VietNam Travel

[MUST-SEE] List 15 places to visit in Hanoi

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Let’s take a deep dive into the bustling streets of Hanoi to truly understand Vietnamese culture. The capital of the nation, which is both a booming economic hub and fiercely holds on to traditional culture, manages to be a showcase for both traditional and contemporary Vietnam.

Hanoi has a ton of locations where you may retreat for some peace if the crowds start to get to you. See our list of the top Hanoi attractions and places to visit for additional sightseeing suggestions! 

1. Hanoi Old Quarter – the place that hold the Capital’s soul 

  • Admission: Free
  • Timing: 7 AM to midnight  
  • Address: North of Hoan Kiem Lake

The main draw for many tourists to visit the capital of Vietnam is wandering the streets of the historic district – Hanoi Old Quarter. It’s a charmingly run-down location where a curious piece of medieval building has managed to survive amidst the contemporary commotion of zipping motorbikes, street vendors, and pulsating commerce.

Hanoi Old Quarter - the place that hold the capital’s soul
Hanoi Old Quarter – the place that hold the capital’s soul

While exploring, keep an eye out for the area’s many examples of vernacular shophouse architecture, where merchants once lived above their stores in extremely long but narrow two-story homes that were crammed together on the alleyway rows.

This area’s backstreets offer a wonderful opportunity to experience Hanoi’s bustling street life. There is a wide variety of street food available, and there are many people selling fruits and vegetables on the sidewalks. Hopefully, viewers will visit Hanoi Old Quarter after reading this article!

2. Hoan Kiem Lake – the legendary tale and symbol of Hanoi  

  • Address: Dinh Tien Hoang Street
  • Admission: Free to the general public
  • Timing: Open all day

The serene Hoan Kiem Lake, which is located right on the southern tip of the old town district, is Hanoi’s most well-known sight. 

Hoan Kiem Lake 
Hoan Kiem Lake

Hoan Kiem Lake is admired for its beauty as well as insight into the daily life of Hanoians. Watch locals practicing their daily exercise and Tai Chi routines in the gardens by the water’s edge.  The small island with Ngoc Son Temple on it, which is connected to the lake by a red bridge, is the main tourist attraction. 

The stocky Turtle Tower is located on a different tiny island in the lake’s southern region, and is best observed from the bridge. If you have the opportunity, come and check in Hoan Kiem Lake right away!

3. Temple of Literature – a symbol of learning and culture in Hanoi 

  • Address: 58 Quoc Tu Giam, Dong Da
  • Admission: 30,000 VND
  • Timing: 8 AM – 5 PM, from November until March; 7:30 AM – 6 PM for the rest of the year, Tue-Sun

This stunning Confucian temple, which was first constructed as a university in the 11th century, is the most intriguing place of worship in the city. The Temple of Literature still exists today as a memorial to the nation’s academics.

Temple of Literature - the Hanoi’s first university
Temple of Literature – the Hanoi’s first university

Next to the entranceway, you can still see the names of former pupils carved into a row of pillars. Inside, a network of well-kept gardens leads to pavilions and a pagoda with a Confucius statue that is in good condition.

The site is one of the oldest in Hanoi and a national symbol of Vietnamese education and architecture. Today, the temple houses five courtyards, records of Vietnamese scholars, and statues of turtles which are said to bring students good luck in their exams.

4. Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum – a must-see in your trip to Hanoi 

  • Address: No 1, Hung Vuong, Dien Bien, Ba Dinh
  • Admission: 35,000 VND
  • Timing: 8am – 11am, Tue-Thu, Sat-Sun (December to September) last entry at 10:15am
  • Official site:

The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is a massive complex located inside the city’s gardens that contains a number of museums and monuments. This commanding construction was built to house the embalmed body of Vietnam’s greatest political leader, Ho Chi Minh. His embalmed body is kept in a glass case in the tomb, a stern marble structure. Visitors and Vietnamese queue for hours every morning to pay their respects to the cadaver.

Ho Chi Minh mausoleum 
Ho Chi Minh mausoleum

The Ho Chi Minh Museum, which is also part of the complex, offers a diverse collection that includes items that belonged to Ho Chi Minh personally and a wealth of knowledge about the background of the Vietnamese Revolution. 

5. Vietnam Museum of Ethnology – the best museum in Hanoi 

  • Admission: 40,000 VND
  • Timings: 8:30am – 5:30pm, Tue-Sun
  • Address: Nguyen Van Huyen, Nghia Do, Cau Giay 
  • Official site:

The large national collection is Hanoi’s Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, a must-visit for history buffs and museum enthusiasts alike. A succession of superbly well-curated displays tell the tale of Vietnam’s varied cultures.

