14 Jan 2021

The capitals always play an undeniable role in any nation of the world. When travelers want to learn more about the country they visit, the most efficient way is exploring its capital where its cultural and historical values are used to being preserved and reflected. What's the capital of Vietnam? Now, we will give you some significant information about Vietnam capital.

Table Contents
  • I - List of old capital of Vietnam during the feudal period
  • II - Capitals of Vietnam during the 20th century
  • 1 - Hanoi - the capital of north Vietnam
  • 2 - Ho Chi Minh City - the capital of South Vietnam
  • III - Hanoi capital of Vietnam today
  • 1 - History
  • 2 - The prestige of the Hanoi - capital city of Vietnam
  • 3 - Daily life in Hanoi
capitals of vietnam
Source: Internet

Vietnam, occupying approximately 127,243 square miles in the eastern portion of mainland Southeast Asia, recently becomes well-known as an emerging regional star in the tourism sector. In particular, Vietnam had taken sixth place in terms of global tourism growth listed by the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) in 2017. With a concerted effort by governments and its own pristine beaches, natural sites, stunning landscapes, rich culture and history; Vietnam has attracted more and more travelers from both regional and global levels. 

ancient vietnam capitals

Source: Hoatuy
Vietnam experienced several periods of prolonged warfare, as a result, Vietnam capital has been formed and relocated multiple times. Each former capitals capture one distinguishing feature of Vietnam in the corresponding context. Tourists can earn an interesting amount of knowledge while exploring these historical and cultural destinations.

I - List of old capital of Vietnam during the feudal period

Vietnam capital name Information
Phong Châu (2000BC) - Nation: Văn Lang
- Dynasty: Hồng Bàng
- Current location: Phú Thọ Province
- Note: According to legend, the site was where Âu Cơ, wife of King Lạc Long Quân, gave birth to their children (ancestors of Vietnamese). It's the location of the temple dedicated to Hung Kings - the founders of the nation
Cổ Loa (257– 208 BC) - Nation: Âu Lạc
- Dynasty: Thục dynasty
- Current location: Đông Anh District, Hanoi
- Note: Cổ Loa Citadel (Vietnamese: Thành Cổ Loa) is an important archaeological site in present-day Hanoi's Dong Anh district with various relics of the Bronze Age Phung Nguyen culture and Dong Son culture and the unique construction made of multi-layered structure of earthworks, moats and ditches.
Mê Linh (40–43) - Nation: Lĩnh Nam
- Dynasty: Trung Vuong
- Current location: Mê Linh District, Hanoi
- Note: The hometown of two heroines called the Trung sisters, who led the first national uprising against their Chinese conquerors in 40 AD. As a result, there erected several temples commemorating two sisters
Long Uyên (544–602) - Nation: Vạn Xuân
- Dynasty: Early Lý dynasty
- Current location: Long Biên District
- Note: After Ly Bi's successful revolt in ad 544, it served not only as the capital of Van Xuan but also as a trading port in the late 8th and early 9th centuries.
Hoa Lư (968–1009) - Nation: Đại Cồ Việt
- Dynasty: Đinh dynasty; Early Lê dynasty; Later Lý dynasty
- Current location: Ninh Bình Province
- Note: In the late 10th century, Hoa Lư served as not only the capital but also the economic, political and cultural center of the first two imperial dynasties of Vietnam: the Đinh, and the Early Lê
Thăng Long
- Nation: Đại Việt
- Dynasty: Later Lý dynasty; Trần dynasty
- Current location: Imperial Citadel of Thăng Long     Hanoi
- Note: After ascending the throne, King Ly Thai To, established the Ly Dynasty, moved the capital to Dai La Citadel (Hanoi) and renamed it Thang Long (Rising Dragon). Inheriting the Ly Dynasty, the Tran Dynasty also built several structures such as Feng Shui Palace, the Temple of Literature, etc. Some of them are preserved as historic and cultural relics up to now which allow travelers to pay a visit. Thang Long is old name of the capital of Vietnam before Hanoi
Tây Đô
- Nation: Đại Ngu
- Dynasty: Hồ dynasty
- Current location: Vĩnh Lộc District, Thanh Hóa Province
- Note: Citadel of the Hồ Dynasty is a stone fortress in Thanh Hóa, which served as the Western Capital of the Hồ Dynasty (1400-1407). Although the castle is mostly ruined, its gates are still preserved and were inscribed on UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2011
Đông Kinh
- Nation: Đại Việt
- Dynasty: Later Lê dynasty –early period Mạc dynasty; Later Lê dynasty –warlord period
Trịnh lords
- Current location: Hanoi
- Note: On the foundation of the Imperial Citadel of Thăng Long, Dong Kinh was formed. However, during the 16th century witnessed the collapse of the early Le Dynasty and the replacement of the Mac (1527-1592) which was the beginning of the “Le King-Trinh Lord” period which lasted until 1786
Phú Xuân (1678-1777)
- Nation:   Đại Việt - Inner Region Đại Việt, Viet Nam, later Dai Nam
- Dynasty: Nguyễn lords,Tây Sơn dynasty, Nguyễn dynasty
- Current location: Hue City, Thừa Thiên - Huế Province
- Note: Phú Xuân, a northern territory of Thuận Hóa, was chosen by Nguyễn lords to serve as their family seat and later officially became the capital of south Vietnam when Nguyễn lord Nguyễn Phúc Khoát proclaimed himself Võ vương (Võ King or Martial King in Vietnamese) in 1744.
In 1786, Phu Xuan became Tây Sơn dynasty capital under the reign of Emperor Quang Trung.
In June 1789, Nguyen Anh took the throne of a unified Vietnam and proclaimed the ancestral seat of the Nguyen Lords - Hue as the capital. 

