Hanoi, capital of Vietnam is well known for its architecture and rich culture with south-eastern, Chinese and French influences. Apart from the pastries and wine obviously, these cultures are all mixed and found only in limited places. Hanoi is one of them and visiting these sites is a treat for the eyes.
During the colonization in 1887-1954, the French brought this beauty of these Colonial Sites which carries the charm of Hanoi in Vietnam. The French colonists built a large number of buildings and other monuments with the help of skilled French architects.
There are number of Colonial Sites made by French which excels the architecture of French influences and intensifies the beauty of the Capital. It includes Church, Prison, Hotel, Palace and lot of other sites. If you really are a traveler who wants to experience the rich history of the place you plan to visit, then it’s gold.
Here is the list of 9 best Colonial Sites in Hanoi which one should visit in order to know about the culture and various types of architecture by some of the famous architects.
1. Saint Joseph Cathedral
Inspired by design of Notre dame in Paris, the construction of this site began in December1886 during the colonization of French. The main idea was to encourage the Vietnamese people to take up the faith in Catholicism. Hence, it is the oldest church in Hanoi and currently the dream background for a lot of newly wedded couples.
It was made with the typical neo-Gothic European style. Lots of windows, large chiming bells, high walls, and dome are some of the characteristics. The best time to visit this place is near Christmas when the church is lighted up and lots of people come to pray and have peace.
Address: 40 Nhà Chung, Hàng Trống, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội 100000, Vietnam.
Opening Hours: For outside: Anytime
For Inside: Only during ceremonial practices.
Weekday: It happens at 5:30 am, 6:15pm.
Saturday: only at 6 pm.
Sunday: It happens at 7 am, 9 am, 11 am, 4 pm, 6 pm, and 8 pm.
2. Hanoi Grand Opera House
The French wanted to make a small version of Paris in Hanoi. The Hanoi grand opera house is the smaller version of Palais opera Garnier in Paris. This huge opera house’s construction started in 1901 and ended in 1911.
You just cannot miss this beauty painted in yellow and white classical colours and portraying architectural skills of French. The renaissance-style oval theatre setting still hosts some of the wide variety of performances from cultural bands to National Ballet and National Opera.
There are many traditional or local events going on in this opera house which has a seating capacity of 598 visitors. The tickets can range from 100,000 VND to 200,000 VND and 2 million VND for VIP seats.
Address: 01 Tràng Tiền, Phan Chu Trinh, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội 100000, Vietnam.
3. Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi Hotel
The oldest and also the first 5-star hotel in Hanoi was constructed in 1901 by two French investors Andre Ducamp and Gustave-Emile Dumoutier. It’s a short walk from the Opera House and you will see the magnificent beauty of this hotel covered in white and green.
It has played host to variety of international stars and politicians such as Charlie Chaplin, George Bush etc. If you are planning to have a good stay in Hanoi, then this place is heaven for travellers.
Address: 15 Phố Ngô Quyền, Tràng Tiền, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội 010000, Vietnam
Price: The average price of a room in this hotel is somewhere between 6 million to 7 million VND.
4. Hang Dau Booth
These water towers were built to provide water to citizens as well as the soldiers in the old quarter. The French made two booths in 1894 named Hang Dau Booth and Don Thuy. Since 1954, Hang Dau Boothis the tourist spot for visitors which resembles the history of the city.
It is in the shape of cylinder with 19 metre diameter and 25 metre height. From inside, there are some walls and doors. The main attractions here are the local shops and cafes around it on the streets.
Address: Hang Dau Booth is located on the intersection of Hang Dau, Hang Than, Phan Dinh Phung, Hang kot and Hang Giay.
5. Long Bien Bridge
This breath taking bridge is not colourful but rusty. The rusty bridge on the notorious red sea in Hanoi is the place to make a lonely visit. People park their vehicles and watch the sunset from the bridge and flow of the river. Sometimes the train passes through it and visitors can feel the vibration on bridge as it’s old enough.
The construction of this bridge started in 1899 and ended on 1902 and was named ‘Doumer’ after an Indochina President Paul Doumer. It was the first bridge across the red sea. The total length of this bridge is 1680 metre. Remember to go only on the left side of the bridge.
You can reach there by renting a bike and it’s just 1 km from old quarters.
6. National Museum of Vietnamese History
If visiting Vietnam ever, it will be an urge for you to learn about the history of Vietnam. The National Museum of Vietnamese History is the place where you can know about the history of Vietnam and also the colonial period. The wide variety of historical information can boggle anyone.
Earnest Hebrard was a French architecture who took up the responsibility of Indochina architecture and town planning service in 1923. The construction of this museum ended in 1932. The exhibition in the museum ranges from 30,000 to 40,000 years until today.
Address: 214 Trần Quang Khải, Tràng Tiền, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội 110000, Vietnam.
Entry fee: The entry fee is 15,000 VND for visit and 40,000 VND if you want to do photography also.
7. Presidential House
It was originally the palace of governor general of Indochina. The mustard yellow color and fresh looks, the Presidential House looks surreal even from the distance. It was home to the stilt house in which Ho Chi Minh lived throughout his presidency.
The construction of this House started in 1900 and ended in 1906. Although, it was home to the French Governor-General of Indochina, the building has an Italian Renaissance design.
This place is not open for visitors but the Ho Chi Minh stilt house and mausoleum are very popular and must visit spots for tourists.
Address: Số 2 Hùng Vương, Ngọc Hồ, Ba Đình, Hà Nội 118708, Vietnam.
Opening Hours: It is open daily from 7:30 am to 4:00 pm and closed between 11:00 am to 1:30 pm.
Entry fee: The entry fee to the ground is 25,000 VND.
8. Hoa Lo Prison
Hoa Lo Prison was initiated by the French colonists in 1896 and it was called ‘Central Prison’. It was built for the Vietnamese patriots, protestors and politicians during the colonial rule. Many cruel methods were taken into account by the French colonists in order to break the will of Vietnamese prisoners.
Apart from the entire trauma went inside it once, Hoa Lo Prison is now a tourist spot. The visitors can know about the strength and bravery of Vietnamese during the French colonial rule which they used in order to get rid of them.
There are different rooms made and each rooms describes different piece of history regarding the Vietnamese patriots and culture.
Address: 1 phố Hoả Lò, Trần Hưng Đạo, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội 100000, Vietnam.
Entry fee: The entrance fee in the prison is 20,000 VND and there will be a brochure provided after the payment.
Opening Hours: It is open every day from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm.
9. Cua Bac Church
Cua Bac Church is a roman catholic church in Hanoi. The church was built in 1932 by the French architect Earnest Hebrard. The church is also known as ‘Church of Martyrs’.
This church is a bit different as compared to other churches made in the same era as it has an asymmetrical structure. The beauty lies within its architecture that is inspired by the Vietnam-European design.
Address: 56 Phan Đình Phùng, Quán Thánh, Ba Đình, Hà Nội 118809, Vietnam.
Opening Hours: The church is open from 5:30 am to 8:00 pm.
These are some of the colonial sites in Hanoi one should visit if he/she is having a keen interest in history of any place. Along with that, it describes the culture, tradition followed by the French colonists during the colonization.