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23 Top Attractions & Things to do in Hanoi
Last updated on October 1, 2023 by Jamie Gambetta and Touropia Editors - Leave a Comment
Hanoi is not only Vietnam’s capital but one of the oldest cities on earth. Its ancient history is all around you, yet often overshadowed by the events of the late 20th century.
Temples and ancient citadels take you back as far as the 6th century. But as you explore, you notice Chinese and French colonial architecture. It’s easy on the eye and takes you on a separate journey.
See also: Where to Stay in Hanoi
Like Vietnam, traveling through Hanoi is high paced. Ever present are the sounds of horns from thousands of scooters. Each one communicates and designates right of way more than a set of traffic lights. Exploring the things to do in Hanoi on foot is an adventure, with each turn bringing hints of markets flooded with traditional craftsmanship and aromas of a rich local cuisine.
A visit to Hanoi provides travelers with a fascinating blend of East and West. It offers an elegant blend of Asian Pagodas, communist block buildings and French Colonial relics; and there are a host of fun and unique tourist attractions for the adventurous traveler.
In this post, we'll cover:
23. Tran Quoc Pagoda
The oldest Buddhist temple in Hanoi, Tran Quoc Pagoda, was first developed in the 6th century. Set on an island in West Lake, you must first wander across an elegant bridge with the shimmering water below.
From a distance, you can admire the 11 story Stupa Tower that stands at 15 meters (45 feet) in height. But only from up close can you appreciate the pagoda’s finer details and see the Amitabha Buddha statues found inside. Glistening gemstones are a common sight, strewn across various statues that add significance to an ancient and beautiful temple.
Guests should dress conservatively when visiting Tran Quoc Pagoda.
22. Hanoi Opera House
Built during the French invasion, for the French, the Hanoi Opera House has undergone a modern revitalization. Since its renovation in 1997, the Hanoi Opera House has become a centerpiece of the city’s arts and culture scene.
The building was inspired by the Paris Opera House and resides, aptly, within Hanoi’s French Quarter. From the street, you can stand back and admire one of Hanoi’s finest pieces of colonial architecture, its elegant facade complete with white columns that blend effortlessly with the cream walls.
With consistent events, travelers can peel back the cultural curtain and enjoy a night of Vietnamese opera, regional dance, ballet and live music.
21. Ho Chi Minh Museum
Alongside the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, the Ho Chi Minh Museum explores the life and times of Vietnam’s most historic figure. There’s no single person that has shaped modern day Vietnam more than Uncle Ho, so understanding him goes a long way to understanding the country around you.
Within the museum, you can enjoy exhibits that feature his personal effects, his life growing up and the events that lead to him rising to power. Alongside artifacts, you can watch various films that explore the era in more detail, lending voice and visuals to the experience.
Afterwards, check out the surrounding grounds and the mausoleum set in the place Ho Chi Minh first established the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.
20. Train Street
You’ve seen the pictures and watched the videos. Hanoi’s Train Street has become one of those rites of passages for travelers to the Vietnamese capital. Train Street, otherwise known as Tran Phu Road, exists in the Old Quarter and features a railway track set between rows of buildings. Locals caught on to the fascination and began serving drinks and treats on tiny tables so locals and travelers alike could get a one-of-a-kind shot.
Due to safety, this ended in 2019. But as with other parts of Hanoi (hello, Ta Hien Beer Street), you’ll find locals flaunting the laws. Come when no trains are scheduled to enjoy this unique setup.
19. Dong Xuan Market
Shop local with the locals at Dong Xuan Market. Large and often overwhelming, it can take a minute to get your bearings surrounded by such an immense amount of fashion, good and goods.
Set on the edge of Hanoi’s Old Quarter, Dong Xuan Market is a conglomerate of alleys packed with stalls. If you’re seeking much-needed electronics, you’ll find what you’re looking for here. Likewise souvenirs, but among the items catering to travelers, you’ll find traditional Vietnamese clothing and craftwork.
This is all spread across multiple floors. But to get there, you’ll need to wander through the chaotic brilliance of the building’s fish market.
18. Hanoi Ceramic Mosaic Mural
Starting in 2007, the Hanoi Ceramic Mosaic Mural is the country’s first public collective work of art. The mural, which took three years to complete, is a celebration of Hanoi’s 1000th birthday.
Creating the Ceramic Mosaic Mural was extensive work. Over 30 artists, 100 craftsmen and 500 children took part, re-purposing the city’s gray and bland dyke system into a vibrant, colorful story.
The mosaics were first created in the Bat Trang village before being transported to Hanoi. On arrival, the tiles were split into 21 sections, each with their own style in reference to the Vietnam’s many eras, providing you with a visual narrative of the country’s past.
17. Fine Arts Museum (Bao Tang My Thuat)
Spread across two buildings in the old French Ministry of Information, the Fine Arts Museum is home to a wonderful, worldwide collection of art. Featuring both local and international artists, it’s a place to get your art fix while learning about Vietnamese works.
Also known as Bao Tang My Thuat, visitors will find a rich European hall that boasts the works of Monet, Matisse, and Degas. But further exploration will have you discovering the emotive and eye-opening world of Vietnamese art. From veritable National Treasures to artifacts from pre-historic times, it’s another angle from which you can understand your destination.
The Fine Arts Museum is open all days of the week, except Monday.
16. Bat Trang Ceramic Village
Southeast of Hanoi, Bat Trang Ceramic Village is a valuable insight into traditional Vietnamese culture. Ceramic exports in Vietnam can be traced back as far as the 13th century, and within the Ceramic Village you’ll discover just how incredible such expertise can be.
Surrounded by pots, cups, plates, artwork and jewelry, the Bat Trang Ceramic Village can quickly become a dose of retail therapy. You’ll stand alongside locals perusing the goods, deciding which items you could potentially sneak into your own luggage.
Aside from shopping and watching the locals go to work, joining a pottery class is the thing to do here. After all, why not learn from the best?
15. West Lake
In Hanoi’s northwest, West Lake is the largest body of water in the city. In the early morning, the light bounces across the calm lake before bouncing off nearby buildings and dancing in the trees. It’s a stunning place to be, before the sun hits its zenith and you seek the relief of shade.
Surrounding the vast lake are natural trails that lead to beautiful views and Tran Quoc Pagoda, the oldest Buddhist temple in Hanoi. At 15 meters high (45 feet), it lies on the water’s edge and is free to enter. Just be sure to cover up your shoulders.
Vietnam has amazing coffee. It’s easy to find at any point around West Lake. One of the most relaxing things to do in Hanoi is to start early, drink in hand, and explore a peaceful green escape.
14. Thang Long Imperial Citadel
Over a thousand years old, Hanoi has a rich and lengthy story to tell. At the heart of this is the Thang Long Imperial Citadel, a historic site that has been remarkably well preserved.
A UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site, the Imperial Citadel has all the hallmarks of historic architecture alongside cultural influence that remains easy to spot. Older than the city itself, the foundation of Thang Long Imperial Citadel dates back to the 7th century. Once a Chinese fortress, it soon became the nation’s capital, where it has remained a vital piece to Vietnam’s political and cultural landscapes.
Today, you can explore the historic citadel to see the many iconic gates, towers and palaces where royalty once lived and reigned.
13. St. Joseph’s Cathedral
Set between the beautiful Hoan Kiem Lake and Hanoi’s Old Quarter, St. Joseph’s Cathedral is an architectural marvel. The neo-Gothic building was inspired by the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris and build in 1886.
In the decades since, it has become an iconic part of the city’s skyline, despite serving only a small number of Vietnamese Catholics. Now the oldest church in Hanoi, St. Joseph Cathedral, is as popular outside of mass as it is within.
Travelers arriving at the cathedral will spot their international peers snapping selfies with the gorgeous facade, whose twin towers rise to either side of a giant cross. It’s surrounded by manicured landscapes and trees that promise respite from the searing Hanoi sun.
12. Vietnamese Women’s Museum
A quick trip from the Hanoi Opera House will bring you to the front steps of the Vietnamese Women’s Museum. Although focusing on the story of women through Vietnamese history, the museum is utterly modern.
Thanks to the work of the Women’s Union of Vietnam, this museum is able to showcase the range of roles, movements, and obstacles that have defined female life in Vietnam. All in a bright and beautiful fashion.
Travelers can discover how life has changed over the many centuries. From life as merchants, to modern day entrepreneurs and the vital role Vietnamese women played during international conflicts. Alongside work, explore everyday culture such as fashion and motherhood in Vietnam.
11. Trip to the Perfume Pagoda
A great way to get out of the amazing (but often exhausting) downtown Hanoi is to take a day trip. Perfume Pagoda AKA Chua Huong is a great option. About 60km (37 miles) from Hanoi, a trip to this magical place will take you away from the high rises and into a countryside that stretches from one horizon to the other.
Surrounded by beauty, Perfume Pagoda still demands your attention and effort. After the drive, embark on a boat across a lake, followed by an uphill. Perfume Pagoda has long attracted pilgrims.
However, its range of Buddhist temples that are built into the facade of limestone cliffs has made it a must-see. They’re arranged in maze-like fashion, with glistening stalactites dangling from the ceiling above. While sightly Buddhist statues dot the pathway.
10. Vietnam Military History Museum
As tragic as the events of the Vietnam War are, the era played a vital role in shaping the country in both the 20th and 21st centuries. For travelers, it’s a key part to the nation’s story and one worth exploring in further detail and the Vietnam Military History Museum.
Those traveling from overseas, particularly western countries, will appreciate the different perspective the museum provides. The Military History Museum looks at the war, alongside battles with the French through local eyes. When mixed with your own understanding of these conflicts, you’ll receive a well-rounded insight.
The exhibits pull no punches, providing an emotional experience. Alongside first-hand stories, you can see a model of the famous Cu Chi Tunnels, several fighter planes and the remains of a B52 Bomber.
9. One Pillar Pagoda
If Buddhists were to build a treehouse, it would likely look a lot like this. This eleventh century temple was built by the emperor in gratitude for finally being blessed by a son.
The temple was meant to look like a lotus flower blossoming from a single pillar in the pond, similar to the one seen in the prophetic dream of a child that this emperor had received.
Inside, there is a small shrine to the Bodhisattva of Mercy. The current structure is a rebuild, as the French had the first destroyed after their retreat from the country.
8. Thang Long Water Puppet Theater
This theater celebrates a peasant art form that began in the rice paddies over a thousand years ago. Puppets were simply carved and puppeteers would stand in the water of the paddies, using it as a prop, and act out traditional activities like farming, or legends like the golden turtle and the emperor.
The more modern version continues the use of water and audience participation. Traditional Vietnamese instruments perform an opera that narrates the puppets’ actions, and musicians will interact with puppets, encouraging the heroes and warning them of impending danger.
Guests of the theater needn’t brave the monsoon weather that once would pour on outdoor audiences, but can sit and enjoy a meal while discovering this ancient dramatic art.
7. Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
The final resting place of Vietnamese communist leader Ho Chi Minh sits in Ba Dinh square, the location where he read the nation’s declaration of independence in 1945.
This tall, blocky pillared building is modeled after Lenin’s crypt in Moscow and meant to evoke a traditional communal house, though to many tourists it looks like a concrete cubicle with columns.
Contrary to his desire for a simple cremation, the embalmed body is on display in plexiglass casing, and a dress code of long sleeves and pants is required to visit. The mausoleum is closed for a couple months around the end of the year, when the body goes to Russia for maintenance.
6. Presidential Palace
Behind Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum is a humble stilt house, where Ho Chi Minh supposedly lived in the 60s, though some claim that it would have been too risky during the war for him to live here.
The house is an interpretation of a traditional rural dwelling, and has been preserved just as Ho left it. It’s set in a well-tended garden next to a carp-filled pond.
It shares grounds with the much more luxurious and impressive Presidential Palace built for the French Governor of the Indochina colony in the early 1900’s. The palace is now used for official receptions and isn’t open to the public.
5. Hanoi Hilton (Hoa Lo Prison)
The Hoa Lo Prison, sarcastically coined the Hanoi Hilton by American POWs, was originally built by the French to house Vietnamese political prisoners. The North Vietnamese Army later used the prison to house prisoners of war during the Vietnam War.
Well known figures such as Senator John McCain, James Stockdale and Bud Day were just a few of the many prisoners of war that spent time in this prison.
Two thirds of the prison was torn down to make way for the Hanoi Towers; the rest was turned into a museum and is now a popular tourist attraction in Hanoi. In 1999 a Hilton Hotel opened in Hanoi and was carefully named the Hilton Hanoi Opera Hotel.
4. Vietnam Museum of Ethnology
Through its connection to neighboring countries and Vietnam’s colonial past, the Southeast Asian country is very diverse. The story of Vietnam’s many subcultures and their heritage is one display at the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology.
There are over 50 indigenous communities in Vietnam. Many of whom are working side by side with this insightful museum to preserve and celebrate centuries of stories and unique cultures.
With this help, the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology is as authentic as you could hope it to be. The strong collaboration has created a rich range of exhibits, from historic artifacts to tribal clothing. If you’re looking to explore beyond modern Vietnam culture, this is the place to go.
3. Temple of Literature
This is one of the temples of Confucius, and home of the nation’s first university. Originally built in 1070, the temple is meant to honor all scholars.
Today, calligraphists will come and write good will wishes in Han characters during the Asian New Year at the steps of the temple, to give as gifts. The temple was built to replicate Confucius’ birthplace, with five courtyards and various temples and other buildings throughout the expansive grounds.
Of special note are the Stelae of Doctors, a series of over 100 carved blue stone turtles, which honor the names of all who pass the royal exams.
2. Hanoi’s Old Quarter
Within the Ba Dinh district, Hanoi’s Old Quarter is brimming with activity. The buzz washes over you in earnest, rather than being an overwhelming overload to the senses. As you walk, the citi’s rapid and busy traffic will swarm around you, providing ample background noise to the musical conversations.
The Old Quarter is a delightful mix of colonial French architecture, spread along the many roads lined with locals in straw hats, pushing all sorts of foods and goods. Color and cuisine mix like the pedestrians and traffic. One coats the quarter in the kaleidoscopic hue of a rainbow, the other presents your nose with endless wonders.
Hanoi’s Old Quarter is a haven for foodies. But also, anyone keen to dive into the organized chaos that is the city’s oldest commercial district.
1. Hoan Kiem Lake
Known as the lake of the returned (or restored) sword, this lake marks the historical center of ancient Hanoi.
The name comes from a legend in which Emperor Le Loi was given a magical sword by the gods, which he used to drive out the invading Chinese. Later, while boating on the lake, he encountered a giant turtle, which grabbed the sword and carried it down to its depths.
Every morning at around 6am local residents practice traditional t’ai chi on the shore. The lake also houses Jade Island, home of the eighteenth century Temple of the Jade Mountain. The island is reachable via the red-painted and picturesque Morning Sunlight Bridge.
Map of Tourist Attractions in Hanoi
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16 unique things to do in Hanoi
Sep 26, 2021 • 9 min read
From street food to the respite of Hoan Kiem Lake, here are the best things to do in Hanoi © Daniel William / Shutterstock
Visiting Hanoi is like hopping through a time tunnel: beyond congested roads flanked by modern skyscrapers, ancient temples and multi-storey pagodas rub elbows with French colonial mansions in the labyrinthine Old Quarter.
Both stubbornly traditional and forward-looking, bustling Hanoi largely resisted the light-speed advancements that are sweeping across the rest of the nation, and the city often confounds first-time visitors. This list of the top things to do in Hanoi can help you hit the ground running and make perfect sense of the best that Vietnam 's most historical city has to offer.
Explore Hoan Kiem Lake
Opening like a tear to the east of the Old Quarter, Hoan Kiem Lake offers some freshwater and green respite to Hanoi's hustle. On its northern edge, the Ngoc Son Temple sits on a small island connected to the shore via the scarlet Cau The Huc bridge. Early in the morning, the lakeside fills with residents practicing tai chi, and on weekends, the 7pm to midnight traffic ban gives the area a funfair vibe.
Dive into the Old Quarter
Explore the Old Quarter effortlessly with GetYourGuide . Book your tour today.
Located in Ba Dinh district near the business area, Hanoi's Old Quarter is the city's busiest attraction, and it’s an unmissable attack to the senses. Buzzing motorbikes maneuver around people in large conical straw hats pushing carts laden with goods along streets lined with French colonial buildings. Come right after sunrise when the light casts ethereal hues over the century-old facades, and find only the most industrious locals busy setting up shop for the day. Signing up for a walking food tour with a local is another good way to explore the quarter’s 36 streets and the best dishes that represent them.
Hunt for the best bun cha
If the late celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain chose to treat Barack Obama to a taste of this quintessential bowl of grilled pork, herbs and noodles, Hanoi’s bun cha must really be quite special. Bún Chả Hương Liên , the hole-in-the-wall restaurant where the duo dined in 2016, has become legendary, but the fun is going around town scouring for worthy competitors. Two good places to start are Lotte Center Hanoi in Ba Dinh and Bún Chả Ba Duc in Quan Ba Dinh.
Watch a water puppet show
Vietnamese water puppetry originated in the 11th century from the flooded paddy fields of the Red River Delta, and visitors shouldn't miss this unique local form of art when in Hanoi. Expert puppeteers maneuver wooden figurines tied to long poles over pools that serve as liquid stages, using water splashes to choreographic three-dimensional effect. Hanoi’s most famous Water Puppet theater is Thang Long in the city center, hosting up to five multi-lingual shows per day.
Marvel at St. Joseph Cathedral
Standing guard between the Old Quarter and Hoan Kiem Lake, St. Joseph Cathedral is one of Hanoi's most iconic architectural landmarks. Built in 1886, its neo-Gothic style is modeled after Paris' Notre-Dame Cathedral. It's the oldest church in Vietnam's capital and serves the city’s small catholic population. Visitors can enter the church’s hall only during mass, which takes place at 6:15pm daily on weekdays and seven times per day on Sundays.
Learn to cross the road
Crossing through street traffic in Hanoi is a real cultural adventure and a way to get in tune with the city’s rhythms. To the untrained eye, Hanoi’s constant flow of cars and endless lines of motorbikes may look like an impenetrable wall of deadly chaos, but the trick is to be slow, steady, and predictable. Drivers are very much used to dodging pedestrians as they approach, and honking is just a polite way to signal when someone is near. The hardest part is grasping the courage to step off the sidewalk and start walking... especially for the first time.
Drink the world’s cheapest beer
Hanoi is home to bia hoi , touted as "the world's cheapest beer" because it’s sold for between 5000 and 7000VND per glass (US$0.22 to 0.31). Made from fermented maize, bia hoi is served and consumed by the roadside while patrons sit and chat casually on low plastic stools. Hanoi’s busiest drinking spot is the Beer Corner — the intersection between Tha Hien and Luong Ngoc Quyen in the Old Quarter — a whole road crammed with red plastic chairs, locals, tourists and the echo of their bragging rights.
Try as much banh mi as you can
Born in Saigon as a simple working-class sandwich stuffed with pickled vegetables, cilantro, French ham and home-made pork liver pate, bahn mi is sold from street carts as a hearty breakfast or midday meal. From humble beginnings, it has risen to become a proper foodie obsession, particularly among foreign tourists and overseas Vietnamese, who even started reproducing the heavenly bread at home. The whole of Hanoi is a fair bahn mi playground, with stalls and shops dishing it up at every corner. One of the best is Bahn Mi 25 in Hoan Kiem District, which also offers vegan and vegetarian options.
Try ostrich meat in Son Tay
Believe it or not, ostrich farming has become one of North Vietnam's most profitable enterprises. The Ba Vi mountains near Son Tay, a favorite weekend getaway for Hanoi locals, are a popular spot to try the meat of the African bird while in Asia. It's usually served fried, as a meatloaf, or boiled with vegetables in a hot pot. If exotic meat doesn't appeal, Ba Vi's homegrown hill chickens, fried with fresh peppers, are the best alternative.
Check out the music and art scene
From DJ nights to jazz and alternative rock bands, Hanoi’s nightlife has a few well-established venues basking in music and arts. Since 2010, Hanoi Rock City has hosted live bands, electronic and experimental music, art events and a regular open mic night on Wednesdays. Savage in Tay Ho District opened in 2016 to quickly rise as the city's electronic music club of choice, where both resident and international DJs come to spin the best house and techno beats.
