Ha Noi, Viet Nam

Founded over 1000 years ago, Vietnam’s capital city is rich in history, with the streets of its rambling Old Quarter dating back to the 14th century. Wandering these tree-lined lanes past crumbling colonial facades will transport you back in time. However, today’s Hanoi is about much more than the past. The ancient city is being invigorated with modern cafes, world-class restaurants, and cool art galleries. When the sun goes down, you have your pick of watering holes, from sophisticated rooftop bars to buzzing bia hơi.

Top things to do in Hanoi

1. Sample the street food

For an authentic taste of Hanoi, look to the street kitchens of the Old Quarter. Steaming pots of its star anise-infused Phở broth simmer on every corner; while every day, the scent of bún chả fills the air as barbecued pork sizzles over hot coals.

2. Stroll the Old Quarter

Hanoi’s Old Quarter serves up a sensory overload. Wisps of incense drift out onto streets from ancient temples, while the clang of blacksmiths’ hammers mingles with mobile fruit sellers’ call. Jump in a cyclo and tour this intoxicating maze.

3. Explore Hanoi’s cafe culture

Fast-paced on the surface, the true rhythm of Hanoi life is far from hurried and is reflected well in its leisurely coffee hours. Alongside traditional coffee houses, an ever-growing band of unique cafes serve new brews in cool caffeine dens.

4. Check out the art scene

Hanoi is Vietnam’s art capital. The elegant Fine Arts Museum houses the country’s foremost collection, such as ancient Cham artifacts and impressionist pieces. For something more contemporary, head for Manzi or the Vietnam Art Gallery.

5. Join the locals at Hoan Kiem Lake

Hoan Kiem Lake rests in the heart of Hanoi. Every morning it comes alive with walkers, aerobics classes, and even a laughing yoga group; and bursts back into activity at sunset, thronged with locals taking in the evening air.

6. Ha Noi Weather

Hanoi is most inviting from April to June, but the capital is particularly beautiful in May when trees suddenly come into bloom. September and October are also excellent months to visit as temperatures cool and the sky clears.

7.Ha Noi Transport

Vietnam’s capital is served by Noi Bai international airport, 45km from the city centre. The Reunification Express line has trains to many major destinations including Lao Cai (Sapa) and Dong Hoi (Phong Nha.) There are many options for getting around Hanoi, including taxis, buses, and motorbikes. Grab, and a few other ride-hailing apps offer on-demand services for getting around. Hanoi’s bus network has an extensive network around the city and low-cost fare. Finally, the classic cyclo can be hired to take you around the Old Quarter on a sightseeing tour.
Hanoi will simultaneously surprise, charm and chew you up. Founded along the Red River, Hanoi was named Thang Long (soaring dragon) by Emperor Ly Thai To in 1010. Over a thousand years of war, natural disasters and new administrations, the city grew from swamplands into the charismatic capital it is today. Take in details of the ancient architecture, battle the barrage of millennials on motorbikes and drink fresh bia hơi in the Old Quarter. Here are 11 must-see stops in Hanoi.

8. Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Soldiers stand guard the entrance of Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum.
This commanding construction was built from 1973 to 1975 to house the embalmed body of Vietnam’s greatest political leader, Hồ Chí Minh. Visitors and Vietnamese queue for hours every morning to pay their respects to the cadaver, dressed in a khaki wardrobe and encased in a glass sarcophagus.

Admission: 35,000 VND
Hours: 8am – 11am, Tue-Thu, Sat-Sun (December to September) last entry at 10:15am
Address: So 1, Hung Vuong, Dien Bien, Ba Dinh

9. One Pillar Pagoda

One Pillar Pagoda Hanoi. The unique one pillar pagoda in the middle of a lotus pond.
This Buddhist wooden pagoda was built in the middle of a lotus pond on a single stone pillar by the Emperor Ly Thai To in 1049. Archives suggest it was built in honor of the Goddess of Mercy, who answered the Emperor’s prayers for a male heir. The structure is designed to resemble a lotus flower blossoming from muddy waters, a symbol of purity in Buddhist philosophy.

Admission: 25,000 VND
Hours: 8am – 11:30am everyday, and 2pm – 4pm, Tue-Thu, Sat-Sun
Address: Chua Mot Cot, Doi Can, Ba Dinh

10. The Old Quarter

The Old QuarterAt the top of Hoan Kiem Lake, Dinh Tien Hoang ’roundabout’ is a great starting point for exploring the alleys of the Old Quarter.
Hanoi’s historic Old Quarter is a single square kilometre comprised of 36 streets. Since the 15th century, each street has been home to artisans and craftsmen who traded in the specific merchandise for which their street was named. Today, the charm of these streets still remains. Prepare to marvel as you wander from silver street to bamboo street, silk street to decoration street, all within a stone’s throw of each other.

