Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam, a city rich in tradition, culture, and history. Hanoi is also an attractive destination for tourists, with many interesting things to discover and experience. Here are 19 things for you to do when visiting Hanoi, from famous landmarks to unique activities.
Hanoi is one of the oldest cities in Vietnam, and the old quarters are where many relics and cultural features of the capital are preserved. You can walk or cycle through the narrow streets, admire the old French architecture houses, enjoy street food, shop for handicrafts, or visit famous landmarks such as Hang Dao market, Ly Quoc Su pagoda, Thang Long puppet theater, or The Huc bridge…
2. Enjoy Hanoi food and coffee
Hanoi is a culinary paradise with many delicious and diverse dishes, from traditional dishes like Pho, Bun Cha, Banh cuon, Cha ca, Bun thang, Bun dau mam tom, to modern dishes like Banh mi, Banh goi, or Banh troi… You should not miss the opportunity to enjoy the unique coffee of Hanoi, such as Egg coffee, Milk coffee, Blended ice coffee, or Civet coffee… You can find eateries and coffee shops everywhere, from street vendors, sidewalk cafes, to restaurants, luxury cafes.
3. Participate in Vietnamese cooking classes
If you want to learn how to cook Vietnamese dishes, you can join cooking classes organized by professional chefs or families in Hanoi. You will be guided on how to choose ingredients, how to prepare, how to present, and how to enjoy dishes in Vietnamese style. You can also learn many interesting things about culinary culture and the life of Hanoi people through these cooking classes.
4. Walk and sightsee around Ho Guom
Ho Guom, also known as Hoan Kiem Lake, is one of the symbols of Hanoi, and is an ideal place to walk and sightsee. You can see the harmony between nature and architecture, between the past and the present, between the tranquility and bustle of Hanoi through the landscapes around the lake, such as Ngoc Son temple, The Huc bridge, Turtle tower, or the water puppet theater. You can also meet and chat with local people, or participate in cultural activities such as playing chess, Sap dance, or Ca tru…
5. Visit Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam
The Temple of Literature – Quoc Tu Giam is one of the most important historical and cultural relics of Hanoi, and a place that honors the knowledge and scholarship of Vietnam. The Temple of Literature is a temple dedicated to Confucius and his disciples, while Quoc Tu Giam is the first university of Vietnam, where officials and scholars were trained. You can admire the ancient architecture, doctoral steles, statues and paintings of Confucius and his disciples, as well as items and documents related to the history of education in Vietnam at the Temple of Literature – Quoc Tu Giam.
6. Experience the thrill of “Train Street”
“Train Street” is an area along the railway line in Hanoi, where many houses and shops are close to the track. You can experience the thrill of walking on the tracks, and witness the unique scene when the locals quickly move their belongings and narrow their living space when the train passes by. You can also explore the life and culture of the residents here, and try street food like banh mi, iced tea, coffee, or draft beer…
7. Visit museums in Hanoi
Hanoi has many museums worth visiting, where you can learn about the history, culture, art, science, and technology of Vietnam. Some notable museums are the National History Museum, Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, Vietnam Fine Arts Museum, Ho Chi Minh Museum, Vietnam Aviation Museum, Post Office Museum, or Air Defense – Air Force Museum. You can admire artifacts, works, and models related to various topics, and participate in interactive and experiential activities at these museums.
8. Watch the flag-lowering ceremony at Ba Dinh Square
Ba Dinh Square is the site of important historical events in Vietnam, such as Ho Chi Minh’s declaration of independence in 1945, and his funeral in 1969. You can watch the flag-lowering ceremony at Ba Dinh Square every evening, which involves soldiers and tourists. You will witness a solemn and meaningful ritual, and feel the patriotic spirit and pride of the Vietnamese people.
9. Visit Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is the resting place of the father of the Vietnamese nation, who led the resistance against France and the United States, and made significant contributions to the unification and development of the country. You can visit Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum on weekday mornings, and see his embalmed body preserved in a glass coffin. You can also visit places related to his life and career, such as the historical mansion, the lotus house, or the Ho Chi Minh Museum.
10. Visit Hanoi Opera House
Hanoi Opera House is a beautiful and historical architectural work in Hanoi, built in French style at the end of the 19th century. The theater hosts high-quality art programs, such as opera, ballet, musicals, or classical music. You can buy tickets to watch art programs at the theater, or participate in tours to explore inside the theater, such as the performance room, exhibition room, or makeup room.
