On your Hanoi travel, visiting the French Quarter Hanoi is a must-try experience to explore the city's history and culture. This area features elegant French architecture such as the Hanoi Opera House, St. Joseph's Cathedral, the Vietnam National Museum of History, etc., and tree-lined streets with many upscale boutiques and restaurants, making it a great spot for shopping and dining.
1. Overview of French Quarter Hanoi
In Hanoi, the French colonial era left a diverse and grand architectural legacy with numerous buildings constructed in different styles. The French Quarter in Hanoi was formed in the late 19th century as an attempt to blend Western lifestyle with Vietnamese culture and to create a specialized area for French governors and soldiers. Now, it has become a highly valuable heritage asset in Vietnam's capital city, attracting many locals and foreigners alike.
The French Quarter Hanoi spans approximately 800 hectares and serves as a bustling hub at the center of the city, situated southeast of Hoan Kiem Lake. A stroll along its streets reveals a plethora of yellow-painted houses with charming Parisian street style.
This area is often described as an outdoor exhibition of French architecture, with the most iconic constructions like St. Joseph's Cathedral, Hoa Lo Prison, and the Hanoi Opera House located in Hoan Kiem District. While some edifices in the Ba Dinh district have been repurposed for administrative functions, many private villas of colonial officers and businessmen have become embassies or representative offices of non-government organizations.
2. Difference between Hanoi Old Quarter and Hanoi French Quarter
While the French Quarter Hanoi and the Hanoi Old Quarter are located near each other, they are distinct areas of the city. As you may be confused, here are some differences between the two areas: The Old Quarter is mainly concentrated in the north and west of Hoan Kiem Lake, while the French Quarter in Hanoi is situated in the south and east.
Moreover, the spacious atmosphere and wider roads in the French Quarter Hanoi make traffic more convenient, and the buildings feature a blend of French and European medieval architecture. In contrast, the Old Quarter has a more Vietnamese feel, with ancient houses and traditional Vietnamese food. Both areas showcase Hanoi's blend of historic and modern architecture, creating a unique atmosphere that highlights the city's thousand-year-old civilization.
3. Famous tourist attractions in Hanoi French Quarter
Besides a variety of French restaurants and top-notch hotels in the French Quarter Hanoi, with its large acreage, there are a lot of stunning buildings to admire in this area, including:
3.1. Hanoi Opera House
- Location: No. 01 Trang Thi, Hoan Kiem District
- Opening Hours: 10:30 AM - 0:30 PM
- Ticket Price: Varies depending on the show, from VND 400,000 to VND 2,000,000. It can be a 50% discount for students
Among the many yellow-painted architectural wonders in the French Quarter Hanoi, the Hanoi Opera House stands out as one of the most captivating. It is not only the largest theater in Vietnam but also a significant historical and architectural landmark in the city. The neoclassical design of the Paris Opera House and classical Greek architecture heavily influenced the building's structure. However, its creamy and yellow exterior paints showcase the unique blend of Indochinese architecture.
Initially, the opera house hosted classical performances, and now it remains a popular venue for local Vietnamese music shows, traditional folk music shows, concerts, press conferences, and national meetings.
3.2. Hoa Lo Prison
- Location: No. 01 Hoa Lo, Hoan Kiem District
- Opening Hours: 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM for general visits. As for some special night shows every month, the operating hours will be different.
- Ticket Price:
- VND 30,000 for adults
- VND 15,000 for students (student card required) and the elderly (ID cards required)
- Free for children under 15 years old and some other priority groups
Hoa Lo Prison, also known as "Hell on Earth," is a popular tourist attraction in the French Quarter Hanoi that serves as a reminder of the fierce struggle by Vietnamese people and the turbulent era of Vietnam’s history. The prison was built by French colonizers in 1886 and was used to imprison hundreds, if not thousands, of Vietnamese revolutionaries and American prisoners of war during the Second Indochina War.
Today, the prison has been transformed into a tourist site to provide visitors and students with a glimpse of Vietnamese history. As you enter, you may experience goosebumps as the pictures, artifacts, and exhibits of whips, shackles, and other instruments of torture vividly convey the brutality and violence of this prison.
3.3. St. Joseph's Cathedral
- Location: No. 40 Nha Chung, Hoan Kiem District
- Opening Hours: All time for visiting outside and during ceremony hours for visiting inside
- Ticket Price: Free
St. Joseph’s Cathedral - a prominent structure in the French Quarter in Hanoi, is the oldest church in Hanoi and the first French colonial construction in Indochina. It is a magnificent neo-Gothic building that draws inspiration from Paris Notre Dame. It features striking stained-glass windows, pointed arches, and hollow spaces. The church's two 31.5-meter bell towers are a standout feature, along with a stone cross atop the church and a metal statue of Mother Maria in the garden.
