best things to do in hanoi

The Best Things to do in Hanoi

Vietnam’s capital city, Hanoi, also spelled Ha Noi, was first established as a capital during the Ly Dynasty. During French rule of the country, Hanoi became the capital of French Indochina primarily because of its proximity to southern China, but Hanoi was not spared during the Vietnam War.  The United States bombed Hanoi in 1965, 1968, and 1972.  Today Hanoi is both the industrial and agricultural center of Vietnam. From Hanoi, roads stretch to connect major cities like Ho Chi Minh City, to ports like Haiphong, and Kunming in Yunnan province, China. Hanoi is also firmly on the travel map –with interesting historic attractions to see, old streets, a great food scene, and close proximity to Ha Long Bay.  Here are the best things to do in Hanoi.

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Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital city and second largest city, is a charming, but busy city with vibrant nightlife and welcoming locals.  It’s located in northern Vietnam and practically teems with modern buildings, cafés, and people. But Hanoi is also one of the best places to catch a glimpse of Vietnam’s rich history. The city is home to plenty of colonial buildings that showcase Vietnam’s colorful and complex past. This is a place where old meets new, where a mix of eastern and western influences creates an intriguing atmosphere and a place you definitely should visit at least once!

On our first visit to Hanoi, we hated it. It was too busy and too noisy, our hotel kicked us out and moved us to another one.  We got ripped off.  And so after three days, we left.  Visited Halong Bay and returned.  And loved the city.  And stayed.

Where to Stay in Hanoi

There are a host of places to stay in Hanoi – here’s our pick of the luxury places to stay in Hanoi, mid-range places to stay in Hanoi, and budget accommodations in Hanoi. 

The Peridot Grand Luxury Hotel in Hanoi is a fabulous five-star luxury hotel in Hanoi.  From its magnificent roof terrace with pool to its 3 bars and two restaurants, it’s got everything you need in a stunning location in Hanoi.  Premier double rooms are fabulous, but the Junior and Luxury suites are truly glorious, with separate living rooms and some seriously gorgeous decorations, and just the best double-ended luxury bath.  Bathrobes, slippers, and amenities come as standard and the service is second to none here.  Check rates and availability at this top Hanoi hotel here.

For a mid-range hotel, you can’t go far wrong with the Meritel Hanoi – there’s a rooftop pool, shared lounge, and some seriously good facilities for the money.  Rooms are large with fabulously comfortable beds and the showers are superb.  Virtually all the rooms come with minibars and the hotel staff is super friendly and helpful.  The breakfasts here are fabulous  – get a great deal on this Hanoi hotel here.

The Trang Trang Premium hotel is a whole lot of hotel for the budget range that it’s in.  This budget Hanoi hotel is in a great location near the Water Puppet Theater and rooms are well equipped, spacious, and with some excellent air conditioning.  They also come with kettles, fridges, and a flat-screen TV.  There’s a shared lounge here and a terrace too.  You can pick up a great breakfast for around US$2 too! Pick up a great value room in Hanoi here.

Travel Tips for Exploring Vietnam

The Best Things to do in Hanoi, Vietnam

The exciting capital of Vietnam has various museums which tell many of the stories of Hanoi. There are traditional monuments like temples and pagodas in the city and Hanoi is also home to plenty of lakes and parks, and a variety of local food and drink specialties that you should try while visiting.  So, if you’re ready, we’ll dive into Hanoi’s attractions and the best things to do in Vietnam’s capital city.

See Hanoi from the Lotte Tower Observation Deck

Head to the Lotte Tower Observation Deck to get a full panoramic view of the city; from the 65th floor of the observation deck, you’ll be able to see the Old Quarter, the historical urban area of Hanoi just outside the Imperial Citadel in Thang Long and the skyscrapers modernizing the city.

things to do in hanoi view from the lotte tower

Here at the Lotte Tower Observation deck, there are restaurants and a rooftop bar as well as, interactive exhibits, displays featuring Vietnamese culture, a light festival at night, and photo zones

  • Address of Lotte Tower Observation Deck: The Lotte Tower Observation Deck is located at 54 P Lieu Giai, Ngoc Khanh, Ba Dinh, Hanoi.
  • Opening Hours of Lotte Tower Observation Deck: The Lotte Tower Observation Deck is open from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day except for certain public holidays.
  • Entry Fees for Lotte Tower Observation Deck: The entrance fee for Lotte Tower Observation Deck is VND 230,000 for adults (over 12 years old) and VND 170,000 for children (3 to 12 years old. There are also 50% discounts when purchasing tickets from 9 a.m. to 10 a.am and from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m., as well as a family package of a minimum of two adults and a maximum of five kids where there is a 50% discount for the kids.

The Lotte Tower Observation is a popular place to visit (especially at sunset!) and that means long lines at the ticket booth are likely, but you can buy skip the line tickets by purchasing your ticket in advance here!

Take a Free Walking Tour of Hanoi

Viewing Hanoi from above won’t bring you closer to the heart of Hanoi.  You’ll only get this from exploring the small alleys, corners, and streets.  We always find that a free walking tour is the perfect introduction to a city and Hanoi is no different. This free walking tour around Hanoi is a great way to start your exploration of Hanoi and get your bearings. This tip-based tour is guided by an English-speaking guide with expert knowledge of the city and begins at Phung Hung street located at the heart of Hanoi. From Phung Hung, the tour takes you to Hanoi’s most popular shopping spot, the Dong Xuan Market, to Hoan Kiem Lake, to Turtle Tower, the Temple of the Jade Mountain, and Cau The Huc, a red-painted wooden bridge. This Hanoi free walking tour also heads to Hanoi’s Old Quarter where you can try the iconic Vietnamese egg coffee and ends by St. Joseph Cathedral. This free tour lasts about two hours and a half.  And while it’s free, you will need to book to reserve your place.

  • Address for Free Walking Tour of Hanoi: The free walking tour of Hanoi starts at Phung Hung Street.
  • Starting Time for Free Walking tour of Hanoi: The free walking tour of Hanoi begins at 10 a.m.
  • Fees for Free Walking Tour of Hanoi: This walking tour of Hanoi is free of charge, tip your guide appropriately.  Book your place here (spaces are limited)

Take a Food Tour of Hanoi

Food is really important, especially if you’re traveling to a new place because their food will give you a glimpse of their culture and traditions! And the food in Hanoi is amazing.  And Hanoi is the perfect place to try lots of different dishes too.  The city, especially the old Quarter, is filled with street food stalls and night markets, providing various types of dishes, you definitely won’t be hungry when you’re in Hanoi. If you’re not sure where to start, or where to get the best versions of dishes, then this food tour will take you around Hanoi to explore the different exotic flavors of the city. This particular food walking tour will take you to Hanoi’s Old Quarter to explore Vietnam’s food culture. With an English-speaking guide, you will be taken to both street stalls and local restaurants to try out foods such as banh cuon (filled rice noodles), and pho (noodle soup), and also get a chance to watch chefs show you how these dishes are made. This excellent Hanoi Food tour will also have you tasting other specialties such as crab rolls, pillow cakes, fried rice balls, and fresh rolls. You’ll also get a chance to visit a hidden restaurant that serves Banh Mi and Vietnamese egg coffee.  There’s more on this three-hour food tour of Hanoi here.

