Travel & Leisure

Hanoi a neo colonial city

A country with a rich past and multiple cultures, Vietnam is a real kaleidoscope of colours and subtle shades. With its generous nature, it deploys breathtaking landscapes and a coastline with large beaches and intimate coves. Hanoi, a provincial city but full of charm, has preserved its neo-colonial appearance. Luxe Magazine wants to share its enthusiasm for this beautiful country.

Hanoi, an elegant and artistic city
Upon your arrival, the moist heat envelopes you. A great number of mopeds swarm around you like bees and produce deafening noises. With their printed helmets and long colourful gloves, these modern warriors go to the assault of the city. On the sidewalk one stall sells the famous "Pho" soup, another Vietnamese pancakes and the air is full of smells of grilled food and spices. Welcome to Hanoi, the elegant and artistic city of Vietnam, streched along the banks of the Song Hong (Red River). Its elegant downtown is wrapped around the Hoan Kiem Lake in the North, from where you enter the "old city", a place that attracts many tourists because of its energy. Also very popular is Ho Tay, the lake on the west side, with its large hotels and embassies.

Breathe, walk and enjoy
Under the guavas, a vermicelli vendor displays a mosaic of fruit. A bit further down women prepare pancakes while laughing children in school uniforms run to their school yards. To get a real feeling of the city you should go by foot to discover the town. If you have chosen the Intercontinental Hotel for your stay, you will find that’s ideally located to explore the city. Meanwhile it offers peace an tranquility, looking out over the Hoan KiemLake, after a day of city life full of noise and pollution. Ask for a room overlooking the Lake and go for a stroll along its shores before you go out to take your breakfast in one of the city cafés. At the corner of the street, vendors invite you to taste banh khoai (a thin rice flour pancake topped with shrimps, pork and soy sprouts) or the famous "Pho" soup on the basis of noodles with beef. Often much tastier than in the big hotels! Try street food, you will be pleasantly surprised. It’s great to see these open air kitchens with their boiling pots and kitchen utensils producing true Asian delights.

The Temple of literature, a hymn to Confucius
Then you need to go to the mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh, and lose yourself in this temple of literature, consisting of 5 well preserved courtyards in traditional architecture. Built in 1070 by Emperor Ly Thanh Tong, it was dedicated to Confucius, and to honour great writers and scholars. It has a pleasant garden, where you can escape the suffocating heat of the summer.
If you feel like it, direction the former prison Hoa Lo. Now a museum, this penitentiary built by French in 1896 used to serve as prison for American captives. In fairly sinister rooms they display various objects of torture like the guillotine which served to decapitate the Vietnamese revolutionaries as well as the irons that chained the prisoners to their beds.

At the end of the day, at sun set, the InterContinental offers a quiet retreat where the different pavilions seem to float on the Lake. In the halo of the Moon and the candles throwing their arabesque shades that guide you to the outdoor bar to take a last drink, nestled in the comfortable seats. Welcome to the Vietnam!

Janvier 2012

My opinion:
A country that demands some time. Plan at least ten days to visit not only Hanoi, but also the North and visit the Ha Long Bay. You can also combine it with a short trip to Laos and Cambodia. Vietnam Airlines is offering very interesting packages if you book your ticket from France.
The Intercontinental Hotel has the advantage of being a calm place compared to other hotels in the region. Whereas Le Métropole Hotel, is a mythical place and you should at least go there for lunch.

Airline flying to Vietnam: Vietnam Airlines
Vietnam Airlines connects the finest sites of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.
Classified World Heritage of Unesco: Bay of Ha Long, Luang Prabang and Angkor
As from June 2010 Vietnam airlines is part of the SkyTeam, with 8 direct nonstop flights on the Boeing 777. An intermediate class between the economy and business called "classe Eco-de-Luxe" with personal service (video, video games, computer connection), featuring 54 seats, separated 1 m. from passenger in front and 135° angle chair inclination. The Business class, with 25 seats, 175° chair inclination, offers even more space and service. Prices are interesting: ranging from €2340 TTC for business class, from €1246 TTC for the Eco-de-Luxe class and from €824 TTC for economy class.

Vietnam Airlines
51/53 av des Champs-Elysées
75008 Paris
T : +33 1 44 55 39 90 

InterContinental Hotel Hanoi
Beautiful contemporary construction dating from 1997, but since 2007 part of the Intercontinental Hotel Group.
Located on West Lake of Hanoi, which divides the city into two parts, it’s an ideal location on the waterfront and the pavilions with the rooms and luxury suites seem to float on the water. The outdoor bar, with lake views, has become the centre of Hanoi's night life, attracting Vietnamese high society and the local rich young people.
You also have to try the local cuisine and test the “Milan” or “Saigon” restaurant. A tasty cuisine revisited the Vietnamese way by their Chef Eric.

Galerie bar
In this bar, hidden in Hanoi, Duke, a Vietnamese journalist, speaking very good French, offers Vietnamese artists known or not, filmmakers, writers, painters, the ability to expose in his Gallery bar.

113 trieu viet vuong, Hanoi
T: 84 2218 7200

Suzanne Lecht, a reknown American in Hanoi, exposes the work of many Vietnamese (including some American) artists in her gallery on 3 floors.
Good quality lacquers are also exposed.

Art Vietnamgallery
7 nguyen Khac Nhu Hanoi
T: + 84 4 3927 23 49

La Verticale de Didier Corlou
After leaving Le Métropole Hanoi, Didier Corlou embarked on an adventure and opened "Vertical", a restaurant specialised in the sophisticated Vietnamese cuisine, combining lots of spices and herbs.
Starting from 25 to €35 for a full meal.
Ngo Van So 19
T: (04) 9446317

-Hanoï has 6. 5 million inhabitants
-Vietnam has 90 million inhabitants on 330,000 km²
-Opening of Vietnam due to renewal policy
-The pagoda (or chua) symbol of Buddhism, place for prayers and offerings
-The temple (or dem) symbol of Taoism, less a place of devotion, more a monument raised to the glory of a important historical figure.
-4 great philosophies and religions have shaped the spiritual life of the Vietnamese people: Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism and relatively late Christianity.