applying online or going to the Vietnamese Embassy or Consulate and apply with them. The online visas are called ‘Visa on Arrival’ or ‘e-Visa’. Both of them have their pros and cons so read more about it before deciding which visa suits you best.