For real strings and shiny brasses head to Binh Minh Jazz Club in the Old Quarter, where a selection of good whiskey pairs to live local jazz ensembles on most nights. The Hanoi Social Club in Hoan Kiem also regularly hosts arts events, besides being a favorite all-day meeting spot to socialize over coffee and beers.
Find calm at the Temple of Literature
Hidden by a walled compound sheltering five separate courtyards, the Temple of Literature (Van Mieu) was built in 1070 under the Ly Thanh Tong dynasty to honor Confucius. The complex also served as Vietnam's first national university. Today, the temple is not just one of Hanoi's most striking, but also a perfectly quiet place to take a break from the city's constant activity. Whether strolling in one of its five perfectly-manicured gardens, or paying homage to Confucius' philosophy at his dedicated altars, the Temple of Literature is an oasis of quiet introspection.
Visit Vietnam’s Museum of Ethnology
Completed in 1997, this museum pays respect to Vietnam's 54 ethnic groups. It’s particularly handy for those short on time and interested in anthropology: the staggering collection of 15,000 artifacts and 42,000 photographs on display give a quick and comprehensive ethnographic tour of this highly diverse nation. The gardens host a life-sized outdoor collection of traditional houses from Vietnam’s most prominent ethnic groups.
Have an egg coffee in the Old Quarter
Egg yolk coffee, or ca phe trung , is a mixture of espresso with sugar, condensed milk and egg yolk. Invented in 1946 while trying to make cappuccino, the whisked egg yolks were used as a surrogate of the then scarce milk. That trick established this frothy, savory and uniquely Vietnamese brew as a real national success.
Ca Phe Trung can be found in a number of cities across Vietnam, but Cafe Giang in Hanoi’s Old Quarter is where it all started, and where the inventor's son still dishes up the original recipe today. The Note Cafe is also worth a visit, not just for its coffee, but for its very photogenic walls plastered with thousands of hand-written messages left by customers from all over the world.
Learn about Do Paper at Zó Project
Tucked to the south of Hanoi’s West Lake , Zó Project ’s tiny boutique focuses on unique handmade products realized with Vietnamese Dó paper ( giấy Dó ). Produced manually following ancient techniques from the bark of the endemic Rhamnoneuron balansae tree, this heavy-duty, fibrous paper is believed to be able to last up to 800 years. Established in 2013 by Tran Hong Nhung, the social enterprise Zó Project aims at preserving the art of Dó paper-making by working closely with the only two families of traditional artisans left in the village of Bac Ninh, 25 miles (40km) northeast of Hanoi.
Have a glass of rice liquor by Train Street’s narrow tracks
Since 2018, sitting with a drink on either side of the narrow railway passage on Tran Phu road in the Old Quarter has become some kind of tourist rite of passage in Hanoi. Known as “Train Street” , the homes along this 300m (984ft) stretch of city rail line turned into feel-good cafes and started spilling tables and serving drinks way too close to the passing trains. The street’s constant surge in popularity forced authorities to try to close the shops down in October 2019 to avoid accidents, but Train Street's cafes have kept operating discreetly. The best time to visit is probably when no trains are approaching: without the crowds, one is freer to observe how real local life unfolds on both sides of this narrow city rail track.
Escape to Tam Coc’s rice terraces
One of the most popular day trips from Hanoi is to the Unesco-inscribed Tràng An Scenic Landscape Complex in Ninh Binh province , about three hours from the capital. Think jade-green valleys backed by limestone karsts flanked by the meandering channels of the Red River Delta.
The village of Tam Coc and its viewpoints that dominate ever-changing shades of paddy fields are as popular as taking a slow boat ride along the Ngo Dong River. Spending at least a night here makes it easier to enjoy the scenery without the crowds. Don't forget the Mua Cave viewpoint, a sweaty 486-step climb to the top of an imposing limestone mountain, where an altar to Goddess of Mercy Quan Am dominates the valley and the snaking river below.
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16 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Hanoi
Written by Jess Lee Updated Mar 22, 2023
Dive into Hanoi's pulsating city streets, and you'll capture the essence of Vietnamese life. The country's capital is a burgeoning economic center that still clings strongly to traditional culture, managing to be a showcase of both old and modern Vietnam.
The old quarter district is Hanoi's main tourist attraction. It hums with street vendor action and the cafés and restaurants are vibrant, contemporary scenes. Just trying to cross a road here can end up being an adrenaline-fueled escapade.
When the crowds begin to wear you down, Hanoi has a bundle of places to visit where you can escape for some peace.
Hoan Kiem Lake is a relaxing respite right within the city, while the Temple of Literature and Vietnam Museum of Ethnology are two of the best places to visit to reflect on Vietnam's grand history.
For more sightseeing ideas, see our list of the top attractions and things to do in Hanoi.
1. Explore Hanoi Old Town Quarter
For many visitors to Vietnam's capital, the major attraction is strolling the streets of the city's ancient core.
This labyrinthine quarter of narrow alleys is the commercial heartbeat of town and has a history that stretches back 1,000 years.
It's a delightfully dilapidated place, where the odd piece of medieval era architecture has managed to cling on within the modern hubbub of whizzing motorbikes, street vendors, and pulsating commerce.
If you look up while you're wandering, the area has plenty of vernacular shophouse architecture, where merchants would traditionally live above their shops in very long but narrow two-storey dwellings, squeezed together on the alleyway rows.
The backstreets here are a great opportunity to soak up the buzz of Hanoi street life.
As well as there being plenty of street food on offer and lots of pavement vendors selling fruits and vegetables, there are also stalls selling traditional medicines and Buddhist religious trappings.
A relic of French Colonial rule, right in the heart of the old town quarter, St. Joseph's Cathedral (Nha Tho Street) was built in 1886 and is a fine example of neo-Gothic architectural style.
The façade is intricately decorated, with two bell towers, while inside are some delicate stained glass window details. The main entrance is kept locked except for mass. At other times, you can access the interior of the church from the back through the offices for the Diocese of Hanoi.
2. Stroll around Hoan Kiem Lake
Hanoi's most well-known landmark is tranquil Hoan Kiem Lake, nestled just on the southern edge of the old town quarter.
The major tourist attraction upon the lake is the small island (reached by a red bridge) that holds Ngoc Son Temple, dedicated to three grand figures from Vietnamese history: La To (revered as a patron saint of physicians); the renowned scholar Van Xuong; and the 13th century general Tran Hung Dao, who fought against the invading Mongol army.
Another tiny island on the southern section of the lake holds the stocky Turtle Tower - best viewed from the bridge.
Address: Dinh Tien Hoang Street
3. Admire the Temple of Literature
The city's most interesting religious building is this beautiful and incredibly peaceful Confucian temple, originally built as a university in the 11th century.
Today, the Temple of Literature stands as a tribute to the nation's scholars.
It was here, in the medieval era, that the philosophy of Confucianism and literature was taught, and near the entranceway, you can still see the names of students who studied here, etched into a series of pillars.
Inside, a series of manicured gardens lead to pavilions and a well-preserved pagoda where a statue of Confucius sits.
Address: Quoc Tu Giam Street
4. Visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
A place of pilgrimage for many Vietnamese, the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is a sprawling complex set within the city's gardens that contains the tomb of Ho Chi Minh as well as various museums and monuments.
The actual mausoleum itself is an austere marble building where Ho Chi Minh's embalmed body sits in a glass case.
Also within the complex is the Ho Chi Minh Museum, which has an eclectic collection containing Ho Chi Minh's personal memorabilia as well as plenty of information on the history of the Vietnamese Revolution.
Also worth a visit is the stilt house, once home to Ho Chi Minh, which is excellently preserved, and the One Pillar Pagoda. This pagoda is a reconstruction of the original 11th century temple, which was destroyed by French colonial troops.
Address: Ngoc Ha Street
Official site: www.baotanghochiminh.vn
5. See the Exhibits inside the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology
A must for museum fans and history lovers, Hanoi's Vietnam Museum of Ethnology houses the extensive national collection and tells the story of Vietnam's diverse cultures in a series of excellently well-curated exhibits.
Here, the huge number of ethnic minorities who call Vietnam home are highlighted with beautiful displays of artifacts and art that showcase wooden carving, metalwork, and traditional costumes.
The garden area outside the main building holds some of the most interesting exhibits. Here, you can see the rural dwellings used by different ethnic minorities across Vietnam, as well as the fascinating Giarai tomb.
Address: Nguyen Van Huyen Street
Official site: www.vme.org.vn
6. Visit Hoa Lo Prison Museum
Built by the French colonial government in the late 19th century, Hoa Lo Prison Museum was originally used to harbor Vietnamese revolutionaries and any dissidents of the French rule.
For many foreign visitors though, it's better known as the prison where American POWs were held during the Vietnam War (known as the American War in Vietnam). The most famous foreign ex-resident of the prison is John McCain.
The prison grounds contain the communal jail cells, solitary cells, and courtyard, and the guillotine used by the French is also on display.
There is a plethora of information here on Vietnam's long battle against France's colonial rule that details the brutal regime prisoners here were kept under.
Two rooms also tell the story of the American POWs held here, with a video documenting their imprisonment and eventual release along with personal mementos of the prisoners.
Address: Hoa Lo Street
7. Watch a Show at the Water Puppet Theatre
Hanoi's water puppet shows are a great way to sample traditional Vietnamese artistry and entertainment and are an excellent evening activity if you have children in tow.
This ancient art form first evolved in Vietnam's rural areas during the months of the monsoon paddy field flooding, and today, it is now mostly performed in custom-made water pools rather than outside.
Performances usually center around well-known local legends and are accompanied by a live band using traditional Vietnamese instruments.
Hanoi is the heartland of contemporary water puppet theater with five shows daily at the Municipal Water Puppet Theatre.
Official site: www.thanglongwaterpuppet.org
8. Explore the Imperial Citadel
Although it may not look like much at first, Hanoi's Imperial Citadel area was once the vital seat of military power here, and continued in an important strategic role right up to the 1960s and the Vietnam War.
The site achieved UNESCO World Heritage Site recognition in 2010 for its long role in Hanoi's past, and the area's 1,000 years of history are highlighted by archaeological work that has unearthed the foundations of various palaces that once stood on this spot.
There's also a bunker here that dates from the Vietnam War where military maps and implements are displayed.
Address: Hoang Dieu Street
Official site: www.hoangthanhthanglong.vn
9. Photograph Hanoi's Train Street
This skinny alley and its train line, about halfway between the Imperial Citadel and St. Joseph's Cathedral in central Hanoi, has become world famous in recent years due to the fact that passing trains run with only around a 20-centimeter gap between the train and the alley's houses.
Due to tourists acting dangerously and not getting out of the way of oncoming trains, the government decided to ban tourism on the street in 2019, and shut down the alley's cafés due to safety fears.
Since then there has been some relenting of attitude, and some cafés along the route have been reopened. If you're here to photograph the trains, make sure to obey the street locals and café staff just before the train passes.
The train schedule changes regularly, but there are usually more opportunities to see the trains go by on the weekends.
Address: Tran Phu Street
10. Boat Trip to the Perfume Pagoda Complex
Set on the slopes and clifftops of Huong Tich Mountain, this Buddhist temple complex (also known as Huong Pagoda) with several pagodas is a popular day tour from Hanoi as much for the scenic journey there as to visit the pagodas themselves.
After a 60-kilometer drive south from the city, you access the Perfume Pagoda by first taking a one-hour boat ride on a river rimmed with lush karst mountain scenery all along the way to Huong Tich Mountain, and then either taking a cable car with excellent aerial views of the mountains up to the temple complex or hiking your way up the slopes.
The pagoda complex is an important place of pilgrimage for Vietnamese visitors, who come here to leave offerings for cures for childlessness and health issues as well as other problems.
11. View Hanoi's Military History Museum
The courtyard outside this museum displays an eclectic mix of weaponry and military machines including downed French and US planes, tanks, and a Soviet MiG fighter plane.
Inside the actual building is a huge amount of information on the wars with both France and the USA, along with exhibits of weaponry, which will be of interest to those with a penchant for Vietnam's 20th century history.
For the average visitor though, the displays and information panels are not particularly well set out, and many find the museum most worth a look for its courtyard clutter of planes around a stocky flag tower.
Address: Dien Bien Phu Street
12. Visit Hanoi's Fine Art Museum
Art lovers and museum fans definitely need to make a pit stop at this museum that holds a collection of Vietnamese artistry from the prehistoric age right up to the country's contemporary artists.
Some of the treasures on display here include terracotta and stone sculptures dating from the Tran Dynasty and Champa Dynasty, Buddha statues from the Mac and Le Dynasties, and the intricate statues of the goddess Guan Yin.
There is also an extensive collection of 11th- and 12th-century ceramic work and a substantial gallery devoted to folk art.
Address: Nguyen Thai Hoc Street
13. Take in the City Views at West Lake
Tay Ho (West Lake) is Hanoi's largest lake, and its shoreline stretches for 15 kilometers.
Many locals come here to exercise by walking or cycling the pathway that rings the shore, but there's also two interesting temples in the vicinity.
Tay Ho Pagoda is exceedingly pretty and dedicated to the mother goddess and Tran Quoc Pagoda is one of the oldest still-standing temples in Vietnam (although it has been rebuilt several times).
For most travelers, West Lake is a great place to get a skyline view of new Hanoi, as well as to feast on fresh seafood at one of the many restaurants that sit close to the shore. West Lake lies off Thuy Khue Street.
14. Admire Hanoi's Memorial House
For anyone interested in what life must have been like for Hanoi's locals during an earlier age, a trip to Memorial House is a must-do while in the city.
This finely-restored merchant house sits in the old town quarter and has been furnished to look like a typical merchant's home, brimming with antiques and everyday objects from centuries prior.
The house has plenty of traditional architectural features, set between courtyards to give outdoor space and set out according to the ancient tradition of feng shui, which allows good energy flow into the house.
In some of the rooms, you can watch traditional craftspeople in residence work at calligraphy and basketry crafts.
Address: Ma May Street
15. Day Trip to Co Loa Citadel
Just 16 kilometers northeast of central Hanoi, Co Loa Citadel makes a great day trip destination out of the city. This fortified settlement is one of the most important archaeological sites in the surrounding area and has been a site of habitation since the Bronze Age.
As it was capital to the northern Vietnamese Kingdom of Au Lac in the 3rd Century BCE, it is thought to be the earliest capital in Vietnam.
The settlement includes remains of the earthen ramparts, which once stretched for five kilometers, and a group of temples from different eras, with the youngest one dating from the 16th century.
16. Shop in the Artisan Villages of Hanoi's Hinterland
Several villages on the outskirts of Hanoi are known for their traditional craftwork production, so they make for worthwhile trips out of the center if you're looking for souvenirs.
If you want to purchase some silk products, head to the village of Van Phuc, 10 kilometers southwest from central Hanoi. The silk clothing and accessories for sale in the shops here are all produced by Van Phuc's many weavers.
Bat Trang, about 16 kilometers southeast of the central city, is renowned as a center for ceramic work, and you'll find plenty of huge ceramic stores here selling the same pieces you've probably seen in all of central Hanoi's boutiques, for cheaper prices.
Map of Tourist Attractions in Hanoi
Frequently Asked Questions
When is the best time to visit hanoi.
Located in the north of the country, Hanoi actually enjoys a "cold" season, when temperatures drop into the teens.
With changes in humidity and sometimes strong winds coming from the river, nights can feel chilly in Hanoi in the months between November to February. This is usually the best time to visit Vietnam in general, as the weather is dry and pleasant, ideal for long walks around Hoan Kiem Lake and the narrow alleyways of Old Town Quarter.
If you'd rather experience warmer days, March, April, and October are good options as well. You'll get plenty of sunshine, temperatures in the high 20s, and a more bearable level of humidity - you'll also see higher prices, as these are popular months to visit Hanoi.
Strong rainstorms and sometimes flooding hit Hanoi in August and September - but rains start as early as May and sometimes run into early October. These are the months to avoid, as heavy downpours make it difficult to spend lots of time outside.
In addition, June, July, and August are considered Hanoi's summer months. This means temperatures that often climb into the 40s and lots of mosquitoes. The rains only make it worse, as they raise the humidity level and make the air heavy and outdoor activities difficult. As a general rule, if you're going to visit Hanoi, visit at any time except these three months.
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25 AMAZING Things to Do in Hanoi, Vietnam (2023 Guide)
From visiting the Temple of Literature to sitting under the very same tree where Buddha got enlightened, this is our list of the best things to do in Hanoi, Vietnam.
The capital of Vietnam, Hanoi is also one of the most ancient capitals in the world. Its history is rich, devastating, and full of legends.
This French-colonial city is a cultural mix of Eastern and Western influences that are mirrored in the style of many architectural gems in Hanoi.
Check out our complete travel guide on what you need to know when you travel to Vietnam .
Some of these gems that travellers can discover are remarkably preserved colonial buildings, unique museums, the world’s largest mosaic, and ancient pagodas.
While its traffic is hectic and fast-paced, you’ll be happy to know that it’s a great place to explore on foot.
This mystical city is also known for its cuisine, silk, buzzing nightlife as well as cultural diversity. Its home to a large community made up of Chinese, French and Russian influences. There are also lots of places to learn about the interesting Vietnamese history.
To get away from the chaos of the always-buzzing city life you’re a short drive away to its tranquil countryside where you’ll be surrounded by lush parks, mountains, and traditional villages.
Table of Contents
1) Go on a Free Walking Tour of the City
2) wander around the old quarter, the ancient house, st joseph’s cathedral, 4) visit the ho chi minh mausoleum, 5) people watch at hoan kiem lake, 6) visit the ngoc son pagoda, 7) go shopping at dong xuan market, 8) catch a show at the opera house, 9) don’t miss the vietnamese woman’s museum, 10) visit the temple of literature, 11) learn about the hoa lo prison museum (the hanoi hilton), 12) appreciate the works in the vietnam fine arts museum, 13) eat all of the food…seriously, 14) brush up on ethnic history at the vietnam museum of ethnology, 15) find a rooftop bar, 16) visit the unesco world heritage site of the imperial citadel of thang long, 17) get social and drink bia hoi on the street, 18) visit one pillar pagoda, 19) enjoy some peace and quiet at west lake, 20) visit tran quoc pagoda, 21) see a water puppet show, 22) take a cooking class, 23) make your own pottery at bat trang ceramic village, 24) wander the themed streets of hanoi, 25) check out the 4-kilometre mosaic wall, our guide on the best things to do in hanoi, vietnam.
If you’re in luck and you’re getting to discover Hanoi for the first time, here are some of our choices on things to do in Hanoi.
From eating incredible street food, to learning about history and the Vietnam War, to seeing temples and pagodas, let’s get into all the cool things to do in Hanoi.
One of the best ways to get acquainted with any city in the world is to go on a walking tour.
Go on a half a day or a full-day tour, and take in some of the best sights around the city.
Being guided by a local student, these tours allow you to find the best attractions, restaurants, bars and hidden spots around the city, and really is one of the best things to do in Hanoi.
There are a bunch of different variations of these Hanoi tours, so whether you’re interested in the French Quarter, the Ho Chi Minh Complex, Vietnamese history, or just finding the best street food in the city, these guys have you covered.
Note that while the tours are free, donations are expected for guides that do a great job. This is definitely one of the best things to do in Hanoi.
The Old Quarter is one of the two most well-known districts in Hanoi (the other being the Ba Dinh District). The Old Quarter is a business centre and also a very prominent spot among tourists.
A typical scene in Hanoi streets are sidewalks teeming with bicycles and scooters while crowds of people scavenge markets and barter loudly with street vendors.
While exploring the Old Quarter you have no choice but to confront the traffic as a local would do and experience the history on the go.
Old Quarter is an interesting blend of ancient history (Hanoi celebrated a millennial birthday in 2010) and commercialism.
Packed with French colonial architecture, traditional Vietnamese architecture, pagodas and Buddhist temples you’ll want to get lost in its streets. The streets of Old Quarter carry names of the business that were set up over 1,000 years ago.
