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Best Things to do in Hanoi City


You will never be stuck for something to do in Hanoi, where ancient and proudly preserved Vietnamese culture is felt most keenly by visitors, and progress wrestles with tradition in different districts of the city. Hanoi is actually over 1000 years old so the wealth of history here is mind boggling: temples, ancient citadels, unique theatre and stunning wilderness just outside the city all offer fun-filled days in Vietnam’s capital. Make sure to visit as many of these attractions in Hanoi as possible because they all offer entertainment, beauty and education at different turns. Below are best things to do in Hanoi that you should try when being here.

1. Walk Around Hoan Kiem lake and visit Ngoc Son Temple

Hanoi’s most well-known landmark is tranquil Hoan Kiem Lake, nestled just on the southern edge of the old town quarter. The major tourist attraction upon the lake is the small island (reached by a red bridge) that holds Ngoc Son Temple. This lake is said to have a mythical resident turtle who is the hero of a Vietnamese legend. Locals will tell you that the turtle still swims in the lake, although you will also spot many other real-life turtles here when you go to visit. The main draw now is to take in the pretty vistas across the water and this is the perfect place to go for an afternoon stroll in Hanoi.

2. Exploring Old Quarter

Undoubtedly, the Old Quarter in Hanoi is where you can soak in the Vietnamese culture. Here you will have the chance to observe French colonial architecture that made this city so special.


Packed with charming colonial architecture, Buddhist temples and pagodas, the Old Quarter, located near Hoan Kiem Lake in Hoan Kiem District, is Hanoi’s major commercial district. Its heart and soul is exposed in the ancient commercial streets which are named after their original businesses dating back about 1,000 years.


Here you will find densely packed streets which still retain all the charm of a small local neighborhood.The names of the streets will tell you which shops you will find there, so if you see one called Hang Gai then this means that you will find Silk Shops all along that road.


It is the busiest tourist attraction where you can find small streets with many street vendors, selling food and souvenirs on the street.


At the old quarter don’t forget to try the traditional and famous Bánh mì. The baguette sandwich is delicious and you can choose the filling. Chicken, pork, bacon, eggs and a secret mixture, a kind of patê made from insides and herbs. Rob tried and like it, I ate only the vegetarian Bánh mì with egg & veggies.  

Old Quarter Nightlife

Other parts of Hanoi might quiet down at night but the Old Quarter is where night owls head to. Live music, discos, clubs and bars as well as decent karaoke joints are the norm here. Though the numbers might be limited compared to other large Asian cities, what’s on offer here is well enough to keep people from all walks of life happy and university students, office staff and expats are among the friendly crowds.


Recommended Tours in the Old Quater

This walking food tour takes you around the best places in Hanoi’s Old Quarter where you can sample loads of local dishes. Another tour we can recommend is the Hanoi Walking and Cyclo Tour– This tour takes you around Hanoi Old Quarter by cyclo, allowing you to really get a feel of the local culture. During this tour, a local guide will show you where to find the best markets and cafes.

Recommended Hotel in the Old Quater

3. Watch a performance at Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre

When you are in Hanoi, one of the sights that you absolutely mustn’t miss is a trip to the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre.


The world-famous Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre in Hanoi has its roots in an art form that dates back to the 11th century. The tradition of water puppet theatre stems from a time when rice paddy fields were flooded and villagers would make entertainment by standing in the waist-deep water with the puppets performing over the water.


This tradition is unique to North Vietnam but has recently found fame on stages all over the world; so it’s a rare treat to see the puppets perform in their original location at the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre


Here you will find a theatre that features a waist high pool of water that the puppeteers stand in.They then operate puppets which are fixed to long bamboo canes and it looks as if they are dancing on the surface of the water.


The shows here usually tell you the story of local legends and farming stories or Vietnamese myths are also common.


The average ticket price of this show is about  $11.


You can book the Skip the line ticket here or buy a Hanoi Cyclo City Tour Including Water Puppet Show and Hotel Pickup.

4. Stroll around the Imperial Citadel

The Imperial Citadel in Hanoi used to be the seat of military power in Vietnam and would have been an important spot during the Vietnam War.


This is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and you can enjoy some 1,000 years of history here.


One of the signature elements of the citadel is the archaeological treasures which were uncovered such as the foundations of ancient palaces.


You will also find bunkers here which date from the time of the Vietnam War and you can browse collections of weaponry and even see military maps.


Address: 19C Hoang Dieu, Ba Dinh, Hanoi

Opening Hours: 8:00 am – 12:30 pm & 1:30 pm – 7:30 pm (From Tuesday to Sunday)

Price: 30 000 VND (1,4 USD)

5. Visit the Temple of Literature

A place of pilgrimage for many Vietnamese, the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is a sprawling complex set within the city’s gardens that contains the tomb of Ho Chi Minh as well as various museums and monuments. The actual mausoleum itself is an austere marble building where Ho Chi Minh’s embalmed body sits in a glass case. Also within the complex is the Ho Chi Minh Museum, which has an eclectic collection containing Ho Chi Minh’s personal memorabilia as well as plenty of information on the history of the Vietnamese Revolution. Also worth a visit is the stilt house, once home to Ho Chi Minh, which is excellently preserved, and the One Pillar Pagoda. This pagoda is a reconstruction of the original 11th-century temple, which was destroyed by French colonial troops.


