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The Best Things To Do In Hanoi

Cập nhật: 01-01-1970 12:00:00 | Blogs about Vietnam | Lượt xem: 2337

Hanoi was ranked 5th of the top 10 most attractive cities in Asia in 2018; and as the cultural capital of Vietnam, this city offers so many thrilling things to see and enjoy. Travelers often choose Hanoi as a transiting stop for their expedition to neighboring places such as Halong Bay Tour, Sapa Trekking Tour, Mai Chau Tour, Ninh Binh Day Trip or Duong Lam Village Day trip. However, lesser known that Hanoi is the home of many expats; and this atmospheric city is the best place to intermingle with Vietnamese people, experiences the local life style, local food and feel the truly Vietnamese ambience. If you concern what to see in Hanoi, below Hanoi travel blog presenting the best experiences for your references.

First and foremost, let’s go through some fundamental information about Hanoi to see if this city is your favorable city or not. Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam, also the second largest city that its populations. This is hard to determine conclusively as there are dozens of Vietnamese simply just work in the cities. To commute around, the local mainly use the motorbikes. This means of transportation works for the narrow streets and alleys. Get prepared that you will see flows or even stuck among so many local motorbikes there. It’s estimated that there were 5.2 mil of motorbikes in Hanoi in 2018 and reach 6.1 mil in 2020. Other transportations are public bus, taxi, private car rental with a driver, transfers can be reserved via apps, etc. Must see places of Hanoi Vietnam are Hanoi old quarter with Dong Xuan market, Long Bien Bridge, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Temple of Literature, Hoa Lo Prison, Museum of ethnology, Water puppet show, handicraft villages of pottery or silk, etc. 


1. Stroll around Hanoi Old Quarter 

This could be done in 2 hours, half day or even a day if you feel really excited in wandering among the busy streets. Stop any time to observe and taste a local food, drink or shop any thing. The intersections of streets in Hanoi Old Quarter make you feel like getting lost in a matrix. Our tip is to  study its map first, you will realize the old quarter comprise a few main roads connected by narrow alleys. Getting lost somehow, just turn to the main road to re-navigate your directions. There are small and narrow old colonial style houses, shopping stores, restaurants for eating and drinking on almost streets. 


People love Hanoi for many things including its traditional food and drinks. While walking around, you could stop for cup of Vietnamese iced coffee (back coffee with condensed milk and ice), Vietnamese egg coffee (blacked coffee mixed with condensed and fresh milk and raw york), Vietnamese iced tea (Vietnamese tea with ice; could be served with sunflower seeds), Vietnamese iced tea with lemon (iced tea mixed with lemon juice and sugar), fresh tropical fruit juice and so on. 

If you are hungry, stop at a restaurant for Vietnamese bread (breads are stuffed with salad, chili sauce, either pate, roasted pork, fried egg, etc.), Pho (Vietnamese rice noodle soup with beef or chicken), Bun (another type of Vietnamese rice noodle, in rounded shape served with or without soup and topping of pork ball, pork ribs, duck, fried fish, deep fried spring rolls, BBQ pork, etc.), Hanoi grilled fish (a famous dish which fish are grilled; then stirred when serving, and mixed with lots of dills and green onions, peanut, sauces and rounded rice noodle), Hanoi sticky rice combined with many toppings options of chicken, salad, sausages, steamed green beans and deep fried onions, etc. Sweet soup (a type of dessert with well stewed beans cooked with starch powders).  It’s advised to go with crowd as a busy restaurant means the food are delicious and favored by many locals. All these dishes can be wrapped up in a 3 hour street food walking tour Hanoi.

Beside tasting Hanoi famous food and drinks, shopping around old quarter is also a must-do.  The signature souvenirs to buy in Hanoi are handicrafts such as Vietnamese lacquers, silk and embroidery products, post cards, clothes, shoes, coffee bean, weasel coffee, dried tea, pepper, cashew, etc. Be curious and reach the coffee street, or shoes street and see if you can get home some nice stuffs. 