Most of these businesses were craft shops. But today a lot of them turned into something more commercial and modern.
Even now you can still find shops owned by the same families for centuries, selling original Vietnamese handcrafted products.
Expect to see lots of cafes, restaurants, boutiques, art galleries and bars even in this historical area.
3) See the Ancient House and St Joseph’s Cathedral in the Old Quarter.
The best way to understand the difference between Vietnamese architecture and French colonialism is through these two buildings (luckily both situated in the same neighbourhood near Hoan Kiem Lake).
The house is made of two main blocks bound together by a square yard in the middle on the ground floor, and a small balcony on the 1st floor.
The yard is included at the centre of the building to moderate the air, providing the house with sunlight and cool air.
Today, you can come and see the Ancient House and see first-hand how Hanoian lived.
On the other hand, Saint Joseph Cathedral is a hybrid of Vietnamese and Western architectural style
Saint Joseph Cathedral is a Roman Catholic cathedral done in a Neo-Gothic style. It was built around 120 years ago.
The cathedral was constructed and completed in 1886 after the French army conquered Hanoi.
The architecture of the cathedral clearly follows the rules of the Gothic style and design of the Paris Cathedral.
The appearance of the cathedral, the doors, the stained glass windows and the religious paintings all follow a clear Western style.
But the interior is decorated in a Vietnamese way, with dominating colours of yellow and red.
READ MORE: Plan your stay in Hanoi with this great 3-day itinerary !
- Address: 87 Phố Mã Mây, Hàng Buồm, Hoàn Kiếm
- Opening hours: Every day from 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM, also open Fri-Sun from 7:30 PM – 10:00 PM
- Price: 10,000 VND
- Address: 40 Nhà Chung, Hàng Trống, Hoàn Kiếm
- Opening hours: Monday – Saturday: 8:00 AM – 11:00 AM, 2:00 PM – 5:00 PM, Sunday: 7:00 AM – 11:30 AM, 3:00 PM – 9:00
- Price: Free of charge
The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is the resting place of the revolution leader Ho Chi Minh , who was the President of the Communist Party of Vietnam.
It is located at the very same place where, in 1945, Ho Chi Minh read the Declaration of Independence and established the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.
The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum was inspired by Lenin’s Mausoleum (in Moscow) but with a Vietnamese twist . It incorporates elements that are tied to Vietnamese architecture like the sloping roof.
The exterior of the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is made of grey granite while the interior is black, grey and red polished stone. All of the material used for construction was acquired from all over Vietnam.
Fauna from different regions of Vietnam surrounds the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum.
The embalmed body of Ho Chi Minh is located in the central hall of the mausoleum, protected at all times by a military guard.
In addition to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, learn more at the Ho Chi Minh Museum.
The two attractions are within a short walk of each other. At the Ho Chi Minh Museum, you can see documents, films, and objects about the famous leader.
- Address: 2 Hùng Vương, Điện Bàn, Ba Đình
- Opening hours: 7:30 am – 10:30am (closed Fridays and Mondays)
- Price: 40,000 VND
Hoan Kiem Lake, adjacent to the French Quarter, got its name (Lake of the Restored Sword) from a legend.
In ancient times circulated a story that claimed the Heaven-sent Emperor Ly Thai To a sword with magical properties. He used that sword to banish the Chinese from Vietnam.
Following the end of the Vietnam War, a giant golden turtle took the sword and escaped to the depths of Hoan Kiem Lake to return the sword to its divine owners thus earning its name, the Lake of the Restored Sword.
If you’re not amused by legends don’t fret because the Hoan Kiem Lake is special for other things as well.
This is the only lake in Vietnam that is home to an iconic tortoise.
The tortoise is considered a sacred animal so the lake itself is a holy place. If you’re in luck you’ll be able to catch a glimpse of these majestic animals.
It was long thought they had become instinct until one crawled out of the lake a few years ago.
The Hoan Kiem Lake is very popular among Hanoians as a gathering place for families, nature lovers, and hangouts.
If you want to spend time as the local residents do, make sure to show up at 6 am and practise Tai Chi with them.
The best time to visit the Hoan Kiem Lake is from Fridays to Sundays because the nearby traffic is banned from 7 PM to midnight turning it into a peaceful oasis.
When you’re finished exploring Hanoi, make sure you visit the beautiful village of Mai Chau.
If the Hoan Kiem Lake itself isn’t enough to peak your interest, then make sure to visit the Ngoc Son Temple, a pagoda surrounded by the Hoan Kiem lake.
The pagoda was built in memorial of the 13th-century figure Tran Hung Dao, a brave military leader who fought against the Yuan Dynasty.
The island on which the pagoda is built is known as Jade Island and is accessible by the famous Rising Sun Bridge at the edge of the French Quarter.
The bridge is built out of wood and coloured red in a classical Vietnamese fashion.
The pagoda and lake are probably the most famous places to visit in Hanoi. It’s one of those places where you just come to lay down, relax and enjoy the blissful quiet.
- Address: Đinh Tiên Hoàng, Hàng Trống, Hoàn Kiếm
- Price: 30,000 VND
Established in the late 19th century, the Dong Xuan Market can be found in a four-story communist styled building on the edge of the Old Quarter.
Dong Xuan Market is the largest indoor market in Hanoi and one of the best things to do if you need to shop. What one can find there is truly astounding.
Whatever you’re looking for whether it’d be some fresh local produce, souvenirs or in need of a laptop – chances are some vendor tucked away has it.
Like other markets in Southeast Asia, Dong Xuan Market has a market section specifically for meat, seafood, vegetables, and flowers from all across Vietnam. You’ll find some of the best street food in Hanoi here.
If you’re not into testing the different flavours of Vietnam head up to the upper floors.
You will be able to find handbags, fabrics, handicrafts all of which is being sold at wholesale prices!
Dong Xuan market is a Hanoi must-see!
- Address: Đồng Xuân, Hoàn Kiếm
- Opening hours: Monday – Sunday: 6 AM – 6 PM
Like the St Joseph’s Cathedral, the Hanoi Opera House was modelled after one of Paris’s counterparts, the Palais Garnier.
The Hanoi Opera House follows the European style quite clearly. It has Italian marble floors, ceilings decorated with French murals and copper chandeliers.
The Hanoi Opera House is regarded as one of the most famous architectural and cultural landmarks in Hanoi .
Today, the opera house has a strong cultural influence and is a centre for art shows, dance performances, and concerts.
- Address : Số 01 Tràng Tiền, Phan Chu Trinh
- Opening hours: Monday – Friday: 10.30 AM – 11 PM
- Price Range: from 300,000 VND
Want to see it all in a day? Check out this awesome guided day-tour of Hanoi on Klook ! Use the code “NMDSKLK” to get $5 off your first booking.
This cool modern museum just a short walk from the opera house offers a beautiful tribute to the women of Vietnamese history.
The museum is run by the Women’s Union of Vietnam.
The museum focuses on the position of Vietnamese women throughout history. From street merchants, mothers to entrepreneurs and scholars.
The narratives focus on their role in society, the obstacles they overcame as society changed, and an abundance of information on everyday life, such as marriage, motherhood, fashion, and life-changing rituals.
One of the most interesting exhibits focuses on the position women played in the Vietnam War.
The museum has displayed a lot of information about all of its exhibits in French and in English. Historic relics which include Taoist books (among other impressive collected artifacts) give an in-depth insight into a better understanding of the women of Vietnam.
- Address: 36 Lý Thường Kiệt, Hàng Bài, Hoàn Kiếm
- Opening hours: Every day 8 AM – 5 PM
The Temple of Literature is often regarded as one of the most visited tourist attractions.
In 1070 the Temple of Literature was made with the intention of serving as a university and was dedicated to Confucius and scholars.
Fortunately, the building is remarkably preserved and is an excellent example of traditional Vietnamese architecture.
When you visit the Temple of Literature you will find an abundance of literature, turtle steles as well as the Well of Heavenly Clarity.
The Temple of Literature is a tribute to education. This place has seen thousands and thousands of Vietnam’s finest scholars.
The most acclaimed prize for the most successful scholars was to have their names engraved onto a stone stele on top of the stone turtles.
Today students visit the Temple of Literature and pray for good grades.
- Address: 58 Quốc Tử Giám, Văn Miếu, Đống Đa
- Opening hours: In summer ( From April to October): 07:30 AM – 5:30 PM. In winter (From October to April): 8 AM- 5 PM.
READ MORE: Don’t miss out on taking a trip to Sapa for some trekking during your time in Northern Vietnam!
One of the best examples of the gruesome past of Vietnamese history, the Hoa Lo Prison Museum (AKA “Hanoi Hilton”) will make you experience a range of emotions from disgust, sorrow to outrage at how something like this was allowed to happen.
The museum displays and educates on the sufferings of the Vietnamese revolutionaries who were confined under the occupying French government during the early 20th century.
What you see is only a glimpse into the prison, as most of the prison complex was demolished in the 1990s to make way for the Hanoi Towers.
It is peculiar to have a prison built in the centre of the city. The idea of the French colonial administrators was to make an example of the Vietnamese fighters for independence.
Almost all exhibits show the prison’s use up to the Vietnamese upraise against France for independence. The museum also houses the most gruesome relic, the French guillotine on the Vietnamese rebels.
Visitors from the United States will also recall the prison’s use during the Vietnam War.
- Address: 1 Hoả Lò, Trần Hưng Đạo, Hoàn Kiếm
- Opening hours: every day, from 8 AM – 5 PM
This fantastic Fine Arts Museum houses some of the most remarkable art.
The museum consists of two buildings that interestingly enough were once the French Ministry of Information.
Inside the museum, you can find Matisse, Degas, Monet to a lot of local artists covering their often harrowing past.
This is the place to visit to truly appreciate and understand the entire history of Vietnamese fine arts.
Fortunately, most of the exhibits have English explanations.
- Address: 66 Nguyễn Thái Học, Ba Đình
- Opening hours: 8.30 AM – 5 PM (Closed Mondays)
You can’t be researching things to do in Hanoi without thinking about what kind of food you’re going to eat. Well, it’s easy – all of it!
Vietnamese food is known for being quite simple in terms of ingredients, and that is one of its charms. The simplicity of the meal and the quality of its ingredients is what makes the dishes exceptional.
Vietnamese food relies on a delicate balance of salty, sweet, sour and hot flavours.
It’s almost impossible to walk a block in Hanoi without detecting the smell of street food from the vendor’s DIY stands.
Try the Goi Cuon, a spring roll packed with greens, some type of minced meat (shrimp, crab or pork) and coriander. Usually, it’s served with a bowl of lettuce, peanut sauce, and mint.
If you have a sweet tooth as we do, definitely try the fried bananas, dessert soup or caramel pudding.
Tasting a new cuisine is more than just that, it’s also a part of the cultural heritage. There’s no better way to explore Vietnamese food than with the help of a local !
Vietnam is very culturally diverse.
The Vietnam Museum of Ethnology acts as a keeper of the said cultural diversity of different ethnic groups in Vietnam.
Many of those communities are working together with the museum. They’ve collected work, are involved in the preparation process of the exhibitions for the purpose of preserving cultural heritage and displaying it in a rightful and authentic way.
The collaboration between communities and the museum staff has made the museum closer to people’s lives and raised the awareness of protecting the Vietnamese culture and heritage.
The popularity and vibrancy of the Museum is largely due to the contribution and involvement of communities.
The Museum’s vast collection of Vietnam’s ethnic minorities showcases tribal art, artifacts, and objects used in everyday life.
- Address: Nguyễn Văn Huyên, Quan Hoa, Cầu Giấy
- Opening hours: Tuesday – Sunday, from 8.30 AM – 5 PM
One of the best ways to see the capital of Vietnam is to find a rooftop bar for a drink. The rush of traffic packed Hanoi can be overwhelming even to locals who are accustomed to the fast pace of the city.
The city becomes even more vibrant at night, full of neon colours and Hanoi’s traffic leaving trail lights.
Whether you’re searching for a romantic vibe or to hang out with friends, the best way to enjoy Hanoi’s mesmerizing night landscape is from above.
Hanoi has a lot of rooftop bars, and most of them offer the same type of atmosphere. Imagine a lounge, with modern music in the background, amazing cocktails and a 360-degree view of all Hanoi.
Have a drink at a rooftop cafe and watch Hanoi from above.
The Imperial Citadel of Thang Long is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for good reason. One of 8 world heritage sites in Vietnam, Thang Long is a temple complex at the center of Hanoi.
First built in the 11th Century, the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long has been expanded over time until it was eventually abandoned when the capital of Vietnam was moved to Hue in 1810.
Many of the original parts of the Thang Long temple complex were in disarray and it was not until recently that the areas of the imperial citadel have been excavated.
Today you can visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Thang Long on any day but Monday for VND 30,000.
Ahh yes, bia hoi. One of our favourites when talking about what to do in Hanoi.
If you’re a beer enthusiast, you’ll be thrilled with Vietnam’s beer culture.
Let us start off with the fact that Vietnam is the perfect place for a pub crawl. Bia Hoi is an insight into the beer scene of Vietnam.
Bia Hoi is known as a street beer. Vietnam boasts as having a unique drinking culture that can only be found in the northern cities of Vietnam.
It’s a daily ritual starting from 4 PM where locals (and tourists) sit on plastic furniture on street corners and drink home-brewed beer.
So if you were wondering how the world’s cheapest and freshest beer tastes like then don’t miss your opportunity to get a pint!
Remember: it’s considered the freshest beer because it is made without preservatives. In order not to get spoiled it must be consumed on the day of production.
Because of this Hanoi and its surrounding areas are the only places you can find Bia Hoi!
- Price: 1 beer costs 5,000 – 7,000 VND
Vietnamese sure enjoy their legends. One of the more popular ones is the One Pillar Pagoda .
According to the tale an heirless Emperor had a dream in which he met a goddess of sorts name Avalokiteshvara which gifted him with a baby boy that was resting on a lotus flower.
Emperor Ly Thai wanted the pagoda to be built as the lotus blossom and that’s why it was built on a single pillar. The lotus blossom also symbolizes enlightenment in Buddhism.
Present-day, the wooden pagoda is supported by a concrete pillar as a replacement for the original one. The original wooden pillar was destroyed by the French.
Another folk’s tale claims that the bo tree behind the pagoda is the same tree underneath Buddha became enlightened.
The legend and interesting history of the pagoda had made it one of the main Hanoi attractions.
- Address: Chùa Một Cột, Đội Cấn, Ba Đình
- Opening hours: 7am – 6pm daily
West Lake, Lake of Mist or Ho Tay, is Hanoi’s largest lake. It is 15 km in circumference and is surrounded by upper-class suburbs as well as the Tay Ho ex-pat district.
It is a very popular destination as it makes for a nice change from the hectic pace of the Old Quarter.
The lake offers an opportunity to visit the temple that is off the beaten path or to enjoy a cup of coffee or a refreshing beer whilst admiring the lake.
You can navigate around the lake by bicycle and rest at one of the street-side restaurants.
Tran Quoc Pagoda is the oldest pagoda in Hanoi tracing all the way back to the 6 th century.
The Buddhist shrine has undergone changes throughout the years.
Today it’s located on an islet within West Lake but originally it was placed on banks of Red River but due to river’s encroachment, it was relocated in the 17th century.
Because of the lush fauna surrounding the pagoda, it makes for one most photographed sights in Hanoi.
- Address: Thanh Niên, Yên Phụ, Tây Hồ
- Opening hours: every day, from 7:30am – 11:30am, 1:30pm – 5:30pm
- Price: Free
One of the things that are not to be missed when in Hanoi is a Water Puppet Show.
The water puppet is an ancient art form that dates all the way back to the 11th century.
Back when the rice paddy fields got flooded the villagers would draw entertainment from the dire situation.
They would stand in the water and attach puppets on fishing rods and had them perform over the water’s surface.
Today’s shows are performed at a contemporary theatre within a pool of water as the stage for the water puppets. The puppets are controlled by eight puppeteers hiding behind a bamboo screen.
The shows are usually short sketches or they play out some of the Vietnam legends such as the legend of the Restored Sword of King Le and the giant tortoise.
The live music plays a vital part in the show with singers yelling out words of encouragement to the water puppets.
This is something specific to the Vietnamese culture, a highlight not to be missed!
- Price Range: VND 100,000
If you followed our previous advice which is ‘Eat All of the Food’ then you’re already mesmerised by the authentic Vietnamese food!
If you wish to take a slice of Vietnam back home with you so you could reawaken your fantastic trip’s memories with the help of food then take a cooking class !
The good news is that Vietnamese cuisine is simple. You don’t need to be a chef extraordinaire to prepare your favourite Vietnamese dishes, but you do need the tips to make them as authentic and flavorful as the real deal.
There are many different classes on offer, you can learn about the village, pagoda vegetarian, seafood, monsoon, pho and bun cha. A lot of those cooking classes even have a market tour!
- Price: from $30-100
A traditional village of Hanoi, Bat Trang is an attraction for the locals and tourists!
At stores at Bat Trang you will see ceramic products displayed in different shapes, styles, and colours.
Usually, they’re produced by family businesses and the prices are reasonable.
This place is famous in Vietnam and it’s not unusual to have people coming from surrounding regions just so they’d buy their favourite ceramic products.
There is a wide array of choices, from daily items as pots, plates, and cups they also sell interior decorations, religious items, jewellery, etc.
You can apply for one of the ceramic workshops and create a handmade ceramic product of your own! Don’t worry you’ll be guided through the process by the shopkeeper.
After you create your own ceramic product (cup, pot, and bowls are easiest to make) it takes an hour to dry and then you can decorate it with available colours.
The themed streets of the capital of Vietnam are often referred to as “the 36 streets of Hanoi.”
Nowadays, most of these 36 streets are in the Old Quarter and have kept the names that reflect the specialized businesses they once housed.
The Old Quarter is the heart of Hanoi’s history and is recognized by its labyrinth of ancient streets buzzing with commerce.
The street names carry the name of the trade they’re known for such as Silk Street, Blacksmith Street, Herbal Medicine Street, Sugar Street, Dried Fish Street, Bamboo Street, etc. These streets have a 1,000-year-old history.
In the past, the craftsmen who came to Hanoi from villages formed guilds among other artisans specializing in the same trade.
Each of the guilds had its own street in the Old Quarter where its members lived, built workshops and sold their trades. So if you were in dire need of some material for a dress you’d head on to Silk Street etc.
As we mentioned before, the original layout of the streets still exists. Many of them still specialized in the original crafts they were named after while some transgressed in more modern merchandise.
- Address: Old Quarter – Hàng Ngang, Hàng Đào, Hoàn Kiếm
Another thing Hanoi can be proud of is having the world’s largest ceramic mosaic built from ceramic tesserae.
The wall was built on the 1000th anniversary of Hanoi in October 2010. The whole idea was born because of Nguyen Thu Thuy.
This journalist’s imagination managed to transform a boring wall into a loud and colourful mosaic that deservedly won her the Hanoi Architecture Contest.
The theme is ‘History through pictures’. With a rich history and folk art that can be traced back to the Stone Age, it was a logical blend of the two.
The preparations started in 2007 and artists from not only Vietnam but all over the world contributed to making this idea a reality.
The decorative patterns used to represent a visual history of the country throughout different eras.
The mosaic wall runs along the road of Au Co, Nghi Tam, Yen Phu, Tran Nhat Duat, Tran Quang Khai, Tran Khanh Du and terminates at the pier of the Long Bien Bridge in Hanoi.
[box] That’s it for our amazing list of the best things to do in Hanoi! What would you add? Leave a comment below and let us know![/box]
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About the Author - Alesha and Jarryd
Hey! We are Alesha and Jarryd, the award-winning writers and professional photographers behind this blog. We have been travelling the world together since 2008, with a passion for adventure travel and sustainable tourism. Through our stories and images we promote exciting off-the-beaten-path destinations and fascinating cultures as we go. As one of the world's leading travel journalists, our content and adventures have been featured by National Geographic, Lonely Planet, CNN, BBC, Forbes, Business Insider, Washington Post, Yahoo!, BuzzFeed, Channel 7, Channel 10, ABC, The Guardian, and plenty other publications. Follow our journey in real time on Facebook , YouTube and Instagram .
