Packed with top things to do, the city of Hanoi, Vietnam is famous for its active nighttime and day time activities. It has lively streets lined with small food stalls and local art shops.
The city of Hanoi, which is also known as the Paris of the east, is a marvelous blend of eastern and western culture. This French colonial city is known for its colonial buildings, rich history, beautiful lakes and intriguing fables and legends.
The resilient and hardworking locals of Hanoi, although marred by a violent history, keep the city’s streets alive by their entrepreneurial spirit and unique traditions.
Hanoi’s best things to do
Overall, the city boasts a lively energy and is a suitable destination for those with wanderlust. There are many 5 star hotels in Hanoi to accommodate luxury travelers. If you want to marvel at Hanoi’s rich heritage, enjoy the modern amenities and relish in its exotic offerings, then make sure to visit these attractions when you plan a trip to Hanoi.
Here are top tourist activities in Hanoi, Vietnam, in no particular order:
1. Shop at Dong Xuan Market
Dong Xuan market is the biggest indoor wholesale market in North Vietnam. Colorful and huge, the Dong Xuan Market is known for the fantastic flavors and incredible crafts that Vietnam has to offer.
Initially built in 1889 by the French in the old quarter of Hanoi, the market was expanded in 1995 and has 3 floors now. Boasting over 2,000 booths and roomy walkways, the Dong Xuan market is every budget traveler’s delight.
It offers a wide variety of goods—souvenirs, clothing, wine, sweets, fashion items, shoes and even fresh seafood. The Dong Xuan market has designated areas for different goods, for instance, on the ground floor, you will find seafood, but if you want accessories or souvenirs, you will have to go to the upper levels. Hence, finding what you need in the market is quick and convenient when you are short on time.
Buy small trinkets to treasure your memories or whatever pleases your eyes. The market is also a great place to score some fantastic deals and discounts.
Address: Dong Xuan, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi 100000
2. Pick Up Local Crafts at Quat Dong Embroidery Village
46 minutes away from south of Hanoi, this beautiful village of Quat Dong in the Thuong District has some of the best local crafts of Vietnam. This village is known for its embroidery artworks, and it has preserved its reputation since the 17th century.
Vietnam’s traditional hand embroidery is traded internationally because of its fantastic quality and vibrancy and many embroidered creations are made by multi-generational craftswoman.
Fine table cloths, pillows, frames, sheets and more items are embroidered with the scenic views of the countryside or the fantastic folktales of the past. On your trip to Hanoi, visit this village and pick up a few souvenirs for your friends and family!
Address: Quat Dong, Thuong Tin, Hanoi
3. Try Vietnamese Egg Coffee at café Giảng
Egg coffee is a unique coffee with a distinctive flavor. You will find various shops in Hanoi that sell this egg coffee drink. However, Café Giảng, located in the Ba Dinh district, is the pioneer of this special treat. Hence, if you are visiting Hanoi, then this place is a must visit.
Established in 1946, this quaint coffee joint sells the best egg coffee in Vietnam. Prepared fresh with egg, sugar, coffee and cocoa powder, this thick, sweet and stimulating delight is perfect to have as breakfast or as dessert after a warm meal.
Whether you are a big fan of coffee or not, make a quick stop at Café Giảng and indulge in this creamy and sweet coffee.
Address: Café Giang, 106 Yen Phụ Street, Nguyen Trung Truc Ward, Ba Dình District, Hanoi
4. Visit Ho Chi Minh Museum
If you’re passionate about history, then you will love a trip to the Ho Chi Minh Museum. The museum displays many artifacts and documents the life and trials of Vietnam’s former leader, Ho Chi Minh. This memorial museum is a mini time capsule waiting to be unlocked.
As you walk through the marvelous structure, you are bound to be awed by the story behind its architecture. Built by 1975, the museum was constructed by materials donated by locals from all across Vietnam.
This museum is built where Vietnam’s leader read the Declaration of independence. Hence, it is a top tourist destination in Hanoi if you want to learn about Vietnam’s independence and Ho Chi Minh’s role in it.
Address: 19 Ngọc Hà, Đội Cấn, Ba Đình, Hà Nội 10000 | Phone: +84 24 3846 3757
5. Visit the Hanoi Ancient House
One of the oldest constructions currently in Hanoi, the Ancient House is special to Hanoi since it boasts a traditional pre concrete era construction style. Well preserved and a snapshot of the old Hanoian lifestyle, this house lets tourists understand the way of life of 19th century Hanoians.
