• Travel to Hanoi 2024 – A Complete Guide for Your First Time in Hanoi

    Le CongJanuary 31, 2024
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    Hanoi is the capital and second-largest city of Vietnam, a country with a rich and diverse culture, history, and cuisine. It is a popular destination for travelers who want to experience the charm and beauty of this Southeast Asian nation. In this guide, we will provide you with useful information and tips on how to plan your trip to Hanoi, what to see and do, where to stay and eat, and how to get around.

    10 Reasons to Visit Hanoi

    1. Explore Hanoi Old Quarter, with its narrow streets, traditional architecture, and bustling markets.
    2. Enjoy the French Quarter, with its beautiful colonial buildings, cafes, and shopping.
    3. Taste the delicious street food available all over the city, especially Pho and Banh mi
    4. Discover the old art form of water puppetry at the Thang Long Puppet Theater.
    5. Visit the numerous museums showcasing Vietnam’s rich cultural heritage.
    6. Experience the unique atmosphere of Hanoi Train Street.
    7. Visit traditional villages surrounding Hanoi, such as Bat Trang, Van Phuc, and Dong Ho.
    8. Taste the local beer, Bia Hoi made daily and served fresh from the keg.
    9. Refresh with a glass of Nuoc Mia, a popular drink made from sugarcane juice.
    10. Sample Vietnamese coffee, strong and flavorful, with unique variations such as yogurt, eggs, and fruit.

    Practical Information

    Where to Stay in Hanoi

    Here are the 3 best areas to stay in Hanoi:

    Hanoi Old Quarter: Intense, chaotic & colorful

    Hanoi French Quarter: Generous, elegant & colonial

    Hanoi West Lake: Chill, zen & international

    → Read more: The 3 Best areas to stay in Hanoi from Favourhoods

    ATMs and Money Exchange

    Hanoi has many ATMs and currency exchange services available. Gold and jewelry stores often offer the cheapest rates for exchange, without any additional fees. These stores provide surprisingly fair exchange rates and are a good option for tourists looking to exchange currency.

    → Read more: The best places to exchange money in Hanoi

    Vietcombank and the ATM on Cau Go street

    Local Events and Holidays

    During your travel to Hanoi, in addition to enjoying delectable specialties and exploring iconic landmarks, attending festivals in Hanoi is a fascinating activity that should be added to your bucket list. These festivals offer a captivating window into the soul of Hanoi, showcasing the pride, resilience, and vibrant spirit of its people. Read on to discover some celebrations that you should not miss out on!

    Hanoi can be very busy during holidays. The photo was taken on September 2nd, 2023, which is Independence Day, at the St Joseph Cathedral in Hanoi.
    • Giong Festival – one of Hanoi’s oldest and most popular festivals

    The Giong Festival is a prestigious intangible cultural heritage of humanity recognized by UNESCO. It features sacred ceremonies like processions, cleaning of the Saint Giong statue, and incense offerings. Visitors can also enjoy traditional folk games and music.

    • Perfume Pagoda Festival in Hanoi

    The Perfume Pagoda Festival is a must-see for anyone seeking a deeper connection to Hanoi’s heritage. Visitors can enjoy breathtaking mountain landscapes, rice fields, and limestone caves on the way to the temple. During the three-month festival, the temple is adorned with garlands, candles, and gold accents, creating a vibrant atmosphere for tourists to immerse themselves in.

    • Mid-Autumn Festival

    The Mid Autumn Festival in Vietnam is one of the most significant cultural events. If you plan to visit Vietnam during the 8th lunar month, make sure not to miss this Full Moon event. Also known as the Full Moon Festival, it holds great importance for the locals. Celebrated on the Full Moon night (the 15th day) of the 8th lunar month, when the moon is believed to shine the brightest throughout the year, children enthusiastically take to the streets with star lanterns, and moon cakes, and listen to folklore tales.

