Long Bien Bridge, a nice spot to capture Hanoi life?

by Minh Hiếu">Minh Hiếu

Long Bien Bridge was the symbol of Hanoian people for resilience. It is also one of the greatest accomplishments of the French colony in Hanoi. The bridge was built between 1899 and 1902 by Gustave Eiffel (of Eiffel Tower fame) to have better control over the Northern Vietnam region. The 100-year-old bridge of Hanoi is now still used for train, motorcycles, bicycles and foot traffic while other traffics are directed to other bridges.

Long Bien Bridge is a must-visit for travelers in Hanoi to know as evidence of war and also the stunning places to capture local life and beautiful landscape over Red River in Hanoi

Long Bien Bridge- source/Marshall Pham
Sunset at Long Bien Bridge- source/Marshall Pham-flickr

During the Vietnam – American war, the bridge was heavily bombed several times and was rebuilt quickly by Vietnamese people. It is the only connection between Hanoi and Hai Phong, the main port of Northern Vietnam. Walking over the Long Bien Bridge now, you will discover that the center span of the bridge was destroyed, only some span remained (the original bridge has 19 spans) but the bridge remains a remarkable architect of Hanoi.

History of Long Bien bridge

The Long Bien Bridge, a majestic steel structure spanning the Red River in Hanoi, Vietnam, boasts a rich history intertwined with the city’s own. Here’s a concise summary of its fascinating journey:

Colonial Legacy (1899-1954):

  • French Construction: Erected by the French between 1899 and 1902, it was initially named “Pont Paul Doumer” after the Governor-General of French Indochina.
  • Strategic Significance: Back then, it was one of the longest bridges in Asia, playing a crucial role in French colonial transportation and military control.
  • Beyond Transportation:

    • Cultural Icon: The Long Bien Bridge is more than just a bridge; it’s a beloved symbol of Hanoi. It features prominently in Vietnamese art, music, and literature, and is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike to enjoy the panoramic views of the city.
    • Transformation and Challenges: In recent years, the bridge has faced challenges due to its aging infrastructure and increasing traffic congestion. Plans are underway to construct a new bridge alongside it, while preserving the historical significance of the original Long Bien Bridge.

This remarkable bridge stands as a testament to Hanoi’s rich history and unwavering spirit. It’s a reminder of the city’s resilience in the face of adversity and its enduring cultural significance.

Long Bien bridge in the past
Long Bien bridge in the past

How should you visit Long Bien Bridge?

Long Bien Bridge is next to Hanoi Old Quarter (1km from the center of Hanoi Old Quarter) and a short walk from Dong Xuan market. If you stay far from the Old Quarter area, you can hire a motorbike to get on the bridge. There are some bigger spans in the middle of the bridge where you can stop and take pictures over motor traffics or the landscape of Red River. If you stay around Hanoi Old Quarter you should walk to the bridge, it has more things to enjoy when you walk there, because:

  • You can walk down to the land in the center of Red River where some locals living poor on farming and fishing.
  • You can walk and stop anywhere to take photos without disturb by traffic
Dong Xuan market- source/J-Mario-Franco-flickr
Dong Xuan market- source/J-Mario-Franco-flickr
Long Bien Bridge- source/tpp1001-flickr
Long Bien Bridge and locals – source/tpp1001-flickr

When is the best time to visit Long Bien Bridge?

The best time to visit Long Bien Bridge is in the early morning (sunrise) and sunset while you can both enjoy local life and the stunning beauty of Red River.

Visiting Long Bien Bridge in the early morning

It is the time for you to capture the beautiful sunrise on Red River and Hanoi capital city, it is really a beauty, you should wake up and get on the bridge as soon as 5:30 pm to wait for sunrise. This time, there is no traffic yet so you have more opportunities for photography. Stay on the bridge until 7:00 – 8:0o am you will discover a crazy load of motorcycles traffic from the suburbs of Hanoi getting city inside. A lot of them are street vendors (flowers, cake, food, fruits…) starts a working day in downtown.

“Remember to get on the left-hand side of the bridge on the direction to get outside of the city if you want to avoid traffic. If you want to capture many locals in their busy morning, stay on the right-hand side”

Visiting Long Bien Bridge in the afternoon

When sunset over is a great photography opportunity, get on the right-hand side of the bridge, in the middle, you will find a small direction to get down to the middle land of Red River where some locals lives, take a short walk down to see this area and capture the beauty of bridge over sunset. This is also the moment of traffic when locals get back home outside the city after a working day, they are busy, they are in rush to be back home for buying food in the market, pick up their children…

Long Bien Bridge- source/Marshall Pham
Long Bien Bridge- source/Marshall Pham

Visiting Long Bien Bridge at night

Long Bien Bridge reveals a different kind of magic after dark. As the sun dips below the horizon, its steel frame adorns a dazzling coat of colorful lights, turning the river below into a canvas of shimmering reflections. The bustling daytime energy melts away, replaced by a serene tranquility.

Stroll hand-in-hand with your loved one under the warm glow, or embrace the solitude and listen to the gentle whisper of the Red River. Local vendors add a touch of authenticity with their fragrant street food, while the city’s illuminated skyline paints a breathtaking backdrop. Whether you seek romance, artistic inspiration, or simply a unique escape from the urban rush, Long Bien Bridge at night promises an unforgettable Hanoi experience.

Long Bien Bridge- source/Phan-Hữu-Lập-flickr
Long Bien Bridge at night – source/Phan-Hữu-Lập-flickr

There a famous photography collection that captures street vendors from above and that was made one of the spots on Long Bien Bridge. See the collection here

What you can see more on Long Bien Bridge

  • Panoramic views: Enjoy 360-degree vistas of Hanoi’s skyline, the Red River, and the surrounding districts. Witness the changing hues of the sky during sunrise and sunset, transforming the bridge into a breathtaking spectacle.
  • Tranquil riverside stroll: Breathe in the fresh air and listen to the gentle lapping of the Red River as you walk along the bridge. Observe fishermen casting their nets or locals enjoying picnics on the riverbank.
  • Street vendors: Observe a cross-section of Hanoi’s residents: commuters rushing to work, cyclists navigating the bridge, street vendors selling snacks, and couples soaking in the scenery.
  • Wedding photography
  • Morning exercises by locals

Long Bien Bridge is a part of Hanoi local’s life, walking to the bridge you can see some brides and groom taking wedding photography, some students taking their friendship memory, some elders taking their memory… and motor traffics keeps on moving. The bridge has its own life in Hanoi city, it is not just a place to admire the colonial construction but a nice spot to capture Hanoi local life.

Long Bien Bridge- source/Hanh-trinh-phuong-dong-flickr
Long Bien Bridge street vendor – source/Hanh-trinh-phuong-dong-flickr
Minh Hiếu

Written by Minh Hiếu">Minh Hiếu

Co-founder at OneVivu Travel & Service Co., Ltd