2. Explore the colonial buildings of Hanoi

Those colonial architecture buildings are not gathered in the same corner; but fortunately, they are not afar that you can get around, even by walking. Touring and explore these remarkable construction is intriguing and undoubtedly best things to do in Hanoi, as well as a unique Vietnam and Cambodia holiday.


To call out some of most prominent, let’s go with The Hanoi Medical University (used to be Medical college founded in 1902; located in Le Thanh Tong Street these days); the Presidential Palace (This building is the venue where the country’s president works and receives distinguish delegators. During visiting the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, you will spot the Presidential Palace); The Hanoi Opera House (built in 1901, an evidence for the development of Hanoi in terms of culture and social. The Opera House is just 05 minutes walking from the renown Hoan Kiem Lake); Cua Bac Church (an old church built by the French administrator in 1931. This church is only 5 minutes walking from Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum or 800m from Hanoi West Lake); St Joseph’s Cathedral (a Gothic style French cathedral, sited right in the Old Quarter), Sofitel Legend Metropole Hotel (an opulent old colonial building in south-east Asia which was opened in 1901. Located right in the heart of Hanoi, Metropole Hanoi offers higher-end services, amenities, historical tunnel for bombing shelter which offer visiting tours twice a day with maximum capacity of 10 person each. Metropole Hanoi hotel also is an area displaying photos of well-known staying guests such as Charlie Chaplin, Angelina Jolie, Janes Fonda and chiefs of state and great delicacies).

3. Walk on Long Bien Bridge over the Red River


Long Bien Bridge is located right at the outer of Hanoi Old Quarter that visitors can find easily. From Dong Xuan wholesale market in the old quarter, you can walk to the Hang Khoai street or Hang Dau Street and find the way walking up to the bridge. It’s recommended to go with Hang Khoai as you can see the Long Bien Railway station.

Long Bien Bridge is a more than 10 decades bridge crossing Red River. With its narrow lanes, Long Bien Bridge allows train, motorcycles, bicycles and pedestrian only. Walking on the bridge, you can take artistic photos, enjoy the breeze, look over Red River or coming down to the river bank and discover agricultural farming of local people with some still live on the floating houses right in the country’s capital. 

4. Best attractions in Hanoi to visit

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum


Ho Chi Minh is the name of a city in Vietnam. It also is the name of Vietnam’s first president who is the greatest person in Vietnam. His significance could be compared to importance of Mao Zedong of China, Vladimir Lenin of Russia or Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore, etc. This complex of Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and its surrounding constructions are highly suggested for Hanoi City tour full day.

Ho Chi Minh’s embalmed body is still kept inside the mausoleum in the crystal case shine by glim lights. There are Vietnamese and foreign visitors show up the mausoleum daily. If you plan to visit this place, keep in mind the close dates are Monday and Friday. Plus, the mausoleum also be closed in Sep or Nov annually for the preservation works. Don't be worry if you can’t enter and see the inside; as you can visit the complex and see the Mausoleum from outside. Other attractions in the complex premise to visit include The Presidential Palace, One Pillar Pagoda and Ho Chi Minh's house on stilts where he live his last years of his life.

Temple of Literature


Built in early 11th century, Temple of Literature is the very first University of Vietnam which initially was the school for royal children only. These days, it’s remained with 82 stone turtles bearing steles on the shell with names of the outstanding Doctorates at the time. Temple of Literature, then is highly recommended for students and family to nourish the learning spirit. There are sanctuaries inside the temple is for Confucius worship once developed strongly in Vietnam in the past, Chu Van An who was the very first Vietnamese teacher and Three Kings who made up this place.

As this is a pretty large place. Visitors can enter the Temple of Literature from the gate nearby ticket counter and go out by the other door after visiting the last sanctuary in its premise. Then, our advice is don't miss any detail on the way.

Hoa Lo Prison

Hoa Lo Prison was constructed on the land of Phu Khanh Pottery Village which makes the place named Hoa Lo or burning kiln. Being well-known as Maison Centrale a notorious prison with up to 40cm thick surrounding walls built by the French colonial to capture and torture Vietnamese political activators. This place then be a museum recounts the evilest torture as well as execute ways done at the time.