Take a Bike Tour of Hanoi

There’s another way to see Hanoi on the ground, and this way means that you’ll be able to get further afield.  Navigating Hanoi on a bike tour with a local guide will get you to places a car or taxi won’t take you. One of the most popular routes to take on a Hanoi bike tour is a combination of the city and countryside where you will bike through the Old Quarter to other destinations like the St. Joseph Cathedral, Hanoi train street, and the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. Renting a bike in Hanoi is not so common, that’s why it’s better to book a tour. But you can still do it! You can rent a bike and get acquainted with the routes bike tours usually take. Hoan Kiem Lake and the Old Quarter, The Westlake, Co Loa old citadel, Bat Trang Ceramics, and Le Mat snake village are some of the routes you can take.

Visit the Memorial House in Hanoi

Visit the Memorial House located in Hanoi’s Old Quarter and you’ll get to explore a traditional Chinese–style merchant house. The Memorial House is one of the best-restored buildings in the Old Quarter of Hanoi and gives you a glimpse of the lifestyle of merchants in years gone by. The house’s restoration was completed in 1999.

  • Address of the Memorial House: The Memorial House is located at 87 Pho Ma May, north of Hoan Kiam Lake, Old Quarter.
  • Opening Hours of the Memorial House: The Memorial House is open from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. from Monday to Friday.
  • Entry Fees for the Memorial House: The entrance fee for the Memorial House is VND 3000.

There is another Memorial House you can visit located at 48 Pho Hang Ngang. This Memorial House is said to be where Ho Chi Minh drafted Vietnam’s Declaration of Independence in 1945.

Pay Your Respects at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

While you’re in Hanoi, you can pay your respects to Vietnam’s famous leader.  His remains are displayed despite his request that his body be cremated. The remains of Ho Chi Minh are held inside a glass casket that a flag of Vietnam’s Communist Party hangs over. The casket, however, is dimly lit and you can only look at it for a short period as visitors are required to keep the line moving throughout the observation—you can’t stop to look closer.  And there is always a line, and you will always be moving.  Bags and cameras are not allowed inside the mausoleum.

things to do in hanoi ho chi minh museum
  • Address of Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum: Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum is located at Ba Dinh Square, Hanoi.
  • Opening Hours of Ho Chi Mausoleum:  The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is open from around 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. except on Mondays and Fridays.
  • Entry Fees for Ho Chi Minh: Entrance to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is free of charge.

The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is one of the key things to see in Hanoi – and if you’d prefer to see it with a local guide who will explain the historic significance of this past leader along with other sites,  then this tour is a great option.  Also included in this tour is an immersive introduction to Hanoi’s other famous attractions such as the Tran Quoc Pagoda, One Pillar Pagoda, Temple of Literature, and Ethnology Museum.  There are more details on this Hanoi tour here.

See the Hanoi Opera House

Designed in the style of the Paris Opera House, Hanoi’s Opera House is one of the most beautiful buildings in the city. Built in 1911 during the French occupation, the French built the Opera House to keep the French elite entertained. The Opera House in Hanoi did lose some of its grandeur when the French left but was refurbished most recently in 1997. Now, you can head there to see Vietnamese Opera performances, Asian dance performances, ballet performances, and musical concerts.

  • Address of the Hanoi Opera House: The Hanoi Opera House is located at 1 Trang Tien, Q. Hoan Kiam, Hanoi in the French Quarter.
  • Opening Hours of the Hanoi Opera House: The Hanoi Opera House opens at 10:30 a.m. from Monday to Friday.
  • Entry Fees for Hanoi Opera House: The ticket to Hanoi Opera House costs between VND 100,000 to VND 2,000,000.

Have a Spa Day in Hanoi

There are some great options for a day of relaxation in Hanoi and they’re great value here.  Here are two great options for a Hanoi Spa Day.

Alisa Bella Spa: enjoy a traditional wooden bath and herbal steam inspired by Vietnamese culture and other traditions, and modern techniques.

  • Address of Alisa Bella Spa: The Alisa Bella Spa is located at 9k Hang Voi Street, Hanoi.
  • Opening Hours of Alisa Bella Spa: The Alisa Bella Spa is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day.

Serene Spa:enjoy deep muscular therapy, aroma therapy, cupping massage, and hot stone massages. – pick up a geat day spa option here.

  • Address of Serene Spa: The Serene Spa is located at 68 Ma May Street, Hoan Kime District, Hanoi, and 58 Ma May Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi.
  • Opening Hours of Serene Spa: The Serene Spa is open from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day.

Check out the Statue of Lenin

The statue of Vladimir Lenin was a gift from the Soviet Union in the 1980s. Sculpted by Alexander Tyurenjov, this 18-foot bronze statue was first placed in Thong Nhat Park to celebrate Lenin’s 110th birthday, the statue was then moved to Dien Bien Phu where the area was renamed Lenin Park and has become a pleasant green space used by both locals and travelers. The statue was to symbolize the influence of Lenin on Ho Chi Minh and Vietnamese politics. However, since the end of World War II, statues and portraits of Lenin have been removed or demolished as they have become symbols of violence of oppression of the Soviet Union. Hence, statues or portraits of Lenin have become uncommon although some, like this one, still exist.

  • Address of the Statue of Lenin: The Statue of Lenin is located at 28A Dien Bien Phu, Hanoi.
  • Opening Hours of Statue of Lenin: The Statue of Lenin is open 24 hours.

West Lake aka Lake Tay Ho

The West Lake or locally known as Lake Tay Ho is the largest freshwater lake in Hanoi. The lake which covers 15 square kilometers, is a green area popular for the walking trails around it.  You can also visit the Tay Ho Pagoda and Tran Quoc Pagoda, located at the lake. Be reminded that since these are places of worship, you should dress appropriately and avoid clothes that expose your shoulders and knees.

things to do in hanoi west lake

You’ll also find people cycling, practicing tai chi, and strolling—a perfectly pleasant place. The West Lake Water Park also has swan pedalos for a jaunt around the lake and there are of course cafes dotted around the lake too.

  • Address of West Lake (Lake Tay Ho): The West Lake or Lake Tay Ho is located in the Tay Ho district, Hanoi, northwest of the city center.

