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What to do in Hanoi

Updated: Mar 30

One of the cities you can't miss in Vietnam, in this article we share with you all our tips about Hanoi. How to get there, how to get around, and what to do in this city. If you are planning a visit to Hanoi this article is for you.

Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam and is located in the north of the country.

It is one of the cities we most like to visit in Southeast Asia because it is so unique and different from all the others. We can describe it in two words: intense and chaotic.

If you are planning to visit Vietnam, you definitely cannot miss Hanoi!

This city combines history and culture, with a unique atmosphere and delicious cuisine. From the historic temples, motorbikes everywhere, and constant horns to the authentic flavors of the local cuisine, the city has a lot of life!

Throughout this article, we will give you tips on what to do in Hanoi, how to get there, how to get around, and the places and experiences that you absolutely cannot miss.

If you are planning a trip to various places in Vietnam, don't miss our previous article, where we shared a 15-day itinerary in Vietnam.

Disclaimer: In this article you will find some links to different travel's partners. They are all trustworthy and if you use some of them to book an experience or stay, for example, you are helping us maintaining the work we do on this project.

How to arrive

Hanoi is a great entry point into the country, it has an airport that serves several international routes, in addition to receiving many buses and trains coming from neighboring cities and countries.

How to get from the airport to the city center:

  • Taxi: There are several authorized taxi companies at the airport. When you arrive, you will find several taxi drivers. Make sure you choose an official taxi and avoid unauthorized drivers. This is the most comfortable option to get to the city center. The journey takes around 30 minutes.

  • Transfer Service: Many hotels offer airport transfer services for guests. Contact your hotel in advance to find out if this service is available.

  • Bus: Bus Express 86 connects the airport to the city center, with stops at Hanoi Old Quarter and Hanoi Railway Station. The journey takes around 1 hour, depending on traffic. In 2023, the price was 45,000 VND.

How many days to stay in Hanoi

As the country's capital, Hanoi is rich in history, and there is no shortage of things to see and do.

The number of days to enjoy this city will always depend on your interests and the time you have available for this trip. However, we think the ideal time is between 2 and 3 days.

Furthermore, from here it is possible to take one or two-day trips to other locations, such as Halong Bay or Ninh Binh.

How to get around Hanoi

Hanoi is a huge city, so we recommend staying in the city center. This way, you will be able to reach the main points of the city on foot.

If you don't like walking, there are also other options:

  • Taxi: Taxis are available throughout the city. Don't forget to always negotiate the price, as usually the first price they say is always very high.

  • Grab: Grab is the Uber of Asia, so you can use the app to order a car or a motorbike, and, this way, you already know what the amount charged will be at the end of the trip.

  • Public bus: Hanoi has a large network of public buses that cover many areas of the city, this is the economical option.

  • Rent a motorbike: If you have experience driving a motorbike, you can choose to rent one. This way, you can explore the city independently. However, don't forget that traffic in Hanoi is chaotic, especially in the central areas of the city.

What to do in Hanoi

Hoan Kiem Lake

Hoan Kiem Lake is one of the most visited places in Hanoi. In the center of the lake, there is Tháp Rùa (Turtle Tower), dedicated to a legendary golden turtle.

This lake is very popular with locals throughout the day. They start exercising early in the morning around the lake, and during the rest of the day, it is a place where they enjoy relaxing.

Around the lake, there are many restaurants and cafes where you can try the local cuisine.

During the weekend, the streets around the lake are close to traffic and become the site of various activities such as dancing, small concerts, and other activities for children.

Turtle Tower
Turtle Tower

Ngoc Son Temple

Ngoc Son Temple is a temple located on a small island in Hoan Kiem Lake. It is connected to the bank by a beautiful red bridge.

The temple features architecture that showcases traditional Vietnamese design elements such as curved roofs and red walls.

The entrance ticket costs 30,000 VND and it is open every day from 8 am to 6 pm.

Templo Ngoc Son
Templo Ngoc Son

Dong Xuan Market

Immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere of Dong Xuan Market, Hanoi's largest covered market. Here, you will find a wide variety of products, from fresh food to local crafts.

It's the ideal place to explore and absorb the vibrant energy of traditional Vietnamese commerce.

During the weekend, there is the Hanoi Weekend Night Market, which is located between Hoan Kiem Lake and Dong Xuan Market. The market is huge and the streets are very busy, you can't miss out on trying the local cuisine!

