• Hanoi Vietnam: Top 12+ best things to do in Hanoi
  • Hanoi Vietnam: Top 12+ best things to do in Hanoi

  • on Nov 2, 2023       By: Japon
  • Discover the vibrant heart of Vietnam! From iconic landmarks and bustling markets to charming hidden gems, Hanoi, an enchanted blend of history, culture, and modern life, has it all to offer. Take this compilation of the best things to do in Hanoi as a guide for your exciting adventure in the millennial capital city of Vietnam. 

    Without further ado, here are the must-visit attractions and top things to do in Hanoi!

    Take a walk around Hoan Kiem Lake

    Located in the heart of Hanoi, Hoan Kiem Lake, also known as Lake of the Restored Sword, is one of the most iconic landmarks in Vietnam’s capital. The name of this lake comes from a legend in which Emperor Le Loi was presented with a divine sword that helped him fight foreign invaders. After having achieved victory, on time during a trip on Ta Vong Lake (then known as Hoan Kiem Lake), the pre-mentioned Empreror handed over the sword to a golden turtle that emerged from the lake to return it to the gods. Hoan Kiem Lake is nowadays a home base where tourists can observe the daily local lives of Hanoians and find a lot of recreational activities on the outskirts of the Old Quarter. While having a walk around Hoan Kiem Lake, it’s recommended that you stop by and visit the Ngoc Son Temple heritage complex, where you will see a specimen of the “great” turtle and learn more about the city’s history. 


    >> Maybe you want to read this: The legend of Sword Lake

    Explore the Old Quarter

    Take a tour around the city’s oldest shopping district, where the very heart of the city beats. The 36 streets are considered to be the soul of the Vietnamese capital. You will be amazed by the incredibly bustling atmosphere where each street is dedicated to a particular traditional trade. An adventure full of treasures for you to discover! As you stroll through the narrow, winding streets lined with traditional Vietnamese houses with colorful facades, you will be delighted to discover the charming fusion of the antiquity of a millennial city and the dynamic modern metropole.

    >> Maybe you want to read this: The old house of 87 Ma May or Hanoi ancient house

    Visit Dong Xuan Market

    Easily found in Dong Xuan Ward, located at the edge of the Old Quarter, the busy Dong Xuan Market is one of the biggest wholesale markets in Hanoi. This must-see destination of Hanoi was built by the French administration in 1889 and has gone through several renovations, the last of which was in 1994. You will find in this four-storey building nearly 4,000 stalls, encompassing a wide variety of merchandise, such as clothes, household items, and food. The Dong Xuan Market is also a great place for tourists who seek signature souvenirs in Hanoi.

    The indoor market opens every day, from 8 A.M to 6 P.M. The outdoor night market opens only on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, from 7 P.M to 12:30 A.M.

    Attend a concert at the Hanoi Opera House

    Attending a concert at the Hanoi Opera House promises to be an unforgettable travel experience in Vietnam. The Hanoi Opera House, situated on the Square of August Revolution, Trang Tien Street, which is just a few steps from Hoan Kiem Lake, occasionally hosts cultural entertaining performances and orchestra concerts. If you wish to attend a show at this landmark of Hanoi, come to the front gate to check for availability and tickets! However, if there are no shows, you can always admire this famous cultural and architectural monument of Hanoi, which was designed by two French architects in the early 20th century and is modeled after Paris's Garnier Opera House. 

    Taste Hanoi delicacies

    Hanoi, Vietnam's capital, could also be considered the gastronomic capital of Southeast Asia owing to its exceptionally good and diverse cuisine. You can find good food anywhere; however, since you have come to Hanoi, we recommend that you try street food from small eateries. Street food is a popular practice in Hanoi and throughout Vietnam. This experience will give you the chance to sample flavoursome Hanoi staples while at the same time joining in the warmth and complicity of the local population. The Old Quarter and its surroundings are prime locations for finding the best food. Wander around and embark on a culinary adventure; it would be such a waste to eat only Pho and Banh Mi! However, when selecting a restaurant, remember to consider food safety issues.

    Visit Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

    A monument serves as the final resting place of Ho Chi Minh, the Father of the Nation. The mausoleum is located on Ba Dinh Square, where he made his famous speech proclaiming Vietnam’s independence in 1945. The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is a significant pilgrimage site for Vietnamese and is regarded as a must-see destination in Hanoi for all Vietnamese visitors in the country's capital. On your trip at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, you can also visit other Hanoi’s notable architectures nearby, such as the Presidential Palace, the Ho Chi Minh stilt house and the One Pillar Pagoda

    Discover Vietnam Museum of Ethnography

    Definitely a must-visit in Hanoi! The Vietnam Museum of Ethnography is undoubtedly an ideal warm-up for your trip in Vietnam, as it will give you an insight into the lives of ethnic groups, especially those in the north, before your adventure to explore the country commences. This is where you will learn about the 54 ethnic groups of Vietnam, including their diversity in branches, way of life, history, culture, customs, funeral rites, etc., through the artifacts displayed systematically inside the museum and the traditional habitats of some of the ethnic groups in the outdoor area.