Visit the Table that Obama and Bourdain shared

Visit an iconic spot in Hanoi in the small Bun Cha Huong Lien noodle house. In 2016, American celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain and former American president Barack Obama went to Bun Cha Huong Lien for a bowl of its legendary noodles, making the noodle house world famous. Now, the table where these two famous men sat, is encased in glass, bowls, and utensils along with beer still laid out on the tiny table. You can also order a Combo Obama from their menu which consists of bun cha (seafood spring roll), and a bottle of Hanoi beer for VND 105,000.

  • Address of the table Obama and Bourdain shared: The table Obama and Bourdain shared is located at Bun Cha Huong Lien noodle store at 24 Le Van Huu, Phan Chu Trinh, Hai Ba Trung, Hanoi.  
  • Opening Hours of Bun Cha Huong Lien: The Bun Cha Huong Lien is open from 8 a.m. t 8:30 p.m. every day.
  • Fees for Bun Cha Huong Lien: The prices at Bun Cha Huong Lien range from VND 7,000 to VND 40,000.

Go to Café Pho Co for Vietnamese Egg Coffee

Head to Café Pho Co, a hidden gem serving the iconic Vietnamese egg coffee.  There’s more about egg coffee and how and why it came about later in this article, but I’ll tell you now it’s delicious!  And this café is one of my favorites in Hanoi and Vietnam.  Just getting there is an adventure.  Before reaching this amazing café, you first have to walk through a clothing store and head to a narrow hallway, then walk across a courtyard filled with birdcages (you can stop and take photos for a while, no rush!), plants, and sometimes roaming chickens. After the courtyard, you’ll find a flight of stairs, go up, past a family shrine, and finally to the roof wear the café is. At the top, while enjoying your food and drinks, you can also get a great view of Hoan Kiem Lake. This place is fabulous and the coffee is great too! Definitely, a place you shouldn’t miss when traveling to Hanoi.

  • Address of Café Pho Co: Café Pho Co is located at 11 Hang Gai Hoan Kiem, Hanoi.
  • Opening Hours of Café Pho Co: Café Pho Co is open from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Find an amazing Sunset in Hanoi

Seeing sunsets anywhere is already amazing, but seeing a sunset in Hanoi is definitely best with a cold beer in your hands. Up in the rooftop bars, you’ll find the perfect spot to view Hanoi’s spectacular sunsets, and here are some of Hanoi’s rooftop bars you can head to for the perfect spot for sunset viewing.

Top of Hanoi 

The Top of Hanoi is situated at the top of the Lotte Hotel. Surrounded by glass, this spot offers an iconic location for sunset hour as well as a panoramic view of the city. The Top of Hanoi is open from 5 p.m. to 12 midnight. Live music performances are also held at the rooftop bar on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 7:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Skyline

The Old Quarter is already spectacular on the ground, but seeing it from above is even better. SKYLINE offers guests the best view of the Old Quarter especially during the evenings when the city lights twinkle.

Terraco Sky Bar

The Terraco Sky Bar is found on the 8th floor of La Sinfonia del Rey Hotel in the heart of Hanoi. This sky bar offers signature cocktails that tell the story of Hanoi along with tapas pairings. Of course, aside from their cocktails, there are fabulous 360-degree views of the city, perfect for sunset.

The Summit Bar

Located on the 20th floor of the Pan Pacific Hotel, The Summit Bar has great views of the sunset over West Lake. It’s open from 4 p.m. to 12 midnight.

Lighthouse Sky Bar 

The Lighthouse Sky Bar is on Hang Be Street and is uniquely designed—it is styled on a boat which takes inspiration from the history of Hang Be Street. The bar overlooks the streets of Hanoi, while the back offers a view of the Red River. You can listen to jazz while you enjoy signature cocktails and enjoy the view of the sunset.

Have Fun at the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre in Hanoi

Check out one of Vietnam’s curious art forms, water puppetry, at the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre.  This unique art form only started gaining attention outside of northern Vietnam during the 1960s but was introduced more than 1,000 years ago as a way for farmers to incorporate conventional puppeteering on water after flooding. Now, the art of water puppetry is performed both across Vietnam and internationally.  (We also have the theatre in Ho Chi Minh City tagged as one of the best things to do in Ho Chi Minh City).

things to do in hanoi water puppets theater

Here at the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre, puppeteers stand behind a screen, waist-deep in water, and operate the puppets to make them look like they are moving above the water. Water puppetry is incomplete without traditional Vietnamese folk songs.

As brilliant as these performances are, they are done in water, so if you don’t want to get wet, we suggest not sitting at the front, as performers will ensure that you WILL get wet.  You can book a ticket for the specific performance you want here.

  • Address of Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre: The Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre is located at 57A Ding Tien Hoang, Hanoi.
  • Opening Hours of Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre: Shows at the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre are held at 3 p.m., 4:10 p.m., 5:20 p.m., 6:30 p.m., and 8 p.m. The time may vary, but these are the usual times the shows run. These shows are available to see every day and there’s even an extra Sunday morning performance.
  • Entry Fees for Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre: The general admission fee to Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre is VND 100,000. Extra charges are added if you wish to photograph or take a video of the performances.

Book your ticket for Hanoi’s Water Puppet Theater and skip the lines here.

Check out Long Bien Bridge in Hanoi

The Long Bien Bridge was first built between 1899 to 1902 by architects Dayde and Pille of Paris.  Long Bien Bridge was the first steel bridge in Hanoi and also one of the first bridges the French built in Vietnam. Long Bien Bridge was first named after the Governor-General of French in Indochina, Paul Doumer, but when the French left Vietnam in 1945 the name was changed to Long Bien Bridge. This iconic bridge is famous for its scenic views and taking a photo in the middle of the bridge is a top thing to do in Hanoi.

The bridge, which crosses the Red River and connects Hoan Kiem district and Long Bien district, does not allow cars (watch for bikes though) and is a great spot to see the landscape of Hanoi.

  • Address of Long Bien Bridge: Long Bien Bridge is located at Ngoc Thuy Ward, Long Bien District, Hanoi.

Learn about Hanoi’s History with these things to do in Hanoi

While getting into the local food, parks, and a view of the city’s landscape brings you closer to who Hanoi is, some of Hanoi’s history is better experienced through specific Hanoi Attractions and museums, so here are the places to visit to learn more about Hanoi’s history!

Explore the Imperial Citadel in Hanoi

Hanoi’s Imperial Citadel, recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, was one of the important spots in Hanoi during the Vietnam War. The citadel was where crucial political and military matters were decided and acted upon. Inside you’ll find uncovered treasures, bunkers used during the Vietnam war, and a collection of weaponry.  The gardens are also interesting to wander through.