II - Capitals of Vietnam during the 20th century

vietnam capital in 20th century

Source: Mof.gov
The involvement of French colonizers in Vietnam since 1858 had disrupted forcefully the social order in Vietnam. The country was divided into several parts to help they manage their administrative ownership more effectively. Most of the time, Vietnam was divided into two parts which are the Northern and the Southern one. This situation lasted over the French Colonization and the Vietnam War and only ended in 1975 when Vietnam finally got rid of the Americans and reunified the country. 

1 - Hanoi - the capital of north Vietnam

Hanoi - the base of the Viet Minh government, the capital of an independent North Vietnam, and now is the capital of reunified Vietnam, seems less modernized and less influenced by foreign countries than Ho Chi Minh City. However, therein lies it’s old-world charm and heritage. It isn't a surprise that Hanoi also possesses many more significant cultural sites than any other city in Vietnam.

north vietnam capital

Source: Kienviet
On the other hand, it used to serve as the capital of French Indochina so you can find a lot of architecture influenced by the French there such as French colonial villas and mansions, the Grand Opera House, the Presidential Palace, and Saint Joseph Cathedral.

2 - Ho Chi Minh City - the capital of South Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh City, widely known as the financial center of Vietnam, was the US base during the Vietnam War. Now it has evolved into a modern, thriving metropolis following the country’s unification.
To compare with Hanoi, Saigon has not been as ancient as Hanoi. In the beginning, Saigon was one of the most important commercial seaports of the Khmer Empire - Prey Nokor. Afterward, Saigon has gone through a number of politic changes including being seized and annexed by the Vietnamese, being conquered by the French and Spanish, becoming the capital of the anti-communist independent republic of South Vietnam, then falling to the hand of Viet Minh and being renamed Ho Chi Minh City in honor of the communist leader of the north.

south vietnam capital

Source: Thanh Binh
More importantly, if you are eager to learn about the Vietnam War, Saigon is the place you can see a lot of war-era museums and relics such as the Ho Chi Minh City Museum, the Revolutionary Museum, the Museum of Southeastern Armed Forces, the War Remnants Museum, and the hauntingly evocative Cu Chi Tunnels, used by guerilla fighters.

III - Hanoi capital of Vietnam today

1 - History

Hanoi, the ancient capital of Vietnam, has been the center of the nation's culture, economics, and politics for 1000 years, save a century when Hue took the helm. 
Due to the recorded legend and facts back to the 3rd century BC, An Duong Vuong set up the Au-Lac Kingdom and moved the capital to Co Loa- a small area belongs to present Hanoi now after leading his group to defeat the Hung Kings Rule of Van Lang. Co Loa capital, the ancient Hanoi, began to take the role of a national socio-political center in Vietnamese history from that moment, through the up and down of 1000 of year domination by China, short period ruled by Ngo Quyen from 1983 to 980,  and the most glorious time of Ly, Tran and Le dynasty up to until 1802. During this glorious period of Vietnamese culture and history, Buddhist monarchical tradition bloomed more significantly than ever and a lot of Buddhism structures were erected. Some of them remain until now such as One Pillar Pagoda built in 1049, Imperial Royal Palace (11th century), Temple of Literature (1070), Quan Thanh Temple (11th century), Hanoi ancient town (11th century), West Lake temple (17th century). The majority of them are opened and served as heritage sites.