    Visit the Temple of Literature

    Originally founded in 1073 to honor the education and legacy of Confucius, the Temple of Literature was Vietnam’s first university, which nurtured scholars and senior officials of the country from 1076 to 1915. Today, the Temple of Literature is still a place where Hanoi students and scholars come to pray for success in their academic careers. During Tet (also known as Vietnam Lunar New Year), many interesting festive activities take place to honor the Vietnamese tradition of studiousness, most notably the calligraphy festival, where people ask for calligraphy from calligraphy masters.

    Visit the Vietnam National Fine Arts Museum

    For those who are aesthetes, the Vietnam National Fine Arts Museum should be added to the list of must-visit destinations in Hanoi. Situated on Nguyen Thai Hoc Street, about 400 meters from the Temple of Literature, this museum, constructed during the French colonial era, initially served as a boarding school for the daughters of French officials. The construction was used after that as a place to collect, exhibit, and preserve art works of Vietnam since 1962, before officially opening to the public in 1966. The museum displays approximately 2000 pieces of art, including ancient artefacts, sculptural objects, paintings, and graphic arts reflecting the development of Vietnamese art throughout the period. 

    >> Maybe you want to read this: Hanoi's 10 Best Museums to Visit

    Go to a Hanoi Train Track Cafe

    Definitely another must-try experience in Hanoi! Waiting for the train to cross the city between the neighbourhoods while having something to drink has become one of Hanoi’s most popular attractions for tourists. What is astonishing is the narrowness of the passage through which the train passes, with a distance of only 4 to 5 metres between the two blocks from both sides of the track, just enough to allow the locomotive and carriages to pass. You can visit a railway cafe on Phung Hung Street, Le Duan Street, and Kham Thien Street. However, the aforementioned streets are rather overcrowded and occasionally ban visitors for safety concerns, so if you prefer a less-crowded and less hazardous experience, we recommend that you visit Hoa Xa, a cozy coffee shop located directly across from Long Bien Railway Station.

    >> Maybe you want to read this: The train street in Hanoi, an unparalleled ride

    Visit Long Bien Bridge

    The interesting thing about the aforenamed cafe is that you could enjoy a somewhat similar experience to that on the train street while simultaneously visiting Long Bien Bridge. Formerly the Paul Doumer Bridge, built in 1902 during the colonial era, Long Bien Bridge is another of Hanoi’s icons. You can stroll along this nearly 2-kilometer-long steel bridge to contemplate its old steel structure, take in the views of the city, the vegetable gardens, and the Red River below, and of course, watch the train that passes the rusty bridge several times a day, sirens blaring. 

    Go on a Cyclo Tour

    A cyclo tour is a great way to explore Hanoi, especially for those who are not avid walkers. As the cyclo leisurely takes you around the city, passing by Hanoi’s landmarks, such as Hoan Kiem Lake, the Old Quarter, the Hanoi Opera House, the French Quarter, etc., you will be able to see how local life goes on. Since cyclos travel more slowly than other modes of transport, this experience offers a relaxing and enjoyable way to contemplate the beauty of the city while respecting its culture and history from a local perspective.

    Enjoy a Water Puppet Show

    Immerse yourself in the enchantment of the Red River Delta by attending a water puppet show at the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre. Featuring carved wooden puppets, lively sound, and dedicated artists, the show will leave you in awe as the daily lives of the Tonkinese peasants are brought to life right in front of your eyes. The show is sure to be an unforgettable highlight of your visit to Hanoi

    Grab a beer on Ta Hien Street

    When the water puppet show is over and the night is still young, or perhaps you simply want to grab a beer and soak up an upbeat atmosphere, Ta Hien Street is the place to go. Situated in a nook of the Old Quarter, Ta Hien becomes more lively than ever when the night falls, as it is when the street welcomes hundreds of travellers of all nationalities as well as locals. Stroll between the pavements invaded by eateries laden with a variety of dishes and, of course, the main character of the street: Bia hơior Vietnamese-style draught beer. Ta Hien Street is a nocturnal sanctuary where young people come to share a moment with friends over treats of all kinds. A must-visit street in Hanoi for sure!

    Enjoy Vietnamese Iced Tea on Nha Tho Street

    Trà đá, or Vietnamese iced tea, can be considered a cultural feature in Hanoi. You can easily spot Tra Da in every corner of the city, with the distinguishing feature being that plastic chairs serve as seats and tables. The best places to experience this local culture are Nha Tho Street and Nha Chung Street, settled just a few steps from Hoan Kiem Lake. Come and mingle with the locals, have fun trying out this Hanoi’s staple while admiring St. Joseph’s Cathedral - a beautiful Neo-Gothic-style church inaugurated in 1886. Drinking Tra Da in this area is such a popular thing to do in Hanoi that it has its own term, "Tra Da Nha Tho."

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