Note: This article has been updated based on an earlier article that contained inaccurate information about the history of Vietnam. We appreciate our readers for identifying the errors and referring us to accurate sources.
The year 2010 marks the 1,000th anniversary since the founding of Hanoi, and in less than five months, the city will be commemorating this anniversary. Vietnam was dominated by the Chinese for approximately 1,000 years, and the country gained independence in the 10th century. Prior to 1010 AD, the capital of Vietnam was located in Hoa Lu, which is modern day Ninh Binh, located about 97 km (60 miles) south of Hanoi.
Hanoi, which means Between Rivers or River Interior in reference to the Red River that runs southeast and bends through the city before entering the Gulf of Tonkin, was previously referred to as Thang Long (Ascending Dragon) and Dong Do (Eastern Capital). The city was first inhabited prior to 2000 BC and, along with Vietnam that then stretched southward to Hue, dominated by China from 111 BC to 1010 AD. In 1010 AD, Ly Thai To, the first emperor of the Ly Dynasty, moved the country’s capital from Hoa Lu to Thang Long. The name Thang Long was changed to Hanoi in 1831 by the Nguyen emperor Minh Mang. Although Hanoi was not always the capital of Vietnam since reclamation in the 10th century, it has had the longest history of being the country’s capital.
Current day Hanoi is thriving with a population of 6.5 million people, the second largest metropolitan area in Vietnam after Ho Chi Minh City, and its future development plan is ambitious. The municipal government recently revealed a development plan to invest US$90 billion over the next 40 years while the city government historically generates annual average revenues of only US$3.6 billion before expenditures. As the city continues to modernize, preservation of cultural sites will become more apparent, as observed in current standing architectures and daily cultural customs that contrast with modern internet cafes and lavish hotel lobbies. For instance, redevelopment within Hanoi’s Old Quarter cannot exceed a certain height, which attests to the city’s preference to have things both ways – modern and traditional.
Back to the 1,000 year commemoration, the main event will be held in Hanoi from October 1 to 10, 2010 and preparation is underway for a rare festivity that will include a wide array of concerts, history exhibits, art shows, and culinary events. A Vietnamese travel agency, Vietnam Awesome Travel, has compiled a schedule of events planned for the ten-day celebration. The anniversary has also strike Frommer’s, one of the best-selling guidebooks in the US, to name Hanoi as one of the top travel destinations in 2010. For anyone that plans on traveling in Vietnam in the next five months, this event is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that should seriously be considered.