On the other hand, the Hoa Lo prison was used by Vietnamese government to prison the American POW including famous senator of the United States – John McCain. As each prisoner received one single room and being treated so well that this place was then named “Hanoi Hilton”, a very famous American hotel chain.

Vietnamese Women Museum

Vietnamese Women Museum is located right in Hanoi City center, in walking distance from the Hoan Kiem Lake and Hanoi Opera House. Once voted as the most attractive museum of Vietnam in 2012, Vietnamese Women Museum passionate staffs has always made it more colorful and informative via their collections about Vietnamese women. The museum exhibits lots of images as well as material about Vietnamese Women through each period along country’s history. Strolling around different colorful floors of the museum is inspiring. 

Museum of Ethnology


Being opened in 1997, Museum of Ethnology showcases informative and interesting information of 54 ethnic groups of Vietnamese under the divisions of language branches. There are two parts of the indoor for its visitors to learn about the culture, costumes, customs and the outdoor of the real size houses being moved to this museum ground for the authentic experiences and understanding. 

Visiting Vietnam’s Museum of Ethnology, you will find Vietnam is a country of diverse cultures, rich in traditional rituals and beliefs, enjoy with many cultural festivals and so on. Just keep in mind when intending to visit the museum that it is closed on every Monday.  

Tran Quoc Pagoda

Sited on an island on West Lake – the biggest lake in Hanoi, Tran Quoc is the oldest pagoda of Hanoi built in 548. Tran Quoc Pagoda’s name has been changed a couple of time making it now Tran Quoc or Country guardian pagoda; and relocated once to bring out the stunning location on a peninsula. Tran Quoc pagoda is also a center of Vietnamese Buddhism Association. Above all, the pagoda is set up with full system of Buddha statues and other typical religious symbols. It’s highly recommended for whom are interested in Vietnamese religion.

Vietnam National Museum of History

The beautiful colonial style building displays very helpful study as well as collections on the history of Vietnam since the bronze and older time till modern days. This museum is suggested to explore at your own and read well-prepared information written at each artifact. Tour guide on spot is available for an insightful understanding if the visitors wish to learn. 

Dong Xuan Market 

The biggest wholesale market in Hanoi with variable choices of goods where mainly gathered by the sellers coming up for the big product volume. However, the owners still sell for the retail buyers and tourists. Be expected with slightly higher offer than for the wholesale deal; however you can bargain to get the best prices. Apart from this, a night market right in front of Dong Xuan Market stretching straight to Hoan Kiem Lake is organized every weekend.

All above places could be done at your own or refer the Hanoi City full day tour of Bonzer Tour. The program is very flexible and could definitely customized to adapt your interests.


5. Visit Hanoi Handicraft Villages

Vietnam, generally, is famous with dozen handicrafts such as lacquer painting, silk weaving, embroidery, bonze casting, pottery making, wind-paper picture making, etc.

There are 02 handicraft village of Hanoi that you could consider:

Bat Trang Pottery Village 


Located on Red River’s bank, Bat Trang Pottery Village sited approximate 15 km from Hanoi center, is an old pottery and ceramic village since 15th century. As the villagers don’t speak English, you’d better get a local guide to learn more information about the products, designs as well as detailed processes as well as history how do local make the pottery.

Van Phuc Silk Village


Van Phuc Silk Village is located in Ha Dong District of Hanoi, next to local Nhue River is 12 km distanced to Hanoi city center. Having been formed for around 1200 years, this handicraft village is renown with premium quality silk with fine elegancies, smooth and soft and very light weight. 

Around 60% of villagers’ main job and income are from silk weaving; though most of them do not continue with old manual weaving method but having machine instead. They not only open store providing goods to domestic consumers but also export to the world. It’s worth a visit to see the processed of making the silk. Plus, the village is also a typical northern Vietnam village with banyan tree, communal house, etc.

For above interesting things in Hanoi, we trust this city is a must-see spot in Vietnam culture and history tours. We also hope above places interest and have your longer stay in Hanoi to delve further in local lifestyle. Contact us for definitely free advices of things to do in Hanoi. 

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