Aug 12, 2018

Hanoi Travelogue: Wandering in Imperial Citadel of Thang Long (2 Feb 2016)

Apart from the chilly Winter weather in Hanoi, our lovely 3-course brunch in Green Tangerine had definitely fueled our legs for a 2.4-km walk to Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, the UNESCO World Heritage site in Hanoi.

Imperial Citadel of Thang Long
Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, also known as Hanoi Citadel, was the hub of  Vietnamese military power for over 1000 years. Many artefacts and items dating back to between the 6th and 20th centuries were excavated in 2004, including foundations of old palaces, ancient roads, ponds and wells.

Courtyard in Imperial Citadel of Thang Long
On top of these discoveries, archaeologists also found bronze coins, ceramics and pottery from China and many places in Asia, all of which demonstrate a close trading relationship in the area. One could spend hours looking at these artifacts in showrooms.

Long flight of stairs down to the bunker @ Imperial Citadel of Thang Long
In the deeper sanctum of Imperial Citadel of Thang Long was the D67 military headquarter of North Vietnamese military command (Vietnam People’s Army) under General Giap. Built in 1967, it featured modern architectural style, 60-centimeter wall and good soundproofing system.

This long flight of stairs would lead you down to the bunker, where tools that comrades in the Politburo and the Central Military Commission, the Ministry of Defense and the General Staff used in the resistance war against the US were displayed. You would find a connecting underground tunnel here for emergency evacuation in case of an attack.

Nature's beauty at its best @ Imperial Citadel of Thang Long
In here, there was a sense of tranquility, devoid of hustle and bustle of Hanoi city. For VND 30k, you get to appreciate the history, architecture, art and nature's beauty in Imperial Citadel of Thang Long. If there is only one place you could visit in Hanoi, let it be Imperial Citadel of Thang Long.

Flag Tower of Hanoi
500m way from Imperial Citadel of Thang Long was this tall and beautiful looking Flag Tower of Hanoi, Built in 1812, this tower served as an observation post to the Hanoi Citadel. Unlike many other structures in Hanoi, it was not destroyed during the French invasion (1896-1897), and was continuously used as a military post. Initially part of Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, it is now part of Vietnam Military History Museum.

Trung Nguyen @ Hanoi
By the time we were (not quite) done, the citadel was almost due to close for the day. We had our bun chas (again) at Bun Cha Dac Kim and stopped by Trung Nguyen for some Vietnamese egg coffee.

Vietnamese Hot Egg (Cà phê trứng) @ Trung Nguyen
Vietnamese hot egg coffee (cà phê trứng) is traditionally prepared with egg yolks, sugar, condensed milk and robusta coffee. That thick layer of white foam was a concoction of egg yolks and sugar, called the egg cream. For those without sweet tooth, this hot egg coffee was cloyingly sweet. I found it both interesting and challenging - how could one drink the coffee without depleting that layer of egg cream that floated above the coffee first?

Total damage for 2 pax = VND 60k

Despite the mini stool and tight stall for meals, tanner half and I enjoyed our maiden trip to Hanoi. Street food was awesome - even an unknown stall called Pho Bo nearby Especen hotel delivered a bowl of piping hot flavourful beef pho for VND35k in the wee hours of morning. Our last breakfast in Hanoi couldn't be any better.

Total damage for 2 pax = VND 70k

In summary,

My personal dining ranking (5 being the full score) based on following criteria are:
  • Ambiance
    • Bun Cha Dac Kim - 3/5
    • Trung Nguyen - 3/5
  • Price
    • Bun Cha Dac Kim - 3/5
    • Trung Nguyen - 3/5
  • Food
    • Bun Cha Dac Kim - 5/5
    • Trung Nguyen - 4/5
  • Verdict
    • Bun Cha Dac Kim - So good that you keep coming back
    • Trung Nguyen - Maybe not here but would surely try hot egg coffee again

My personal hotel/attractions verdicts for:
  • Especen Hotel: Walking distance to Hoan Kiem Lake and local food. Spacious and comfortable room. It could use a fan for ventilation during winters. Do ask for lower floor rooms if you are not a fan of climbing narrow staircases
  • Imperial Citadel of Thang Long: Definitely recommended if you have only have time to visit one place


Bun Cha Dac Kim
67 Duong Thanh Street, Old Quarter, Hanoi, Vietnam
Operation Hours: 11am - 7pm
Tel: +84 4 3828 5022
Credit Card: N/A (We paid cash)

Trung Nguyen
26 Hàng Trống, Hoàn Kiếm, Thành Phố, Hanoi, Vietnam
Operation Hours: 6.30am - 10.30pm
Tel: +84 24 3938 6749
Credit Card: N/A (We paid cash)

Sources: Wikipedia, Vietnam GuideLonely Planet,

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