Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, Hanoi: Information and Visiting Experience

The Imperial Citadel of Thang Long complex is one of the most significant historical sites in Vietnam, closely linked with the development of Hanoi’s capital. Therefore, it is a must-visit destination when you come to Hanoi. In this article, we will delve into the details of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long complex.

Overview of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long

The Imperial Citadel of Thang Long complex is located at 19C Hoang Dieu Street, Dien Bien Ward, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi. This site is bordered by four streets: Phan Dinh Phung to the north, Dien Bien Phu to the south, Nguyen Tri Phuong to the east, and Hoang Dieu to the west.

The Thang Long Imperial Citadel spans an area of over 18,000 hectares, including the archaeological site at 18 Hoang Dieu and other remaining relics within the ancient Hanoi Citadel, such as Doan Mon, Hanoi Flag Tower, Kinh Thien Palace, D67 House, Bac Mon, Hau Lau, the citadel walls, and the eight gates from the Nguyen Dynasty.

Imperial Citadel of Thang Long
Doan Mon, Imperial Citadel of Thang Long

Over more than a thousand years, the Thang Long Imperial Citadel has endured significant damage from time and various invasions through the Ly, Tran, Le, Mac, and Nguyen dynasties. Today, much of the architecture has been preserved and restored on the old foundation. In addition to the surface structures, the underground archaeological site has been systematically excavated and opened to the public.

This grand architectural work, built over many periods and eras, has become a crucial historical site among Vietnam’s relics and a symbol of Hanoi’s thousand-year-old culture and heritage.

Due to its exceptional historical, cultural, and scientific values, the Central Sector of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long – Hanoi was designated as a Special National Monument in 2009 and was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List during the celebration of the 1,000th anniversary of Thang Long – Hanoi (1010-2010).

Attractions Inside the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long

When visiting the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, you should explore the following sites:

Hoang Dieu Archaeological Site

The Hoang Dieu Archaeological Site is one of the most significant and valuable discoveries made by archaeologists. This unique castle-like structure spans an area of 1,000 square meters, featuring three levels and four pyramid-shaped roofs, and contains approximately three million artifacts preserved to this day.

According to archaeological research, the lowest layer of the Hoang Dieu Archaeological Site dates back to the Tang Dynasty. The subsequent layer above it served as the residential and operational area for the Tran and Ly dynasties. Finally, the topmost surface of the structure was part of Hanoi’s provincial center in the 19th century.

Hoang Dieu Archaeological Site
Hoang Dieu Archaeological Site

Exploring the Hanoi Flag Tower

The Hanoi Flag Tower was built in 1812 during the reign of Emperor Gia Long. The tower stands nearly 60 meters tall and consists of the following main sections:

  • Base: The base of the Hanoi Flag Tower is square-shaped and consists of three gradually smaller tiers as you move upward.
  • Body: The body of the tower is adorned with floral motifs, adding an aesthetic touch to the structure.
  • Top: The top of the tower is an octagonal pavilion, 3.3 meters high, with eight windows corresponding to its eight sides. At the center of the pavilion is a round cylinder, 40 cm in diameter, which extends to the top and serves as the flagpole (the flagpole is 8 meters high). The entire Flag Tower is 33.4 meters high, and with the flagpole included, it reaches 41.4 meters.

The Hanoi Flag Tower is one of the few architectural structures in the Hanoi Citadel area that survived the destruction carried out by the French colonial administration between 1894 and 1897.

Hanoi Flag Tower
Hanoi Flag Tower

Exploring Kinh Thien Palace

Kinh Thien Palace is located in the central area of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long. After enduring various dynasties and wars, only the ancient foundations of Kinh Thien Palace remain today.

Notably, the palace is known for its staircase, which consists of 10 steps and four stone dragons carved in the 15th century during the Le Dynasty. These stone dragons are masterpieces of architecture, reflecting the sophistication and artistry of the Le Son period, and have been preserved to this day.

Exploring the North Gate of the Imperial Citadel

The North Gate is one of the five gates of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long during the reign of the Nguyen Dynasty. It still bears many traces of cannon fire from the period of French colonial invasion. At the North Gate, you can see statues of two revered governors of Hanoi, Nguyen Tri Phuong and Hoang Dieu.

North Gate of the Imperial Citadel
North Gate of the Imperial Citadel

Hau Lau Palace

Hau Lau Palace, located behind Kinh Thien Palace, served as the residence for the empress and princesses, hence its meticulous construction.

