Escorted Rail Tours to Hanoi
The historic capital of Vietnam
Vietnam's capital has had a long and incredibly varied history. Having been in existence for about 1,000 years, it has been under the control of the French, the Chinese and the Japanese - as well as the Vietnamese themselves. It is not certain exactly when Hanoi was first established, but it was in 1010 that it became the capital of the Ly Dynasty. On recognition of this honour, the city was then called 'Thang Long', meaning 'Rising Dragon'. For the next 800 years the city thrived and grew as Vietnam's most important trading hub and political centre.
In the early 19th century a new dynasty came to power and the capital was moved to Hue. Around this time, Hanoi was given its current name by Minh Mang, the emperor of the new dynasty. Soon after this time, the French occupied the city, formally taking possession in 1883. In 1887 it was declared the capital of French Indochina, and many of the city's buildings date from this period; parts of the city are styles with wide boulevards, parks and lakes, and large white buildings.
The Japanese occupied Hanoi from 1940 to 45, and Hanoi was briefly declared independent at the end of World War II. France reasserted their authority in 1946, and a longer struggle for independence ensued. They were finally awarded full independence in 1954 and Hanoi was once again the capital - this time of North Vietnam as the South was still separate.