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23 thoughts on “25 AMAZING Things to Do in Hanoi, Vietnam (2023 Guide)”
Thanks for your awesome guide about our wonderful Hanoi for first-time travelers to Vietnam! <3
Hanoi is one of my favourite places I’ve been to! and this is really making me want to go back.. like right now!
You’ve really shown in your photos and info how incredible it is there, and have provided some great info for people wanting to go for the first time which is amazing!
I can’t wait to see more!
Hey.. thanks for making the time to write the article however a bit of fact check would help 🙂
(Gauthama) Buddha attained enlightenment under the Bodh tree, Bodh Gaya is a religious site and place of pilgrimage associated with the Mahabodhi Temple Complex in Gaya district in the Indian state of Bihar. It is famous as it is the place where Gautama Buddha is said to have attained Enlightenment (Pali: bodhi) under what became known as the Bodhi Tree.
Thank you for this great website. It really helps a lot and please continue sharing this kind of blogs!
Glad you liked it. Thank you for stopping by.
Where does the 4km Mosaic Wall start? Address pls.
Hi Yolanda, The mosaic wall runs along the road of Au Co, Nghi Tam, Yen Phu, Tran Nhat Duat, Tran Quang Khai, Tran Khanh Du and terminates at the pier of the Long Bien Bridge. All the best
Wow! This is a nice write-up Alesha and Jarryd. I wish I had this list when I went to Vietnam last year! We got to go to Sapa which was incredible, we hiked with locals and celebrated Tet with them (their new year). I’m dying to go back so I can visit Hanoi and do these things. Very helpful. Thanks.
Hanoi is really beautiful and i love it more than Saigon. The culture of food is really impressive. Sapa is really nice with the terrace rice field. Halong Bay is amazing. We had a good time in Sapa with trekking to villages and getting on the top of Fansiapan Peak. Halong Bay with Escape Sails Halong was incredible.
Hi! Which place is this beautiful yellow temple from the main banner? I’m heading to Hanoi in 2 months and would love to know where it is. Loved the colors. Thanks!
Hi Laura, That’s awesome you are heading to Vietnam. That photo is from Hoi An. Thank you for picking it up. It must of accidentally got put there when we got a new website. Have a great time in Hanoi.
I really miss Hanoi its been 2 years since we go there but this article remind of how amazing our experience in the beautiful place of Hanoi. Your blog is really amazing and I see that there’s a lot of people you helped through this.
Hi Rojane, sounds like you need a trip back. Hope you get back soon. It is a beautiful place.
I would like to know/see what is best for kids age 8 yrs old and 3yrs old. I like to bring them there.
The Museum of Ethonology will be very good place for kids in Hanoi.
Thank you for your tip
In Hanoi this week. Looking forward to visiting the places mentioned. Thanks for the recommendations. If you have great coffee and local food places to recommend, it would make my day!
Hey thanks for the information, I’m going to Hanoi in October this year and I’ll do some of the things you mentioned in the post. By the way have you been to Hanoi around October, is it really rainy? Thanks
Hi Eulises, Glad you found the article helpful. Have a great trip. It is just out of rainy season but you never know. Definitely bring a pocket rain jacket just in case. 🙂
Wow this does make me excited to visit Hanoi, very concise and informative blog. Thank you
Hi Rebecca, so awesome you are heading to Hanoi. You will have a blast. Have lots of coffee and bun cha (local food) for us. Bun cha was one of our favourite dishes in Vietnam. Have a great trip. Check out our Vietnam page for more information and tips. https://www.nomadasaurus.com/travel-guides/travel-to-vietnam/
Hanoi is a blend of rich culture and architecture. With many places which attract tourist from all over the world, the place offers many options to a first-time visitor. My three-day tour was really memorable only because of Hanoi Travel Bus
Thank you so much Isabella. Hanoi is a very special place with a great mix of culture and architecture. Glad you had a great time. 🙂
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10 Best Things to Do in Hanoi, Vietnam
Natural & Historical Attractions in Hanoi
Hanoi is over 1000 years old. Over these years, the city underwent ups and downs in its history, so the richness of history here is overwhelming: ancient architectural structures, temples, pagodas, etc. So great is it that you will be fun-filled to explore the capital of Vietnam all day.
Want to explore natural and historical attractions in Hanoi, which are famous for its both modern and ancient beauty? Put our guide into your pocket to know the best thing to do in Hanoi , including about what to see and where to visit in the capital of Vietnam!
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1. hoan kiem lake.
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Home » Southeast Asia » Vietnam » Hanoi
11 BEST Places to Visit in Hanoi (2023)
Hanoi is a feast for the senses. The smells of some of the world’s best street food, the sights of peaceful lakes, and the buzzing of what seems like millions of scooters will enthral, delight, and surprise you. The mazy backstreets of the Vietnamese capital hold treasures just waiting to be discovered.
Although Hanoi is now a modern and vibrant city, there are still nods to the past which shouldn’t be missed by any history buff. The city has recovered remarkably well and is now consistently voted as one of the top cities to visit in the world.
In this article, I’ll take a look at the best places to stay in Hanoi, helping you to make the most out of your trip and maybe even live like a local for a bit!
Need a place quick? Here’s the best neighbourhood in Hanoi:
These are the best places to visit in hanoi, faq on the best places to visit in hanoi, final thoughts on places to visit in hanoi.
Hai Ba Trung
Hai Ba Trung is a modern and lively district set in Hanoi’s city centre. Adjacent to the Old Quarter, this district is well-connected throughout Hanoi, making it a great base for exploring the city.
- Dance until dawn at The Bank Hanoi, the largest nightclub in the city.
- Learn about the contributions women had to Vietnam’s history and culture at The Women’s Museum.
- See the beautiful Hai Ba Trung Temple.
Before you scroll any further, be sure to check out where to stay in Hanoi first. There’s a lot more to discover than just Hai Ba Trung and you’ll find some great accommodation options in each area!
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#1 – Hoàn Kiem Lake – A beautiful and scenic place to check out in Hanoi
- Walk around the beautiful city centre lake
- Peaceful and relaxing
- Escape from the hustle, bustle, and traffic!
Why it’s awesome: Hoàn Kiem Lake is one of the prettiest spots to find in the whole of Hanoi and an absolute must-visit on your sightseeing itinerary . Located in the heart of Hanoi Old Quarter in the Hoan Kiem district, there are a number of activities to do on the shores of the lake.
Weekends are the best time to visit, as Hoan Kiem Lake is closed to traffic from Friday to Sunday. Vietnamese legend tells that a golden turtle stole an emperor’s sword and dived to the bottom of the lake. This is how it gets its name, which means the lake of the restored sword. You can see this tale re-enacted at the Water Puppet Theatre, which I’ll get to later!
What to do there: Take a walk on the shores of Hoan Kiem Lake to clear your head from Hanoi’s noise. In the centre of the lake, there’s the beautiful Ngoc Son temple. Take a walk over the bridge and explore the Ngoc Son temple, it’ll cost you less than $1 USD. One of Hanoi’s more unusual landmarks is Thap Rua, a small tower in the middle of the lake that’s often used as a symbol of the city!
Across the lake from the temple is the Vietnamese Women’s Museum which doesn’t take long to look around but it’s very interesting. Just up the road from there is the Hoa Lo Prison, which was used by French colonials for political prisoners. Hoa Lo Prison was also used by the Vietnamese during the Vietnam War. It’s a harrowing place, but an important part of Vietnamese History.
There are over 150 hostels in Hanoi . Check them out and see if you find any in this centrally located area near the lake!
#2 – Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
- See the perfectly preserved body of Ho Chi Minh
- Hanoi must-see for history lovers
- One of the most unusual things to do in Hanoi
Why it’s awesome: Although Ho Chi Minh City is in Southern Vietnam, the man whom the city is named after has his body here at the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum in Hanoi.
What’s unusual about this place is that the body is still perfectly preserved, more than 40 years after his death. Even an embalmed body would decay eventually, leading to rumours that it’s actually a model of Uncle Ho. Not that he will mind, as his original wish was actually to be cremated! You won’t spend a lot of time at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum since the line is never allowed to stop moving.
What to do there: Really the only thing you can do if you include this in your Hanoi itinerary is to respectfully observe the body of one of Vietnam’s great leaders. That’s because the guards will want you out so that the hordes of both locals and tourists can see the body.
It may seem macabre, but it’s one of the most visited historical sites in the country by travellers in Vietnam . Afterwards, take a walk through Ba Dình Sqaure, where the man you’ve just laid eyes on reading the Proclamation of Independence!
#3 – The Imperial Citadel of Thang Long – One of Hanoi’s coolest historical sites!
- Hanoi’s only UNESCO World Heritage site
- One of the major tourist attractions in Hanoi
- Don’t miss the stunning views from the Hanoi Flag Tower
Why it’s awesome: Staying in the Ba Dình District, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long is not to be missed while backpacking in Hanoi . The citadel was the capital of Vietnam for 8 centuries, while it was the political center since its construction in the 11 th century! This is the number one place to visit in Hanoi for its historical and cultural importance in Vietnamese history.
Nowadays, it’s open to the public to explore the stone fortresses and walk through the beautifully landscaped gardens. The entrance to the citadel is 30,000VND, which is about £1 or $1.30 (at the time of writing). For one of the best places in Hanoi, it’s well worth that low price!
What to do there: Transport yourself back to the 11 th century and admire the beautiful architecture of the stone buildings. Don’t miss the beautiful dragon statue either! If you want to get some panoramic views of the city, then climb the flag tower and spend some time looking out.
You’re sure to have a few more Insta likes and followers by the end of the day! The Imperial Citadel is close to Quan Tanh Temple, Vietnam Fine Arts Museum and the Vietnam Military History Museum so those are good options for your next activity!
#4 – Temple of Literature
- One of the most picturesque landmarks in Hanoi
- A memorable historical site to learn more about Vietnamese history
- Check out the cool stone turtles – bearing the names of graduates
Why it’s awesome: Many people say the Temple of Literature is the most beautiful attraction in the Old Quarter Hanoi. It’s certainly one of the oldest, dating back to 1070 AD (although it’s not quite as old as the citadel).
Originally a Mandarin University, the site was also open to students from the royal family, aristocrats, and the elite. However, it took a lot longer to open up to “intelligent” commoners. Eventually, it did though, and you can see the names of graduates carved into the stone turtle statues outside!
What to do there: Escape from the concrete jungle of Hanoi and spend some time contemplating and relaxing at the Temple of Literature in Hanoi old quarter. Not only are there religious and academic buildings, but there are five courtyards to take a leisurely stroll through.
Two are home to landscaped gardens and another has a pond called “The well of heavenly clarity”. In the others, you’ll find a statue of Confucius, who the temple was originally dedicated to, and a drum and bell tower. This is one of the most important academic landmarks in Hanoi and Vietnam.
#5 – Tran Quoc Pagoda
- The Oldest Buddhist temple in Hanoi
- Switch off from the outside world in the hipster T ay Ho district
- Take a walk around Hanoi’s West Lake
Why it’s awesome: This peaceful and quiet pagoda has over 1,500 years of history, making it one of the oldest landmarks in Hanoi. Sat on a peninsula jutting into the largest lake in Hanoi City Centre, just on the edge of Hanoi Old Quarter, it is another excellent place to escape from busy city life. Although the pagoda has stood for 1,500 years, it hasn’t always stood on the West Lake.
In fact, it was moved here in the 20 th century after a serious landslide! Tran Quoc is one of the best things to see in Hanoi if you’re looking to learn more about the city’s rich history and culture!
What to do there: Since it’s such a chilled out and relaxed place, I’d recommend coming here and taking as long as you need to disconnect from the real world. If you prefer to always be on the go, of course, you can visit the on-site museum, which is full of priceless Vietnamese antiques.
It’s even home to the statue considered the most beautiful in all of Vietnam. If you feel you’re not quite ready to return back to the hustle and bustle after visiting the pagoda, take a walk around West Lake! The Quan Thanh Temple is just a five-minute walk away.
#6 – Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre – Quite the quirky place to visit in Hanoi
- See Vietnamese myths and legends told through the art of water puppetry
- Hear traditional Vietnamese music
- One of the more unusual things to do in Hanoi
Why it’s awesome: Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre sits at the northern tip of Hoàn Ki?m Lake and you may wonder why this unassuming building has a queue outside around 7pm every night. Well, it’s to see water puppetry.
This is an ancient Vietnamese art, which was mostly unknown outside of Northern Vietnam until the 1960s! Although it’s still pretty much a secret abroad, locals and tourists alike flock to see the ancient Hanoi folkloric tales and listen to the haunting music which makes up water puppetry shows!
What to do there: You can’t go to the water puppet theatre without seeing a show! Buying tickets on the door costs around £3 or $4 and the show lasts around 50 minutes.
It’s a really cool place to take kids, especially if you need to keep them quiet for an hour! Look out for the puppeteers, who are stood waist-deep behind a screen in water operating their creations. Think carefully when choosing where to sit, as you might get splashed if you’re in the front row!
#7 – Train Street
- See a huge train pass just inches from city buildings
- Get a glimpse of local life
- Another of the most unusual things to do in Vietnam
Why it’s awesome: If you head to Train Street and it’s not 3pm or 7pm, to be honest, it’s not that awesome. However, as you might have guessed from the name, there’s a reason that changes.
Sometimes as little as a minute before, you’ll see the residents taking in clothes, picking up children, and stray dogs reluctantly getting up. Then, you’ll feel the quaint street start to vibrate.
That’s because a train that has travelled from crossed through many other regions of Vietnam is somehow navigating the narrow Old Quarter streets of Hanoi!
What to do there: First of all, come at the time when the train is expected to come through to get a totally unique experience and some great pictures. You’ll need them to back up your story, as friends and family back home will never believe this!
Coming when there’s no train isn’t a wasted journey though. It enables you to see a part of Hanoi you probably wouldn’t have bothered with otherwise, and you’ll catch a glimpse into local life. Maybe even practice your Vietnamese! It may be one of the hardest languages in the world, but the locals will appreciate the effort!
#8 – Hanoi Opera House
- A key point of interest in Hanoi
- Visit one of the many events
- See an example of French colonial architecture
Why it’s awesome: The Hanoi Opera House is probably the best and most beautiful example of French colonial architecture in Vietnam. It dates back to 1911 and the grand building looks out of place among the palm trees and the roads around it.
If you think it looks impressive on the outside, just wait until you actually enter! The building was modelled on Paris Opera House and there are chandeliers, 600 plush seats, and a stage fit for opera and ballet!
What to do there: Admiring from the outside is the first thing in order on your trip here. It’s possible to do a guided tour of the Opera House, and that’s definitely recommended. For 400,000VND, you can see the amazing architecture inside in the building also known as the Cathedral of Art.
As well as the tour, there’s a small performance included. This a great option if you don’t have the budget or time to spend a whole evening seeing an opera or ballet performance!
#9 – Hanoi Night Market – A great place to visit in Hanoi at night
- A cool and vibrant hotspot in Hanoi!
- Take home some cool souvenirs for friends and family
- Explore Hanoi’s street food scene
Why it’s awesome: A Southeast Asian staple is the night market . Some are gaudy and over touristy, while some cater to tourists while retaining their authenticity and being a great place to be.
Thankfully, Hanoi’s night market falls into the latter category! In the streets to the north of Hoàn Kiem Lake, you can spend your VND on a range of things while enjoying the friendly family atmosphere of the night market.
Particularly recommended are the traditional Vietnamese souvenirs (which are super cheap) and street food!
If you love markets, I also recommend visiting the Dong Xuan Market on Dong Xuan Street if you have more time. It’s a Soviet-style building that dates back to 1889 and is four stories of market stalls selling everything from fresh produce, souvenirs, and clothing. It’s not great for street food though, so only go here if you want to take some stuff home.
What to do there: Let’s talk more about street food! Bánh mì baguettes, iced coffee with condensed milk, spring/summer rolls, and pho should all be on your list! The Night Market really hammers it home that the best places to eat in Hanoi aren’t always restaurants.
If you’ve plenty of space left in your backpack when you packed for Vietnam your trip , this is the ideal spot to pick up souvenirs. That way, you’ll have a lasting physical memory of your trip to one of the coolest tourist attractions in Vietnam!
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#10 – Perfume Pagoda – A very cool place in Hanoi to go for a day
- Take a day trip to the Houng Tich Mountain Chain
- Enjoy a relaxing journey in a wooden rowing boat
- Get away from the bright city lights
Why it’s awesome: Okay, so I’ve included a few places to visit in my list that allow you to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. However, sometimes you need to completely get out to disconnect, rest, and relax. Perfume Pagoda gives you the opportunity to do exactly that!
This incredible Buddhist temple complex really gets you off the beaten track. To get to the temples themselves, you’ll have to take a traditional wooden rowing boat – don’t worry, you don’t have to row it yourself, which is a truly special part of the journey!
If you do have more time to spend, there’s another great day trip you can take from Hanoi to Explore Ba Vi National Park . The Ba Vi National Park is an area of outstanding natural beauty, and you can enjoy trekking through the subtropical nature and admire panoramic views along the way. There isn’t much else to do but trek there, so I would only recommend going if you have the time.
What to do there: After the boat ride, visit the most important temples of the complex. Chua Trong is perhaps the most astounding, as it’s located inside a cave.
Inside the complex, there are a number of food stalls and souvenirs shops too. You can either follow the stairs or take the cable car to the top of the hill where your reward is awesome views of the surrounding landscapes. You won’t see many westerners here, but it’s a special place for Vietnamese people!
#11 – Hoa Lò Prison Memorial
- Explore Hoa Lò aka the Hanoi Hilton
- Learn about the prison’s grisly history
- One of several famous landmarks in Hanoi
Why it’s awesome: It’s safe to say that Hoa Lò Prison Memorial isn’t for everyone, but it is nevertheless an important Hanoi landmark. In the late 19 th century, this prison was opened under French rule for political agitators and dissidents.
It was originally intended to hold just a few hundred prisoners, but this quickly increased to more than 2,000. Unfortunately, the prisoners lived in squalid and horrendous conditions. A symbol of French colonial oppression , the Vietnamese repurposed it when colonial rule ended in 1954. Unfortunately, conditions didn’t improve but prisoners changed. It was then used for American Prisoners of War during the Vietnam War.
What to do there: Most of the prison was knocked down in the 1990s to make way for high-rise buildings. There is still a museum, which tells of the grisly history of the prison though, with many artifacts on display.
It is here that you can see the former US Senator John McCain’s flight suit and parachute. Yes, he was an inmate at the prison! Unsurprisingly, this Vietnam museum focuses more on the French oppression and there are some quite graphic representations of torture. This one isn’t for the faint of heart!
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Find out what people want to know about the best places to visit in Hanoi
What is Hanoi famous for?
Hanoi is famous for its French-colonial routes, amazing cuisine and nightlife.
Is Hanoi worth visiting?
Absolutely! Hanoi has a very different vibe to the rest of Vietnam and it’s full of character. It is definitely worth a visit.
Is Hanoi a safe place to visit?
On the whole, Hanoi is a safe place to visit. Crime against tourists are usually pickpocketing and bag snatching, but your biggest risk is being hit by motorbikes. Be careful when wandering the streets.
Are there any places to avoid in Hanoi?
There aren’t really any dodgy areas in Hanoi, but you should take care around touristy areas for bag snatchers and pick pockets.
So, that’s the end of my list of the best places to visit in Hanoi. Hopefully, you’ll have found this list useful and helpful for planning your trip to the Vietnamese capital and be eager to start your journey.
I think that there are definitely enough places to visit in Hanoi for 3 days on my list!
You’ll have seen that Hanoi mixes the historical, the exciting, and the downright unusual and really my list is just a snapshot. It’s impossible to capture the vibrant buzz of this city, but you sure won’t forget it in a hurry once you’ve experienced it. Oh, and the street food really is some of the best in the world !
I don’t just want you to have a great holiday in Hanoi, I want you to experience it like a local. My list will help you do just that! Whatever you end up doing when you visit Hanoi, I hope you have a spectacular holiday and come back with lots of unforgettable memories!
