VietNam Travel

#30 BEST Things to do in Hanoi [MUST-TRY]

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If you wake up one morning and find yourself in the enchanting city of Hanoi, Vietnam, what would you do? Unsure of where to start? Fear not, the following list of the top 30 best to do things in Hanoi will guide you through a myriad of captivating experiences in this mesmerizing city.

1. Visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

  • Address: 2 Hung Vuong, Dien Ban, Ba Dinh, Ha Noi
  • Opening hours: 7:30 am – 10:30 am (closed Fridays and Mondays)

The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum stands as the final resting place of revered leader Ho Chi Minh, the President of the Communist Party of Vietnam. This historic site holds immense significance, as it marks where Ho Chi Minh proclaimed the Declaration of Independence in 1945, establishing the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. After your visit, explore the nearby Ho Chi Minh Museum for further insight into this iconic leader’s life and legacy.

Magnificent and dignified scene at Uncle Ho's mausoleum
Magnificent and dignified scene at Uncle Ho’s mausoleum

2. Explore the Old Quarter

The Old Quarter is an enchanting mix of artisanal craft shops and contemporary businesses. The architecture showcases a fusion of French colonial charm, traditional Vietnamese style, and ancient pagodas. As you wander through its winding alleys, you’ll be transported back in time, with street names dating back over a millennium. You can still find family-owned stores selling authentic Vietnamese handcrafted goods that have been passed down for generations. While exploring this area, you’ll stumble upon a plethora of cafes, restaurants, boutiques, art galleries, and trendy bars, adding a modern touch to the historic ambiance.

3. Discover the uniqueness of A Water Puppet Show

  • Address: 57B Dinh Tien Hoang Ward, Hang Bac, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
  • Price: from $4 per ticket
  • Show schedule: shows start at 3:00 pm, 04:10 pm, 05:20 pm, 06:30 pm, and 08:00 pm.

This ancient art form is a must-do activity in Hanoi, especially for families. With a history dating back 1000 years, the show was traditionally performed on ponds or lakes. The enchanting puppets gracefully gliding on water, accompanied by live music that dramatizes their actions, create a mesmerizing atmosphere with the sounds of splashing water in the dimly lit auditorium. To secure the best seats and preferred timing, we recommend getting skip-the-line tickets in advance.

Extremely eye-catching water puppet show
Extremely eye-catching water puppet show

4. Take a Cyclo ride

Embark on a cyclo tour in Hanoi to immerse yourself in the city’s sights and sounds. From iconic landmarks like Hoan Kiem Lake, the Old Quarter, to the vibrant street life and local culture, it’s an unforgettable and distinctive way to uncover the charms of Hanoi. You can find cyclo addresses on the old streets. 

5. Sample the street food 

In Vietnamese cuisine, the flavors revolve around a delicate balance of salty, sweet, sour, and hot. Don’t miss Bun Cha (grilled pork with noodles), Banh Mi (Vietnamese bread), Banh Cuon (steamed rice pancake), Nem chua… For those with a sweet tooth, indulge in the fried bananas, dessert soup, or caramel pudding. And don’t hesitate to ask the local the signature food of this place, you’ll discover some interesting things! 

Below are some street food locations in Hanoi that you should try.

  • Banh Cuon Ba Xuan (from $1.51) – Hoe Nhai Ward, Nguyen Trung Truc, Ba Dinh, Hanoi
  • Banh Mi 25 (from under 2 dollars) – 25 Ward, Hang Ca, Hang Bo, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
  • Bun Cha Huong Lien (from about $3.5) – 24 Ward Le Van Huu, Phan Chu Trinh, Hai Ba Trung, Hanoi
  • Cha Ca La Vong (from 14$)  – 107 Nguyen Truong To, Hanoi
  • Nem Ran Phan Boi Chau – 18 Phan Boi Chau, Hanoi
  • Xoi Yen – 35B Nguyen Huu Huan, Hanoi
  • Bun Dau Hang Khay: 31 Hang Khay, Hanoi
Experiencing the favor of Banh Mi is one of the best things to do in Hanoi
Experiencing the favor of Banh Mi is one of the best things to do in Hanoi