  • Address of the Imperial Citadel: The Imperial Citadel is located at 19C Hoang Dieu, Dien Bien, Ba Dinh, Hanoi.
  • Opening Hours of the Imperial Citadel: The Imperial Citadel is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day except Mondays.
  • Entry Fees for the Imperial Citadel: The entrance fee for the Imperial Citadel is VND 30,000, while visitors 15 years old and below are free of charge.

Visit Hoa Lo Prison aka the Hanoi Hilton

The Hoa Lo Prison, (its name means fiery furnace) was also known to American prisoners of war (POWs) as the Hanoi Hilton is a historic site with a painful history. First opened in 1886 during the French colonization, the Hoa Lo Prison housed around 2,000 prisoners in terrible condition and often chained to walls. The prison became a symbol of French oppression, and that’s why when the French were defeated, the Vietnamese reclaimed the prison and made it their own. During America’s invasion in the Vietnam War, a special section was made for US prisoners of war, which were mostly American Air Force pilots. Former U.S. Senator John McCain was one of the more famous prisoners here when he was captured injured. He only received medical treatment when it was found that his father was a high-ranking official.

things to do in hanoi hoa loa hanoi hilton

Today Hoa Lo Prison is a museum presenting the hardships the Vietnamese had during the French Colonial period. There are also displays of the means of torture the French used on the Vietnamese.  There’s a specific section also dedicated to the Vietnam War, and here you can see John McCain’s flight suit and parachute. It’s one of the major Vietnam War Sites, which I wrote about here.

  • Address of Hoa Lo Prison: Hoa Lo Prison is located at 1 Hoa Lo Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi.
  • Opening Hours of Hoa Lo Prison:  Hoa Lo Prison is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Entry Fees for Hoa Lo Prison: The entrance fee for Hoa Lo Prison is VND 3000.  

See the B-52 in the Lake

The B-52 airplane sits half-sunken at Huu Tiep Lake, serving as a reminder of the Vietnam War. The B-52 was a product of Operation Linebacker II, also known as the Christmas Bombing, a three-day bombing campaign by American forces between December 18 and December 20, 1972.

things to do in hanoi B52 in the lake

The bombing campaign targeted military installations in areas with dense populations between Hanoi and Haiphong as a measure to force North Vietnamese leaders to sign the provisional peace agreement. Despite efforts to evacuate, 1,318 civilians were killed, prompting the North Vietnamese to retaliate by firing over 1,200 missiles at 15 B-52 bombers, managing to capture 31 crew members, and killing many more.

  • Address of B-52 in Huu Tiep Lake: The B-52 remains are located at Ngo 55 –Hoang Hoa Tham, Hanoi.

Explore the French Quarter in Hanoi

France? Nope, just the magnificent French Quarter at Hanoi. If you feel that the Old Quarter is too crowded for you, you can head to the French Quarter where French-style houses and other infrastructures are located. When the French colonized Vietnam, they replaced many traditional Vietnamese buildings with French architecture and buildings and much of it remains. The French Quarter is considered the luxurious corner of Hanoi where you’ll find 5-star hotels and high-class restaurants. When you visit Hanoi’s French Quarter, you should visit locations like the Trang Tien Plaza, the Vietnam National Museum of History, the Hanoi Opera House, and St. Joseph’s Cathedral.

Visit Hoan Kiem Lake

Located at the heart of Hanoi is the Hoan Kiem Lake, a mystical lake with a rich past. Legend says a man named Le Loi was one day mysteriously bestowed with a golden sword from the heavens, using it to defeat the army during the Ming dynasty. After being named emperor, when Le Loi took a ride out to the lake, a giant golden turtle took the sword from him and returned to the water. This legend is also why Hoan Kiem Lake is also known as the “Lake of the Returned Sword.”

things to do in hanoi hoan kiem lake

You can reach a small island in the lake by crossing the iconic Cau Huc bridge where the famous Ngoc Son temple, dedicated to Commander Tran Hung Dao of the Tran Dynasty, stands.  There’s a café on the edge of the lake and you can also have your portrait drawn here.  There’s a lively social scene on a night here.

  • Address of Hoan Kiem Lake: Hoan Kiem Lake is located in Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi.

Churches, Places of Worship, and Temples in Hanoi

While Hanoi is a city of modern buildings, modern culture, and modern people, it is also a place filled with churches, places of worship, and temples.  Here are the churches, places of worship, and temples of note in Hanoi.  You can visit these holy locations along with other major Hanoi attractions on this private tour – worth it if you prefer to understand the meaning and history of these locations

Ngoc Son Temple, Hanoi

At the northern end of the famous Hoan Kiem Lake, the Ngoc Son Temple, which is also known as the “Temple of Jade Mountain” was built in dedication to Tran Hung Dao, a commander who fought during the Tran Dynasty. The temple was also built as a dedication to La To, the Patron Saint of Physicians, as well as to remember great historical figures who contributed to the great history and culture of Vietnam. This famous Hanoi temple is also used for people paying their respects to the Turtle Tower situated at the center of the lake. You can reach the Ngoc Son Temple by crossing the Cau The Huc bridge.

The temple also pays homage to Confucian Virtuoso Nguyen Van Sieu with pillars adorned with messages dedicated to Confucian philosophy. As this is a temple, be reminded to dress appropriately.

  • Address of Ngoc Son Temple: Ngoc Son Temple is located at Dinh Tien Hoang, Hang Rong, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi.
  • Opening Hours of Ngoc Son Temple: Ngoc Son Temple is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day.
  • Entry Fees for Ngoc Son Temple: The entrance fee to Ngoc Son Temple is VND 30,000.

See the Catholic St Joseph’s Cathedral, Hanoi

When the French came to Vietnam they brought Catholicism, which then became a prominent religion in Vietnam. Built in 1886 and inspired by Paris’ Notre Dame, St. Joseph’s Cathedral is Hanoi’s oldest church, dubbed as “the big church” by locals.

things to do in hanoi st josephs cathedral

This Hanoi cathedral now stands with its spectacular architecture surrounded by quaint cafes, restaurants, and shops.

  • Address of St. Joseph’s Cathedral: St. Joseph’s Cathedral is located at 40 Nha Chung, Hang Trong, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi.
  • Opening Hours of St. Joseph’s Cathedral: St. Joseph’s Cathedral is open from 5 a.m. to 7:30 a.m.
  • Entry Fees for St. Joseph’s Cathedral: St. Joseph’s Cathedral is free of charge.

Visit Chua Quan Su, Hanoi aka the Ambassador’s Pagoda

The Chua Quan Su, also known as the Ambassador’s Pagoda, once served as a guesthouse for visiting ambassadors from nearby Buddhist countries. Now Chua Quan Su is an active Buddhist temple. The temple features a beautiful main hall with small shrines as well as images of Buddha and wax figures of former monks. A small shop on-site is also available where Buddhist books, prayer beads, and charms are sold. Be mindful of your clothes, and be sure to keep your shoulders and knees covered before entering.