Train street 

One of the most famous places in Hanoi is "Train Street". This is a narrow street surrounded by buildings and cafes, where the train passes.

Currently, due to some incidents with tourists, it is not allowed to enter this street freely. To do this, you must go to one of the cafes on this street. When you approach the street, you are immediately approached by locals who ask you if you want to go for a coffee.

This unique experience is worth having, watching the train pass just a few meters away while enjoying a cozy atmosphere in the local cafes.

Old Quarter

Hanoi's historic center is centered around the Old Quarter. In this region, you can easily get lost in the narrow streets, full of traditional shops and lively markets.

In these streets, you can find everything: clothes, flowers, jewelry, fabrics, shoes, restaurants, spices, etc. This area offers an authentic shopping experience and the opportunity to absorb Hanoi's daily life.

Temple of Literature

Built-in the 11th century, the Temple of Literature is one of the oldest and best-preserved sites in Hanoi. Dedicated to the Chinese philosopher Confucius, the temple was Vietnam's first university.

During your visit, you can stroll through its courtyards and appreciate the traditional architecture. It's a popular place for Vietnamese people to take end-of-course photos.

The ticket costs 30,000 VND and is open every day from 8 am to 5 pm.

This historic landmark is worth exploring to understand Vietnam's rich cultural heritage.

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

A visit to Hanoi would not be complete without visiting the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum.

This imposing monument honors the Vietnamese revolutionary leader - Ho Chi Minh - and here, you can see the president's embalmed body.

Visiting the mausoleum offers an immersive experience of Vietnamese history.

The mausoleum is open every day from 7 am to 5 pm and costs 25,000 VND.

Important: If you intend to visit this place, wear modest clothing, with shoulders and knees covered.

Quan Thanh Temple and Trấn Quốc Pagoda

This is the oldest pagoda in Hanoi, built in the 6th century. It is a popular place for Vietnamese people to pray and meditate.

Entrance is free and it is next to West Lake, which is a great place to relax and where you can pedal boat across the lake. Many people take the opportunity to watch the sunset here.

Try the Local Cuisine

Hanoi is a paradise for food lovers. Be sure to try local dishes like Pho (rice noodle soup), Bun Cha (vermicelli with grilled meat), and Banh Mi (Vietnamese sandwich). We recommend Banh Mi 25, which is one of the best-known places in the city to try these famous Vietnamese baguettes.

Egg Coffee is another great specialty in Vietnam. This coffee contains beaten egg yolk and condensed milk, which gives it a very creamy texture. It's delicious! We suggest Giang Cafe or The Note Coffee (a colorful cafe where you can stick a post-it written by you on the wall and leave your mark on this city).

The streets of Hanoi are full of small restaurants and street food stalls, offering an authentic gastronomic experience.

If you have questions about where to go, you can always take a street food tour with GetYourGuide. This way, you know that every place you go to eat has proper hygiene measures.

Watch a water puppet show

Finally, you can't miss one of Vietnam's arts: water puppetry.

Watch a water puppet show, where the stage is a swimming pool and the puppets are manipulated by the artists behind a backdrop.

During the show, the puppets portray the daily lives of Vietnamese villagers, highlighting agricultural and fishing activities, children's games, and romantic moments.

Water adds a special dimension to the performance, allowing the puppets to float and glide smoothly.

This show provides a unique experience, immersing yourself in the culture and traditions of Vietnam.

In short, Hanoi is a city that captivates with its culture and tradition. If you follow these suggestions, you will have the opportunity to discover the cultural riches, explore the historic streets, and experience the unique charm of this Vietnamese city.

We hope you love this city as much as we do.

Enjoy and have a good trip!

Staying Connected

If you plan to visit Vietnam, don't forget that mobile data does not work outside the European Union!

The best solution to stay connected to the Internet is to buy an eSIM or a local SIM. This time we used a Local SIM, but in other travels, we bought an eSIM at Airalo, and it always worked well. Just have a phone compatible with eSIM and buy the card through the Airalo app. It's very easy!

Get Travel Insurance

It is essential to be prepared for any trip you take, especially outside of Europe. Unexpected events happen, and no one wants to come back from vacation with a huge hospital bill to pay. That's where travel insurance comes in, an indispensable ally to ensure tranquility and safety for your holidays.

IATI offers numerous types of travel insurance depending on your type of trip and various coverages. Moreover, by purchasing insurance through our link, you get a special 5% discount.

Don't let unforeseen events ruin your adventure!

Click here to get your discount.

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