This amazing museum examines the everyday life of Vietnam’s 54 ethnic minorities. Exhibitions display cultural costumes, handicrafts, videos and artifacts; while the outdoor space showcases impressive life-size replicas of ethnic architecture.

Vietnam museum of Ethnology 
Vietnam museum of Ethnology

Here, the numerous ethnic minorities that call Vietnam home are celebrated with lovely exhibitions of objects and art that feature metallurgy, woodwork carving, and traditional clothing. Along with the intriguing Giarai tomb, you can visit the rustic homes utilized by various ethnic minorities around Vietnam here.

6. Hoa Lo Prison Museum – Maison Centrale in Hanoi, Vietnam 

  • Address: 1 Hoa Lo, Tran Hung Dao, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
  • Timing: 8 AM – 5 PM
  • Highlights: Hoa Lo never turned out to be a successful prison as hundreds of inmates escaped its walls, and some managed to even squeeze through the sewer grates.

Hoa Lo Prison Museum was initially built by the French colonial administration in Hanoi in the late 19th century to house Vietnamese revolutionaries and any other dissidents of the French rule.

However, it is well known to many foreign visitors as the facility were American POWs were housed during the Vietnam War (also known as the American War in Vietnam). 

Hoa Lo Memorial Relic
Hoa Lo Memorial Relic

The French guillotine is also on exhibit, along with communal jail cells, solitary cells, and a courtyard on the prison grounds. There is a wealth of material on this site on Vietnam’s protracted struggle against French colonial power, including information about the harsh conditions that prisoners were subjected to. Two rooms also tell the story of the American POWs held here, with a video documenting their imprisonment and eventual release along with personal mementos of the prisoners.

7. Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre – Hanoi water puppet shows  

  • Address: 57b Dinh Tien Hoang, Hoan Kiem
  • Admission: 100,000 VND
  • Timings: 3:30pm, 5pm, 6:30pm, 8pm, 9:15 pm every day, and an additional performance on Sundays at 9:30pm
  • Official site:

If you’re traveling with kids, the water puppet shows in Hanoi are a fantastic way to see traditional Vietnamese art and entertainment. Dating back to the 11th century, water puppet performances are ideal for light entertainment and insight into Vietnamese folklore.

Thang Long water puppet theater 
Thang Long water puppet theater

The performances typically feature a live band playing traditional Vietnamese instruments and are based on well-known local legends. With five performances every day at the Municipal Water Puppet Theatre, Hanoi is the center of modern water puppet theater. You can combine sightseeing at Hoan Kiem Lake with watching water puppet shows at the theater. 

8. Imperial Citadel of Thang Long – the UNESCO World Heritage site in Hanoi

  • Address: 19C Hoang Dieu, Dien Ban, Ba Dinh, Hanoi
  • Timings: 8 AM – 5 PM
  • Highlights: You can come here to the Flag Tower of the Citadel to enjoy the expansive views of the Hanoi City Center and the Ba Dinh Square.
  • Official site:

The Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, despite it may not seem like much at first, was once the crucial center of military power in this country and remained to play a crucial strategic role up to the 1960s and the Vietnam War.

Due to its significant historical significance to Hanoi, the region was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010. Archaeological investigation has revealed the remains of numerous palaces that originally existed here, highlighting the area’s 1,000 years of history. There is also a bunker here that was used during the Vietnam War, and it is filled with military maps and implements.

Imperial Citadel of Thang Long - the UNESCO World Heritage site in Hanoi
Imperial Citadel of Thang Long – the UNESCO World Heritage site in Hanoi

9. Hanoi’s Train Street – a unique blend of culture and transportation 

  • Address: Tran Phu Street

Since passing trains barely leave roughly a 20-centimeter space between them and the residences in this narrow lane in central Hanoi, Hanoi’s Train Street has gained international fame.

The authorities decided to ban tourism on the street in 2019 and close the cafés in the alley due to safety concerns brought on by tourists behaving irresponsibly and failing to get out of the line of approaching trains.

Since then, some cafés along the road have reopened and there has been a change in attitude. If you’re here to take pictures of the trains, be sure to respect the people on the street and the employees of the cafe before the train passes.

The train schedule changes regularly, but there are usually more opportunities to see the trains go by on the weekends. 

Hanoi’s train street
Hanoi’s train street

10. Huong Pagoda Complex – a unique spiritual destination of the North 

  • Address: Huong Son commune, My Duc district, southwest of Hanoi

This Buddhist temple complex, also known as Huong Pagoda, is located on the cliff tops and slopes of Huong Tich Mountain.

Following a 60-kilometer drive south of the city, you can reach the Huong Pagoda by first taking a one-hour boat ride up a river surrounded by lush karst mountain scenery. From there, you can either take a cable car with stunning mountain views up to the temple complex or climb the mountainside.

