Hanoi is Vietnam’s capital city located by the banks of the Red River. It’s a city in Northern Vietnam that’s the second largest in the country by population and served as the capital of French Indochina from 1902-1954, before becoming the capital of a reunified Vietnam after the North’s victory in the Vietnam War. To date, Hanoi still emanates with remnants of the French rule through its centuries-old gothic churches, French colonial buildings and opera houses. But it also exudes with traditional Vietnamese flair, making it one of the most exciting cities in the country. As it is the capital of the country, most airlines from several countries fly to Hanoi directly. While Hanoi is often considered as just a jumping-off point to other popular destinations in Northern Vietnam like Halong Bay, Sapa and Ninh Binh, it too has its own attraction and character to flaunt.
Noi Bai International Airport is the biggest airport in northern Vietnam and serves the capital city of Hanoi. The airport is located 45 kilometers from the city center. The airport is currently the main hub of the country's flag carrier Vietnam Airlines, as well as a major hub of low-cost carriers Vietjet Air and Jetstar Pacific. A number of other Vietnamese and international airlines operate from Hanoi Noi Bai Airport, including Vietnam Airlines, Pacific Airlines, AirAsia, Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong Airlines, Thai Airways, Lao Airlines and Tiger Airways. There are direct flights from Singapore to Hanoi provided by Vietjet Air, Scoot, SilkAir, Singapore Airlines and Vietnam Airlines. Direct flights will take approximately 3 hours and 35 minutes.
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Although Vietnam generally experiences a tropical climate, Hanoi city experiences 4 seasons: Winter (November to January), spring (February to April), summer (May to August), and autumn (September to October). Hanoi during the winter can be cold, cloudy and foggy. Travelers will also experience plenty of rain when visiting during this season. When it rains, the roads are slippery, making it difficult for travelers to travel between Hanoi attractions. Spring would be an ideal month to visit due to the mild weather. Spring in Hanoi usually starts in February and ends in April. As this kind of weather is suitable for the plants to grow and flowers to blossom, spring will be the best time for tourists to witness the vitality of tropical nature. Spring is also the time for Tet holiday- the most essential and longest Vietnamese festival of the year. Travelers, however, are advised to avoid visiting Hanoi during the Tet Holiday, or Lunar New Year which is the most importation celebration in Vietnam. It’s time for people gathering and spending quality time with their family at home, so lots of places are closed including restaurants, government sites, companies, etc. Therefore, you cannot do much if you visit Hanoi on the 1st or 2nd day of Tet. Prices also tend to soar during this period.
1. Imperial Citadel of Thang Long -The Imperial Citadel of Thang Long was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010. Also known as the Hanoi Citadel, many artifacts and items dating back to between the 6th and 20th centuries were excavated in 2004, including foundations of old palaces, ancient roads, ponds and wells. On top of these discoveries, archaeologists also found bronze coins, ceramics and pottery from China and many places in Asia, all of which demonstrate a close trading relationship in the area. Located in Ba Dinh District, entrance to the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long is priced at VND 30,000 (about SGD1.80) and it is open from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm daily except Mondays. This prominent site is also within a 15-minute walk from attractions such as Quan Thanh Temple, Vietnam Military History Museum and Cua Bac Church.
2. Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre -The world-famous Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre in Hanoi has its roots in an art form that dates back to the 11th century. The tradition of water puppet theatre stems from a time when rice paddy fields were flooded and villagers would make entertainment by standing in the waist-deep water with the puppets performing over the water. Using large rods to support the puppets it appeared as if they were moving across the water with the puppeteers hidden behind a screen. Performances are accompanied by a Vietnamese orchestra playing traditional music using drums, wooden bells, horns, bamboo flutes and cymbals. There are also authentic Vietnamese operatic songs telling the story that is being acted out by the puppets. Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Hanoi with tickets selling out well in advance, so it's worth booking yours as soon as you arrive in town. Aside from the general admission fee of VND 100,000 (about SGD6), there's an additional camera or video fee if you wish to photograph or film the show. There are performances daily at 3:00, 4:10, 5:20, 6:30 and 8:00pm.
3. Hoan Kiem Lake & Ngoc Son Temple -Hoan Kiem Lake surrounds Ngoc Son Temple, a pagoda sitting in the centre on a small island. The temple attracted many visitors and was built in commemoration of the 13th-century military leader Tran Hung Dao who was renowned for his bravery in the battle against the Yuan Dynasty. Homage is also paid to scholar Van Xuong and Confucian master Nguyen Van Sieu. The island on which the temple is built is known as Jade Island and is accessible by the iconic Huc Bridge or Rising Sun Bridge which is a charming scarlet-painted wooden bridge of classical Vietnamese design. The pagoda is also guarded by two towering posts decorated with Chinese writing. The lake and temple are probably the most famous places in Hanoi city in which to rest and enjoy the view and are great places to sit back and watch the locals.