  • Address of Chua Quan Su: Chua Quan Su is located at 73 p Quan Su, Hanoi.
  • Opening Hours of Chua Quan Su: Chua Quan Su is open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day.
  • Entry Fees for Chua Quan Su: Entrance to Chua Quan Su is free but donations are accepted.

See Bach Ma Temple, Hanoi

Bach Ma Temple is found in Hanoi’s Old Quarter. It is one of the Four Guarding Temples of Thang Long Citadel as a form of enclosing boundary around the city to protect it from potential threats. The Bach Ma Temple also has a significant history as it is associated with the event of King Ly Thao’s relocation of the capital to Hanoi from Hao Lu. The Bach Ma Temple was believed to be so sacred that when the French came, they did not have the courage to vandalize or relocate the property. This led to the temple, at present times, still bearing the architectural style of the Nguyen Dynasty. Be sure to dress appropriately when visiting the temple.

  • Address of Bach Ma Temple: Bach Ma Temple is located at 76 Huang Buom Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi.
  • Opening Hours of Bach Ma Temple: Bach Ma Temple is open from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Entry Fees for Bach Ma Temple: Entrance to Bach Ma Temple is free but donations are accepted.

See the unique One Pillar Pagoda, Hanoi

One Pillar Pagoda, located near the Ho Chi Minh Complex,  is named after its unique structure—the entire temple is built on a single pillar in the middle of a lotus pond.

things to do in hanoi one pillar pagoda

It is believed that the One Pillar Pagoda existed since the Ly Dynasty, which is remarkable for the history of Buddhism in Vietnam.

  • Address of One Pillar Pagoda: The One Pillar Pagoda is located at Chua Mot Cot, Doi Can, Ba Dinh, Hanoi.
  • Opening Hours of One Pillar Pagoda: The One Pillar Pagoda is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day.
  • Entry Fees for One Pillar Pagoda: Entrance to One Pillar Pagoda is free of charge.

Learn at the Temple of Literature in Hanoi

Hanoi’s Temple of Literature, which is found in the center of Hanoi, was built to be a learning center dedicated to the Chinese age and Confucius. Today it’s located among parks, shrines, a garden, and pavilions. It is a known tradition for graduating doctors to visit the temple after their graduation.

  • Address of Temple of Literature: The Temple of Literature is located at 58 P Quoc To Giam, Van Mieu, Dong Da, Hanoi.
  • Opening Hours of Temple of Literature: The Temple of Literature is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Entry Fees for Temple of Literature: The entrance fee for the Temple of Literature is VND 30,000 for adults, VND 15,000 for students, and free for children under 15 years old.

Hanoi’s Art Attractions to See

Along with Hanoi’s old buildings, temples, and other historical landmarks, the vibrant city is also filled with hidden art gems. Here’s where to find some of the main Hanoi art attractions. 

Find the Street Art of Hanoi

Among the streets of Hanoi, you’ll find a gem hidden in plain sight— the murals of Hanoi! A joint art project by Vietnam and Korea, spectacular murals cover a blank wall between stone railway arches in Hanoi. The murals are painted as optical illusions, a great treat for the brain.

  • Address of Street Art of Hanoi: The Street Art of Hanoi begins at 27 Phung Hung, Hang Ma, Hoan Kie, Hanoi, and continues until the wall’s intersection with Hang Cot.

Hanoi Ceramic Mosaic Mural (Con đường Gốm sứ)

This four mile (6.5 kilometers) Ceramic Road in Hanoi runs along the walls of the Red River dike system.  It came about as the result of a competition in 2007, w.hen journalist Nguyễn Thu Thủy won an architecture prize with her idea to transform the dike system through art.  The mosaic is just under one meter high and uses ceramics from the ceramic tesserae produced by the Bát Tràng village, which is famous for its ceramic pottery.  

things to do in hanoi worlds largest ceramic mosaic

Periods of Vietnam’s history are covered in the mosaic, which incorporates artists from Vietnamese and foreign embassies.  In 2010 the Guinness Book of World Records confirmed that the project was the “World’s Largest Ceramic Mosaic”. 

  • Address of Hanoi Ceramic Mosaic Mural:  The Ceramic Mosaic of Hanoi finishes at the Long Bien Bridge and runs along the following roads – Âu Cơ, Nghi Tàm, Yên Phụ, Trần Nhật Duật, Trần Quang Khải, and Trần Khánh Du.

Explore the Hanoi Fine Art Museum

The Fine Art Museum of Hanoi contains works from the 19th century to the present day featuring themes of nationalism, foreign colonization, martyrdom, and war. The building was once a Catholic boarding school for women, and today the Fine Art Museum now houses Vietnam’s finest collection of early-modern artworks.

  • Address of Fine Art Museum: The Fine Art Museum is located at 66 P. Nguyen Thai Hoc, Dien Bien, Ba Dinh, Hanoi.
  • Opening Hours of Fine Art Museum: The Fine Art Museum is open from 9:15 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day except Mondays.
  • Entry Fees for Fine Art Museum: The entrance fee for Fine Art Museum is VND 30,000.

Hanoi’s Museums to Explore

There are a variety of museums in Hanoi, some of which we’ve already mentioned, and here are the best of the rest.

The National Museum of Vietnamese History, Hanoi

What better way to get to know more about Vietnam’s history than to visit the National Museum of Vietnamese History? The museum is separated into five different sections and houses more than 200,000 different pieces. If you stop by all the halls and rooms, then you’ll need about 90 minutes to see this museum.

  • Address of National Museum of Vietnamese History: The National Museum of Vietnamese History is located at 216 D. Tran Quang Khai, Trang Tien, Hong, Kiem, Hanoi
  • Opening Hours of National Museum of Vietnamese History: The National Museum of Vietnamese History is open from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. every day except Mondays.
  • Entry Fees for the National Museum of Vietnamese History: The entrance fee for the National Museum of Vietnamese History is VND 20,000 with an additional VND 15,000 if you want to use a camera.

The Ho Chi Minh Museum, Hanoi

You’ll get to know everything there is to know about one of Vietnam’s most prominent figures, Ho Chi Minh at the Ho Chi Minh Museum. The museum takes you through the life of Ho Chi Minh, from his upbringing between 1890 to 1910, the next 10 years of his life were spent it looking for a way to rescue Vietnam from colonialism, his life between 1920 to 1945 when he took influences of Marxism and Leninism to found the Vietnamese Communist Party, from 1945 to 1969 which was of his political life, to his death. You can also visit the hidden local market opposite the museum which various food options. You’ll need around two hours exploring the Ho Chi Minh Museum.