TIP: At night, head down to bia hơi corner (the intersection between Ta Hien and Luong Ngoc Quyen) to sample sensational street food and bargain brews.

Admission: Free
Hours: 7am to midnight
Address: North of Hoan Kiem Lake

11. Hanoi Opera House

Opera House HanoiThe Opera House is at the edge of Hanoi’s French Quarter, where a few colonial buildings have been well preserved.
Constructed at the turn of the 20th century, this beautiful colonial building is the largest theater in Vietnam. After nearly 100 years of operation, the Opera House was carefully refurbished in 1997 and equipped with state-of-the-art facilities. Today the venue attracts renowned performers, productions and musicians.

TIP: Culture lovers should book tickets to see ‘My Village’ at the Opera House. This impressive showcase combines acrobatics, traditional dance and music.

Admission: 300,000 VND
Hours: Check the website for performances
Address: So 01, Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem

12. Vietnamese Women’s Museum

Vietnamese Women’s MuseumThis museum boasts a floor on textiles of ethnic groups, women’s crucial role in wartimes and even their practices as mediums of the ‘Mother Goddess’ worship.
The Vietnamese Women’s Museum is one of the most modern museums in Vietnam. Housing a series of excellent exhibitions presenting artefacts, costumes, crafts, memoirs,and photographs from the past 100 years, the museum reveals the pivotal role of Vietnamese women in their country’s history and society.

Admission: 30,000 VND
Hours: 8am – 5pm, Tue-Sun
Address: 36 Ly Thuong Kiet, Hang Bai Ward, Hoan Kiem

13. The Water Puppet Theatre

Water Puppet Theatre HanoiLive music is always performed alongside the puppeteering with traditional instruments and delicate vocals.
Dating back to the 11th century, water puppet performances are ideal for light entertainment and insight into Vietnamese folklore. Wading around in waist-deep water holding bamboo poles, puppeteers operate the lacquered wooden characters from behind a screen, reenacting scenes from rural village life.

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

14. Hoan Kiem Lake

Hoan Kiem Lake HanoiTurtle Tower rests at the centre of ‘the Lake of the Restored Sword.’
Legend says Emperor Ly Thai To was gifted a magical sword by a giant golden turtle who lived in the lake in order to defeat the Ming dynasty. Once victorious, Ly Thai To gave the sword back to the turtle who dove down to return the sword to the gods. 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.

Admission: Free to the general public
Hours: Open all day

15. Ngoc Son Temple

The Ngoc Son Temple, or The Temple of the Jade Mountain, is situated on a small tree-sheltered island on the north side of Hoan Kiem Lake. Connected by a stunning scarlet bridge, this classic Vietnamese structure was built in honour of the intellectual scholar Saint Van Xuong, and national hero General Tran Hung Dao. In 1884, the Confucian scholar made a series of renovations to the site, including adding parallel sentences (câu đối) or word puzzles to the walls.

Admission: 20,000 VND
Hours: 7:30am – 5:30pm, every day
Address: Hoan Kiem Lake

16. Temple of Literature

Temple of Literature Vietnam TourismThe main gate of the nation’s oldest university, be sure to visit during lunch time to avoid crowds.
Built by Emperor Ly Thanh Tong during the Ly dynasty, the Temple of Literature (Văn Miếu in Vietnamese) was erected in honour of the philosopher Confucius and his disciples in 1070. In 1076, it became home to Hanoi’s first university, Quốc Tử Giám. The site is one of the oldest in Hanoi and a national symbol of Vietnamese education and architecture. Today, the temple houses five court yards, records of Vietnamese scholars, and statues of turtles which are said to bring students good luck in their exams.

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

17. Museum of Ethnology

The Museum of Ethnology HanoiThe gardens feature traditional structures, including the communal houses of the Bahnar or Giarai ethnic groups which can reach up to 30 metres high.
This amazing museum examines the everyday life of Vietnam’s 54 ethnic minorities. Designed by ethnic Tay architect Ha Duc Linh and French architect Veronique Dolfus, the museum hosts three main exhibition areas. Exhibitions display cultural costumes, handicrafts, videos and artefacts; while the outdoor space showcases impressive life-size replicas of ethnic architecture.

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

18. Saint Joseph’s Cathedral

St. Joseph’s CathedralThe cafes by the Cathedral are a perfect spot to watch the bustle of Hanoi.
Saint Joseph’s Cathedral (also known as Hanoi Cathedral), was built on the site of the Bao Thien Tower, which was the most famous landmark in the capital during the Ly Dynasty. The architect was inspired by the Neo-Gothic style of the Notre Dame de Paris. When visiting, expect to see a multicultural crowd of worshippers and plenty of Vietnamese newlyweds having romantic photo shoots.

