Long Bien Bridge is a historic bridge across the Red River that connects two districts, Hoan Kiem and Long Bien of the city of Hanoi, Vietnam. It is between the top 10 things to see in Hanoi since it was the very first and oldest cantilever bridge of Vietnam.
It was built in 1903 by the architects of Daydé & Pillé, a French company. Before Vietnam’s independence in 1954, it was called Doumer Bridge, named after Paul Doumer – The Governor-General of French Indochina and then French president. It was, at that time, one of the longest bridges in Asia with the length of 2,500 m. For the French colonial government, the construction was of strategic importance in securing control of northern Vietnam. From 1899 to 1902, more than 3,000 Vietnamese took part in the construction.
It was heavily bombarded during American war due to its critical position (the only bridge at that time across the Red River connecting Hanoi to the main seaport Haiphong). The first attack took place in 1967, and the center span of the bridge was felled by an attack by 20 USAF F-105 Fighters. The defense of Long Bien Bridge continues to play a large role in Hanoi’s self-image and is often extolled in poetry and song. It was rendered unusable for a year when, in May 1972, it fell victim to one of the first coordinated attacks using laser-guided “smart bombs”.
The bridge now stands like a patched-up war veteran. Some parts of the original structure remain intact, while large sections have clearly been built later to repair the holes. In this way the bridge is a strong visual expression of history. Only half of the bridge retains its original shape. A project with support and loan from the French government is currently in progress to restore the bridge to its original appearance.
Today trains, mopeds, bicycles and pedestrians use the dilapidated bridge, while all other traffic is diverted to the nearby Chuong Duong Bridge and some newly built bridges: Thanh Tri Bridge, Thang Long Bridge, Vinh Tuy Bridge, and Nhat Tan Bridge.
Get to this Hanoi must see bridge – historical piece of Hanoi, you can imagine how strategically vital it was to link Hanoi with the port city of Haiphong. It’s also a great place for viewing the dramatic Red River sunset for a walk-by during summer time.