Hanoi General Information

Hanoi Capital City
Central city: Hanoi
Founded: Capital of the Đai Viet 1010. Capital of S.R Vietnam September 2, 1945
Area: Municipality 3,358.60 km²
Population: 8,053,663 (2019 Census)
Density: 2,398/km²
Calling code: 24
Website: hanoi.gov.vn

Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam and the country’s second-largest city. Its population in 2009 was estimated at 2.6 million for urban districts, 6.5 million for the metropolitan jurisdiction. From 1010 until 1802, it was the most important political centre of Vietnam. It was eclipsed by Hue, the imperial capital of Vietnam during the Nguyen dynasty (1802-1945), but Hanoi served as the capital of French Indochina from 1902 to 1954. From 1954 to 1976, it was the capital of North Viet Nam, and it became the capital of a reunified Vietnam in 1976, after the North’s victory in the Vietnam war.

The city is located on the right bank of the Red River. Hanoi is located at 1,760 km (1,090 mi) north of Ho Chi Minh City and at 120 km (75 mi) west of Hai Phong city.

October 2010 officially marked 1000 years since the establishment of the city.


Hanoi has had many names throughout history, all of them of Sino-Vietnamese origin. During the Chinese domination of Vietnam, it was known first as Long Biên, then Tong Bình (Song Peace) and Long Đo (Dragonbelly). In 866, it was turned into a citadel and named Đai La (Big Net).



Hanoi has been inhabited since at least 3000 BC. One of the first known permanent settlements is the Co Loa citadel founded around 200 BC.

In 1010, Ly Thai To, the first ruler of the Lý Dynasty, moved the capital of Đai Viet to the site of the Đai La Citadel. Claiming to have seen a dragon ascending the Red River, he renamed the site Thăng Long (Soaring Dragon) – a name still used poetically to this day. Thăng Long remained the capital of Đai Viet until 1397, when it was moved to Thanh Hóa, then known as Tây Đô (the Western Capital). Thăng Long then became Đông Đô (the Eastern Capital).

In 1408, the Chinese Ming Dynasty attacked and occupied Vietnam, changing Đông Đô’s name to “Eastern Gateway”, Đông Quan in Vietnamese. In 1428, the Vietnamese overthrew the Chinese under the leadership of Lê Loi, who later founded the Lê Dynasty and renamed Đông Quan Đông Kinh (Eastern Capital) or Tonkin. Right after the end of the Tây Son Dynasty, it was named Bac Thành (Northern Citadel).

During Nguyen Dynasty and French colonial

In 1802, when the Nguyen Dynasty was established and moved the capital to Hue, the old name Thăng Long was modified to become Thăng Long (Ascending & Flourishing). In 1831, the Nguyen Emperor Minh Mang renamed it Hà Noi (Between Rivers or River Interior). Hanoi was occupied by the French in 1873 and passed to them ten years later. As Hanoï, it became the capital of French Indochina after 1887.

During two wars

The city was occupied by the Japanese in 1940 and liberated in 1945 when it briefly became the seat of the Viet Minh government after Ho Chi Minh proclaimed the independence of Vietnam. However, the French returned and reoccupied the city in 1946. After nine years of fighting between the French and Viet Minh forces, Hanoi became the capital of an independent North Vietnam in 1954.

During the Vietnam War, Hanoi’s transportation facilities were disrupted by the bombing of bridges and railways. These were all, however, promptly repaired. Following the end of the war, Hanoi became the capital of a reunified Vietnam when North and South Vietnam were reunited on July 2, 1976.

Modern Hanoi

On May 29, 2008, it was decided that Ha Tay Province, Vinh Phúc’s Mê Linh district, and 4 communes of Luong Son District, Hoa Binh be merged into the metropolitan area of Hanoi from August 1, 2008. Hanoi’s total area then increased to 334,470 hectares in 29 subdivisions with the new population being 6,232,940., effectively tripling its size. The Hanoi Capital Region (Vùng Thu đô Hà Noi), a metropolitan area covering Hanoi and 6 surrounding provinces under its administration, will have an area of 13,436 square kilometres with a population of 15 million by 2020

Offroad Vietnam Motorbike Adventures - Hanoi Capital City, Northern Vietnam



Hanoi features a warm humid subtropical climate (Köppen Cwa) with plentiful precipitation. The city experiences the typical climate of northern Vietnam, where summers are hot and humid, and winters are, by national standards, relatively cold and dry. Summers, lasting from May to September, are hot and humid, receiving the majority of the annual 1,680 millimetres (66.1 in) of rainfall. The winters, lasting from November to March, are relatively mild, dry (in the first half) or humid (in the second half), while spring (April) can bring light rains. It is important to note that particularly around the Halong Bay region in these months, it can get particularly cold. Autumn (October) is the best time of year in term of weather. The city is usually cloudy and foggy in the wintertime with average monthly sunshine hours for February are only 1.8 h/day.