  • Address of Ho Chi Minh Museum: The Ho Chi Minh Museum is located at 19 Ngoc Ha, Ba Dinh, Hanoi.
  • Opening Hours of Ho Chi Minh Museum: The Ho Chi Minh Museum is open from 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. every day except Mondays.
  • Entry Fees for Ho Chi Minh Museum:  The entrance fee for Ho Chi Minh Museum is VND 10,000.

The Military History Museum, Hanoi

Built during the latter part of 1954, the Military History Museum was opened on December 22, 1959, on the 15th anniversary of the founding of the Vietnamese People’s Army. Hanoi’s Military History Museum displays Vietnam’s military history from its founding during Ho Chi Minh’s era to the present date.

things to do in hanoi vietnamese army museum

One of the highlights of the museum is the Hanoi Flag Tower, also classified as a national historic cultural monument. Thousands of photographs, maps, models, and exhibits are displayed in the museum.  You’ll need between one and two hours to explore.

  • Address of Military History Museum: The Military History Museum is located at 28 A, Dien Bien, Phu Street, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi.
  • Opening Hours of Military History Museum: The Military History Museum is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. every day except Mondays and Fridays.
  • Entry Fees for Military History Museum: The entrance fee for Military History Museum is VND 20,000.

The Museum of Ethnology, Hanoi

The Museum of Ethnology is located about 10 kilometers from the center of Hanoi and houses the culture and socio-cultural diversity of 54 Vietnamese ethnic groups. The museum is divided into three sections, the Bronze Drum (Đông Sơn drum) area, the outdoor display area, and the Southeast Asia area.  It is a vast area and if you head here you’ll need between 2 and 3 hours to see it fully.

  • Address of Museum of Ethnology: The Museum of Ethnology is located at Nguyen van Huyen road, Cau Giay District, Nghia Do, Cau Giay, Hanoi.
  • Opening Hours of Museum of Ethnology: The Museum of Ethnology is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. every day except for Mondays and holidays.
  • Entry Fees for the Museum of Ethnology: The entrance fee for the Museum of Ethnology is VND 40,000.

The Vietnamese Women’s Museum, Hanoi

The Vietnamese Women’s Museum was built in 1987 and is run by The Women’s Union of Vietnam to spread awareness and knowledge of Vietnamese women and gender equality. This Hanoi museum focuses on the contribution of women to Vietnamese society as well as the cultural development of women in Vietnam.  You’ll need about 90 minutes to visit.

  • Address of Vietnamese Women’s Museum: The Vietnamese Women’s Museum is located at 36 Ly Thuong Kiet Street, Hang Bai ward, Hoan Kiem district, Hanoi.
  • Opening Hours of Vietnamese Women’s Museum: The Vietnamese Women’s Museum is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day.
  • Entry Fees for Vietnamese Women’s Museum: The entrance fee for Vietnamese Women’s Museum is VND 40,000 for adults and VND 10,000 for children below 16 years old.

The Old Quarter of Hanoi

Amongst the changing landscape of Hanoi, one area remains the same, the Old Quarter—the soul of Hanoi. From its establishment back in the 11th century, the Old Quarter has now become a center of Vietnam’s colorful history. You’ll find Hanoi’s Old Quarter in the Hoan Kiem District, west of the Red River and east of Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum. The Old Quarter in Hanoi now sits in contrast to the modern Hanoi skyscrapers giving you a unique and intriguing experience. But apart from history lessons from Old Quarter’s popular attractions, you should also visit the weekend night market, and try out local food. Here are some of the things to do in Hanoi’s Old Quarter.

Visit the Hanoi Train Street, Hanoi Old Quarter

One of the Old Quarter’s best features is its maze-like landscape. Its narrow streets have become one of its highlights. One of the iconic streets of Hanoi’s Old Quarter is Train Street.  Yep, this is the street where a railroad track passes through this street.  It’s actually the main route that connects Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City. And.  Yes, it’s real. 

things to do in hanoi train street

When the train passes by you’ll get to see how have planned their lives and businesses around the train and how they move their things and themselves to the side with ease. When there’s no train you can walk along the tracks, shop, explore, and get a cup of coffee or beer at a café situated on either side of the track. And don’t worry you won’t miss hearing the train approach.

Shopping Streets of Hanoi’s Old Quarter

One of the things you’ll notice in Hanoi’s Old Quarter is the unique names of the streets. Comprised of 36 streets, Old Quarter’s street names were taken from the most prominent product the area was trading and selling back in the day.  It used to be that all the cobblers were on one street, all the goldsmiths on another, and so on.  Today, while some streets have continued in this way it’s so commonplace. You can head to Shoe Street (Hang Dau Street) if you’re looking for shoes, or you can head to Sunglass Street (Luong Van Can Street) if you want a pair of sunnies. You can also go to Hanoi Specialities Street (Hang Duong Street) if you’re craving tasting local delicacies.

Hanoi’s Old Quarter has 36 streets, get the most out of your visit by making sure to head to each of the streets (even just briefly!).

Bia Hoi Corner in the Old Quarter

Hanoi’s bustling Old Quarter transforms at night.  It’s still busy, but now the sun has gone down it’s all about chilling out (for visitors anyways) and it comes alive for vendors.  On one of its corners is Bia Hoi Corner.  Bia Hoi means “Fresh Beer”.  And it’s here you’ll buy your cheap cold beer from guys selling it directly from a barrel.  Very much like experiencing pub culture is a top thing to do in the UK, Bia Hoi is a top thing to do here. There are loads of street vendors for food too, and usually, the beer vendor will have a preferred supplier, with a menu and you won’t even have to move to get your food delivered to you. 

things to do in hanoi drink bia hoi

Bia Hoi Corner, also known as Bia Hoi Junction or International Crossroad, lies in an area at the front of Ta Hien Street and continues down Luong Ngoc Street.  You’ll find all types of beer available, from fresh beer to international brands.  Sit on steps, on small plastic stools, and pay around VND 5,000 for a beer and a great spot of people-watching.

Hanoi Ancient House

Step inside one of Hanoi’s old houses and get a glimpse of life during 19th century Vietnam. On Ay Ma May, one of the Old Quarter’s most popular streets is the Ancient House. The Ancient House was built in the 19th century and is a two-story home with its original traditional Vietnamese architectural designs still intact. The setup of each room, the furniture, and the decors all resemble what houses in Vietnam looked like a century ago, allowing you to take yourself back in time and experience the atmosphere of old Hanoi.

Markets to Explore in Hanoi

There are markets everywhere in Hanoi, and in a similar way to the shopping streets of Hanoi they tend to focus, so here are the different Hanoi markets to explore.

Quảng Bá Flower Market, Hanoi

The Quang Ba Flower Market is the biggest flower market in Hanoi which opens at around 8 p.m. when the flowers are the freshest.  If you’re in the market for flowers, then this is the place to go, but if you’re not, then just heading here for a look (and a smell) is a great experience.  Once you get to Vietnam it will become a game watching to see just how much can be carried on a single motorbike, and here you’ll get to see how many flowers can be transported on a bike!  For late-night snacks you can pick up a good Pho or Banh Mi on one side of the market, stalls are open till the early hours.

