The capital of Vietnam is a city of lakes and tree-lined boulevards. Although the transition to a market economy was perhaps most resisted in Hanoi, it's now well under way, and the city is as vibrant as its more well trodden southern counterpart.
Hanoi was founded around 1010 AD, shortly after the Vietnamese had attained independence from nearly 1,000 years of Chinese domination. The city was founded by Emperor Ly Thai Tho, who built a citadel and a surrounding walled city just northwest of the current Old Quarter. Hanoi served as Vietnam's capital until the Emperor Gia Long decided to move the capital to Hue in the nineteenth century. In 1902, the French made Hanoi the capital of French Indochina and the Viet Minh declared the city the capital of independent Vietnam in 1945.
While much damage had been done to the city during the American War, much of it has been repaired. The city still retains a number of sites dating back nearly to its founding, as well as architectural treasures from the French occupation.
See my Hanoi map for an orientation to the sights and attractions of Hanoi. In this guide, you'll also find suggestions on where to stay, and possible day trips in and around the city.