Admission: Free
Hours: 8am – noon, 2pm – 6pm, every day
Address: 40 Nha Chung, Hoan Kiem

Top 10 Must-Try Dishes In Hanoi, And Where To Eat

Hanoi has undoubtedly one of the most diverse and unique cuisines in Asia and the world with its colorful flavors of sweet sour spicy and the crunchy texture of fresh herbs that dial down the strong flavors, creating a culinary harmony in your mouth. Here are the top 10 dishes you MUST try as a tourist in Hanoi, Vietnam.

1. Pho Bo (Beef Noodle Soup)

THE classic Vietnamese signature dish is probably one of the best foods Hanoi has to offer, this dish consists of the aromatic soup, filled with slices of beef, rice noodles and a plateful of fresh herbs. There are many places that sell this Hanoi food. One of the best place to eat Pho in Hanoi is Pho Gia Truyen. Be sure to get there early, as there is usually a long line!

*Recommended place to eat in Hanoi:Location: Pho Gia Truyen Bat Dan

Address: 49 Bát Đàn, Cửa Đông, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội

Hours: 6-10AM; 6-8.30PM Mon-Sun

Distance from our hotel: 1 km – 13 min walk

2. Bun cha (Vermicelli Noodle with Grilled Pork)

Bun Cha was the dish that president Obama fell in love with when he first came to Hanoi. Understandably so as this is one of the most flavorful and outstanding dishes of Vietnamese cuisine. Bún chả is served with grilled fatty pork over a plate of white rice noodle and herbs with a side dish of dipping sauce. The dish was described in 1959 by Vietnamese food writer Vu Bang (1913–1984) who described Hanoi as a town “transfixed by bún chả.” Hanoi’s first bún chả restaurant was on Gia Ngư, Hoàn Kiếm District, in Hanoi’s Old Quarter.

*Recommended places to eat in Hanoi:

Bun Cha Ta Hanoi:

Address: 21 Nguyễn Hữu Huân, Lý Thái Tổ, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội

Hours: 8- 10PM

Distance from our hotel: 450 m – 5 min walk

Bun cha Dac Kim:

Address: 1 Hàng Mành, Hàng Gai, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội

Hours: 9AM- 9PM

Distance from our hotel: 850 m – 10 min walk

Bun cha Huong Lien:

Address: 24 Lê Văn Hưu, Phan Chu Trinh, Hai Bà Trưng, Hà Nội

Hours: 8AM- 8:30PM

Distance from our hotel: 1.8 km – 9 min by car

3. Bun rieu cua (Crab Vermicelli Noodle)

HanoiFreshwater crabs flavor this tangy tomato soup that’s made with round rice vermicelli and topped with pounded crabmeat, deep-fried tofu and, often, congealed blood. An odoriferous purple shrimp paste is offered on the side — it tastes delicious. Chilies and fresh herbs are the finishing touches for a complete one-dish meal. When northern Vietnam’s lush rice paddies are flooded, they’re the source of gray – shelled crabs roughly the size of a silver dollar. At Hanoi wet markets, vendors pry off the crustacean’s top shell, scoop out its fat and pound the rest of the body to bits in large mortars or electric grinders.

*Recommended place to eat in Hanoi:Location: Bun rieu Hang Luoc

Address: 14 Hàng Lược, Hàng Mã, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội

Hours: 6-10AM

Distance from our hotel: 1 km – 14 min walk

4. Cha ca Ha Noi (Turmeric Fish with Dill)

There is an entire street in Hanoi dedicated to this special dish. This is Cha Ca La Vong — one of the oldest eateries in Hanoi, Vietnam, and the first to set up shop on Cha Ca Street, over a century ago. Hanoi’s most famous dish Cha ca dates back more than 130 years. It was first invented by the local Doan family, who served the special dish to troops during French colonial rule. There’s a street in Hanoi that’s entirely dedicated to chả cá — a vermicelli noodle dish with turmeric-spiced catfish that diners grill themselves.

*Recommended place to eat in Hanoi:

Location: Cha Ca Thang Long

Address: 21 – 31 Đường Thành, Cửa Đông, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội

Hours:10AM – 9.39PM

Distance from our hotel: 1 km – 13 min walk

5. Banh mi (Vietnamese Baguette)

While its origins are French, the Vietnamese have made it distinctively their own. Generally speaking it is an airy Vietnamese baguette made with a combination of wheat and rice flours with a thin crispy crust.It is stuffed with pork, pâté, cured ham, a mélange of Vietnamese herbs and vegetables like coriander, cucumber, carrot, slices, radish and more depending on what part of the country you are in. A wealth of textures and flavors, you will savor spicy, salty, savory, sweet, and aromatic tastes in each bite.