6. Learn about Vietnamese culture at the Temple of Literature

  • Address: 58 Quoc Tu Giam Ward, Temple of Literature, Dong Da, Hanoi
  • Open hours: 8:00am – 5:00pm

The Temple of Literature was like Vietnam’s very own university back in the day! Students used to come here to learn all about Confucianism, literature, and even poetry. Nowadays, the temple is a tribute to some of Vietnam’s brightest minds. Poets, mathematicians, historians – you name it, they’re honored here. You’ll be in awe of the traditional Vietnamese style. Once you step inside, you’ll find yourself in a spacious complex.

The gate to the Temple of Literature is very peaceful
The gate to the Temple of Literature is very peaceful

7. Shop at Dong Xuan Market

Dating back to 1889, this colossal four-story shopping center has it all. From souvenir shops brimming with trinkets to trendy clothing boutiques, you’ll find a treasure trove of goodies. But that’s not all; the ground floor hosts a vibrant food market. Picture yourself immersed in the hustle and bustle, surrounded by an array of fresh fruits, vegetables, succulent meats, and the catch of the day.

8. Visit Tran Quoc Pagoda

  • Address: Thanh Nien, Yen Phu, Tay Ho, Ha Noi
  • Opening hours: every day, from 7:30am – 11:30am, 1:30pm – 5:30pm

Tran Quoc Pagoda is the oldest pagoda in Hanoi, dating all the way back to the 6th century. This Buddhist shrine has quite a history! You’ll find it situated on a serene isley within West Lake. But originally, it stood proudly on the banks of the Red River. However, as time passed, the river encroached, prompting its relocation in the 17th century. The pagoda is surrounded by lush greenery, making it one of the most picturesque spots in Hanoi. 

Magnificent sunset at Tran Quoc Pagoda
Magnificent sunset at Tran Quoc Pagoda

9. Take in Hanoi scenes from a motorbike tour 

You can ride the motorbike yourself if you’re an experienced rider, or choose to ride with one of the designated tour drivers. For seasoned riders, there’s the option of driving a manual Minsk. If you prefer a more straightforward experience, you can opt for a semi-automatic motorbike that eliminates the need to worry about using a clutch. These motorbike tours take you on a thrilling journey through the captivating streets of Hanoi, visiting must-see attractions, exploring various districts, and discovering exciting things to do in the city.

10. Watch the Quintessence of Tonkin

The Quintessence of Tonkin is a mesmerizing cultural show that takes place in a purpose-built theater. It combines live music, dance, a dramatic light show, and water puppetry to showcase Northern Vietnamese history, heritage, and culture. It features the largest water stage show in Vietnam and the highest number of farmers as actors. Prepare to be captivated by this spectacular display of artistry and cultural richness.

Shimmering beauty imbued with Vietnamese national character at Quintessence of Tonkin show
Shimmering beauty imbued with Vietnamese national character at Quintessence of Tonkin show

11. Visit the Hoa Lo Prison

  • Address: 1 Hoa Lo Ward, Tran Hung Dao, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
  • Price: 30,000 VND (under 2$)

Hoa Lo Prison is a significant historical site that offers a compelling insight into Vietnam’s past. Originally constructed by the French colonialists in the late 19th century, it later became notorious during the Vietnam War as the “Hanoi Hilton” where political prisoners were held. Its exhibitions and displays vividly depict the harsh conditions and the struggles endured by the prisoners. Through historical artifacts and informative narratives, visitors gain a deeper understanding of the resilience and sacrifices made by those who fought for Vietnam’s independence. It is a must-visit destination for history enthusiasts and anyone seeking a profound connection to Vietnam’s past.

Experience and discover Vietnam's history through a trip to Hoa Lo Prison
Experience and discover Vietnam’s history through a trip to Hoa Lo Prison

12. Experience the nightlife at Ta Hien Street

Ta Hien Street, known as the “international crossroad” or “Pho Tay” (foreigner street), truly comes alive at night, offering a vibrant ambiance and a variety of exciting activities. It is renowned for its diverse range of Hanoi street foods and especially refreshing beers, providing a cool respite from the hot and humid weather. Sit back, relax, and soak in the lively atmosphere as you indulge in delicious food or simply observe the charming chaos of Hanoi.