Hau Lau is a three-story building. The ground floor is box-shaped with three separate rooms. The second floor is also divided into three rooms; however, unlike the first floor, the central room on this level is the most spacious, featuring three main doors on the front facade. The third floor contains a single room with nine doors opening in three directions (East, West, and South). This floor boasts a two-story, eight-roof design typical of imperial palace architecture, adorned with dragon head motifs on the curved corners.

Hau Lau Palace
Hau Lau Palace

How to Get to the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long

Located in the heart of Hanoi, the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long is easily accessible by both personal and public transportation.

  • If you choose to travel by bus, take route number 22, which stops right in front of the main entrance at 19C Hoang Dieu Street. This is the primary entrance for visitors.
  • For those traveling by car or motorbike, from Hoan Kiem Lake, head towards Trang Thi Street, then turn onto Dien Bien Phu Street, continue to Hoang Dieu Street, and finally reach number 19C, where the main entrance to the Imperial Citadel complex is located.
  • You can also hire a cyclo (pedicab); just be sure to agree on the fare before starting your journey.

Opening Hours and Admission Fees

Here are the operational hours for the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long to help you plan your visit:

  • Address: 19 Hoang Dieu Street, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi.
  • Opening Hours: From Tuesday to Sunday (closed on Mondays).
  • Visiting Hours: From 08:00 to 17:00, with a special night tour from 18:00 to 21:00 on Saturdays and Sundays.

Admission Fees:

  • Adults: 30,000 VND per person
  • Students and seniors (over 60 years old): 15,000 VND per person
  • Children under 15, individuals with special policies, and revolution contributors: Free

Experience the Night Tour of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long

Recently, nighttime entertainment activities have been increasingly popular in Hanoi, attracting many visitors. The Imperial Citadel of Thang Long is one such place offering night tours, providing visitors with a fresh and exciting experience.

The night tour of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long begins at 7 PM. The journey starts from Doan Mon, the largest gate leading into the Tu Cam Thanh (the residence and workplace of the king). Here, you will have the honor of walking along the central path that was once reserved exclusively for the king. Inside Doan Mon, you will witness talented performers reenacting the king’s audience ceremony and the “Thang Long Royal Court Dance.”

Continuing the night tour, you will visit the exhibition hall themed “Thang Long – Hanoi, a Thousand Years Beneath the Ground.” Here, you can observe ancient artifacts associated with the feudal dynasties of Vietnam. The guide will provide detailed explanations about each artifact and stories spanning 1300 years of history. These experiences help visitors gain a deeper understanding of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long and the ceramics used in the royal court through various eras.

After leaving the exhibition hall, you will participate in a ceremony to offer incense and express gratitude to the 52 emperors who contributed to protecting and building the Thang Long Citadel. This ceremony takes place at the Kinh Thien Palace terrace, where important court rituals were once conducted.

Night Tour of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long

The night tour continues as you head to the archaeological site located behind the National Assembly building. A highlight here is the ancient Tran Dynasty well, also known as the King’s Well, dating back to the 13th-14th centuries. During the excavation, archaeologists found numerous ceramics and architectural materials from the Tran Dynasty in the well. Each visitor will receive a glass bottle to collect water from this ancient well, once used only by the king and his close associates.

After collecting water from the well, you will engage in decoding artifacts revealed at the final stop of the night tour. The organizers will provide hints using laser projection technology over the archaeological remains. This decoding process is a fun activity that helps everyone learn more about the nation’s history.

At the end of the night tour, visitors who successfully decode the artifacts will receive attractive gifts from the organizers.

A Few Tips for Visiting the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long

Ideal Time to Visit: You can visit Hanoi and the Imperial Citadel at any time of the year, but the best times are during the spring and autumn when the weather is cool, fresh, and pleasant.

Follow Site Regulations:

  • Follow the guided tour map.
  • The use of drones (flycams) is not permitted.
  • Dress neatly and respectfully, maintain cleanliness, and avoid causing noise or disturbance.
  • Do not write or draw on walls or trees, and refrain from breaking branches or picking fruit.
  • Do not bring flammable materials, weapons, hazardous substances, or strong-smelling items into the site.

Combine with Other Attractions: Consider combining your visit with other nearby attractions in central Hanoi, such as the Hanoi Opera House, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Temple of Literature, Hanoi Old Quarter, and Hoa Lo Prison.


The Imperial Citadel of Thang Long is not only renowned for its unique architecture from various feudal dynasties but also for preserving the long-standing cultural values of the Vietnamese people. The night tour of the Imperial Citadel offers a particularly fascinating experience. Please contact our travel advisors for more details about Hanoi tours.

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