Warning: The Hanoi facts you’re about to read bellow may lead to a severe case of wanderlust. Read with extreme caution!
Ahhh Hanoi! The legendary Vietnamese city that combines pure Soviet communism with traditional Chinese religion to create a mayhem of a city. In this post, I gathered all the interesting info I could find and combined it with 20 of my favorite Hanoi photos in an attempt to show you the exotic colors of this unique capital.
The 10 Hanoi Facts
1. Hanoi Used to be a Dragon
The current name of the city – Ha Noi translated from Vietnamese means “City inside rivers”. That descriptive name is not a surprise since there are plenty of rivers (and lakes) around the city. The old name of Hanoi though was Thang Long which can translate as “Ascending Dragon“! The most bad-ass name of a city you can have!
Other ancient names include Long Biên (龍邊, “Dragon edge”), Tống Bình (宋平, “Song peace”) and Long Đỗ (龍肚, “Dragon belly“) Too bad they changed it to the boring river thingy.
2. Hanoi is old
Hanoi is old. Like really really old! In 2010 Vietnamese celebrated the 1000th birthday of their capital! ( here’s one of the funniest Hanoi facts – the government tried to bring tourist to the city to celebrate the birthday but the promotion they launch was only for the flights going out of the country…)
Researches show the area was inhabited since at least 3000 BC.
3. Hanoi’s Traffic is on the Next Level
The traffic in Hanoi is hard to believe even if you’ve already seen it. It’s complete and utter chaos! The 7million citizens own a staggering amount of 5 million motorbikes! Let me repeat that – 5…million…motorbikes! And on top of that, the traffic is like a river that never stops making crossing the street a daredevil worthy experience.
The government already have plans to ban the motorbikes by 2030. I’m not sure they can pull it off tho since the locals are extremly attached to their bikes.
4. Narrow tax
Time for some architecture Hanoi Facts. The capital of Vietnam is one of the most picturesque cities I’ve been to. A big part of its picturesqueness is owned to the Old Quarter with its narrow buildings and pastel colors.
But do you know what’s the reason behind that signature look?
A curious Hanoi fact is that you pay tax, not on the size of your house but on its wide. So, naturally, Vietnamese started building their homes long and narrow, saving money in the process and giving their capital the signature look it has today.
To explore the Old Quarter of Hanoi is one of the 1700+ ideas I have on my bucket list.
See what else is on it!
5. French Connection
Speaking of architecture, one of the first things in Hanoi that made my jaw drop was the St.Joseph’s Cathedral. A giant French cathedral right in the middle city, surrounded by thousands of motorbikes and Asian street food vendors.
It felt ridiculously out of place!
It turned out, Hanoi was conquered by France in 1873, and for more than 60 years, was the administrative center of the colony of French Indochina. The French left their mark all over the city of course, and today you can see their colonial architecture all around town with the most prominent buildings been the Hanoi Opera House, St.Joseph’s Cathedral, the Presidential Palace, Long Bien Bridge and the National Museum of Vietnamese History.
6. No Eiffel in Hanoi
One of the abovementioned French colonial buildings – the Long Bien bridge is also a source to one of the biggest misbeliefs in Hanoi. Due to the similar styles of the bridge and the Eiffel tower, a lot of people believe Gustav Eifel is the engineer behind the Long Bien Bridge. The truth, however, is that the oldest bridge in the country, while being an incredible engineering achievement just like the Eifel Tower, has nothing to do with Gustav Eifel himself. It was designed by Daydé & Pillé of Paris and opened in 1903.
7. Choo – Choo in Your Backyard
Speaking of Hanoi’s architecture, I can’t miss the most famous street in town – Train Street. Can you imagine having the train pass just a meter away from your front door? It’s hard even to imagine it, but this is the reality people on Train Street live in. And while this used to be the houses for the poorest inhabitants of the city, today this curious street had become a prime tourist attraction, and everybody who lives there owns a train-themed coffee shop. It’s an odd thing how something as horrible as living on Train Street can turn out to be a good thing in the end.
Read More: How to Find the Best Halong Bay Cruise
8. Street Food Indeed
Hanoi street can be qualified as having the most authentic street food in the world.
What do I mean?
In the Vietnamese capital, the street chefs cook their dishes right there on the street. No kidding. They cut out chickens, peel onions, stir their caldrons right on the sidewalk, sitting on a small blue plastic chair. And if you buy something, they have one of these tiny blue chairs for you too so that you can enjoy your street food how it’s meant to be – right there on the street!
9. Do you want some egg in your coffee,sir?
Do you like your coffee with milk?
Well in Vietnam there are not that big on the milk, so instead of coffee with milk, they have coffee with egg. Yup, you read that correctly, they put a raw egg (and some cheese) in the coffee! It was invented in 1946 during the French war due to a shortage of milk and remained as a trademark Hanoi drink to this day. It sounds a bit gross, but in reality, it is quite delicious!
10. Beer Time
Ahh so you made it to number 10 (yay!), and your wanderlust should already be awakened (or at least parts of it). As a reward, I saved the best of my Hanoi facts for last.
The cheapest beer in the world is right here in Hanoi! Named Bia Hoi, that particular kind of beer costs less than 10000 VND (0.45 USD). And while you would expect something that cheap to taste awful, Bia Hoi is not bad at all. Not the best in the world but absolutely drinkable with soft mild taste and 4% alcohol.
And if this daily dose of curious Hanoi Facts was not enough to make you jump on the plane to Vietnam, here are 20 of my favorite Hanoi photos!
The 20 Hanoi Photos
That’s all from me, I hope you enjoyed my Hanoi Facts and Photos!
If you haven’t planned your trip there yet, find out how I plan my trips!
I have 12 bucket list ideas for Vietnam. See my impossible bucket list of 1700+ adventures
Is Hanoi on your Bucket list too?