And for transparency’s sake, please know that some of the links in our content are affiliate links . That means that if you book your accommodation, buy your gear, or sort your insurance through our link, we earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). That said, we only link to the gear we trust and never recommend services we don’t believe are up to scratch. Again, thank you!
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Hanoi best things to do & travel guide
Hanoi is one of the oldest capitals in the world, where you can find well-preserved colonial buildings, ancient pagodas and unique museums in the center of the city. The city still has a lively atmosphere. From the early hours until late in the evening, the streets are swarming with moving motorcycles. There are a lot of things to do in Hanoi. You can hunt for delicious street food, visit colonial buildings and explore the local life. Not to mention the peaceful countryside is a short drive away, with lush forests, green mountains and traditional villages, not to mention the iconic Halong Bay.
5 reasons to visit Hanoi
- Explore the old city center; Hanoi Old Quarter.
- Walk around the Hoan Kiem lake.
- Visit one of the many museums about the Vietnam War.
- Enjoy a traditional water puppet show.
- Use Hanoi as a base to discover the north of Vietnam.
What is in this Hanoi travel guide
Practical information, best time to visit.
- 15 best things to do
- Best hotels & hostels
Food & drinking
How to get there, how to get around, book your local hanoi experience, recommended days to stay.
If you want to experience all the best things to do in Hanoi, you need to spend 3 to 4 days. But if you don’t have much time in Vietnam, it is recommended to go for 2 full days. Do not linger for too long, because there is so much more to see and do around the city, such as stunning countryside, mountains and islands.
ATM's & money exchange
Hanoi has many ATM’s. Currency exchange is often the cheapest in gold and jewellery stores. The rates in these stores are often surprisingly fair, without extra costs.
Local events and holidays
- Tet : Lunar New Year is the mega festival of Vietnam to celebrate with family members and to commemorate the dear deceased. The holiday lasts up to a week when many stores are closed.
- Full Moon Festival : This festival, also known as the Mid-Autumn Festival, starts on the 15th day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar, usually mid-September or early October. You will see things like singing and dragon dance.
- Hanoi Pride : The annual Hanoi Pride festival is a colorful week full of parties, film screenings, lectures and a bicycle rally. It is held for a week between July and September.
- Vietnam’s National Day : celebrated with a rally and fireworks in front of the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum. There are also boat races on Lake Hoan Kiem.
- Quang Trung Festival : Wrestling competitions, lion dances and human chess take place on the 5th day of the first lunar month.
- Best travel time : Fall (around September to November) and spring (March and April) are the two best seasons. Then the weather is pleasant with milder temperatures.
- Winter : During this period (December to February) it is quite cold in Hanoi when temperatures can drop below 10 degrees.
- Summer : It is very hot in Hanoi from May to August, with July as the hottest month. A lot of rain can fall.
25 best things to do in Hanoi
Discover the best things to do in Hanoi, Vietnam’s bustling capital, from exploring ancient temples and sampling street food delicacies to strolling through vibrant markets and enjoying scenic views of the city’s iconic landmarks.
1. Explore the Old Quarter on foot
The Old Quarter of Hanoi (Hanoi Old Quarter) is the most famous landmark in Hanoi. It is a fascinating part of the city where you can enjoy many beautiful examples of colonial architecture that is packed along narrow streets. Endless traffic of scooters, motorcycles, bicycles and cars zigzag around traders who sell fruit and souvenirs and narrow shops with delicious Vietnamese dishes.
Hanoi Old Quarter brings to life what many people imagine what Hanoi is. Exploring this area on foot is one of the best things to do in Hanoi. You can also rent bicycles or go through the streets with a cyclo.
2. Street food tour
- Tip: You can go exploring yourself, but a much nicer way is by a Hanoi street food tour . A guide takes you to the best local spots that you would never discover yourself. It explains what you eat and you can try out the best and most unique food. Extra benefits are that you will eat at safe hygienic places and besides the food, the guide can tell and show you more about the local culture too.
3. Water puppet show
The old art form of the water puppet show in Hanoi is certainly one of the nicest things to see. There are several theaters where you can enjoy this unique Vietnamese take on Asian puppetry tradition. The original and generally regarded as the best theater in the city is the Thang Long Puppet Theater. Dolls dance and glide elegantly across the stage of water, controlled by a whole group of dolls of masters hiding behind a screen.
4. Drink Bia Hoi - the cheapest beer in the world
One of the best things to do in Hanoi is indulging in Bia Hoi , the world’s cheapest beer. While the taste may not appeal to everyone, the true allure lies in the unique experience of sitting on small stools amidst locals on the street, immersing yourself in the vibrant atmosphere and becoming a part of the local culture.
5. Long Bien Bridge & Market
Long Bien Bridge is an iconic structure spanning the Red River in Hanoi, Vietnam. Built during the French colonial era, the bridge played a vital role in both the Indochina War and the Vietnam War. Today, it is a popular spot to stroll across, take in the views of the river and city, and experience the bustling Long Bien market located nearby. At the market, you can immerse yourselve in the vibrant local culture and sample a variety of delicious street foods.
6. Hoan Kiem Lake
Hoan Kiem Lake is a central point in Hanoi and is a popular meeting place for locals and tourists all day long. Ngoc Son Temple is located on a small island in the middle of the lake and is connected by a bridge and forms a beautiful backdrop for a few photos.
Around sunrise and sunset this area becomes especially busy with joggers, couples enjoying the relaxing view of the lake, and elderly people practicing Tai Chi and line dancing.
7. Walk around the Hoa Lo Prison Museum
A visit to the Hoa Lo Prison Museum is one of the best things to do in Hanoi as it provides a glimpse into the darker side of Vietnam’s history. The prison, also known as the “Hanoi Hilton,” was used to hold political prisoners during the French colonial period and later American prisoners of war during the Vietnam War. You can see the original cells and artifacts from the prison’s past, as well as learn about the stories of the prisoners held there.
Visiting the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is a must for anyone interested in Vietnamese history and culture. The mausoleum houses the preserved body of Vietnam’s beloved revolutionary leader, Ho Chi Minh, and offers a unique opportunity to pay respect to one of the most important figures in Vietnamese history.
9. Hanoi train street
Another great thing to do in Hanoi is a visiting Hanoi Train Street . The photos and videos are world famous, in which shop owners, café owners and residents, as if it were the most normal thing in the world, put away their things to let a train pass through the narrow, busy street.
Due to safety regulations, many coffee shops along the train street had to close, but you can still visit this unique railroad track through the residential area. Just keep in mind that there are real trains on this track.
10. Visit the St. Joseph's Cathedral
St. Joseph’s Cathedral is a beautiful Gothic-style church in the heart of Hanoi. The architecture is striking, with its tall spires and stained glass windows. Visitors can admire the intricate details of the cathedral’s interior and attend Mass with the local congregation.
11. Walk around the West Lake and Tran Quoc Pagoda
Walking around the West Lake and visiting the Tran Quoc Pagoda is one of the best things to do in Hanoi as it provides a peaceful and scenic escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. The Tran Quoc Pagoda is the oldest temple in Hanoi and features a stunning seven-story pagoda and many intricate statues and carvings. Additionally, the West Lake area has many great restaurants and cafes where you can relax and enjoy the serene surroundings.
12. Take a cyclo tour of the city
Taking a cyclo tour in Hanoi is a great way to explore the city’s sights and sounds. Visitors can expect to see landmarks such as Hoan Kiem Lake, the Old Quarter, and the French Quarter, while also experiencing the bustling street life and local culture up close. It’s a unique and memorable way to discover Hanoi’s charms.
12. See the ancient Temple of Literature
The Temple of Literature is a well-preserved example of traditional Vietnamese architecture and design, making it a must-visit for anyone interested in history and culture. As the site of Vietnam’s first university, the temple also holds great significance for the country’s educational and intellectual history. Visitors can enjoy peaceful gardens, intricate pagodas, and learn about the country’s ancient scholars and their academic pursuits.
13. Explore Imperial City of Thang Long
Exploring the Imperial City of Thang Long is a must-do in Hanoi because it offers a glimpse into the country’s rich history and culture. The UNESCO World Heritage Site features centuries-old structures, including the imposing Hanoi Flag Tower and the breathtakingly beautiful Doan Mon Gate. You can stroll through the vast courtyards and gardens, admire ancient relics and artifacts, and learn about the dynasties that once ruled over the region.
14. Stilt house & Presidential palace
The Stilt House and Presidential Palace in Hanoi offer a glimpse into Vietnam’s political history. You can see where Ho Chi Minh lived and worked, and explore the grounds that were once the residence of the French Governor-General.
15. Cycling in Hanoi
Cycling in Hanoi is a great way to explore the city and experience the local life. Although the traffic might seem intimidating at first, it is completely safe with a guide who can lead you through the best routes and help you navigate the streets. Cycling allows you to see more than just the Old Quarter and provides an authentic glimpse into the daily lives of Hanoians.
16. Visit traditional villages
There are several traditional villages surrounding Hanoi that offer a glimpse into rural Vietnamese life and crafts. Bat Trang is known for its ceramic pottery, Van Phuc for silk weaving, and Dong Ho for woodblock printing. You can experience the traditional production techniques and purchase handmade goods directly from the artisans.
17. See the One Pillar Pagoda
The One Pillar Pagoda is a national symbol of Vietnam. It has been depicted on Vietnamese currency, and it is recognized as one of the country’s most iconic cultural and religious landmarks. You can explore the pagoda’s peaceful grounds and learn about its cultural significance in Vietnamese history.
18. Hanoi Ceramic Mosaic Mural
The Hanoi Ceramic Mosaic Mural is a 4-kilometer long artwork located in the heart of Hanoi. It is made up of thousands of ceramic pieces and depicts scenes from Vietnamese history and culture.
19. Shop at the Dong Xuan Market
Shopping at the Dong Xuan Market is one of the best things to do in Hanoi because it offers a truly authentic experience of Vietnamese local life and culture. The market is a bustling hub of activity where you can find a wide range of goods such as souvenirs, clothing, accessories, and food. It’s also an excellent place to practice your bargaining skills and score some great deals.
20. Visit the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology
The Vietnam Museum of Ethnology is a museum that showcases the cultural diversity of Vietnam’s 54 ethnic groups. It features both indoor and outdoor exhibitions, as well as educational programs and research facilities.
21. Wake up early for the Quang Ba Flower Market
The Quang Ba Flower Market is a bustling market that comes to life before dawn with the colors and fragrances of flowers and fresh produce. Waking up early to visit the market gives a unique insight into the local culture and daily life in Hanoi.
22. Enjoy the sunset of a rooftop bar
Enjoying the sunset of a rooftop bar in Hanoi is one of the best things to do in Hanoi as it offers a stunning panoramic view of the city’s skyline and an opportunity to relax while enjoying a drink. It’s a great way to end the day after a day of exploring the city and taking in the sights and sounds of Hanoi.
23.Visit the Women's Museum
The Women’s Museum in Hanoi showcases the role and contribution of Vietnamese women in society, history, and culture through a diverse range of exhibits and displays, making it a unique and informative attraction to visit in the city.
24.Explore Ninh Binh in a day
A day tour from Hanoi to Ninh Binh is a popular option for those who want to escape the city and experience the beautiful countryside. You can choose to take the Tam Coc or Trang An boat trip to enjoy the scenic karst landscape. Mua Cave viewpoint is also a nice spot to enjoy the panoramic view of the region. For a more immersive experience, you can also cycle around the countryside.
However, if you have the time, it is recommended to stay in Ninh Binh for at least 2 days or longer to fully explore the area.
25. Take a day trip to the Perfume Pagoda
A day trip to the Perfume Pagoda from Hanoi is definitely worth it if you want to explore the scenic countryside and experience a unique religious and cultural attraction. You’ll have the opportunity to take a boat ride along the scenic waterway and hike up to the hillside pagoda complex.
Best hotels & hostels in Hanoi
Hoan Kiem (the Old Quarter) – The historic soul of the city, it is clear why most tourists choose to stay here. Temples, old gates and traditional shops create a busy neighborhood that will stimulate all your senses! From luxury hotels to backpacker hostels, there is something for everyone here. Hoan Kiem is the best area to stay in Hanoi if you want a convenient and cultural experience in the center.
In addition, tour operators and bus companies often include a pick up from this part of the town. If you stay outside the city center, you might first need to travel a bit to catch a bus.
Budget hotels & hostels
- Central Backpackers Hostel – Old Quarter
- Old Quarter View Hanoi Hostel:
- Luxury Backpackers
Mid range hotel
- Hanoi Golden Moment Hotel
- New Vision Palace hotel
- The Hanoian Hotel
- Hanoi Graceful Hotel
High end hotel & resort
- Hanoi La Siesta Hotel Trendy
- The Chi Boutique Hotel
- Hanoi Bonsella Hotel
- Tirant Hotel
Deciphering Hanoi’s street food scene can be astonishing, but it is worth keeping up and diving into. The city’s best food comes from the dozens of vendors that line the city’s sidewalks with smoking charcoal burners, tiny plastic stools and queues of locals.
- Hong Hoai’s Restaurant
- Hoang’s Restaurant
- Green Farm Restaurant
- Bun Bo Nam Bo
- New Day Restaurant
- Madam Yen Restaurant
- The Gourmet Corner Restaurant
- Cau Go Vietnamese Cuisine Restaurant
- Essence Restaurant
- Ngon Villa Restaurant
There is is a lot to do at night in Hanoi. You can join the locals with a beer on the street, go clubbing, chill in a bar or enjoy a impressive performance in the Opera House.
- Bia Hoi Junction
- Hanoi Opera House
- Legend Beer
- \Water Puppet Theatre
- Hoan Kiem Lake
- Craft Beer Pub
- Weekend Night Market
- Hero Club Hanoi
Hanoi is a major transportation hub in the north of Vietnam. Hanoi connects with international flights, domestic flights, trains from the south and bus connections to every town in the north and central Vietnam.
Flights to Hanoi
Hanoi has fewer direct international flights than Ho Chi Minh City. Read all about flights to Vietnam here.
Jetstar Airways, VietJet Air and Vietnam Airlines connect Hanoi with destinations throughout Vietnam. Popular routes are Hanoi to Dalat, Da Nang, Ho Chi Minh City, Hue, Nha Trang and Phu Quoc, all daily flights. Read more about booking domestic flights in Vietnam here.
Buses to Hanoi
Hanoi has four major bus stations. They are fairly well organized, with ticket offices, fixed prices and schedules. It is often easier to book through a travel agent. From Hanoi there are buses to everywhere in Vietnam such as Sapa, Da Nang, Dalat, Hue, Ninh Binh. Cao Bang and Ha Giang. Many open-ticket bus tours through Vietnam start or end in Hanoi.
Tourist minibuses can be booked at most hotels and travel agents. Popular destinations are Halong Bay and Sapa. Prices are usually about 30% to 40% higher than those of the regular public bus, but include a hotel pick up service.
Trains to Hanoi
The train station is in the center. You can buy tickets for trains that can take you all the way south to Ho Chi Minh City, or north to Sapa and across the border to China.
Hanoi’s taxis have meters, but not all drivers want to use them. The problem with taking a taxi is that they cannot all speak English well. The most reliable taxis are: Hanoi Taxi, Mai Linh Taxi and Taxi CP. A good alternative is to use the Grab taxi app.
Metro : Hanoi is working hard to build a metro network. It is expected that the first connections can be used by 2021.
Cyclo are Hanoi’s bicycle taxis. Passengers drive in the front cabin, while the driver is behind the passenger. Cyclo cabins are made for two passengers and are ideal for exploring short distances in the center of Hanoi.
Xe Om are Hanoi motorbike taxis. You will find them especially on street corners. The best way to use an Xe Om is with the Grab app.
Itinerary 2 days in Hanoi
Looking for great things to do in Hanoi in 2 days? The below itinerary gives you in a short indication what you can see and do per day.
- Explore Old Quarter (by cyclo optionally)
- Walk around Hoan Kiem Lake
- Watch a water puppet show
- Enjoy street food (by food tour)
- Have a beer at Bia Hoi Junction
- Walk to Hanoi Cathedral
- Visit Hoa Lo Prison (Hanoi Hilton)
- Walk around Temple of Literature
- Visit Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
- Visit the Imperial Citadel
- Watch a show at Hanoi Opera House
More tips for traveling in Hanoi
Where to go next, hanoi with kids.
Hanoi is not the most child-friendly city in the country, with heavy traffic and narrow sidewalks used as parking spaces for scooters and motorcycles. It is certainly a place that will leave a huge impression and that children will never forget.
if you are in Hanoi with kids, we recommend visiting some of the museums, go around the lake by cyclo and defitnly do a street food tour.
You can easily get along with English in the city. In most hotels and restaurants it is spoken nicely or at least the basis you need to order or check in. Menus and signs for tourists are also often available in English.
How to dress
Hanoi is used to tourists and not that conservative when it comes to clothing. If you plan to visit temples in the city, make sure you are properly dressed. This means that you do not wear a short skirt or shirt.
In the summer it gets very hot and there is regular rainfall. In winter it is dry, but it can get quite cold. Keep this in mind with what kind of clothing you are bringing.
Tours in Hanoi you may like
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"Cultural heritage, vibrant streets, and delicious street food"
Perched on the banks of the Red River, Hanoi is Vietnam's capital and one of the world's most ancient cities. Boasting well-preserved colonial buildings, golden pagodas, unique museums, mouthwatering cuisine, entertainment destinations, and traditional bazaars, Hanoi is a melting pot of French, Chinese and Southeast Asian cultures.
Hanoi has an impactful history. The most incredible places of historical and cultural interest in Hanoi are the UNESCO-listed Thang Long Imperial Citadel, Vietnam's administrative centre for 800 years, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, where his body is preserved, Perfume Pagoda and Hoa Lo Prison Relic. Packed with courtyards and Parisian-style buildings, Old Quarter and French Quarter are affluent, enigmatic areas. Bach Ma Temple, Tran Quoc Pagoda, Hoan Kiem Lake's softshell turtle safaris, and Lake of Restored Sword offer a reprieve from the urban humdrum. It is a misconception that Hanoi is conservative. From Dong Xuan Market housing Louis Vuitton and irresistible street food to the 65 glam floors of Lotte Tower Observation Deck, Hanoi flaunts glitzy nightlife and shopping districts. With its balustrades and Gothic domes, monks practising Tai Chi, cobbled riverside streets, tube houses, farmers' markets, rich culture and much more, Hanoi defines the war-stricken past and the resilient awakening of Vietnam.
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Cultural tips for hanoi.
- There are no handshakes or any physical contact between opposite genders in the city while greeting each other, only a slight bow indicates the greeting.
- Pointing towards anyone with a foot is considered disrespectful, as foot is believed to be lowly and dirty.
- Also, do not leave your chopsticks upright in the bowl when you are done with your meal, it considered inauspicious.
- Make sure to dress conservatively while visiting a temple. Cover your arms, legs and shoulders and remove footwear before entering a temple and any house.
- Head is considered spiritually significant and thus it is considered inappropriate to touch that part of the body.
- Tipping is usually a norm at big restaurants and hotels but is not mandatory.
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- Make sure you have enough change to carry and ask for the balance back.
- Do not litter the streets and drop food waste on the road.
- There have been some instances of overcharging tourists. Be mindful of the quoted price.
- Steer clear of the street food if you have a sensitive stomach as hygiene, most often, is quite basic.
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Hanoi, Vietnam: 18 Places to Visit & Things to Know
Hanoi is an attractive tourist destination with a combination of culture, history, and national heritage. With over 1,000 years of development history, Hanoi has now become a modern city, but it still retains its traditional values and inherent beauty. In this article, let’s explore in detail about Hanoi, the best time to visit, and the places to visit in Hanoi.
Overview of Hanoi
Hanoi is located in northern Vietnam and is the capital city with a history spanning over 1,000 years. It is the largest cultural and political center in Vietnam, housing most of the government offices. With its long history, the ancient streets of Hanoi are regularly preserved and maintained, and UNESCO-recognized landmarks and cultural sites have made Hanoi an enticing destination for international tourists.
