Striding Towards a New Normal: Exploring Hanoi With a Walking Tour

After many months of keeping her daughter at home due to social distancing, Thai Kim Tuyet can finally bring her to enjoy a walking tour of French architecture in downtown Hanoi.


The National Museum of Vietnam History and Hanoitourist have come together to offer a captivating tour titled “French Architecture in Downtown Hanoi”. This tour takes visitors on a journey through the scenic streets of the capital city, showcasing its most breathtaking architectural wonders.

During the course of the tour, participants will visit several esteemed historical and cultural destinations, including the Opera House, the Tonkin Palace, and the Sofitel Metropole Hotel. This will afford them a unique opportunity to delve into the rich histories of these iconic structures.

The National Historical Museum offers the opportunity to witness national treasures of profound historical significance. Among these treasures are the Ngoc Lu drums, which trace their origins back to the Dong Son civilization, dating back some 800BC. Additionally, the museum houses gold books and royal seals from the Nguyen dynasty, the concluding feudal regime in Vietnam that reigned from 1802 to 1945.

Visitors to the museum can now immerse themselves in a unique audio guide app experience.

Walking tour strides towards new-normal tourism in Hanoi
Joining the tour, visitors can add to the experience with an audio app at the National Historical Museum for the first time. — Photo courtesy of the organisers

“We are thrilled to be a part of the tour alongside other parents and children,” Tuyet enthusiastically shared with Việt Nam News. “After an extended period of learning from home, our children now have the opportunity to interact with one another and explore history through the guidance of the tour. The lessons are engaging, enjoyable, and highly beneficial for them.”

In her fifth grade, Hoang Thao Ngan expressed that her knowledge and understanding of architecture and history surpassed what could have been gained solely from books.

“I possess a greater understanding of the literature assigned by my teacher for my writing tasks,” she stated.

Duong Khanh Toan, a resident in Hoan Kiem District, joined the tour with his family. He expressed that they thoroughly enjoyed the peaceful and rejuvenating experience of the trip.

“I have had the opportunity to visit the renowned Opera House and museum on multiple occasions, however, it was through this tour that I gained a deeper understanding of the intricate significance embedded within the architecture and artifacts,” he expressed. “By delving into the heritage of these buildings, I have come to appreciate their true value and developed an even greater affinity towards this magnificent city.”

Walking tour strides towards new-normal tourism in Hanoi
No more than ten people will be gathered in one group. — Photo courtesy of the organisers

The Deputy Director of the museum, Nguyen Thi Thu Hoan, expressed that the tour has been carefully crafted for visitors to the capital. It offers a seamless connection between the museum and other historically and architecturally significant sites in Hanoi.

“The tour provides a seamless blend of in-person guidance from a professional guide along with the assistance of an innovative audio app. This is facilitated through the use of a secure QR code, enhancing the safety of our valued visitors in today’s ever-evolving new normal.”

According to Phung Quang Thang, the director of Hanoitourist, tourism activities have had to make adjustments in response to the ongoing pandemic situation, particularly during the fourth wave.

“The implementation of new safe activities necessitates travel agencies to adapt,” commented Thang.

“We have partnered with the museum to present this exclusive tour, designed for individuals interested in exploring the rich culture, architecture, and history of the capital city. This specially curated experience is particularly suitable for children and parents seeking a deeper understanding and appreciation for our vibrant heritage.”

Walking tour strides towards new-normal tourism in Hanoi
The walking tour is relaxed and educational at the same time. — Photo courtesy of the organisers

Thang emphasized the importance of ensuring the safety of all participants by implementing a maximum limit of ten members per tour group. Additionally, each group will maintain a safe distance from one another, strictly adhering to a ‘no touching’ guideline.

At our company, we prioritize the wellbeing of our visitors. As such, when individuals register for our exceptional tours, we undertake a thorough assessment of their health conditions.

“Adults aged 18 and above are required to receive two doses of the vaccine,” he emphasized. “Furthermore, we have implemented the established pandemic prevention guidelines provided by the healthcare authority for our visitors,” he added.

The tour will be organized every Saturday and Sunday for the upcoming months.

Thang highlighted that the tour would showcase the century-old French architecture in Hanoi. This would include a range of State-owned buildings and private villas, which are regarded as the highlights of the tour.

Hoan explained that the audio application available at the museum allows visitors to conveniently explore close to 100 exhibits.

We have categorized the objects into distinct groups, topics, and collections. The guide audio content is available in Vietnamese, English, and Korean, with durations of 60 minutes, 120 minutes, and 180 minutes.

Hoan stated that in the upcoming months, the museum will be introducing a series of online tours covering a broader range of topics. These tours have been carefully curated, drawing inspiration from the museum’s successful live activities prior to the pandemic, such as “One Hour Working as a War Volunteer” or “Being a Primitive Person”. The positive reception from the public has motivated the museum to expand its virtual offerings.

The walking tour has been developed in accordance with government guidelines to concurrently address the challenges posed by the pandemic and promote economic growth.

“We carefully selected these three destinations to provide visitors with a comprehensive understanding and comparison of the unique characteristics of the buildings and architectural styles. Additionally, these sites offer a glimpse into the cultural exchange between Vietnam and the Western world during the early 20th century,” Thang elaborated.

Walking tour strides towards new-normal tourism in Hanoi
Children standing in front of the Tonkin Palace are excited by gifts on the tour. — Photo courtesy of the organisers

Visitors have the opportunity to enhance their understanding of historical events and exhibits at the museum by incorporating visits to the Tonkin Palace and the Opera House. This combination allows for a deeper appreciation of their respective histories and provides a unique and enriching experience for individuals during their tour.

The French colonial government in Vietnam aspired to establish an administrative capital in Indochina that reflected their French influence after almost ten years of ruling.

In keeping with their grand vision, numerous architectural gems were commissioned and constructed during this period. Notable landmarks include the Presidential Palace, the Opera House, Tonkin Palace, Government Guest House, Sofitel Metropole Hotel, and the State Bank of Vietnam, all of which proudly showcase exquisite French architectural styles.

Source: Vietnam News