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French Quarter Hanoi

In the colonial years, the French built a lot of buildings in various styles and on a large scale in Vietnam, especially in Hanoi. Formed and developed primarily in the period from the late 19th century until 1954, French’s colonial architecture played an important role in creating a large and highly valuable heritage asset in the capital of Vietnam. French Quarter Hanoi is a representation of that.

Attractions in French Quarter Hanoi

French Quarter Hanoi scale is about 800 hectares with three areas, primarily located in 2 districts: Ba Dinh and Hoan Kiem. This Quarter was designed according to two basic axes: North-South and East-West. With a large acreage, French Quarter Hanoi has a lot of attractions

French quarter Hanoi

French quarter Hanoi


1. Hoa Lo Prison

Located in the center of Hanoi, Hoa lo Prison is evidence of a period of fierce struggle, where revolutionaries and American prisoners were held in captivity during the Vietnam War. This construction was built in 1896 by French colonialism and named “Maison Centrale”. The jail includes four areas with 12.000 square meters. But now, there is only 2434 square meters are saved for tourism purposes.
Hoa lo Prison is known as “Hell on Earth”. During its operation, Hoa Lo Prison has become a place where imprison and torture a thousand Vietnamese revolutionaries, some of them were executed at the prison. Inside Hoa Lo Prison, visitors will see various instruments of torture, most notably the guillotine which brought the prison into the top 10 most notorious prisons in the world. The image of the beatings, the barbaric acts of torture recreated truthfully in this place will make you have a feeling of horror.

  • Address: 1 Hoa lo St, Hai Ba Trung, Hanoi
  • Opening hour: open daily from 8 AM to 5 PM and close for lunch from 11.30 AM until 1.30 PM.
  • Entrance fee: 30.000VND

Hoa Lo Prison

Hoa Lo Prison


2. Trang Tien Plaza

Over a century of existence, Trang Tien Plaza is one of the historical evidence, the symbolic image when mentioning Hanoi.  The French built it in 1901 with the name of Maison Godarad and only served French and rich Vietnamese. In 1960, the building was renamed Bách hóa tổng hợp (Department Store), became the biggest store in the North during the subsidy period. It was renamed again in 2002, Trang Tien Plaza was the new name of this building and used until now. In 2013, Trang Tien Plaza was invested by IMEX Pan Pacific. It came to be a luxury shopping mall with more than 200 international fashion, cosmetic, bag, shoes, and accessories brands like Versace, Cartier, Rolex,… including brands in the top 10 legends in the world such as Burberry, Chanel.

Come to Trang Tien Plaza, customers not only have a high-end fashion shopping experience, but it also satisfies the needs of those who are looking to buy intermediate fashion products and prestigious cosmetic brands. The staff is professional, always taking care of you, and ready to introduce the product to you if you want.

  • Location: 24 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem district, Hanoi
  • Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 09:30-21:30 and Sat-Sun 9:30-22:00


3. Vietnam National Museum of History

Vietnam National Museum of History is a result of the combination between the Vietnam History Museum and the Vietnam Museum of Revolution. Located in the center of Hanoi, about 500 meters east of Hoan Kiem Lake, the Vietnam National Museum of History is the most attractive place for both domestic and foreign tourists.

This museum was painted yellow and surrounded by old trees, creating a historic atmosphere. Now it stores and preserves about 200.00 material of Vietnam culture history. A section displays archaeological artifacts from its prehistory and dynastic periods, providing visitors with basic knowledge about Vietnam’s history. You should not miss the three-faced Buddha or the fine collection of lacquer paintings. In addition, there is also an entire cellar dedicated to displaying ceramics.

  • Location: 01 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem district, Hanoi
  • Opening Hours: Morning: 8 AM to 12 AM
  • Afternoon: 1 PM to 5 PM


4. Hanoi Opera House

Hanoi Opera House is one of many outstanding historical sites. There is a place where important historical events were held from the French colonial period to nowadays. This building was constructed in 1901 by two French architects: Broyer and V.Harley and completed in 1911. They researched and consulted Corinth's ancient Greek architecture, combined with the style of Tulory castle and the Paris Opera to create a separate architectural block.