Nestled amongst modern structures, this ancient house has intricate and intriguing carvings on doors and wooden staircases. Additionally, the layout includes a yard and tiny balcony for cross ventilation. If you want to understand the old Hanoian lifestyle, then this ancient house is open to tourists for a small price.
Address: 87 Pho Ma May, Hang Buom, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
6. Relax at the Hoan Kiem Lake
If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the Old Quarter’s streets, then Hoan Kiem Lake is the place to go. It’s known not just for its peaceful atmosphere but also its intriguing history. This lake is associated with an old legend; the emperor Le Loi is believed to have received a magical sword from a Golden Turtle to defeat Ming China at this Lake.
Surrounded by exotic flora and fauna, the tourists can bask in the unique view of the jade colored lake. Besides this, tortoises occasionally emerge from the still waters, which are a delight for both travelers and locals.
Situated at the center of the lake is a splendid temple, which is accessible for barely $1. Known by the name Ngoc Son Temple, this 18th century structure rests on Jade Island, which is accessible by a red colored bridge called the ‘Rising Sun’. If you wish to see the lake in its illuminated glory, then visit the Hoan Kiem Lake late after sunset as it is decorated with lights at that time.
Address: Dinh Tien Hoang, Hang Trong, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
7. Visit the National Museum of Fine Arts
Situated across the Temple of Literature, the National Museum of Fine Arts is nestled inside a colonial building in Ba Dinh. Preserving the local heritage, the walls and rooms are brimming with culture, art and everything in between.
From traditional Vietnamese ceramics, pottery and Buddhist monk statues to traditional attire, the museum is a treasure trove of pre historic and modern pieces. The breathtaking vivid paintings adorning the walls and the restored pieces ravaged during the Vietnam War make for a spellbinding experience.
Address: 66 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Dien Bien, Ba Dinh, Hanoi
8. Explore the Temple of Literature
Having served as a school for students of the Mandarin language in the past, the temple is a 10th century architectural marvel. Dedicated to Confucius, it also served as an educational hub for the elites and the royals too.
Built in the traditional Vietnamese architectural style, the red and white colors of the structure are iconic. Besides this, the Temple of Literature is a fantastic spot for tourists as the incredibly preserved building stands out and is regarded as Hanoi’s most picturesque attraction.
Address: 58 Quoc Tu Giam, Van Mieu, Dong Da, Hanoi 100000
9. Enjoy the Local Cuisine and Street Culture
Energetic performances, indulgent drinks and decadent meals— Hanoi’s street culture is every traveler’s dream come true. See the city from the eyes of the locals and indulge in local delicacies to get a true Hanoi experience.
Besides this, enjoy a few pints of locally brewed beers at Ma May Street or traditional desserts and Pho and Banh Mi sandwiches at Hang Bac street. In 2016 famed chef Anthony Bourdain treated former President Obama to bun cha, which is fatty grilled pork served with noodles. They ate at Bun cha Huong Lien.
Low plastic stool, cheap but delicious noodles, cold Hanoi beer. pic.twitter.com/KgC3VIEPQr
— Anthony Bourdain (@Bourdain) May 23, 2016
If you want to relax and feel like a true local, then visit the reputed jazz club at Trang Tien street to enjoy live music by the locals. If you are confused about where to start your street journey from, then opt for a local street food and culture tour for a seamless experience.
10. Watch a Puppet Theatre Performance
Adorable and exciting, these are the two words that best describe the traditional art of water puppetry of Hanoi. This rich performance dates back to the 11th century, although most skits and shows are now performed with a contemporary twist. You can catch a show year round at the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre.
Reserve a slot in your itinerary for a show as seeing old fables and myths come to life in a musical theatre setting is a mesmerizing and one-of-a-in experience. In fact, the live performances and remarkable skills of puppet masters are a must-watch if you want to make the most of your trip to Hanoi.
Address: 57B Đinh Tiên Hoàng, Hàng Bạc, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội 100000
Hanoi’s vibrant culture, fascinating history and delightful cuisine make it an ideal destination for travelers. Now that you know the hot spots to visit, enjoy your trip to Hanoi!