*Recommended places to eat in Hanoi:

Bánh Mì 25

Address: 25 Hàng Cá, P, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội

Hours: Open ⋅ Closes 9PM

Distance from our hotel: 950 m – 12 min walk

Banh Mi Hoi An

Address: 98 Hàng Bạc, Hàng Buồm, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội

Hours: Open ⋅ Closes 10PM

Distance from our hotel: 550 m – 7 min walk

Banh Mi P

Address: 12 Hàng Buồm, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội

Hours: Open ⋅ Closes 1:30AM

Distance from our hotel: 650 m – 8 min walk

6. Banh cuon (Rolled Cake)

Banh Cuon, a type of rolled rice flour pancake, is an ordinary dish which could be found with no difficulty in wherever in Hanoi. Banh Cuon is a common breakfast for many Hanoians because it is cheap and served quickly. However, if you have time, Banh Cuon nong (hot rolled rice flour pancake), served right after being made, is highly recommended for you. Here we suggest tourists a list of top 5 best places to try Banh Cuon in Hanoi, which has been appreciated by many gourmets in the Vietnamese capital.

*Recommended place to eat in Hanoi:

Location: Banh cuon nong
Address: 101 Ba Trieu Street, Hai Ba Trung district, Hanoi.
Distance from our hotel: 2.2 km – 8 min by car

7. Xoi xeo (Sweet Sticky Rice)

Xoi xeo or sweet sticky rice usually comes with staple toppings of green mung bean paste, soy sauce, and dried shallots, but you can opt for a variety of add-ins such as pate, boiled chicken, cha lua (Vietnamese ham), marinated pork belly, or preserved eggs for a more substantial meal. Some restaurants also serve xoi xeo as dessert, topped with dried coconut shavings, roasted sesame seeds, and crystallised sugar. An inexpensive yet prominent xoi xeo restaurant is Xoi Yen, where you can enjoy a basic bowl for VND 15,000, with additional ingredients between VND 15,000 and VND 30,000.

*Recommended place to eat in Hanoi:

Location: Xoi Yen

Opening Hours: Daily 07:00 – 22:00

Address: 35B Nguyen Huu Huan, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi

Tel: +84 43 934 1950

Distance from our hotel: 350 m – 4 min walk

8. Nem ran (Deep Fried Vietnamese Spring Rolls)

Vietnamese Style Deep Fried Spring Rolls (Cha Gio/Nem Ran) can be served all year round, and present in almost every menu of Vietnamese restaurants abroad: A dish that is so famous that many locals of Vietnam assume it as their own specialty and give it their own name such as: “Nem Ran” by northerners and “Cha Gio” by southerners. Ingredients used for the fried spring roll are different depending each local but usually it comprises of lean minced pork, sea crabs or unshelled shrimps, edible mushroom, dried onion, duck/chicken eggs, pepper, salt and different kinds of seasoning. There are also special variants of the traditional pork-based roll, such as Crab spring rolls or Nem Cua Be.

*Recommended places to eat in Hanoi:

Noodle and Roll :

Address: 39C Lý Quốc Sư, Hàng Trống, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội

Hours: 10AM – 10PM

Phone: 091 561 32 23

Distance from our hotel: 850 m – 10 min walk

Viet Spring Rolls

Address: 65A Bát Đàn, Cửa Đông, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội 008404

Hours: 8 AM – 10PM

Phone: 098 510 51 65

Distance from our hotel: 1 km – 13 min walk

9. Goi cuon (Vietnamese Fresh Spring Rolls)

Gỏi cuốn,Vietnamese spring roll, fresh spring roll or cold roll is a Vietnamese dish traditionally consisting of pork, prawn, vegetables, bún (rice vermicelli), and other ingredients wrapped in Vietnamese banh trang (commonly known as rice paper or cold roll). Like other spring roll dishes, they are believed to have an origin in China and were introduced to Vietnam by Chinese immigrants although the gỏi cuốn has been modified to suit local tastes.

*Recommended place to eat in Hanoi:

Cuon N Roll Restaurant
Address: 3 Ngõ Bà Triệu, Lê Đại Hành, Hai Bà Trưng, Hà Nội 10000
Hours: 10:30AM – 10PM
Phone: 024 3978 1096
Distance from our hotel: 2.6 km – 10 min by car

10. Pho Cuon (Rice Noodle Roll)

Pho Cuon translates to Rice Noodle Roll, which makes sense since each Pho Cuon is a big rice noodle rolled around beef and green herbs like cilantro and basil. For the equivalent of US $2, we got a heaping plate. We dipped each roll in a bowl of Nuoc Cham, a sweet dipping sauce with a fish sauce base and flavors like sugar, vinegar and chili.

*Recommended place to eat in Hanoi:

Location: Phở Cuốn Hưng Bền

Address: 33 Ngũ Xã, Trúc Bạch, Ba Đình, Hà Nội

Hours: 9AM – 11PM

Phone: 091 676 41 41

Distance from our hotel: 2.8 km – 9 min by car

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