When visiting Hanoi , you cannot miss exploring the Old Quarter and visiting famous landmarks such as Hoan Kiem Lake, the Temple of Literature, the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, and Hoa Lo Prison. Enjoy various traditional folk arts such as water puppetry and “cheo” singing. And, of course, savor the exquisite cuisine of Hanoi, including renowned dishes like Pho, Banh Mi, Bun Cha (Kebab rice noodles),….
Best Time to Visit Hanoi
In Hanoi, you can experience distinct seasons throughout the year: Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter.
Spring in Hanoi : It starts from February to April, with an average temperature ranging from 15-25 degrees Celsius.
Summer in Hanoi : It begins from May to July with hot and humid weather, and temperatures during summer commonly range from 30-40 degrees Celsius.
Autumn in Hanoi : It starts from August to October, and during this time, the climate is pleasant with temperatures around 25-30 degrees Celsius.
Winter in Hanoi : It begins from November to January, and during this period, Hanoi gradually becomes colder, with the lowest temperatures around 10 degrees Celsius.
Therefore, the ideal weather in Hanoi is during spring and autumn, with temperatures ranging from 15 to 30 degrees Celsius. The best time for you to visit Hanoi would be from September to March of the following year .
Read more: Best Time To Visit Vietnam
Transportation to Hanoi
Hanoi, being the capital of Vietnam, has a well-developed transportation infrastructure. To reach Hanoi, you can travel by air to Noi Bai International Airport, by train to Hanoi Railway Station located on Le Duan Street (near the city center), or by car via highways connecting to other cities.
Domestic and international flights to Hanoi land at Noi Bai International Airport, which is approximately 30 kilometers away from the city center. Some popular airlines in Vietnam include Vietjet Air, Vietnam Airlines, Jetstar Pacific, and Bamboo Airways.
Train journeys to and from Hanoi typically depart from and arrive at Hanoi Railway Station, situated on Le Duan Street, just about 2 kilometers from the city center. From this station, you can book tickets to various cities across Vietnam, with Sapa being one of the favorite destinations for travelers using the train from Hanoi.
Read more: How to travel from Hanoi to Sapa by train?
Currently, Vietnam’s highway system is rapidly expanding, making cars a common choice for travelers when moving to nearby attractions within approximately 200 kilometers of Hanoi, such as Halong Bay, Cat Ba Island, Trang An in Ninh Binh, and more.
Best Places to Visit in Hanoi
Hoan kiem lake (lake of the restored sword).
Hoan Kiem Lake, also known as Lake of the Restored Sword, can be considered an iconic symbol of Hanoi. It is situated right in the heart of the city, with a historic turtle tower located on a small peninsula within the lake. Next to Hoan Kiem Lake, you’ll find impressive architectural landmarks and valuable cultural heritage sites of Hanoi, such as the Pen Tower, The Huc Bridge, and Ngoc Son Temple.
The streets surrounding Hoan Kiem Lake become a pedestrian zone on weekends, and it’s a common place for free street performances and artistic shows for everyone to enjoy.
Ngoc Son Temple
Ngoc Son Temple is a renowned spiritual and cultural symbol in the capital city of Hanoi. It is located in the northeastern part on Ngoc Island within Hoan Kiem Lake, combined with the Turtle Tower in the south. This creates a prominent complex of cultural and historical relics amid the serene natural scenery. In 2013, Ngoc Son Temple was recognized as a special national heritage site. It is a captivating attraction for both local and international tourists when visiting Hanoi.
Temple of Literature (Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam)
The Temple of Literature, also known as Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam, is considered Vietnam’s first university, established in 1070 during the reign of King Ly Thanh Tong. In 1076, King Ly Nhan Tong officially established the Quoc Tu Giam, which became the Temple of Literature. This is a famous historical site in Hanoi, preserving the cultural and educational essence of various feudal periods and maintaining the traditional values of Vietnam. The site also houses numerous artifacts and precious documents, notably the 82 stelae recognizing doctoral laureates, which have been recognized by UNESCO as “World Documentary Heritage.”
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is the final resting place of President Ho Chi Minh, a great leader of the Vietnamese people. The mausoleum is open to the public five days a week, in the mornings on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday. Visitors are required to dress modestly, not bring electronic recording devices, and maintain proper decorum while touring the mausoleum.
One Pillar Pagoda (Chua Mot Cot)
The One Pillar Pagoda was constructed in 1049 during the reign of King Ly Thai Tong. It is not only regarded as one of the most unique architectural marvels in Vietnam and Asia but also a spiritual destination and a symbol of Hanoi’s thousand-year-old culture.
Hanoi Old Quarter
Hanoi Old Quarter is located in the heart of Hanoi and comprises 36 streets, each with its unique charm, featuring houses dating back to the 19th century that have been preserved and conserved to this day. International tourists visiting Hanoi often choose to stay in hotels within this area for convenience. Within the Old Quarter, you can easily find souvenirs, handicrafts, and savor the cuisine of Hanoi. Moreover, this area is home to night markets and pubs, making it very convenient for tourists.
Hoa Lo Prison
Hoa Lo Prison was built by the French colonialists in 1896 to incarcerate thousands of Vietnamese revolutionaries. Today, it stands as one of Hanoi’s famous historical relics, preserving evidence of the wartime and the hardships endured by countless Vietnamese patriots during the struggle for independence from French colonial rule.
Hanoi Opera House
Hanoi Opera House was constructed by the French in 1901 during their colonial rule of Vietnam. After the French withdrawal, the Vietnamese government continued to preserve and develop the Hanoi Opera House according to its original purpose. The Hanoi Opera House is an attractive cultural exchange venue, hosting large-scale artistic events and concerts featuring renowned artists.
Located not far from Hoan Kiem Lake, approximately 500 meters away, you can easily walk there to capture beautiful photos.
Read more: Ho Guom Opera House in Hanoi, Vietnam
St. Joseph’s Cathedral, Hanoi
St. Joseph’s Cathedral was built in 1884 and completed in 1887 by the French colonialists during their occupation of Vietnam. The cathedral is designed in a neo-Gothic architectural style, resembling Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris but with a fusion of Eastern and Christian influences, reflecting a part of Vietnamese culture and Buddhism.
Today, St. Joseph’s Cathedral serves as a place of worship for Catholics and is a favorite destination for young people due to its central location in Hanoi. It attracts many tourists for sightseeing every day.
Thang Long Water Puppet Theater
Thang Long Water Puppet Theater was established in 1969 under the name Kim Dong Puppetry Troupe, with the initial mission of performing water puppetry for Hanoi’s children. Over nearly half a century of formation and development, the theater has become Vietnam’s leading water puppetry art brand and holds the record in Asia as the “Only Theater in Asia Performing Water Puppetry 365 Days a Year.” The theater has successfully toured more than 40 countries, leaving a mark on audiences worldwide, from Asia to Europe, America, and Australia.
Situated in the central area of Hanoi, you can easily explore many famous Hanoi landmarks from here, such as Ngoc Son Temple, Ly Thai To Park, and the Hanoi Opera House. Thang Long Water Puppet Theater has warmly welcomed numerous international visitors who come to enjoy the unique art of water puppetry, a form of art unique to Vietnam.
Imperial Citadel of Thang Long
The Imperial Citadel of Thang Long in Hanoi is a complex of historical relics associated with different periods in Vietnam’s history. It is a massive architectural structure built over many feudal dynasties and is now a fascinating tourist attraction in Hanoi. On July 31, 2010, the Thang Long Imperial Citadel was recognized by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage site.
Together with the Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam (Temple of Literature), Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, and One Pillar Pagoda, the Thang Long Imperial Citadel has become one of the oldest and most enduring landmarks in Hanoi, closely linked to countless dynasties and historical events throughout its history.
Hanoi Night Market
Hanoi Old Quarter Night Market stretches for about 3 kilometers, covering three main streets: Hang Dao Street, Hang Ngang Street, and Hang Duong Street. The night market operates from 6:00 PM to 11:00 PM every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Inside the Hanoi Night Market , you’ll find numerous stalls selling various products, including household items, clothing, jewelry, handicrafts, souvenirs, and more, all at very affordable prices. You can also indulge in Hanoi cuisine at the food stalls in the market.
Tran Quoc Pagoda
Tran Quoc Pagoda is one of the most famous pagodas in Hanoi. Located on a small island in the eastern part of West Lake, Hanoi’s largest freshwater lake, the pagoda offers a picturesque setting. This pagoda has been in existence for nearly 1500 years and has undergone several renovations and maintenance efforts. With its historical and architectural significance, Tran Quoc Pagoda attracts both Buddhist pilgrims and tourists from within and outside Vietnam.
Bat Trang Ceramic Village
Bat Trang Ceramic Village is situated about 15 kilometers from central Hanoi. With over 500 years of history, the village is renowned for its traditional ceramic craftsmanship, making it an integral part of Hanoi’s cultural heritage.
Bat Trang specializes in producing a wide variety of ceramic and porcelain products in terms of types and designs. What’s most interesting about visiting Bat Trang is that you can directly witness artisans creating exquisite ceramic products and even try your hand at crafting your own pieces. The ceramic products from Bat Trang are known for their beauty and high quality, including dishes, bowls, cups, vases, and souvenirs. They are not only widely consumed in the domestic market but also exported to many countries worldwide.
Bat Trang Ceramic Museum is a must-visit when you come to Bat Trang . The museum boasts distinctive architecture, and to enter, you’ll need to purchase a ticket. Inside, you’ll find a vast collection of unique ceramic products, raw materials, and the ceramic-making process. If you wish to own some beautiful ceramic artwork, you can visit the shops on the museum’s first floor.
Duong Lam Ancient Village
Duong Lam Ancient Village is approximately 40 kilometers from central Hanoi. This village has preserved traditional cultural elements and unique architectural styles, representing the serene countryside of Vietnam. The village is known for its ancient gate, banyan tree, communal house, and pagoda.
Before entering Duong Lam Ancient Village, you will pass through the Mong Phu village gate. Next to the gate is a banyan tree that is over 300 years old, a popular spot for tourists to take commemorative photos when visiting Duong Lam.
Van Phuc Silk Village
Van Phuc Silk Village in Ha Dong, with a history spanning over 1000 years, is one of the most famous silk-producing villages in Vietnam. Located just over 10 kilometers from central Hanoi, Van Phuc Village is home to nearly 800 households engaged in traditional silk weaving. The primary material for Van Phuc silk is silk thread, prized for its softness and durability. To create perfect silk products, artisans go through various meticulous stages, even closely monitoring machine-assisted processes.
The silk products from Van Phuc are highly regarded for their beauty and quality. They come in various styles and patterns. The patterns are diverse, symmetrically decorated, and beautifully detailed, offering a sense of openness and precision. When you visit this area, be sure to purchase some silk products as souvenirs for your loved ones.
West Lake Hanoi
West Lake is a natural freshwater lake located in the northwest of Hanoi’s city center, covering an area of approximately 500 hectares, with a nearly 20-kilometer-long road around the lake, perfect for cycling. West Lake is not only a cultural and natural symbol of Hanoi but also a popular tourist destination offering various activities such as swan boat rides, water sports, a water park, visits to ancient villages, and culinary exploration.
Surrounding West Lake are ancient villages such as Nhat Tan Flower Village, Quang Ba Flower Village, Nghi Tam Kumquat Village, Yen Thai Paper Village, and Ngu Xa Bronze Casting Village. The area also features historical and cultural relics like Van Nien Pagoda, Tao Sach Pagoda, Kim Lien Pagoda, Quan Thanh Temple, and Ba Danh Temple. Notably, on the peninsula and island on the eastern side of West Lake, two famous sites, Tay Ho Palace (constructed around the 17th century in honor of the Lady of the Forest) and Tran Quoc Pagoda (built during the Early Ly Dynasty in the 6th century), remain well-preserved and attract a large number of domestic and international visitors.
Read more: 15 Top Tourist Attractions in Hanoi
Museums in Hanoi
A must-visit in any city is its museums and historical landmarks. One of the most beloved places by international travelers is the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology . Following that, you can explore the Vietnam Women’s Museum, the Fine Arts Museum, the Hanoi Museum, the National Museum of History, or the Hoa Lo Prison Museum, along with the historical site of the Hanoi Flag Tower, to delve into the culture and history of the city.
Read more: Top 8 Museums in Hanoi You Should Visit
Hanoi is one of the fantastic destinations for enjoying Vietnamese cuisine, and most of the famous dishes in Hanoi, such as Pho, Banh Mi, Bun Cha, Spring Rolls, are all popular everyday dishes used by the locals.
What makes Hanoi special is the opportunity to savor Pho and Bun Cha. These two dishes carry the distinctive characteristics of Hanoi, and while other cities may have them, they are often not as delicious.
Read more: Top 7 Delicious Beef Pho Restaurants Near Hanoi’s Old Quarter
Enjoying Coffee in Hanoi
One of the most popular beverages in Hanoi is coffee, and enjoying coffee is a daily habit for many Hanoi residents. You can find coffee shops throughout the streets of Hanoi , and one of the favorite ways to enjoy coffee here is sitting right on the sidewalk next to the pedestrian walkway, where you can also people-watch as you sip your coffee.
Read more: 10 Egg Coffee Shops in Hanoi You Should Try
Choosing Good Hotels in Hanoi
It’s not difficult to find a good hotel in Hanoi as the hotel options here are quite diverse, ranging from budget to luxury. However, if you’re staying in the Old Quarter area, it’s best to choose hotels in the 3 to 5-star range with prices ranging from $30 to $200 USD for a better experience. We recommend selecting hotels located in the city center, close to the Old Quarter, where you can easily walk to famous attractions in Hanoi, such as Hoan Kiem Lake, the Old Quarter, and the Night Market.
Read more: Top 10 Best 3 Star Hotels in Hanoi Old Quarter
Read more: Top 14 Best 4 Star Hotels in Hanoi Old Quarter
Some Tips for Visiting Hanoi
Choosing clothing when traveling to hanoi.
Depending on the time of year you visit Hanoi, if you come here in the summer or autumn, T-shirts, shorts, and sneakers are the top choices. If you visit Hanoi in the winter or spring, having a thin scarf and a jacket is essential.
Be cautious when taking taxis on the road
There have been cases where foreign tourists were overcharged after using taxi services in Hanoi. To avoid being cheated, you should choose reputable taxi companies like Taxi XANH SM, Taxi group, Taxi Thanh Nga, Taxi G7, or use the Grab app if you have an account. If you don’t know how to book a ride, you can ask the hotel reception or local residents for help.
Haggling when shopping
When shopping at places other than supermarkets, you should haggle and aim for about a 30% discount from the initial price the seller gives you, and then adjust it a bit if necessary.
With its rich cultural traditions, glorious history, unique cuisine, and numerous famous attractions that we have just introduced, Hanoi is undoubtedly a fantastic destination you shouldn’t miss when visiting Vietnam. If you’re interested in touring Hanoi , please let us know, and you can receive free advice from our travel experts.
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Best places to visit around Hanoi
- Updated: December 2, 2022 Tommy Ngo in Beautiful Vietnam , Best of Vietnam , Vietnam Travel Tips 0 comment.
I. Inside the city
Hanoi is packed with incredible must-visit attractions, such as The Temple of Literature, Long Bien Bridge or Hanoi Opera House. Take your time to discover the thousand years capital with many different tours, such as Hanoi bicycle tours, Hanoi walking tours, Hanoi street foods tours or motorbike tours in Hanoi. If you want to understand and experience more about the life of locals, there are many activities for you to join, like Hanoi cooking class or Farm tour in Hanoi suburb with a local family.
Booking those tours, you will have chances to visit the most attractive and popular destinations inside the city. There are a number of interesting places to get by in Hanoi.
1. Hoan Kiem Lake
Hoan Kiem Lake, also known as Hồ Gươm, is a lake in the historical center of Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam. The lake is one of the major scenic spots in the city and serves as a focal point for its public life.
2. Hanoi Old Quater
Inside a modern and dynamic city, there appears an antique quarter – Hanoi Old Quarter, which is the eternal soul of the city. It is said that nothing says Hanoi like its Old Quarter- the cultural heart of Hanoi. If you want to discover Vietnam’s historic and unique cultural delights, walk around and just take in the sites.
3. The Literature Temple
One of the most famous historical sites of the city is The Literature Temple which was built in 1070. Not only being the very first University of the nation, Van Mieu is also the place to worship Confucius. The Vietnamese always come here to pray for luck for school and working by touching the rock tortoises’ head, because it is believed to be a very sacred blessing for academic and occupational success.
4. National Museum of Vietnamese History
Another must-visit historical site in Hanoi is National Museum of Vietnamese History. Built between 1925 and 1932, it is a magnificent example of Indochinese architecture. The exhibits are all about Vietnam through times, from primitive period to present.
5. Imperial Citadel of Thang Long
Situated at the heart of Hanoi, the Central Sector of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long is an outstanding place of interest. The site was inscribed on the World Heritage List by UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee in 2010. There’re two sections: the archaeological site at 18 Hoang Dieu Street and the central axis of the Nguyen Dynasty’s Citadel of Hanoi. This was the most important sector of Thang Long Citadel, the capital of Dai Viet under the Ly, Tran, and Le dynasties from the 11th to the 18th centuries. It was also the headquarters of the North Vietnamese government and army during the Vietnam War.
6. Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is an important historical attraction of Hanoi, known for honoring the national hero: President Ho Chi Minh. The building is where visitors can express their admiration and gratitude towards the common father/uncle of Vietnamese who has led the country to independence and reunification. It is popularly known among Vietnamese as Uncles’ Mausoleum, for the intimate and familiar atmosphere, Ho Chi Minh always created when he was alive.
II. Outside the city
Beside the famous attractions in the city, there are so much more for you to discover outside Hanoi within only one or two days.
1. One day trip
1.1. bat trang ceramic village.
Bat Trang , a small village in the north of Vietnam, is about 13 kilometers south-east of Hanoi center. Why is its name popular with most tourists to northern Vietnam? The answer is its ever famous ceramic and pottery products of high quality. If you have known about Vietnam, you may not be surprised that Bat Trang’s vases, bowls, dishes, and many other kinds of ceramic products have been exported worldwide. In Bat Trang one day trip, you can also design and create your own ceramic products by hand for souvenirs.
1.2. Van Phuc Silk Village
Situated on the bank of Nhue River, about 10km southwest of Hanoi Old Quarter, Van Phuc silk village is renowned for its traditional weaving and premium quality silk products. At the age of more than 1,200 years, Van Phuc is proud to be the most ancient silk village which provides the best silk in Vietnam.
1.3. Duong Lam ancient village
Some 60km to the west of Hanoi Capital, Duong Lam, in Son Tay town, Hanoi, is the first-recognized ancient village in Vietnam. It is a truly authentic Vietnam as it still retains most of the basic characteristics of a village with port village, trees, courtyard, temples, well, water fields and the ancient houses.
1.4. Bac Ninh Province
Located 30km from the center of Hanoi, Bac Ninh Province is an ideal place for your one day trip with many interesting attractions.
1.4.1 But Thap Pagoda
But Thap pagoda is considered one of the most common attractions near Hanoi. The pagoda is situated in But Thap village in Bac Ninh province; and very famous for having unique ancient architecture, which is the sophisticated combination of Vietnamese culture and Chinese culture.
1.4.2. Dong Ho Painting Village
Dong Ho Village with its famous paintings has become an aesthetic symbol in Vietnam culture. Located to the left side of Duong River in Bac Ninh Province, Dong Ho stood for centuries making their unique artwork. Dong Ho Village can easily be combined with But Thap Pagoda into a one day But Thap biking trip to Bac Ninh.
1.4.3. Dau Pagoda
Dau Pagoda, located in Thuan Thanh district, Bac Ninh province, is considered the oldest Buddhist pagoda in Vietnam according to researchers. The pagoda is about 1 hour away from Hanoi Old Quarter, making it easy for a morning trip away from the city noise.
1.5. Ninh Binh Province
Ninh Binh is located only 90km from Hanoi. There are numerous famous attractions to get by in only one day trip.
1.5.1. Tam Coc – Hoa Lu
Often referred to as “Inland Ha Long Bay”, the area of Tam Coc and Hoa Lu is characterized by the limestone geology that gives rise to the towering karsts that make this picturesque area so unique. On this enjoyable one day trip, the atmosphere is relaxed as you casually pedal and paddle your way past green rice fields, along waterways, and through underground passages.