  • Address of Quang Ba Flower Market: The Quang Ba Flower Market is located at 236 D. Au Co, Quang An, Tay Ho, Hanoi.
  • Opening Hours of Quang Ba Flower Market: The Quang Ba Flower Market is open from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. for wholesalers (this is when the flowers are cheaper) and 6 a.m. to noon for retailers.

Dong Xuan Market, Hanoi

Since the 1980s, the Dong Xuan Market has been Hanoi’s largest indoor market. Hanoi’s Dong Xuan Market is composed of three levels where you’ll find almost anything you could think of buying. From, fashion items, and toys, to household items, the market has it. But if you’re someone looking for good quality fabrics, you’ve come to the right place; the Dong Xuan Market’s second and third level is dedicated to stalls selling fabrics for very good prices.

  • Address of Dong Xuan Market: The Dong Xuan Market is located at Dong Xuan, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi.
  • Opening Hours of Dong Xuan Market: The Dong Xuan Market is open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. and the night market is open from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. during weekdays and almost till midnight during the weekends.
things to do in hanoi market visit

Hanoi Weekend Market

For the Hanoi Weekend Market to come to life, a few streets of Hanoi are closed down to vehicles. The Hanoi Weekend Market is a great place to be if you’re looking for cheap goods like clothes accessories, souvenirs, and bags, and if you explore the market more, you might just find whatever it is you’re looking for. And, like all other Hanoi markets, the Hanoi Weekend Market is also the perfect place to try out other local street foods.

  • Address of Hanoi Weekend Market: The Hanoi Weekend Market is located at Hang Dao Street, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi.
  • Opening Hours of Hanoi Weekend Market: The Hanoi Weekend Market is open from 7 p.m. to midnight every day except Mondays.

What to Eat and Drink in Hanoi (And Where)

One thing you definitely, and we mean DEFINITELY, cannot miss is trying out Hanoi’s delightful cuisine. Vietnam’s cuisine often consists of a healthy variety: rice, fish, and vegetables. Vietnamese cuisines are usually stir-fired and steamed and their cuisine—like many other South East Asian cuisines—is rich in fragrances which adds to the experience of consuming their dishes. If you’re not sure where to start, we’ve detailed the food and drinks in Hanoi you should definitely try and where to find them!  This is a subset of our guide to Vietnamese Food, which you can find here

You can explore the food of Hanoi’s Old Quarter by visiting hidden gems and secret local spots – this fabulous food walking tour is a small group great way to taste Hanoi. Reserve your place here.

Banh Mi

Banh Mi is a snack that can be eaten at any time of the day, although it was traditionally considered a breakfast meal. Banh Mi is a selection of meats (usually pork), pickled vegetables, and pate inside a baguette. Traditionally, the ingredients were served individually for you to “assemble” it by yourself. Later on, they started serving it “assembled” and change it to have more meat than vegetables so that it can be enjoyed on the go.

things to do in hanoi eat banh mi

With the rise of Banh Mi carts, we recommend Banh Mi Minh Nhat, a Banh Mi cart internationally recognized because of the owner Minh Nhat who won MasterChef 2014. If you’re interested in trying out more Banh Mi varieties, exploring the city is the best way to find them as carts and stalls are spread out across Hanoi.

Egg Coffee

One of Hanoi’s drinks you cannot miss is the iconic Egg Coffee. Locally called ca phe trung, egg coffee is an interesting mix of egg yolk, butter, condensed milk, and cheese added to good Vietnamese coffee.

Now stop right there.  And stop gurning your face up.  It is LOVELY!  Seriously.  It’s really good.  And here’s how and why it came about.

things to do in hanoi drink egg coffee

It was in the 1940s when milk was scarce in Vietnam that whisked egg yolk was added as an alternative. Cafe Pho Co is one of the coffee shops that serves a delightful cup of egg coffee while also offering a spectacular view of Hoan Kiem Lake. You can also check out Giang Café, a quaint café hidden on a small lane on Nguyen Huu Huan Street in the Old Quarter.

I recommend trying it with chocolate powder too.  And my personal favorite coffee with yogurt, now that is to die for.

Eat Snake in Hanoi

A rather odd but unique dish served in Hanoi is snake. Yes, snake. Consuming snakes is believed to increase strength and virility. Le Mat Snake Village is where to look around for different restaurants that serve different types of snake dishes. When you get there, you can personally choose the snake you’ll be eating and you will have a chance to witness how they prepare your snake dishes for you. Often, they will remove the heart and drain the blood to mix with the rice wine. If you’re gutsy enough, you can take the rice wine, snake blood, and brain concoction and take a shot, but don’t chew it, just take it down like a champ! Prices will depend on the weight of the snake—the heavier, the pricier—it can reach up to $70/kg for a cobra.  Going to a restaurant to eat snake is as much of a show as it is a meal.  Let me know what you think!

Pho Noodles

The famous breakfast staple of Vietnam, phở, is also the country’s most famous dish and culinary export. From legends and myths that say Vietnam is colored with a variety of shades, phở is made as colorful as well. Phở is made up of rice noodles and sliced meat poured over with boiling beef broth and garnished with several chopped herbs and chives.

things to do in hanoi eat pho

Phở also comes in a variety, some diners customize their bowls with squeezed lemon, sliced red chili, basil, and some hoisin sauce. If traditional phở is what you are looking for, the best one at Hanoi is Pho Lam Hanoi. Since they serve more traditionally cooked phở, they are only open during the morning and are usually sold out at around 10 a.m. It is recommended that you visit before 9 a.m. because that is when the beef and broth quality is at its best.

Street Food

Generally, Vietnamese cuisine is one of the healthiest cuisines out there but that does not mean their dishes are boring. One of the famous street food Hanoi has to offer that makes travelers from all over the world go back is Bun cha. It’s a slow-cooked pork in a flavorful broth usually partnered with nem (fried spring rolls). If you can take the heat, add chili and slurp! This dish became famous when an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s show aired where he is accompanied by former president Obama while they eat Bun cha. But there are plenty of other exciting street foods you can try and the best way to find them is to walk along the street of Ngõ Tram and its nearby streets as well.

Beer Hoi

Beer Hoi or Bia Hoi translates to fresh beer. And Hanoi is famous specifically for it.  Bia Hoi is a light beer with a low alcohol content that feels refreshing and leaves no strong aftertaste, a perfect drink with friends after a long day. Bia Hoi is made during the night and delivered in kegs during the morning, as it contains no preservatives its style is that it’s drunk that day. Bia Hoi is usually served in a glass made specifically for Bia Hoi, known as Bia Hoi glass or cauldron glass. These glasses are usually handmade from recycled glass which undergoes a six-hour heating process. If you’re looking for the best places serving Bia Hoi, look no further and head to Bia Hoi Corner or Ba Hoi Junction (it’s literally in the name!). A glass of Bia Hoi costs around USD 0.22 which is VND 5,000 to VND 6,000.