13. Take a day trip to Halong Bay

Make the most of your visit to Hanoi by embarking on a day trip to the stunning Halong Bay. In fact, it’s highly recommended to extend your stay and opt for an overnight tour on a traditional junk boat. Halong Bay is undeniably one of the highlights of any journey through Vietnam. Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Halong Bay invites you to indulge in its breathtaking beauty and tranquility. Don’t miss the opportunity to embark on an unforgettable overnight cruise, immersing yourself in the enchanting ambiance of this natural wonder.

Admiring the majestic scenery at Ha Long Bay is one of the best things to do in hanoi
Admiring the majestic scenery at Ha Long Bay is one of the best things to do in hanoi

14. Enjoy thrilling Hanoi Jeep Tour

Explore the real Hanoi in a unique and exciting way with Hanoi Jeep Tours. Get up close and personal with the city’s sights, smells, and tastes in a Vietnam People’s Army legendary Jeep-Uaz469 from the Soviet Era. Discover hidden gems, savor the best food, and experience the good, the bad, and the weird sides of Hanoi with our expert guide. Add a new dimension to your Hanoi experience, book your tour today, and enjoy the ride!

15. Enjoy a coffee at Hanoi train Street

Located within Hanoi’s Old Quarter, this narrow lane lures tourists seeking to capture an image on the operational railway track and perhaps glimpse a passing train. Surprisingly, this alley is a residential zone where many locals have transformed their homes into charming cafes. Here, you can relish traditional egg coffee while anticipating the train’s intermittent appearances throughout the day. Exercise caution though, as the street can become quite congested.

Some coffee shops you can’t miss when stopping by here are: 

  • Railway Cafe – Barrier, 112, 5 Tran Phu Ward, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
  • Hanoi 1990s – Lane 222 E. Le Duan, Kham Thien, Dong Da, Hanoi
  • Hanoi Train Street – 3 Ward Tran Phu, Hang Bong, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
  • HaNoi Coffee Station – 44 Hang Be Ward, Hang Bac, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
Poetic scenery at the train line
Poetic scenery at the train line

16. Visit The Imperial Citadel of Thang Long

  • Address: 19C Hoang Dieu, Dien Bien, Ba Dinh, Hanoi
  • Opening hours: 8:00 am – 4:30 pm
  • Price: 30.000VND/person ($1,5 USD)

Visiting the Imperial City of Thang Long is an essential experience in Hanoi, providing an insight into Vietnam’s abundant history and culture. This UNESCO World Heritage Site showcases time-honored edifices, such as the impressive Hanoi Flag Tower and the stunning Doan Mon Gate. Wander through expansive courtyards and gardens, marvel at ancient artifacts, and gain knowledge about the bygone dynasties that governed the area.

17. Experience a Vietnamese cooking class

Vietnamese cuisine is all about simplicity. You don’t need to be a top-notch chef to whip up your favorite Vietnamese dishes. All you need are some handy tips to make them taste as authentic and delicious as the real deal.

And guess what? There are so many cooking classes available here! You can explore the art of village cuisine, try your hand at pagoda vegetarian dishes, indulge in mouthwatering seafood specialties, savor the monsoon delights, or master the secrets of making pho and bun cha. Some of these classes even include a fun market tour!

18. Visit the Vietnam Military History Museum

  • Address: 28A Dien Bien Phu, Dien Bien, Ba Dinh, Hanoi
  • Opening hours: 8:00am – 4:30pm (not include Monday and Friday)
  • Price: 30.000VND (under 2$) per person

Visit the Military History Museum, where you’ll encounter an array of military equipment and vehicles used during the Vietnam War. This museum commemorates Vietnam’s triumphs against both American and French forces. On display are a tank, vintage aircraft, including a Soviet MiG fighter plane, and remnants of a B52 Bomber. A model of the Cu Chi Tunnels, crucial in overcoming American forces, is also featured. Explore an exhibit showcasing weaponry utilized in both conflicts.