1.5.2. Trang An
Trang An is a scenic area near Ninh Binh, Vietnam renowned for its boat cave tours. At the 38th session of the World Heritage Committee in Doha, the Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. During Trang An one day tour , you can not only experience the natural beauty of Trang An but also visit Bai Dinh Pagoda, one of the biggest pagoda in Vietnam and also of South East Asia with hundreds of statues.
1.5.3. Perfume Pagoda
Perfume pagoda has a long history of Vietnamese literature. Its name has been a theme of many songs, topic of poetry, used in literary works as well as backdrops for paintings. This location truly incorporates all the elements of beauty that is often used in Eastern philosophy and arts. Don’t hesitate to join Perfume pagoda one day tour to understand more about Vietnamese culture.
2. Two days trip
2.1. hai phong.
Travel 102 km from the capital of Hanoi, Hai Phong is one of the most beautiful cities in the North of Vietnam with a lot of interesting places to see.
2.1.1. Do Son Beach
Stretching 22km wide between two rivers Cam and Van Uc, Do Son with its soft white sand has always been an ideal beach destination. Besides the luscious natural beauty of its three beaches, Do Son also processes many cultural and historical artifacts. Spending time in Do Son Beach for two days or more is a great idea to escape from the heat of the city.
2.1.2. Cat Ba Island
Cat Ba is the largest out of the nearly 2000 islands surrounding the Halong Bay area. Under the green canopy is a diverse ecosystem, with hundreds of valuable medicinal herbs and trees. Cat Ba is also home to the endangered Komodo iguana, which can way up to 100kg. Tourists visiting Cat Ba have plenty of choices between the island’s tropical beaches, caves and the Cat Ba National Park.
2.2. Ha Long Bay
Halong Bay is one the iconic natural beauties of Vietnam and unsurprisingly one of the most popular destinations in the whole of the country. In 1994, it was designated Vietnam’s second World Heritage Site and attracts a steady stream of visitors year-round for the magnificent views of the bay and the relaxing boat trips. There are many options in Halong Bay tours in two or more days for you to choose. You can also combine visiting Halong Bay with Cat Ba Island into a 3-days tour.
2.3. Mai Chau
The distance from Hanoi to Mai Chau Valley is approximately 150km; therefore, it takes you more than 3 hours to reach a beautiful Mai Chau Valley. Coming to Mai Chau, tourists will be warmly welcomed by the picturesque scenery of Mai Chau lying in a green valley of paddy fields dotted with rows of stilt houses. Spending time on Mai Chau two days tour at one of the stilt houses in Mai Chau, tourists have a chance to enjoy the folk dances and songs that are accompanied by Gong music, as well as experience the feeling of drinking Can Wine – an important cultural symbol for ethnic minorities in Hoa Binh.
2.4. Ha Giang
Ha Giang is a unique place that is untouched by mass tourism. Traditional practices and habits of these ethnic groups are very diverse and interesting, and they attract many travelers who have a chance to explore these unique aspects. In Ha Giang tour , you have a chance to visit many popular attractions, such as Ma Pi Leng Pass – one of the most beautiful roads you can ride in Vietnam, or Meo Vac Town – one of the most beautiful parts of Ha Giang province.
2.5. Moc Chau
Moc Chau is a big plateau in Son La province, located 185km from Hanoi. It is well-known for poetic landscapes with endless grass fields, huge gardens of plum and apricot trees and various flowers, immense tea plantations and large herds of milk cows. Spending two days in Moc Chau is the perfect getaway from the crowded city.
There are many more interesting places to discover around Hanoi, as well as different kinds of one day or two days tour for you to choose. Don’t hesitate to book a trip from Vietnam Tours and enjoy your fascinating, enlightening holidays through this beautiful country.
Start planning your tailor-made Vietnam tour by contacting one of our specialists…
- Places around Hanoi
Tommy Ngo was born as a child of Home of Traditional Folk Music of graceful Vietnam. Besides a common role of a master of IT and professional blogger, Tommy also has a passion with traveling and discovering as deep as possible the beauty and culture of the S-shaped country.
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- 10 Wonderful Places To Visit In Hanoi, A Land Lost In Time!
23 Mar 2023
Boating an endless wealth of history and culture, the 1000-year old city of Hanoi has a mind-boggling array of attractions for all kinds of travelers. From temples, ancient citadels, bizarre theatres, to rolling kush hills, there will be no dearth of places to visit in Hanoi on your trip to Vietnam . See what all you can explore in this city exhibiting an interesting blend of foreign French and American influences mingled with the unique Vietnamese heritage.
Top 10 Places To Visit In Hanoi, Vietnam
Wondering where to go in Hanoi? Check out our list below:
- Hoa Lo Prison
- Ba Vi National Park
- Dong Xuan Market
- Hanoi Old Quarter
- Thang Long Puppet Theatre
- Temple of Literature
- Hanoi Opera House
- Hoan Kiem Lake and Ngoc Son
- Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
- The Imperial Citadel of Thang Long
10. The Imperial Citadel of Thang Long
Image Credit: Katiebordner by Flickr
Suggested Read: 10 Best Places To Visit In Vietnam In Summer
As royal as the name suggests, the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long is perhaps Vietnam’s most intriguing relic denoting its historical and cultural importance. This 40 meter high UNESCO World Heritage Site is among the best places to visit in Hanoi for its architecture as well as a powerful symbol of the history of Hanoi. The erstwhile centre of ancient Hanoi, this citadel had served as the political centre of Vietnam for as long as eight centuries.
Location: Quan Thanh, Ba Dinh, Hanoi Timings: 8 AM – 7:30 PM
9. Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
Image Source Another one among the best Hanoi attractions is the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum which has left an indelible mark on Vietnamese history. Housing the preserved body of Hanoi’s greatest leader nicknamed ‘Uncle Ho’, this sombre mausoleum is now part of Vietnam’s living history.
Location: 8 Hung Vuong, Dien Bien, Ba Dinh, Hanoi Timings: Tuesday – Thursday 07:30 – 10:30, Saturday & Sunday 07:30 – 11:00
Suggested Read: Restaurants In Hanoi: Pull Your Forks Out For A Culinary Extravaganza In Vietnam
8. Hoan Kiem Lake and Ngoc Son
Image Credit: nguyenkhactuhd23 by Needpix
Suggested Read: 10 Most Romantic Things To Do In Hanoi
Also known as Turtle Lake, the Hoan Kiem is a central feature of Hanoi and a famous place to hangout with friends and family. What adds beauty to this lake is the Ngoc Son Temple sitting on a small island in the middle of it, linked only by a small bridge where you can click pictures in the stunning backdrop of the lake and its green surroundings. Other than being one of the most charming Hanoi tourist attractions, Hoan Kiem serves as a good spot for young joggers and elderly people practicing Tai Chi and line dancing during sunrise and sunset.
Location: Hanoi Old Quarter Ngoc Son entry fee: INR 60 per person (VND 20,000)
7. Hanoi Opera House
Image Credit: Prashant Ram by Flickr The Hanoi Opera House is among the best Hanoi attractions owing to its elegant infrastructure and Parisian charm. Modelled after its Paris counterpart, Hanoi Opera House is famed for its ivory-toned columns, ornate balustrades, and Gothic domes. When here, guests can comfortably enjoy classical ballet performances, Vietnamese opera, dance shows, and even music concerts by world-renowned artists.
Location: 1 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi Entry fee: Approx. INR 3,500 per person
6. Temple of Literature
Suggested Read: 20 Best Beaches In Vietnam For Some Sun, Sand & Surf!
A soothing gem in the center of Hanoi, the Temple of Literature was originally built as a dedication to the Chinese sage and scholar Confucius and as an indisputable centre of learning. Beautified over the proceeding years, this large temple complex with ornate pavilions, shrines, and a verdant garden has turned into a rite of passage for graduating doctors and one of the best places to visit in Hanoi.
Timings: 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM (Tuesday – Sunday) Location: 58 Quoc Tu Giam, Van Mieu, Dong Da Entry fee: INR 30/- per person (VND 10,000)
5. Thang Long Puppet Theatre
Image Source Every traveler’s favourite, this charming theatre showcases the ancient art form of water puppetry with a twist! Water puppetry has a long been associated with Hanoi, and while there are several theatres showcasing guests this art, it is only the popular Thang Long Puppet Theatre where guests can truly enjoy this uniquely Vietnamese take on Asia’s puppet tradition. The dancing and elegantly sliding puppets are the best things to see in Hanoi over a liquid stage. Catch the famous Legend of the Restored Sword of King Le show when you’re in town next!
Location: 57B, Dinh Tien Hoang Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi Timings: Daily shows at 3 PM, 4:10 PM, 5:20 PM, 6:30 PM, & 8 PM Average ticket cost: INR 300/- per person (VND 100,000)
4. Hanoi Old Quarter
Suggested Read: Top 10 Vietnam Beach Resorts For A “Living In The Moment” Holiday
The Hanoi Old Quarter is an incomparably fascinating area in the city that allows visitors to feast their eyes upon many fine examples of colonial architecture packed along narrow streets. It’s the perfect place for a walk while also indulging in some spicy street food at dirt cheap rates. It’s definitely among the most attractive places to visit in Hanoi owing to its frivolous local vibe and delicious aromas of food.
Location: Hanoi Old Quarter, Hoan Kiem District
3. Dong Xuan Market
Image Source The largest of its kind in Hanoi, the sprawling complex of Dong Xuan Market is established within a four-storey Soviet-style building and offers a staggering collection of fashion, apparels, and souvenirs at rock bottom rates. Everything from printed T-shirts, cheap sunglasses, to exotic handicrafts are available here. Without a doubt, Dong Xuan Market is your one-stop shopping destination and one of the finest Hanoi points of interest.
Location: Dong Xuan Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi Timings: 6 AM – 7 PM
2. Ba Vi National Park
Suggested Read: 7 Most Romantic Hotels In Vietnam: The Best Of Beach Resorts And Hotels For Couples
A nature reserve with unimaginable beauty till where the eyes can see, Ba Vi National Park provides as a great relief from the hustle and bustle of the otherwise frolic city of Hanoi. The park is famed for its cloud-kissed Famous three-peaked mountain that juts steeply out into the striking blue sky and bestows travelers and hikers with dramatic views and a diverse range of flora and fauna. A prominent part of all Hanoi tours is a visit to the 11th century temple here that offers mesmerising vistas of the surrounding countryside as well as natural hot springs for a healing dip.
Location: 60 km west of Hanoi
1. Hoa Lo Prison
Image Source Literally meaning ‘stove’, Hoa Lo was nothing short of a hell-hole in the name of a prison built by the French in the 1880s to imprison Vietnamese soldiers. Maintained till the end of the Vietnam War, it houses grisly exhibits showcasing the sufferings of Vietnamese prisoners and the brutal torture they had to endure day after day.
Location: 1 Hoa Lo, Tran Hung Dao, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi (Google Maps); Entry fee: INR 90/- per person (VND 30,000)
Further Read: Vietnam Nightlife Guide: 15 Places For Experiencing The Best Of Nightclubs, Bars, Shopping & More
Know of any more places to visit in Hanoi that should have been on this list? Let us know in the comments below. Till then, book your trip to Vietnam with TravelTriangle for the best deals on a customised trip and a rejuvenating holiday experience!
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Frequently Asked Questions About Places to Visit in Hanoi
What is Hanoi best known for?
The capital city of Vietnam, Hanoi is known for its rich cultural and historical monuments such as the ancient temples, citadels, etc. Hanoi is architecturally profound and comprises several beautiful structures that define Vietnamese culture. You could also purchase elegant jewelleries and artifacts in the colorful markets that are really famous in Hanoi.
What are the best attractions in Hanoi?
The top tourist attractions that you must explore during your visit are the Old Town Quarter, Hoan Kiem Lake, Literature temple, Ho Chi Minh mausoleum, Ethnology museum, Prison museum, Water Puppet theater, Military museum, Imperial Citadel, and West Lake.
Is it safe to visit Hanoi during covid times?
The Vietnamese Government has put up restrictions on tourism, although certain individuals are allowed to visit for business purposes, etc. March onwards, the Government will be easing up on the restrictions that will allow tourists to visit, and has issued some important guidelines such as visitors should quarantine themselves for 6-7 days and should provide a negative RT PCR report done &2 hours prior to departure.
What are the best things to do outdoors in Hanoi?
Enjoy your Hanoi tour by indulging in some of the adventurous outdoor activities such as exploring the Hoan Kiem and West lake, visiting the Ngoc Son temple, and visiting the Ho Tay Water park. Other attractions to visit include Thong National park, Botanical garden, and Thu Le park.
How can I spend a week in Hanoi?
Hanoi is a gem of a place and there are several attractions that you can explore in a week such as Ba vi national park, Dong Xuan market, Thang Long Puppet theater, Hanoi Opera house, Ho Chi Minh mausoleum, and the Imperial Citadel in Thang Long.
What can you do in Hanoi at night?
The capital city of Vietnam offers some of the enticing things to do at night such as visiting Dragonfly and 1900 Le Theater, enjoying a drink at Craft’s beer club, strolling around West lake, and experiencing the Hanoi Rock City.
Which are the best months to visit Hanoi?
Hanoi experiences pleasant weather twice a year, that is during spring (March to April) and autumn (September to November). These are the best months to visit the major tourist attractions in Hanoi.
How many days should I spend in Hanoi?
If you are visiting Hanoi for the first time, then at least 2-3 days are required in order to explore this beautiful city during your Vietnam tour. These many days are sufficient to indulge in some of the best experiences that Hanoi offers and explore some of the mesmerizing sights.
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Home » Travel Guides » Vietnam » 15 Best Day Trips from Hanoi
15 Best Day Trips from Hanoi
Hanoi is the ancient capital of Vietnam. It’s a city that can trace its long lineage back thousands of years; a city that has seen many different people and cultures come and go and leave their marks on the land through the ages.
From the Chinese to the French, there are influences in the food, architecture, and language of Hanoi from across the world.
In recent years, the northern Vietnamese city has slowly begun to open itself up to tourism, as the locals shrug off repression and open their doors.
It’s an interesting city to visit, and Hanoi’s prime location and position as the capital makes it an excellent place from which to explore the rest of the north of the country.
The iconic Halong Bay, with its floating villages and towering limestone karst rocks, is found on the nearby coastline, while ancient temples and traditional villages can be found across the spectacular, verdant countryside.
There are plenty of day trip opportunities from Hanoi, and here are the best of them.
1. Halong Bay
A trip to Halong Bay is top of any travelers list when visiting the north of Vietnam.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the most world-renowned natural wonders in Southeast Asia – to miss seeing it in person would be a travesty.
Yes, it can be busy and touristy, but this attraction far exceeds its reputation and will leave you reeling from shock when you see the beauty.
Tall, limestone karsts are arrayed across the water for miles and there are many hidden caves and coves waiting to be explored.
There are almost 2000 individual islands in the area – it would be impossible to explore every single one.
The best way to see Halong Bay on a day trip, is, of course, to take a cruise through the spectacular scenery.
Recommended tour : Halong Day Tour: Islands, Caves, Kayak with Dragonfly Cruise
Haiphong is a sprawling, industrial city on the coast, used by some as a gateway to Halong Bay but not truly really visited by many for long.
Give the city a chance though – look past the urban, steely gaze and explore the unique, French styled, colonial architecture that’s found in the old center and the hidden but surprisingly green, tree-filled parks.
There is an intriguing museum where you can learn more about this overlooked Vietnamese city, while you can visit the Du Hang Pagoda to see more of the Buddhist influence too.
3. Cat Ba Island
Cat Ba is the largest of the many islands off the coast of Vietnam.
It’s found at the southern edge of Halong Bay; from the seafront, you see the thousands of other islands sprawled across the horizon.
As well as being an entrance point to the famous bay, it’s also an interesting destination in its own right, offering visitors a vast, green national park to explore.
The scenery here is wild and untouched, and the island is only sparsely populated, meaning there is a lot of that wild scenery to go around.
Explore the national park and make sure to visit the intriguing Cave Hospital, which was hidden away in the forests and used during the Vietnam War.
Available 2 day cruise : Mon Chéri Cruise 5 Star: Unique 2 Days Halong Bay & Cat Ba
4. Ninh Binh
As far as northern Vietnamese cities go, Ninh Binh is very much an unknown and unexplored destination.
Found just 100 kilometers to the south of Hanoi, it makes for an excellent, off the beaten track day trip.
Ninh Binh can’t remain hidden for long though, because it is utterly spectacular.
The area is a maze of rivers and waterways, as this is the Red River Delta.
There are beautifully green rice paddies and grazing pastures, while the Phat Diem Cathedral is an iconic piece of Christian history to be seen.
Hoa Lu is one of Vietnam’s historical capital cities, an ancient place that was once the center of life and politics during the middle ages.
Although it was superseded by Hanoi, it remains an important tourist destination.
It’s found close to Ninh Binh – but certainly worth a day trip by itself – and is in a beautiful location, surrounded by rivers and high limestone rocks.
The setting is as dramatic as it gets anywhere in Vietnam, but add to this the culture and immense history of Hoa Lu and you have one of the best sights in the country to see.
Top rated tour : Full Day Hoa Lu & Tam Coc: Small Group Tour & Buffet Lunch
6. Trang An
Trang An is one of the most incredible areas in the Ninh Binh district.
It’s not far from Hanoi, so this area of immense natural beauty is fast becoming a popular trip for those looking to escape the city and immerse themselves in greenery rather than concrete.
There is a vast network of rivers and deltas to explore, but the highlight is taking a boat to an enormous cave complex that’s hidden away in the mountains.
Available tour : Full-Day Trang An, Hoa Lu, Mua Cave – Group Tour with Lunch
7. Van Long
Van Long Nature Reserve is also found near Ninh Binh, and this scenic area of protected wilderness tends to be much quieter than the other points of interest in the region.
It’s the best place south of Hanoi to simply lose yourself in the vast beauty of Vietnam.
This is a haven for unique animals and wildlife too, and it’s becoming a favorite for bird watchers looking to spot many of the rare species found here, living along the river and amongst the limestone karsts that create such a domineering landscape.
8. Cuc Phuong
Cuc Phuong National Park is located to the south of Hanoi and it’s the largest national park in Vietnam.
It’s a huge area of protected land and offers visitors some of the best outdoor experiences in the country.
The scenery is magnificent, and there are many hikes through the park which allow you to enjoy that scenery at its best.
There’s also a fascinating primate rescue center to visit, where you can find out more about the rare and, in many cases, endangered species of monkey that are found in the wild here.
Ba Vi is a national park that’s found just 60 kilometers to the west of Hanoi’s city center.
It makes for an excellent outdoor day trip from the capital and is known for the many temples that are found in the forests here – some sit in striking position atop the various hills in the area.
There are waterfalls – even a water park nearby – and plenty of hikes to undertake amongst the beautiful scenery.
10. Mai Chau Valley
The Mai Chau Valley is the quintessential picture of Vietnam.
This breathtaking, green valley is exactly what you will imagine if you picture the Vietnamese countryside.
In fact, if you see a picture of the Vietnamese countryside, it might well be of the valley.
Extensive rice fields are surrounded by high hills and mountains, and life in the valley has changed little in hundreds of years.
It’s a refreshing escape from Hanoi, to the south-west of the city.
You can easily visit in a day, but many travelers will find themselves staying in this peaceful valley for much longer.
Suggested tour : 2-Day Mai Chau Valley Tour from Hanoi: Homestay, Bike & Trek
11. Perfume Pagoda
The Huong Pagoda, otherwise known as the Perfume Pagoda to tourists, is the centerpiece of a dramatic complex of temples and pagodas that are found in the spectacular mountains of Huong Tich, a place of limestone rocks and endless caves.
The Perfume Pagoda is incredibly popular with tourists, of course, because it’s close to Hanoi and is absolutely stunning.
But it’s also incredibly popular with Buddhist pilgrims; any day of the week you can expect the gates and steps to the temples to be very busy.
Get here as early as you can to enjoy any serenity.