Extreme temperatures have ranged from 2.7 °C (36.9 °F) to 40.4 °C (105 °F).

Old Quarter

The Old Quarter, near Hoan Kiem lake, has the original street layout and architecture of old Hanoi. At the beginning of the 20th century, the city consisted of only about 36 streets, most of which are now part of the old quarter. Each street then had merchants and households specialized in a particular trade, such as silk traders, jewellery, etc. The street names nowadays still reflect these specializations, although few of them remain exclusively in their original commerce. The area is famous for its small artisans and merchants, including many silk shops. Local cuisine specialties, as well as several clubs and bars, can be found here also. A night market (near Dong Xuân market) in the heart of the district opens for business every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evening with a variety of clothing, souvenirs, and food.

Some other prominent places are The Temple of Literature (Văn Mieu), the site of the oldest university in Vietnam 1010; One Pillar Pagoda (Chùa Mot Cot); Flag Tower of Hanoi (Cot co Hà Noi). In 2004, a massive part of the 900-year-old Hanoi Citadel was discovered in central Hanoi, near the site of Ba Dinh Square.


A city between the rivers, built from lowland, Hanoi has many scenic lakes and it is sometimes called a “city of lakes”. Among its lakes, the most famous are Hoan Kiem Lake, West Lake, Halais Lake (Ho Then Quang in Vietnamese), and Bay Mau Lake. Hoan Kiem Lake, also known as Sword Lake, is the historical and cultural centre of Hanoi and is linked to the legend of the magic sword. West Lake (Ho Tây) is a popular place for people to spend time. It is the largest lake in Hanoi and there are many temples in the area. There are swan boats for hire. The lakeside road in Quang An area is perfect for bicycling, jogging, and viewing the cityscape especially in the sunset or enjoying lotus ponds in the summer


Hanoi’s population is constantly growing (about 3.5% per year), a reflection of the fact that the city is both a major metropolitan area of Northern Vietnam and also the country’s political centre. This population growth also puts a lot of pressure on the infrastructure, some of which is antiquated and dates back from the early 20th century.>

The number of Hanoians who settled down for more than three generations is likely to be very small as compared to the overall population of the city. Even in the Old Quarter, where commerce started hundreds of years ago and was mostly a family business, many of the street-front stores nowadays are owned by merchants and retailers from other provinces. The original owner’s family may have either rented out the store and moved to live further inside the house, or just moved out of the neighbourhood altogether. The pace of change has especially escalated after the abandonment of central-planning economic policies and the relaxing of the district-based household registrar system.

Hanoi’s telephone numbers have been increased to 8 digits to cope with demand (October 2008). Subscribers’ telephone numbers have been changed in a haphazard way; however, mobile phones and SIM cards are readily available in Vietnam, with pre-paid mobile phone credit available in all areas of Hanoi.

Hanoi Districts

Hanoi has 10 inner districts, 1 town, and 18 outer districts. ( Hà Đông has been transforming to an inner district, and Son Tây has been degraded to a town)

Ha Noi is divided into 12 urban districts, 1 district-level town, and 17 rural districts. When Ha Tay was merged into Hanoi in 2008, Ha Dong was transformed into an urban district while Son Tay degraded to a district-level town. They are further subdivided into 22 commune-level towns (or townlets), 399 communes, and 145 wards.

12 urban districts

Ba Dinh
Bac Tu Liêm
Cau Giay
Dong Da
Hai Bà Trung
Hà Dong
Hoàn Kiem
Hoàng Mai
Long Bien
Nam Tu Liem
Tây Ho
Thanh Xuân

1 town

Son Tây

17 rural districts

Ba Vì
Chuong My
Dan Phuong
Dông Anh
Gia Lâm
Hoài Duc
Mê Linh
My Duc
Phú Xuyên
Phúc Tho
Quoc Oai
Sóc Son
Thanh Trì
Thanh Oai
Thach That
Thuong Tín
Ung Hòa

For more details about other provinces and cities of Vietnam, please follow this link.

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