Classic plane wrecks full of history
Classic plane wrecks full of history

19. Take a walk on the Long Bien Bridge

Long Bien bridge spans across the Red River and has witnessed the ups and downs of Hanoi throughout the years. Built by the French colonialists, construction of the bridge began in 1898 and was completed in 1902. The Long Bien Bridge was the first steel bridge connecting Long Bien District with Hoan Kiem District. Over its century-long history, it has become a beloved site for both locals and tourists, boasting distinctive French architecture and panoramic views reminiscent of a meandering dragon. For an engaging Hanoi experience, don’t miss the opportunity to explore the enduring vintage charm of the Long Bien Bridge.

20. Visit Quan Thanh Temple

  • Address: Thanh Nien Street, Quan Thanh, Ba Dinh, Hanoi
  • Opening hours: 8:00am – 5:00pm

Originally known as Tran Vu Temple, this Taoist sanctuary holds great historical and architectural significance. Situated near the HCM Mausoleum and Tran Quoc Pagoda, it forms a prominent religious complex in Hanoi. Its convenient location also makes it easily accessible from the Hanoi Old Quarter, making Quan Thanh Temple an excellent addition to your city tour itinerary. Add this famous cultural landmark to your Hanoi itinerary and embark on a journey of discovery. 

21. Join a Hop on Hop off bus tour around Hanoi

When you discover Hanoi with a hop-on hop-off bus tour, you can freely explore the city’s famous attractions while receiving insightful commentary from a knowledgeable local guide. The tour takes you through popular districts like the Old Quarter, French Quarter, and Hoan Kiem Lake. With designated stops in these areas, you have the freedom to hop on and off the bus, allowing you to explore at your own pace.

Hop on Hop off bus on the way to visit around Hanoi city
Hop on Hop off bus on the way to visit around Hanoi city

22. Relax at a spa treatment

After a long day of exploring the bustling capital, treat yourself to a moment of relaxation and rejuvenation at one of Hanoi’s reputable spas. With a variety of services and treatments available, these spas offer the perfect sanctuary to unwind and recharge. Experience the ultimate bliss at renowned establishments such as Spas Hanoi, Serene Spa, La Belle Vie Spa, La Spa Trendy, Sen Spa… Step into a tranquil oasis, indulge in luxurious treatments, and let the skilled therapists melt away your stress and fatigue.

23. Visit the One Pillar Pagoda

  • Address: Street One Pillar Pagoda, Doi Can, Ba Dinh, Hanoi
  • Opening hours: 7:00am – 6:00pm

One Pillar Pagoda, is a unique and iconic Buddhist temple that holds great cultural and historical significance. This pagoda is famous for its distinctive architecture, with its single pillar rising from a lotus pond, resembling a blooming lotus flower. The One Pillar Pagoda is considered an architectural masterpiece and has become an enduring symbol of Vietnamese spirituality. Its serene and tranquil atmosphere provides a peaceful escape from the bustling city. The pagoda’s historical importance, dating back to the 11th century, adds to its allure. 

24. Watch a performance at the Hanoi Opera House

  • Address: 01 Trang Tien Street, Phan Chu Trinh
  • Operating Hours: Monday – Friday: 10:30 AM – 11 PM
  • Price Range: from 300.000 VND (~12.5$)

The Hanoi Opera House was designed after its Parisian counterpart, the Palais Garnier, showcasing a distinct European influence. Its features include Italian marble floors, ceilings adorned with French murals, and elegant copper chandeliers. Renowned as a significant architectural and cultural icon, the Hanoi Opera House stands as one of the city’s most celebrated landmarks. Today, the opera house maintains a significant cultural impact, serving as a hub for artistic exhibitions, dance showcases, and musical concerts.

