Touring the North: World Heritage Sites Posted by on Jun 7, 2021 in Culture, Travel, Vocabulary

Ha Long Bay – Image by falco from Pixabay

In the previous blog, I mentioned places to see in Hanoi. Continuing on a tour of the north, one should see all the UNESCO world heritage sites. What’s better? One site is already right in Hanoi. Others are just within a 150km radius from Hanoi, between 2–4 hours by car. Technically, you could make a day trip by car, move quickly, and return to Hanoi in the same day. I wouldn’t recommend that though, especially the trip to Ha Long Bay and The Ho Citadel.

Let’s get familiarize with some Vietnamese vocabulary that I will utilize often in this blog.

  • Di sản thế giới – World heritage
  • Di sản văn hóa thế giới – World cultural heritage
  • Di sản thiên nhiên thế giới – World natural heritage
  • Di sản hỗn hợp thế giới – World mixed heritage
  • Hoàng thành – Imperial Citadel

To date, Vietnam has eight Di sản thế giới that are recognized by UNESCO. Of those eight, four are situated in the north. Two of them are categorized as Di sản văn hóa thế giới, one is Di sản thiên nhiên thế giới, and one is a Di sản hỗn hợp thế giới. Below are the names and descriptions of each.

  1. Trung Tâm Hoàng Thành Thăng Long – Hà Nội (Central Sector of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long – Hanoi)

UNESCO recognized this site as Di sản văn hóa thế giới in 2010, right at the time Hanoi celebrated its 1,000 year history. It’s situated in the center of the capitol. The Thang Long Imperial Citadel was built in the 11th century, during the Ly Dynasty, on top of the old fortress dating back to the 7th century. The imperial citadel remained as the center of power through many subsequent centuries. In 1834, King Minh Mang changed its name from Thăng Long to Hà Nội. Through time, warfare, and much political turmoil, most of it has been destroyed,

  1. Thành Nhà Hồ – Citadel of the Ho Dynasty

UNESCO recognized this site as Di sản văn hóa thế giới in 2011. The site is in Vinh Loc district, Thanh Hoa province, about 140km from Hanoi. Built in the 14th century, Thành Nhà Hồ, also known as Thành Tây Đô or Thành Tây Kinh, was the capitol during the Ho Dynasty (1400-1407). The basic limestone structure was built in just three months. What is left today are four arched stone gates, the citadel wall, and the Nam Giao altar.

  1. Vịnh Hạ Long – Ha Long Bay

UNESCO recognized this site as Di sản thiên nhiên thế giới in 1994. Ha Long Bay is a small part in the west of the Gulf of Tonkin, near Ha Long City, Quang Ninh province, about 150 Km from Hanoi. It has thousands of islands and islets. It was the choice for the inspiring landscapes in the popular James Bond movie Tomorrow Never Dies (1995) and many other Hollywood movies in recent years. Recognized as a world natural heritage site, of course, the scenery is stunning and breathtaking. Thus, it’s one of the most popular tourist attractions in Vietnam. The word “Ha Long” can literally be translated as “descending dragon”.

  1. Quần thể thắng cảnh Tràng An – Trang An Landscape Complex

UNESCO recognized Trang An Landcape Complex as Di sản hỗn hợp thế giới in 2014. Located in Ninh Binh province, about 100 km from Hanoi, the complex is a combination of both cultural and natural values. The focused areas are the Hoa Lu Ancient Capital, Tam Coc – Bich Dong Landscape, and the Hoa Lu Forest. No words can describe the uniqueness and the beauty of Trang An Landscape. Ninh Binh province has lots of tourist attractions to offer. If you visit, you might as well make a trip to visit Bai Dinh temple, the largest temple complex in South East Asia, and the ancient Phat Diem Cathedral complex with its unique architecture and history.

Besides these popular world heritage sites, northern Vietnam has much more beautiful scenery, notably Sapa and the areas near the border of China. You just have to take time to explore to appreciate the beauty of mother nature.

Hoa Lu – Image by DEZALB from Pixabay

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