  • Address: 2 Hung Vuong, Dien Ban, Ba Dinh, Hanoi
  • Price: 25 000 Dong (1,1 USD)
  • Opening hours: Tue, Wed, Thu from 8:00 am – 11:00 am; Saturday and Sun from 8:00 am – 11:30 am; Closed Monday and Friday.

6. Visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

Hanoi’s most well-known landmark is tranquil Hoan Kiem Lake, nestled just on the southern edge of the old town quarter. The major tourist attraction upon the lake is the small island (reached by a red bridge) that holds Ngoc Son Temple. This lake is said to have a mythical resident turtle who is the hero of a Vietnamese legend. Locals will tell you that the turtle still swims in the lake, although you will also spot many other real-life turtles here when you go to visit. The main draw now is to take in the pretty vistas across the water and this is the perfect place to go for an afternoon stroll in Hanoi.

7. Visit Vietnam Museum of Ethnology

Vietnam Museum of Ethnology has become an attractive destination not only for domestic tourists but also for international travelers. When visiting the museum, visitors will have the opportunity to learn about the history and culture of 54 ethnic minority brothers in Vietnam with a variety of cultural features.

The museum is divided into three main galleries. There are two spaces, one space for the temporary exhibition on the second floor, and one for the first floor to display the identity of 54 ethnic groups. The second exhibit area is the outdoor gallery. This is a green garden in which there are 10 folk works with different types of architecture. Finally, the Southeast Asian exhibit hall was built in 2008, which displays artifacts and images of Southeast Asian art.


  • Address of Vietnam Museum of Ethnology: Nguyen Van Huyen Street, Cau Giay District, Hanoi
  • The telephone number of Ethnographic Museum: 024-3836-0352
  • Opening hours:
    8:30 to 17:30 all days except Mondays and Lunar New Year.
  • Tickets to visit the Museum of Ethnology – Common fare: 2 US$/person

8. Trying Pho

Each country has its own national dish that is world famous and nothing is more uniquely Vietnamese than Pho.

Pho Vietnam is recognized as one of best must-try 40 dishes on the planet by the famous magazine Business Insider. In addition, Pho Vietnam is also named as the “next Asian dish of the day” by the Los Angeles Times.


Probably no one has ever tried this dish once and does not like this delicious noodle soup.

The price for one is about 2 US $. Visitors can visit the famous pho Hanoi such as pho in Dinh Liet, pho Ly Quoc Su, pho Nha Chung, Pho Bat Dan, pho Thin


  • Dinh Liet: 24B Trung Yen, Dinh Liet, Hang Bac, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
  • Ly Quoc Su: 10 Ly Quoc Su, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi.Nha Chung: 40 Nha Chung, Hang Trong, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
  • Bat Dan: 49 Bat Dan, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
  • Thin: 13 Lo Duc, Hai Ba Trung, Hanoi

9. Drinking beer at Ta Hien Street, Hanoi, Vietnam

Ta Hien Street is known as the first street where the majority of foreign tourists set foot on when coming and before leaving Hanoi. Therefore, everyone is familiar to call Ta Hien Street with the name “Pho Tay”.


With the length of about 100 meters from Hang Buom to Hang Bac, Ta Hien is one of the most famous streets in the center of the old town. This street attracts a large number of young people and foreign tourists every after evening. With adjacent bars and houses, people find this small street a perfect place to have a beer and chat with friends.


There are lots kinds of beer for you to choose, including draught beer, bottled beer, cask ale or black beer. Vietnamese beer is reviewed sweet and pretty slight, so you can take more than 5 mugs without getting drunk. The snack foods to serve with the beer are also diverse, from traditional ones such as nem Phung, fried nem, nem, boiled peanut to Western ones such as fried chip, cheese stick… The prices are generally

10. Observing the whole city from a high building

Have you ever wondered how Hanoi looks like from a high view? The answer is that it is amazing and you absolutely should give a try! Hanoi is a capital city with many skyscrapers. Once you stand on the terrace of a high building and observe it, the city is like a universe with a thousand stars shining. Also, you will have the chance to admire the sky which you can hardly see when you are on the streets. Then grab your buddies and spend a while chilling with stars and cloud. Lotte Observation Deck is the most highly-recommended one. Check this out because it is one of the most exciting things to do in Hanoi at night.

Lotte Observation Deck

  • Address: No.54 Lieu Giai Street, Cong Vi Ward, Ba Dinh District
  • Tel: (+84) 243 333 6000
  • Website: lottecenter.com.vn

11. Visit Tran Quoc Pagoda

Tran Quoc Pagoda is one of the oldest Buddhist temples in Hanoi. Situated on a small island on West Lake, Hanoi, the pagoda is famous for its history and becomes the icon of Hanoi today. Not only a place of worship, Tran Quoc Pagoda also attracts visitors for its cultural background and symbolic architecture.

Address: Thanh Nien Street, Yen Phu Ward, Ba Dinh District

  • Opening hours: daily from 07:30 to 18:00
  • Entrance fee: free
  • Tel: (+84) 243 8293 869

12. Walking or cycling around West Lake

Hanoi West Lake is the largest natural lake in Hanoi, with an area of over 500ha and a circumference of 18km. It is located in the northwest of the capital.


West Lake is one of the famous destinations in Hanoi capital, where many historical and cultural relics associated with the development of Hanoi. The beauty of West Lake is a romantic, poetic charm in colorful paintings of Hanoi. You can truly find the peace when walking around the lake.

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