The pagoda complex is an important place of pilgrimage for Vietnamese visitors, who come here to leave offerings for cures for childlessness and health issues as well as other problems.

Huong Pagoda Complex
Huong Pagoda Complex

11. St. Joseph’s Cathedral Hanoi – Paris in a glimpse! 

  • Admission: Free
  • Timing: 8am – noon, 2pm – 6pm, every day
  • Address: 40 Nha Chung, Hoan Kiem
  • Highlights: The area around the cathedral is as popular as the cathedral because the surrounding streets are lined with boutique stores, hotels and trees.

Saint Joseph’s Cathedral (also known as Hanoi Cathedral), was built on the site of the  Bao Thien Tower. When visiting, expect to see a multicultural crowd of worshippers and plenty of Vietnamese newlyweds having romantic photo shoots.

Saint Joseph’s Cathedral was built on the site of the  Bao Thien Tower
Saint Joseph’s Cathedral was built on the site of the  Bao Thien Tower

One of the most renowned landmarks of Hanoi’s colonial era has to be the St. Joseph’s Cathedral. You can come here to take a pleasant break from the Old Quarter to view the religious mural and glass-stained windows inside the church.

12. Hanoi’s Fine Art Museum – a Hanoi Art Treasure 

  • Address: 66P Nguyen Thai Hoc St, Hanoi 
  • Timings: 9:15 AM 5:00 PM
  • Highlights: You can revel in the beauty of the artworks at this museum as tour crowds have not crowded it like the Temple of Literature. The ceramic statues and wood carvings are bound to enamor you.

Art lovers and museum fans definitely need to make a pit stop at Hanoi Fine Art Museum that holds a collection of Vietnamese artistry from the prehistoric age right up to the country’s contemporary artists.

Hanoi's Fine Art Museum
Hanoi’s Fine Art Museum

A highlight of this destination is a coffee shop situated inside the building. There are both indoor and outdoor spaces for tourists to conveniently stretch their legs after the journey discovering every corner of the architecture. The shop is open daily from 7am to 10:30pm.   

The museum with its long-standing history, unique architecture, and countless interesting things to see is a great place to visit!

13. West Lake – poetic lake in the heart of Hanoi 

  • Address: Thuy Khue Street 

The largest lake in Hanoi is called Tay Ho (West Lake), with its 15-kilometer shoreline.

Although there are two noteworthy temples nearby, most locals come here to exercise by walking or riding the trail that round the shore.

West Lake - the biggest natural lake in Hanoi
West Lake – the biggest natural lake in Hanoi

Most tourists find West Lake to be an excellent location to enjoy fresh seafood at one of the many restaurants that are situated close to the shore while also getting a great view of the new Hanoi cityscape. 

14. Vinpearl Aquarium – the largest Aquariums of Hanoi 

  • Address: 458 Minh Khai, Vinh Tuy, Hai Ba Trung, Hanoi 
  • Timings: 9:30 AM – 10 PM

If you are all set out for a fun Hanoi sightseeing, do not miss out on the first, most modern and the largest Aquariums of Hanoi. This aquarium contains 3 million liters of water and houses some of the most exotic sea species.

Vinpearl Aquarium - the largest Aquariums of Hanoi
Vinpearl Aquarium – the largest Aquariums of Hanoi

Vinpearl Times City Aquarium is not only for entertainment purposes, but it is also a place of great educational significance. Besides being satisfied with a variety of strange, funny and colorful aquatic creatures, tourists to Times City Aquarium also have the opportunity to participate in educational tours designed for a wide range of audiences – especially students – to provide useful and captivating knowledge about the Ocean World. Have a great day in Times City Aquarium in your upcoming vacation!

15. Co Loa Citadel Hanoi – the oldest citadel of Vietnam

  • Address: Co Loa Commune, Dong Anh District, outskirt of Hanoi
  • Admission: VND 10,000

Just 16 kilometers northeast of central Hanoi, Co Loa Citadel makes a great day trip destination out of the city. This fortified settlement is one of the most important archaeological sites in the surrounding area and has been a site of habitation since the Bronze Age. 

Every year, on the 6th of first month of the lunar calendar, the Co Loa villagers organize a solemn festival to commemorate those who built up the Citadel, especially expressing their great attitude to An Duong Vuong King – the founder of feudal Au Lac Kingdom. The best way to travel to the Co Loa citadel is to take a biking tour and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere and natural landscape of the countryside of Hanoi with moat, rivers, and mounds.

Co Loa Ancient Citadel 
Co Loa Ancient Citadel

As described in this article, Hanoi has the ideal blend of culture, architecture, atmosphere, coffee, and food. It’s the most liveable city and a place we always look forward to visiting. In any case, we hope you found your vacation in Hanoi itinerary useful. Thanks for reading and have an amazing time in Vietnam!

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