Available tour : Full-Day Perfume Pagoda Small-Group Tour
12. Tam Dao Hill Station
Found in the cool hills to the north of Hanoi, the Tam Dao Hill Station makes for a spectacular – and at times cold – escape from Hanoi.
The hill station was originally built by the French, as the Europeans wanted to escape the heat of Hanoi in summer.
Now, it’s still used as a hilltop resort, but the French architecture is gone.
Views of the surrounding area are wonderful and there are many hiking opportunities to be had amongst the hills.
13. Ho Citadel
The Ho Citadel is another of Vietnam’s historic UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The citadel was constructed in the 14th Century, by the Ho Dynasty, and for years it was the ruler’s base of power in Vietnam.
Today, the walls have crumbled and the citadel was abandoned long ago, but it’s still well preserved, unique and very interesting for those who have a love of local history.
It takes about three hours to reach the Ho Citadel from Hanoi, but you can pass through the beautiful Ninh Binh province on the way, to make the journey seem to fly past as you admire the wonderful countryside.
14. Van Phuc
Van Phuc is just a few kilometers away from Hanoi, so this traditional Vietnamese village makes for an easy day trip from the city.
Van Phuc is the center of the ancient and very much refined craft of silk weaving.
Here, you can acquire some of the highest quality silk garments found anywhere in Asia, and of course, you can get them at a bargain price in comparison to many other countries.
15. Duong Lam
Duong Lam is known as the Ancient Village because this is an incredibly traditional and cultural place, found along the banks of the Red River.
It’s an old place and can trace its origins back thousands of years.
There are many traditional pagodas and houses, and it’s an excellent demonstration of Vietnamese history and tradition.
15 Best Day Trips from Hanoi:
- Cat Ba Island
- Mai Chau Valley
- Perfume Pagoda
- Tam Dao Hill Station
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Planning a trip to Vietnam with... - Absolute Asia Travel
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We worked with Mr. Tuan Dong to put together an amazing itinerary for our large family of 14... read more
The entire experience with Absolute Asia was perfect. From helping us create our desired itinerary... read more
Planning a trip to Vietnam with Absolute Aisa is the way to go!
Our 18 day trip to Vietnam (15 days) and Cambodia (3 days) was organized by Sen and Absolute Asia as a private tour for 3 active senior friends. We started with a general idea of a few sites we wanted to visit, and Sen worked with us to build an itinerary that included those and so much more. From Hanoi, Sapa, Halong Bay, Hue, Hoi An, HCMC, the Mekong Delta and Angkor Wat, every location let us experience the culture, history, people and culinary delights of Southeast Asia. Sen and her team made all arrangements for English speaking guides, drivers, hotels, Halong Bay overnight junk, 3 internal flights and admission to most sites. Right up until the day we returned home, Sen was in contact with us to be sure everything was running smoothly or answer any questions we might have (WhatsApp made communication easy!). Working with a locally based tour operator turned out to be beneficial and the level of customer service was superior to almost anything I've experienced in my prior travels.
Hello Ed, It's great to hear about your 18-day journey through Vietnam and Cambodia, organized by Sen. Your positive feedback warms our hearts. We're delighted that Sen and our team created a personalized itinerary that allowed you to explore the best of Southeast Asia. Your description of the destinations and your experience truly reflects the essence of your travels. Your feedback motivates us to continue delivering exceptional travel experiences. If you ever plan more adventures, please reach out to us. We'd love to assist you again. Thank you for choosing Absolute Asia Travel for your trip, and here's to more exciting journeys in the future! Best regards, Absolute Asia Travel team
We worked with Mr. Tuan Dong to put together an amazing itinerary for our large family of 14 people. He is a delight to work with from the very beginning to end. Our family arrived to Bangkok from different parts of the world and at different times of the day and Tuan helped to coordinate English-speaking tour guides, provide all contacts in case of emergency and transportation to get us situated smoothly at all of our stays. He answered all our questions and always in a timely manner. With ages that span from 7 to 80 years old, the challenge was to find something to do that was suitable and memorable for everyone and Tuan certainly met that challenge. Kids as well as adults enjoyed feeding the elephants & giraffes and swimming in our very own private swimming pool at a 5-star Resort Spa Hotel. To top that off, he helped us coordinate a private dinner to celebrate our mother's 80th birthday in our villa overlooking our pool. That evening was intimate and very special. Thank you for a fabulous trip! We definitely recommend Tuan and Absolute Asia!
Dear Lauren, Thank you so much for taking the time to provide such thoughtful and detailed feedback about your recent trip to Thailand planned by Tuan. We are delighted to hear that Tuan was able to craft an itinerary that catered perfectly to your large family group with a wide range of ages and interests. It is clear from your comments that Tuan went above and beyond to ensure your trip ran smoothly, from coordinating guides and transportation to being readily available to answer questions. I appreciate you highlighting the special experiences like feeding elephants and giraffes, swimming in a private pool at the 5-star resort and celebrating your mother's milestone birthday with an intimate dinner - it sounds like Tuan helped create some truly memorable moments for your whole family. Wishing you and your family all the best in your future travels! Absolute Asia Travel team
The entire experience with Absolute Asia was perfect. From helping us create our desired itinerary, to the very knowledgeable and friendly tour guides, to the quick manner with which they addressed and solved any issues we had along our way, we couldn’t have been happier with Mai Sen and the Absolute Asia Travel Company. The prices were extremely reasonable and the accommodations were in convenient locations and all were quite lovely with each hotel being unique, allowing us to experience a variety of character and styles (I would recommend the “Boutique Hotel” option). Planning our vacation and traveling around Vietnam and Cambodia without using Absolute Asia would have been way more stressful and difficult. From the moment we landed in Hanoi until we departed Siem Riep 16 days later, we didn’t have to worry about a thing and were given a truly VIP experience. I am so thankful I decided to book our vacation with Absolute Asia and would strongly recommend them to anyone planning a trip to that part of the world. Cheers!
Hello Kirk, Thank you for your kind words! We're thrilled to hear that your experience with Absolute Asia was perfect. From crafting your desired itinerary to the knowledgeable and friendly tour guides, we're delighted to have made your trip memorable. We're glad we could promptly address any issues and provide you with a worry-free vacation. Your recommendation of the "Boutique Hotel" option and appreciation of the reasonable prices and convenient accommodations mean a lot to us. We look forward to welcoming you back for more VIP experiences in Vietnam and Cambodia. Thank you for choosing Absolute Asia, and cheers to your unforgettable journey! Kind regards, Absolute Asia Travel team
After researching a few agencies a year before our trip, we were won over by Tuan Dong’s level of service, professionalism and responsive to working with us to create a 3-week itinerary. He and his on-site team were wonderful from time of booking to answering questions when we were traveling within the country. If you make it out to Sapa, I recommend May Nhung in Sapa who made the entire experience memorable. She’s very hospitable, charismatic and super friendly.
Hello Lauren, Thank you so much for taking the time to provide us with your valuable feedback. We are thrilled to hear that Tuan and his team provided you with excellent service throughout your trip and that they were able to assist you in creating a wonderful 3-week itinerary. Tuan is indeed known for his professionalism, responsiveness, and dedication to providing top-notch service to our valued customers. We are delighted to know that he exceeded your expectations, from the time of booking until the moment you were traveling within the country. Your recommendation of May Nhung in Sapa is greatly appreciated. We are glad to hear that she made your experience in Sapa memorable. Once again, thank you for choosing our agency for your travel needs. If you have any further feedback or if there is anything else we can assist you with in the future, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. Wishing you many more incredible adventures!
Dear Mai, I wanted to take a moment to express my sincere appreciation for the amazing trip you arranged for my parents. From start to finish, everything was perfect, and I cannot thank you enough for making it such a memorable experience. Your attention to detail was remarkable, and I was impressed by how smoothly everything ran. The itinerary you put together was just what I was looking for, and they thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of the trip. The accommodation, transportation, and activities you arranged were all top-notch, and I felt like everything was tailored to their interests and preferences. I particularly appreciated the personalized recommendations you provided before the trip. Your knowledge and expertise were evident, and your recommendations helped me make the most of my time in Vietnam. The suggestions given by the guides Mr.Dung, Mr.Heip, and Ms.Quyen(lily) for restaurants, attractions, and activities were all spot-on, and they discovered so many hidden gems that they wouldn't have found on my own. Overall, My parents had an incredible time, and I owe it all to you. Your professionalism, expertise, and dedication made this trip one that they will never forget. I look forward to working with you again in the future and recommending your services to my family and friends. Thank you once again for everything!
Dear Sachin, Thank you for taking the time to share your feedback and appreciation with us. We're thrilled to hear that your parents had an amazing trip and that our services met your expectations. It's always our pleasure to provide personalized recommendations to our clients based on their preferences and interests, and we're glad to hear that the suggestions given by our guides were spot-on. We take pride in our attention to detail and commitment to making every trip as smooth and enjoyable as possible. Your kind words about Mai and our team's professionalism, expertise, and dedication mean a lot to us, and we're happy to have made your parents' trip a memorable experience. We appreciate your trust in us and look forward to the opportunity to work with you again in the future. Please don't hesitate to reach out to us if you need any assistance in planning your next trip or if you have any further feedback to share. Best regards, Absolute Asia Travel team
We just experienced a bucket list trip, crafted by Mr Tuan from Absolute Asia. We began our adventure in Bangkok with an amazing guide, Naan, with whom we explored temples, floating and walking markets, a train ride in Kanchanaburi, and experiencing the ruins of Ayutthaya. Naan checked us in for our travel to Chiang Mai where Pop our new guide met us and took us thru the weekend walking market, then to a Khantoke dinner with food and dances typical of the Northern tribes. Pop showed us temples, market places, and Doi Sothep and an amazing mall food court with every Thai delicacy and street food imaginable! We had an incredible cooking class with Asia Scenic and the greatest chef/ teacher Katie! From there we flew to Luang Prabang to explore Pak Ou cave and a Mekong river cruise, and a hike up to beautiful Khounsi falls, and our guide took us to his village and we saw handmade paper making, weaving, wood carving and met such warm, kind people, especially our guide Mr Samook and a staff member Year at the LeBelAir resort. Then to Siem Reap where our guide Rocky gave us a fire hose amount of historical and cultural insights to Angkor Wat and so many other temples. Sunrise and sunsets with the temples, and an Aspara dance performance. From Cambodia we went to Ho Chi Min city and crawled thru Cu Chi tunnels, learned to cross moped laden streets, and heard a historical synthesis from our guide Jason which helped fit pieces of the Vietnam conflict into place. Jason accompanied us on a tour by boat and bike thru the Mekong delta, to Can tho and it’s floating market juxtaposed with a more modern city. We then flew to Danang to begin an exploration of HOI An and Hue- complete with Green Bamboo cooking school ( best class ever, Van!) and a day exploration with guide John from Jack Tran eco tours. What insights! And fun- singing, basket boating, planting… From central Vietnam we went to Hanoi and had a Bai tu long Bay overnight boat experience which was breathtaking and we really liked the green spaces and lakes in the city, the food, the museums and history with a superb guide Thang. Our accommodations were 4 star as we wanted private bathrooms and breakfast at the hotels. Each hotel was clean, unique, and way above any expectations. Our last night in Hanoi we had the pleasure of meeting Mr Tuan who made this all possible. We can’t wait to return to Vietnam. And without question we will go with Absolute Asia!!
Hello Jamie and Steve, Thank you for taking the time to share your amazing trip experience with us. We are thrilled to hear that our team at Absolute Asia were able to provide you with an unforgettable journey through Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. We are delighted that our guides, Naan, Pop, Rocky, Jason, and Thang, were able to showcase the beautiful cultures and historical sites of each location while also making sure you had fun along the way. We are also happy to hear that you enjoyed your accommodations and the delicious food during your trip. At Absolute Asia, we strive to provide our customers with personalized and memorable experiences, and we are so glad that we were able to do that for you. We appreciate your kind words and look forward to helping you plan your next adventure. Thank you for choosing Absolute Asia, and we hope to see you soon. Best regards, Absolute Asia Travel team
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Wonders of Vietnam: A budget traveller's dream come true
If you are looking to go on a perfect travel adventure and not travel to a far-off land, Vietnam can be the perfect destination. The following are some of the must-visit places in Vietnam that a tourist should not miss.
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International travel often ignites a sense of fear among travellers as many may worry about the expenses, but does that mean you will not get to experience beautiful natural landscapes and enjoy mouth-watering local cuisine? If you are looking to go on a perfect travel adventure and not travel to a far-off land, Vietnam can be the perfect destination.
The following are some of the must-visit places in Vietnam that a tourist should not miss.
Danang: Where Modernity Meets Tradition
Danang can be the perfect place to start your Vietnamese adventure. The city has gained immense popularity for its breath-taking beaches, rich culture, and modern architecture.
Do not forget to visit the Marble Mountains, a cluster of limestone hills with ancient temples and caves. Danang's culinary scene is a treat for your taste buds, offering delicious street food and local dishes at unbelievably low prices.
Ha Long Bay: A Natural Wonder
Ha Long Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a splendid destination in northern Vietnam. Known for its emerald waters and thousands of limestone karsts, it is a paradise for budget travellers who want to experience the magnificence of nature.
Cruise tours are widely available, offering the opportunity to explore the bay and its unique caves. Staying in the nearby Cat Ba Island is cost-effective and provides a genuine island experience.
Hanoi: The Capital of Contrasts
If you want to explore the rich cultural heritage of Vietnam then Hanoi, the capital city, is the place to be. While exploring the city's Old Quarter, you will be lost in the timeless charm of its narrow streets, bustling markets, and historic temples.
You can visit Hoan Kiem Lake, stroll through the French Quarter, and enjoy local street food at the bustling night markets.
Ho Chi Minh City: The Heart of the South
In southern Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon, is a bustling town. While the city has a cosmopolitan vibe, it does have some budget-friendly options, offering a mix of street food stalls, affordable guesthouses, and budget-friendly attractions.
Explore the War Remnants Museum, visit the iconic Ben Thanh Market, and take a leisurely walk along the Saigon River. Do not forget to savour the city's famous pho and other Vietnamese specialties at local eateries.
Hoi An: The Ancient Town
Hoi An is a charming ancient town known for its well-preserved architecture and lantern-lit streets. With a variety of accommodation options, Hoi An is a must-visit for history and culture enthusiasts.
Explore the Old Town, where you can witness the fusion of Vietnamese, Chinese, and Japanese influences. Enjoy boat rides along the Thu Bon River, try your hand at traditional lantern-making, and indulge into the delectable local cuisine.
Hue: The Imperial City
For nature lovers, this city is nothing short of a paradise. Hue, located in central Vietnam, is a city that is a beautiful blend of natural beauty and architectural heritage. Its most famous attraction is the Imperial City. The best part is, you can find many luxury accommodations here without breaking your bank.
Ninh Binh: The Inland Halong Bay
Ninh Binh is a hidden gem in northern Vietnam. The city boasts limestone karsts, lush rice fields, and serene waterways. Take a boat ride through Tam Coc or Trang An, and you will be mesmerised by the stunning scenery. Accommodation in Ninh Binh is incredibly inexpensive, making it an attractive destination for budget travellers seeking nature's beauty.
Sapa: Trekking Paradise
For the adventurous traveller, Sapa in northern Vietnam offers an unforgettable trekking experience. Surrounded by terraced rice fields and majestic mountain vistas, Sapa is a hiker's dream. You can embark on guided treks to visit local villages, meet indigenous tribes, and soak in the natural beauty.
Homestays with local families provide an authentic and cost-effective way to experience Sapa's unique culture.
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The US Dollar Is So Strong In This Country You'll Have A Dream Budget-Friendly Vacation When Visiting
Want to have an amazing vacation? The US dollar goes much further in this country than virtually anywhere else in the world.
- Vietnam is a budget-friendly destination with a favorable currency exchange rate, making it a great option for travelers on a tight budget.
- While credit cards are accepted in larger cities, it's advisable to carry cash, especially in rural areas and local markets where card payments may not be accepted.
- Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi are popular and affordable destinations in Vietnam, offering a mix of culture, delicious food, and attractions that won't break the bank.
If you are seriously looking for a great place to vacation, Vietnam is a dream option that will not drain your bank account. Plus, there are tons of amazing off-the-beaten-path things to do all around Vietnam and many ways to get around the country, including safe sleeping buses that are an experience all in and of themselves.
Understanding the currency and how one can leverage the US dollar's strength to get a world-class vacation on a serious budget are all fundamental to making the most of your time in Vietnam.
The US Dollar Is Stronger Than The Vietnamese Dong
Currently, one US dollar is worth 24,571.80 Vietnamese Dong , making Vietnam a great place to stretch one's budget. Thanks to the favorable currency exchange, plus Vietnam's natural beauty and plenty of culture, this spot is a godsend to backpackers and people who want to save some money. It's very popular with American tourists and a great place to put on the bucket list.
Cash or Card?
If one is traveling in larger cities, one can get away with using a credit card much of the time , but cash is still kind in rural areas. Also, if one travels to a local market, it's a good idea to have cash on hand, as many vendors won't take cards.
Also, it might be more difficult to find ATMs outside the major cities, so determining whether you should go with cash or cards should really depend on where you are traveling.
Related Link: Journey Through Vietnam: 10 Top Tourist Attractions You Can't Miss
General Cost Of Living In Vietnamese Cities
Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi are the top two favorite destinations for digital nomads , and they offer a fantastic blend of culture, great food, and excellent hospitality.
- One can live in Ho Chi Minh City for roughly $725 and in Hanoi for approximately $639 a month .
Ho Chi Minh City has some fantastic things to do, including several museums and the Cu Chi Tunnels. There's also the Jade Emperor Pagota and Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral.
Hanoi is another gem, full of amazing things to see and do including legendary food, the walkable Old Quarter, and many great things to take pictures of. Plus, since both spots are so cost-effective, you can see both of them on the same vacation.
Related Link: The Tips You Need To Know Before Touring Vietnam In 2023
Top Cheap Attractions In Vietnam
These top cheap attractions are certainly bucket-list worthy. There's also something for everyone in this fantastic Southeast Asian country, including history, incredible nature, and beautiful sand-swept beaches.
Cu Chi Tunnels
Ho Chi Minh City's Cu Chi Tunnels are one of the most historically relevant spots to visit in the city, and the Viet Cong used them to stage attacks. If one is interested in Vietnam's history, specifically the history of the Vietnam War, seeing these iconic tunnels is a must.
- Cost: $17.90 USD
- When to Go: November to April
- What to Know: These tunnels are a tight squeeze, so if one is claustrophobic, one might want to give these tunnels a pass
One of the most scenic and dramatic places in the country, Halong Bay is an absolute wonder dotted with limestone islands. One can take several different tours or explore on their own. Plus, it's relatively inexpensive to get there and see everything.
If you love natural wonders and want to see something truly special, Halong Bay is a great pick. Also, it's a fantastic place to get some of the best photographs of Vietnam's nature.
- Cost: About $10 USD
- When to Go: October to December
- What to Know: Day cruises around the islands are a great way to see everything quickly
Vietnam's landscape is a miracle of different land features and beautiful bodies of water, and the Marble Mountains are definitely a great example of it. Studded with hidden tunnels and secret coves, the Marble Mountains contain tons of different Buddhist temples and great hiking.
This is probably one of the most unique places of worship one will see in their lifetime, and it's very much well worth making the day trip. The marble can get a little slick in the rain, so wear shoes with tread just in case.
- Cost: About $2 USD
- When to Go: June to August
- What to Know: It's important to dress appropriately as these mountains are a religious site
There are plenty of other unique places to see, including the off-the-beaten-path Con Dao Islands with gorgeous deserted beaches and an authentic feel, and the beautiful Phong Nha Caves, where one can do some seriously interesting exploring in one of the most beautiful places on the planet.
Related Link: Why The Ha Giang Loop Is The Ultimate Vietnam Road Trip (& Why You Should Do It By Motorcycle)
No matter where you go, there's bound to be something spectacular a short taxi ride away in Vietnam. Put this spot on the "must visit" list, and rest easily that the bank balance will not take too big of a hit, even when one is seeing the best Southeast Asia has to offer.
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