St. Joseph’s Cathedral is a popular destination for tourists, photographers, and devout churchgoers in the French Quarter Hanoi. The best time to visit St. Joseph’s Cathedral is during the weekend when the Catholic ceremony takes place. Catholics residing in Hanoi come together in large numbers to partake in this ceremony, which includes baptisms and ablutions. After your visit, you can explore the nearby street food and drink options to indulge in local cuisine.
3.4. Vietnam National Museum of History
- No. 216 Tran Quang Khai, Hoan Kiem District
- No. 01 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem District
- Opening Hours: Daily, 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
- Ticket Price:
- VND 40,000 for adults
- VND 20,000 for those who are over 60 years old, veterans, or people with disabilities
- Free for children under 6 years old
Vietnam National Museum of History is another impressive building in the Hanoi French Quarter, offering a vivid historical account of Vietnam's history. There are two addresses for the Vietnam History Museum that you can visit and explore. The facade of the museum at No. 01 Trang Tien features an Asian-European architectural blend, while that of the museum at No. 216 Tran Quang Khai showcases a signature Vietnamese design.
At No. 01 Trang Tien, the museum showcases a long history, from prehistory to the end of the Nguyen Dynasty (1945). The museum's collection includes almost 7,000 ancient artifacts that showcase the rich cultural heritage of Vietnam, including Champa sculptures, ancient ceramics, and bronze items from the Ly and Nguyen dynasties. In addition, visitors can explore the complete collection of Oc Eo - Phu Nam cultural relics, as well as works created by Indochina Fine Arts students during the French colonial period.
If you want to learn about Vietnam from the mid-19th century to the present, head to the museum at no. 216 Tran Quang Khai Street, where you can access the heroic history of Vietnam from 1858 to 1975 and the lives of those who fought, worked during war times, and prepared for the country's development after the war. You can also find more than 100 original artifacts that were gifted to President Ho Chi Minh by local and global citizens as well as several large-sized objects with typical historical values.
3.5. Vietnamese Women's Museum
- Location: No. 36 Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiem District
- Opening Hours: Every day, 8:00 AM - 4:30 PM
- Ticket Price:
- VND 40,000 for adults
- VND 20,000 for college students and members of the Vietnamese Women's Union
- VND 10,000 for people under 18 years old
Unlike the characteristic yellow buildings in the French Quarter in Hanoi, the Vietnamese Women’s Museum provides visitors with an opportunity to explore the significance of women in Vietnam's cultural and historical legacy, providing a comprehensive view of the life and beauty of Vietnamese women from historical times to the present day.
The museum is a community repository of the history of Vietnamese women from the country's 54 ethnic groups, with a vast collection of artifacts, photographs, and exhibits. From the hardships faced during the war to the modern-day challenges faced by women, the museum celebrates the contributions of women to Vietnamese society, culture, and history.
In addition to various attractions in the French Quarter Hanoi, the Vietnam capital is also home to a plethora of breathtaking landmarks, cultural and historical sites, and entertainment complexes.
If you want to spend time with families exploring a more colorful and exciting image of Hanoi, one recommended spot is VinKE & Vinpearl Aquarium. Vinpearl Aquarium Times City is among the first and largest aquariums in Vietnam, with over 30,000 marine creatures, including rare and hard-to-find freshwater fish, saltwater fish, and reptiles. Here, you and your family can enjoy a variety of shows featuring mermaids and fish. Meanwhile, VinKE is an indoor playground that provides a unique "play and learn" experience for children to explore their career aspirations. It offers children the opportunity to try out various real-life jobs and gain confidence in their abilities.
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Besides Hanoi with its signature French Quarter Hanoi, Hoi An, Da Nang, Nha Trang, Phu Quoc, and Ha Long are among the most popular tourist destinations in Vietnam. For an exceptional stay in these popular tourist destinations, you can opt for Vinpearl Hotels and Resorts, which are among the most reputable names in the hospitality industry. Vinpearl has a presence across the country and provides a wide range of premium services, including hotels, resorts, spas, shopping malls, swimming pools, restaurants, conference centers, and entertainment complexes.
The French Quarter Hanoi is a fascinating destination that provides a glimpse into the city's rich cultural and historical heritage. With its unique blend of Asian and European architecture, iconic landmarks, museums, and galleries, it is a must-visit for anyone exploring Hanoi. Whether you're a history buff, an architecture enthusiast, or simply seeking a taste of Hanoi's vibrant culture, the French Quarter Hanoi is sure to leave a lasting impression on your trip.