11. Visit Hanoi Cathedral
St. Joseph’s Cathedral, also known as Hanoi Cathedral, is one of the prominent religious architectural works in Hanoi, built in Gothic style in 1886. The church is a place of worship for Catholics, and organizes major festivals, such as Christmas, Easter, or St. Joseph’s Day. You can visit the church at any time, and admire the beauty of the church, such as the high dome, stained glass windows, or the bell tower.
12. Learn about Hoa Lo Prison
Hoa Lo Prison is one of the painful historical relics of Hanoi, where many Vietnamese and American political prisoners were imprisoned and tortured during the resistance period. The prison was built in 1896 by the French colonists and was nicknamed the “hell prison”. You can visit the prison to learn about the life and spirit of the prisoners, and see the artifacts, documents, and images related to the prison.
13. Explore Imperial Citadel of Thang Long
Hoang Thanh Thang Long is a world cultural heritage site and is the political, cultural, and historical center of Hanoi. The royal citadel was built in 1010 by King Ly Thai To and was the residence of the feudal dynasties of Vietnam. You can explore the royal citadel to admire the ancient architecture, such as Dai Quang Minh gate, Dien Kinh Thien palace, or Do temple. You can also see archaeological relics, such as storage tunnels, landscape ponds, or ceramic items.
14. Visit ancient temples in Hanoi
Hanoi is a city with many ancient and revered temples, which show the respect and faith of the people towards Buddhism. Some famous temples are Tran Quoc Pagoda, One Pillar Pagoda, Tay Phuong Pagoda, Thay Pagoda, or Huong Pagoda. You can visit the temples to light incense, pray, or admire the Buddha statues, the steles of the monks, or the decorative motifs.
15. Experience nightlife in Ta Hien Street
Ta Hien Street is one of the bustling and famous pedestrian streets of Hanoi, where you can experience the nightlife of the capital. You can enjoy street food, such as banh mi, banh xeo, banh trang tron, or nem chua ran. You can also drink draft beer, coffee, or cocktails at bars, pubs, or restaurants. You can also interact and get acquainted with tourists and locals, or participate in fun games and activities.
16. Shop at Dong Xuan Market
Dong Xuan Market is one of the largest and oldest markets in Hanoi, where you can shop for a variety of affordable items, such as clothes, shoes, accessories, souvenirs, electronics, or household goods. You can also enjoy delicious and special dishes of Hanoi, such as bun cha, pho, banh cuon, or cha ca. You can also explore the historical and cultural areas of the market, such as Dong Xuan Church, Dong Xuan Spinning Mill, or Dong Xuan Cheo Theater.
17. Experience shopping at Hanoi night market
Hanoi Night Market is an attractive shopping and entertainment activity in Hanoi, where you can find unique and attractive items, such as handicrafts, jewelry, antiques, or toys. You can also try the typical dishes of Hanoi, such as banh ran, banh tom, banh goi, or banh khoai. You can also participate in folk games, such as tug of war, bowl smashing, or blindfolded goat catching. Hanoi Night Market usually takes place on weekend evenings, from Hang Dao Street to Dong Xuan Street.
18. Watch Thang Long Water Puppetry
Water puppetry is a unique and distinctive traditional art form of Vietnam, where puppets are controlled by using wooden rods and strings under water. You can watch water puppetry at Thang Long Puppet Theater, which has many performances on various topics, such as legends, folk stories, or daily activities. You can also listen to folk music, such as Dan Bau, flute, or drum, and enjoy the humorous and creative performances of puppet artists.
19. Visit traditional craft villages in Hanoi
Hanoi has many famous traditional craft villages, where you can learn about handicrafts and products of artisans. Some notable craft villages are Bat Trang pottery village, Van Phuc silk village, Dong Ho painting village, Chuong conical hat village, or Hang Ma lantern village. You can visit the workshops, see the manufacturing processes, shop for quality products, or try your hand at crafts. You can also explore the cultural and historical features of the craft villages, such as temples, communal houses, or festivals.
Hanoi is a diverse and vibrant city, where you can find many surprises and interesting things. You can enjoy distinctive cuisine, visit historical monuments, or simply immerse yourself in the bustling life of the locals here. Hanoi is also a gateway for you to explore other regions of Vietnam, such as Halong Bay, one of the natural wonders of the world. Wish you a memorable and meaningful trip to Hanoi.