old trang tien street in hanoi vietnam capital

Source: Tbdn
In August 1945 when the Japanese surrendered, the Viet Minh led by Ho Chi Minh seized power successfully in the entire Vietnam and continued to choose Hanoi as the capital of north Vietnam (the Democratic Republic of Vietnam). After the French, the Americans came. During the Vietnam War, especially in 1972, Hanoi was bombarded destructively by the US imperialists with B52. Although the people and soldiers of Hanoi had won by creating a “Dien Bien Phu in the Air”, US bombing destroyed parts of Hanoi and killed hundreds of civilians. A lot of centuries-old monuments and palaces were destroyed partly or totally. Some of them were restored and rebuilt, however, this is still a tragedy with Hanoians in particular and Vietnamese in general. 
With the wholehearted and all-round support from the army and people in the northern region including Hanoi, the southern region was completely liberated and the whole country was reunified on April 30th, 1975. In 1976, Hanoi was approved by the National Assembly of the whole country to become the capital of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.  Later in 1999, Hanoi was named “The City of Peace” by UNESCO and chosen to be the host of the “International Peace Year – 2000”. Nowadays, overcoming difficulties, Thang Long remained the capital of Vietnam till 1802, when the last Vietnamese dynasty - the Nguyen (1802–1945),  removed the capital south to Hue. Afterward, King Minh Mang changed Thang Long into a province and recalled Hanoi as it is today. When the French seized the country and became an established force in the country, Hanoi became the capital of French Indochina in 1902. Hanoi also remained an important administrative center during the Japanese occupation taking advantage of new international opportunities, Hanoi is striving to bring into full play its internal strength. The appearance of several skyscrapers in new urban areas has dramatically changed the cityscape and formed a modern skyline embracing the old city. 

2 - The prestige of the Hanoi - capital city of Vietnam

Hanoi - the capital of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, is the political, economic, and cultural center of the whole country. 
The nation’s economic and political centre
Having a convenient geographical location of the Northern Delta, Hanoi is becoming the important economic and international transaction center of the whole country. To be more specific, the capital city is keeping the high pace of economic growth while the living standard of the people increases 3.5 times in comparison with 1990. Upon the promulgation, the Law on Foreign investment in Vietnam in Dec 1987, and together with the realization of a series the Open-door Economy Policies, Hanoi had attracted USD 712 billion for developing technical and social infrastructure systems, environmental protection, and social welfare. The total value of the social investment increases from 15 % to 17% annually. 

hanoi vietnam capital nowadays

Source: Tri Dung
Meanwhile, Hanoi Vietnam capital is the political center of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, situated there are several important offices of Vietnam such as: Party Central Committee, Government, Ministries, or Foreign Embassies. Among 9 urban districts and 5 rural districts, Ba Dinh District is the national political - administration center. With a stable political basis, an open economic policy, a guaranteed political security and social order; Hanoi has been becoming an attractive destination for both foreign enterprises and travelers.  
The nation’s cultural centre
This ancient city had been established and developed for almost 1,000 years since 1010. As a result, there are many relics of the past and well-known landscapes which might create a long list if we try to name such as in Hanoi such as the Temple of Literature (Quoc Tu Giam), the One-Pillar Pagoda, Sword Lake, West Lake, History Museum, Flag Pole and Ancient city and so on.  In short, if you have a huge interest in learning about the history and culture of Vietnam, Hanoi might be a must-see destination in your bucket list. 

travel to vietnam hanoi capital

Source: Baotintuc

3 - Daily life in Hanoi

Recently, Hanoi is known as a beautiful and peaceful capital of Vietnam with super friendly citizens and listed as the best destination in Vietnam by many travelers and journalists. There are many reasons that make Ha Noi become a unique city not only in Vietnam but also in Asian and the lively and colorful lifestyle there is one of them.
Firstly, Hanoi traffic system is extremely crazy which makes most of the tourists terrified especially for their first time crossing the road. However, once you get acquainted, you will realize that this crazy traffic has its own law. For example, when you start taking the leap, all you need to do is just go ahead slowly and the Vietnamese on their vehicles will take the rest, give way not to crash into you.
Another interesting thing that might amaze tourists is Hanoi’s drinking street shop system. In Hanoi, nothing is easier to find than drinking street shops ranging from ice tea, coffee, lemon tea to bia hoi (unpasteurized beer made fresh daily ). Most of them were set up simply with plastic chairs on the sidewalk, drinks, and sometimes paired with street food, but we can sit there for hours without being bored.
If you want to experience the true hustle and bustle of Hanoi, you might wander in the Hanoi Old Quarter at least once. Located near Hoan Kiem lake - the heart of Ha Noi, the Old Quarter is an old-aged commerce area. Tourists can take a cyclo for an old quarter tour to visit all the streets or just walk on your own feet to enjoy the unique atmosphere there, especially in the evening when the Old quarter turns out to be an amazing area for entertainment with a lot of bars, pubs, and clubs. 
The Vietnam capitals at any time in the flow of history always plays an important role in developing economic, culture, education... Coming to Hanoi (current capital) or Hue citadel, Hoa Lu citadel in Ninh Binh (ancient capitals) is a way of knowing and learning more about Vietnam history. 
U want to share?
Hi, my name is Quan, and you can call me “Kun”. Having a big passion for travel, I spent 6 months traveling to most of the regions & provinces in Vietnam. I find Vietnam's landscapes are so beautiful, Vietnamese people are so friendly.

Quan Nguyen — Quan Nguyen



Please enter email to get further
information for your travel plan


Best memories in Vietnam

Besides nature's beauty, historical relics,.., Vietnamese souvenirs especially handcrafted gifts with unique and catchy processes, also attract tourists a lot. This following article may be the best answer for the question “What souvenir to buy in Vietnam?”