Take a Cooking Class in Hanoi

Among the variety of activities Hanoi Vietnam has to offer, a cooking class is one of the most interesting. Vietnamese cuisine is an absolute joy to come across because of its healthy, colorful, and flavorful variety. (Believe me, I’ve just spent 6 months in the Balkans and Vietnamese Food is so incredible after the good, but heavy flavors and tastes from there).

We’ve taken cooking classes around the world, including on the beach in Mui Ne, Vietnam, but Hanoi has its own specialties, and it’s well worth learning how to cook them.  This Hanoi cooking class takes you to the local market and buys fresh ingredients that you’ll then cook and eat.  You’ll get to take the recipes home for the future!

Check your options for cooking classes in Hanoi here.

Bun Cha Hanoi 

Bun Cha is one of Vietnam’s dishes that you just cannot miss!, especially here in Hanoi.  Bun Cha is seasoned meatballs (patties) and caramelized pork belly slices poured over with fragrant soup and served alongside rice noodles. Bite into the juicy meatballs as you dunk the noodles in the broth and get a magnificent mix of flavors only found in Hanoi, Vietnam.

One of the best places to try out Bun Cha is Bun Cha Huong Lien where the iconic Bourdain-Obama dinner took place when they ate Bun Cha. The table where they sat is now encased in glass with bowls, chopsticks, and utensils still laid out on the table, so you can’t sit at the actual table, but you can eat at Bu Cha Huong Lien.

  • Address of Bun Cha Huong Lien: The table Obama and Bourdain shared is located at Bun Cha Huong Lien noodle store at 24 Le Van Huu, Phan Chu Trinh, Hai Ba Trung, Hanoi.  
  • Opening Hours of Bun Cha Huong Lien: Bun Cha Huong Lien is open from 8 a.m. t 8:30 p.m. every day.

Yogurt Coffee

Another unique and absolutely delicious drink to try in Hanoi is yogurt coffee. Yogurt coffee is yogurt mixed with chocolate and coffee.  A creamy yet tart yogurt combines with the sweetness of chocolate and the bitterness of coffee.  It’s my favorite.  You can try out a great yogurt coffee at Café Cong Caphe in Hanoi.

Hanoi Social Club

Inside a 1920s French colonial villa in Hanoi, you will find the Hanoi Social Club. The menu here consists of a good variety of vegan and vegetarian options that are described as soul food, but, not though, a lot of Vietnamese options. The staff here are from KOTO and Hoa Sua hospitality training schools for disadvantaged youths. This is also a great place for live music, especially on Tuesdays when visiting musicians perform at the“Tiny Music Club” and on Thursdays with local acts.

Hanoi’s oldest ice cream shop at Truc Bach Lake

Just opposite Truc Quoc Pagoda sits the oldest ice cream shop in Hanoi, Quan Kem Ho Tay. The shop serves ice cream through a small window with bars, making it seem like a ticketing window. Here at Quan Kem Ho Tay, you can taste flavors such as the iconic coconut flavor, matcha, mocha, and some of the usual flavors you’ll find.

Tung Dining

T.U.N.G Dining which stands for Twisted, Unique, Natural, Gastronomique Dining, is found at the heart of Hanoi just a few steps away from Hoan Kiem Lake and St. Joseph’s Cathedral. This restaurant boasts a traditional fine dining experience serving organic dishes like fermented juice, organic edible herbs, and a special craft beer, preserving the rich exotic flavor and healthiness of the dishes.   If you want a special dining experience here in Hanoi you should book early and come here.

Where is Hanoi, Vietnam

Hanoi is located in northern Vietnam on the west bank of the Red River. Hanoi is more than a thousand kilometers away from Vietnam’s largest city, Ho Chi Minh.  If you go to HCMC from Hanoi overland, it will take you about 30 to 36 hours. Halong Bay, one of the most popular destinations in Vietnam is about 160 kilometers away from Hanoi, which will take you about 2.5 to 3 hours to reach, making it just about feasible for a day trip from Hanoi. Sapa, on the other, another popular spot among travelers, takes about five to six hours to reach from Hanoi, which is about 320 kilometers away.

How to get to Hanoi

You can reach Hanoi by plane through the Noi Bai International Airport which is 27 kilometers north of the city. From the airport, you can take a shuttle to reach central Hanoi. You can also book in advance an e-taxi, hail a traditional taxi, or, for convenience, hire a private car.

Other key routes to travel in Vietnam

Want to know more about different forms of transport in Vietnam? Our guide to Vietnam transport is here. And here’s how to travel some of the popular routes around Vietnam, your options, and how we did it.

How to Get Around Hanoi

Hanoi is an extremely busy city and one of the best ways to get around is by traveling by motorcycle taxi. Motorcycle taxis are a quick and inexpensive way to get around Hanoi. Since motorcycle taxis are not metered, make sure you’re being charged a fair amount of price by asking your hotel concierge or a local about how much a certain journey should cost.

If you want comfort, you can always hail a taxi from the street or from the comforts of your accommodation. However, traffic is usually heavy in Hanoi, so taking a taxi may not be the best idea if you want to visit many places.

You can also rent a bicycle if you want a more independent journey. Accommodations usually also offer bike renting services, so be sure to check them out. To get around faster, you can also rent a scooter. For bicycle, scooter and motorbike rental, we recommend bikesbooking.

Rent a motorbike in Vietnam from a trusted and reliable source. Get the best prices and options for Vietnam motorbike rental, plus read reviews from other customers. We use and recommend BikesBooking for Scooter and Motorbike rental in Vietnam.  You can get a price and reserve a bike here.

But out of all these means to get around Hanoi, the easiest is to walk. Hanoi is a busy city and the best way to get up close to Hanoi’s culture and easily get around the buzzing street is by exploring the city by foot.

Final Words on the Best Things to do in Hanoi

Hanoi is a modern city with a great series of districts, from the Old Quarter to the French Quarter.  It has a buzzing atmosphere, cheerful locals, and vibrant (but not expensive) nightlife. I didn’t like it on my first visit, but after a few days away I came to love Hanoi.  Hanoi is also home to a rich and colorful past of the Vietnamese. From visiting museums, and temples, to viewing local art attractions, and tasting local delicacies, there are heaps of things to do here.  There are lots of options when it comes to food and drink and Hanoi is also a city filled with hidden gems, I hope you love it as much as I do now.

Stock images in this article are courtesy Deposit Photos.

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