The theater has a classical design like contemporary Europe
The theater has a classical design like contemporary Europe

25. Enjoy Some Peace and Quiet at West Lake

West Lake is the biggest lake in the city, stretching 15 km around. Nestled amidst upscale neighborhoods and the Tay Ho ex-pat district, it’s a delightful escape from the hustle and bustle of the Old Quarter. Take a leisurely stroll to discover hidden temples, tucked away from the usual tourist spots. Or, why not savor a cup of aromatic coffee or a cool beer, all while gazing at the serene lake view? You can even rent a bicycle and explore the scenic path around the lake, pausing at cozy street-side eateries for a delightful meal. 

26. Craft your very own masterpiece at Bat Trang Ceramic Village

  • Address: 204 Giang Cao, Bat Trang, Gia Lam, Hanoi
  • Operating hours: 8:00am – 5:30pm

Situated 13 km southeast of Hanoi, Bat Trang, renowned as ‘the ceramic village,’ is a haven for ceramic enthusiasts. From everyday essentials like pots, plates, and cups to exquisite interior decorations and religious items, there’s something for everyone. You can join a ceramic workshop and create your very own masterpiece! Friendly shopkeepers will guide you through the process, ensuring a seamless experience. Be noted that while ceramic stores line the main avenues, the real treasures await in the hidden alleys.

27. Enjoy Hanoi’s festivals and events

Hanoi’s vibrant festivals and events spotlight its rich culture. From the renowned Tet Festival, celebrating the Lunar New Year, to the enchanting Mid-Autumn Festival with lantern-lit streets and lively parades, the city buzzes with excitement. Other notable events include the Hanoi International Film Festival, showcasing the best of international cinema, and the Hanoi Craft Week, a celebration of local craftsmanship and artisanal traditions. Throughout the year, Hanoi also hosts cultural and arts festivals that feature traditional music, dance, and theater performances, providing a glimpse into the city’s rich artistic heritage. These experiences will allow you to deepen your understanding of Vietnamese culture and create lasting memories of your time in Hanoi.

Bustling and magnificent Mid-Autumn festival in hanoi
Bustling and magnificent Mid-Autumn festival in hanoi

28. Ride a bike through Hanoi

Exploring Hanoi on a bike is an excellent way to immerse yourself in the local life and uncover the city’s hidden gems. Don’t worry about the traffic – with a knowledgeable guide, you’ll be led through the safest and most scenic routes. Cycling goes beyond the Old Quarter, offering an authentic glimpse into the daily lives of Hanoians.

29. Eat “Phở” at Pho 10 Ly Quoc Su

  • Address: 10 Ly Quoc Su Ward, Hang Trong, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
  • Price: from 60.000 VND (~3$)
  • Opening hours: 6:00am – 10:00pm

Hanoi Pho is a legendary dish that captivates food enthusiasts with its rich flavors and harmonious blend of ingredients. Made from tender rice noodles, fragrant broth, and succulent beef, chicken, or fresh fish cakes, Hanoi Pho is a culinary masterpiece. It tantalizes the taste buds with its robust taste and is traditionally served with fresh herbs, condiments, and a squeeze of lime. If you’re seeking an authentic Pho experience in Hanoi, Pho 10 Ly Quoc Su is highly recommended. With its outstanding culinary quality and charming setting, Pho 10 Ly Quoc Su is the go-to destination for an authentic Hanoi Pho experience. 

30. Shop at Hanoi Weekend Night Market

  • Address: Hang Bac Ward, Hang Dao, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
  • Opening hours: from Friday to Sunday, from 7 PM until around midnight

Every weekend, the Hanoi Weekend Night Market opens at the bottom of the Old Quarter. Streets are closed to vehicles, and rows of market stalls offer various goods at very affordable prices, including clothing, accessories, souvenirs, toys, and more. It’s a great place to try street food and sweet treats.

Beautiful and crowded Hanoi Weekend night market
Beautiful and crowded Hanoi Weekend night market

Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a food lover, or an adventurer seeking unique experiences, Hanoi has it all. The 30 best things to do in Hanoi will leave you with cherished memories that will last a lifetime. So, pack your bags, set off on this exciting journey, and let Hanoi’s charm and allure take you on a rollercoaster ride of unforgettable moments. 

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