Co Loa Citadel, Hanoi - review by Rusty Compass
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Co Loa Citadel, Hanoi

| 09 Jul 2015

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Map
Co Loa Citadel, Hanoi
Co Loa, 16kms from Hanoi
7.30 - 11.30 and 13.30 - 17.30 every day

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Our rating
09 Jul 2015

Co Loa Citadel dates back to the 3rd century BC and ties in with some crucial milestones in the past 2 millenia of Vietnamese history. It's a very important, if underrated, historical site and is easily accessed from Hanoi.

Note: The information provided in this review was correct at time of publishing but may change. For final clarification please check with the relevant service

Review

The area around Co Loa citadel has been of great importance over a couple of millennia of Vietnamese history. You’d be forgiven for not noticing though - it's a remarkably low-key historical site. And on my two visits, we were the only tourists there.

Co Loa's easily visited from Hanoi, and while we didn't spot any evidence of the original citadel, there are some lovely old temples and the rural setting is picturesque.

If you're short on time, it's a nice, easy, excursion outside the city.

The original citadel dates back to the reign of legendary Vietnamese ruler An Duong Vuong. In 275BC, he brought to end the rule of the Hung kings, considered the first Vietnamese dynasty, and established his Au Lac Kingdom with its capital at Co Loa.

More than 1000 years later, Ngo Quyen, the celebrated Vietnamese general who ended a millenia of Chinese occupation in 938, also established his capital at Co Loa.

There's an information centre that has some interesting artefacts from archealogical digs in the area, as well as some limited historical information. It doesn't provide any information about the temples currently on the site.

Temples have been on this site for centuries, however the ones still standing today date back 300 - 400 years (according to the staff). The main temple, dedicated to An Duong Vuong was built during the reign of Nguyen Dynasty emperor Khai Dinh, in the late nineteenth century. Apparently he travelled regularly to Co Loa for the autumn festival.

A number of the artefacts inside the An Duong Vuong temple, including the statue of An Duong Vuong, predate the temple by several centuries.

The only information I managed to pick up at the temples was provided by the attendant, who told me he's a retired accountant and didn't speak any English.

Co Loa will be busy with local tourists during lunar festivals. It was completely free of visitors during my two visits.


Practical info
Co Loa is just 16kms from Hanoi and can be easily visited in a half day or less. There is some pretty surrounding countryside as well.

I travelled by bicycle from Hanoi. The ride is easy enough but quite a lot of the journey is through busy and dangerous traffic.

Mark Bowyer
Mark Bowyer is the founder and publisher of Rusty Compass.
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