Hanoi Opera House is 34 meters high, total area is 2600 square meters with 87 meters long and 30 meters wide. The organization of Hanoi Opera House is divided into several parts. Firstly is the main hall, this is the first place to welcome guests to the theater. The second one is a staircase that impressed visitors with T - shape white marble. Keep going inside, you will see the auditorium with three seat floors that include 589 velvet seats and a big stage. In addition, the building also has one meeting room called “Mirror room” on the second floor. Behind the stage is 18 make-up rooms, 2 rooms for training, library and working rooms.

Nowadays, visitors can buy tickets to enjoy a range of events which are held in Hanoi Opera House, including local Vietnamese music, traditional folk music, and many international concerts.

  • Location: 01 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem district, Hanoi
  • Entrance fee: 400.000VNĐ for adult, 200.000VNĐ for student

Hanoi opera house

Hanoi opera house


5. St. Joseph’s Cathedral

St.Joseph’s Cathedral is one of the seven famous churches in Hanoi. With ancient architecture, St.Joseph’s Cathedral is not only used for religious activities, but it also is an attraction that visitors should not dismiss. The church was built in the 18th century in the old place of Bao Thien temple. Despite many difficulties during the construction, the church was still completed in time for Christmas in 1888. This building was designed following European medieval Gothic architecture style. Overall, St.Joseph’s Cathedral seems like Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris but it also has a special point, the combination between Catholicity culture and a part of Buddhism.

St.Joseph’s Cathedral is made from brick, terracotta 65 meters high, 28,5 meters wide and two bell towers 31,5 meters high. There are 4 stone pillars at four corners of the church. At the top of the church are a stone cross and alarm under the cross. In the center of the garden in front of the church is the metal statue of Mother Maria. Around the cathedral are stained glass windows with pointed arches. 2 meters high St Joseph’s statue is put in the center of the main court. Besides, there are long brown wooden rows of seats lining up for the Catholics in ceremonies.

Some activities you can do in St.Joseph’s Cathedral: visitors can participate in the Christmas ceremony, Catholics ceremony on the weekend to see the priest read and explain bible and organize baptisms for Catholics.

  • Location: 40 Nha Chung St, Hang Trong ward, Hoan Kiem district, Hanoi
  • Opening Hours: for visiting outside: all time
  • For visiting inside: when the ceremony be held
  • Entrance fee: Free

St. Joseph’s Cathedral

St. Joseph’s Cathedral


Best Things To Do in French Quarter Hanoi

Strolling through the street: instead of the narrow and cramped streets of Old Quarter, there are grand boulevards lined with big foliage trees on the side of the road. French Quarter is a great place to stroll.

Enjoying lemon tea, the famous drink outside the church: this is a popular beverage of young people in Hanoi. A simple combination of lime, sugar, tea, maybe some honey and iced water but it can leave a strong impression on taste

Watching concert in Hanoi Opera House or event in St. Joseph’s Cathedral: every event has its schedule, you can search in internet or fan page of it for more information about that event

Shopping in Trang Tien Plaza: if you are a shopaholic, do not ignore this place. With a range of famous fashion branches, you can buy any things you are looking for. There is also a spot to take fancy pictures

Restaurant at Hanoi French quarter

The restaurant at Hanoi French quarter


What is the difference between the Hanoi French quarter & the old quarter?

Most visitors may be confused between French Quarter and Old Quarter Hanoi. They are two different sections of Hanoi city, this is somethings difference easy to find:

Both are located around the Hoan Kiem lake but the area of the Old Quarter is mainly concentrated in the North and West of Hoan Kiem. Meanwhile, Hanoi French Quarter is in the South and East of Hoan Kiem lake. Although there are two different areas, it is close to each other and easy to go to Hoan Kiem lakeshore.

The atmosphere of the French Old Quarter is more spacious, surround by wider roads, so traffic is more convenient than in the Old Quarter Hanoi

The buildings in French Quarter have a French and European medieval architecture strait. On the other hand, there are some authorities here so it is quieter than Old Quarter Hanoi. Old Quarter Hanoi has a more Vietnamese vibe, there are a lot of ancient houses and traditional Vietnamese food.

Hanoi is beautiful and seductive because of its architectural works. The alternation and blend between ancient and French architecture created Hanoi’s atmosphere both historic and modern, long live with time make a shape of the capital thousand years of civilization. 

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French Quarter Hanoi Map

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