    The star lanterns at Kim Ngan communal house on Hang Bac Street.
    • Christmas in Hanoi

    During Christmas, Hanoi transforms into a captivating wonderland that embraces the festive spirit with open arms. The city’s vibrant decorations, bustling markets, and exciting events make it a remarkable destination to experience the magic of Christmas. The best place to enjoy the city’s atmosphere during Christmas is the Hang Ma Street in the Old Quarter of Hanoi.

    Hang Ma Street During Christmas
    • Tet Holiday (Lunar New Year) in Hanoi
    Ha Trung Street

    Tet, or the Vietnamese New Year, is coming very soon. Hanoi is cold this time of year, but the atmosphere is wonderful. People are busy shopping for this special holiday, buying candy, fruits, gifts, and lucky money envelopes. Tet is also a time to reunite with friends and family.

    >>> Read more: Tet in Hanoi

    Food Allergies

    Hanoi is known for its vibrant street food scene, but it can be challenging for those with food allergies. To help, we’ve developed a photo for people with peanut allergies to show at restaurants in Vietnam. We’re also working on creating more photos for different dietary preferences or restrictions, like veganism or aversion to coriander.

    Planning Your Trip to Hanoi

    Before booking your flight and packing your bags, there are some things to consider when planning your trip to Hanoi. Here are a few:

    • Visa: Depending on your nationality, you may need a visa to enter Vietnam. You can check the visa requirements and apply online at the official website of the Vietnam Immigration Department (https://www.xuatnhapcanh.gov.vn/). You can also get a visa on arrival at the airport, but you will need to have a pre-approved letter from a travel agency or an online service. The visa fee varies depending on the type and duration of your visa.
    • Weather: The best time to visit Hanoi is from October to April when the weather is mild and dry. The average temperature is around 20°C (68°F), and the humidity is low. This is also the peak season for tourism, so expect more crowds and higher prices. If you want to avoid crowds, you can visit Hanoi from May to September when the weather is hot and rainy. The average temperature is around 30°C (86°F), and the humidity is high. This is also the low season for tourism, so you can find cheaper deals and fewer people. However, be prepared for occasional thunderstorms and floods.
    • Currency: The official currency of Vietnam is the Vietnamese dong (VND). You can exchange your money at banks, hotels, or authorized exchange booths. You can also withdraw cash from ATMs, which are widely available in the city. The exchange rate as of August 2023 is 1 USD = 23,000 VND.
    • Language: The official language of Vietnam is Vietnamese, a tonal language that uses the Latin alphabet with some additional diacritics. English is widely spoken in tourist areas, hotels, restaurants, and shops. However, it is always helpful to learn some basic phrases in Vietnamese, such as hello (xin chào), thank you (cảm ơn), sorry (xin lỗi), and how much (bao nhiêu).
    • Culture: Vietnam has a rich and diverse culture that reflects its long history and influences from China, France, and other neighboring countries. Some of the cultural aspects that you should be aware of when visiting Hanoi are:
      • Dress code: Avoid wearing shorts, skirts, or tops that are too revealing or tight-fitting. You should also remove your shoes when entering temples or pagodas.
      • Tipping: Tipping is not mandatory in Vietnam, but it is appreciated by service providers such as taxi drivers, tour guides, hotel staff, or restaurant staff. You can tip around 5% to 10% of the bill or more if you are satisfied with the service.
    • Transportation: the mode of transportation available in Hanoi includes buses, taxis, motorbikes, bicycles, and trains. You can choose the mode of transportation according to your convenience and budget.
      💡 Read Quang’s guidelines for Hanoi Transportation here

    Things to do in Hanoi

    Hanoi Old Quarter

    Hanoi Old Quarter is a must-see for its narrow streets, traditional architecture, and bustling markets. It has a rich history dating back over 1,000 years when it was the center of commerce and trade, divided into guilds and streets that specialized in different products.

    The last blacksmith in the city on Lo Su Street in the Old Quarter

    >>> Check out: Self-Guided Tour: Hanoi Old Quarter

    → It’s best to have a passionate local friend to discover the hidden parts of this fascinating town. Join our special experience: The Hidden Hanoi Old Quarter Tour here.

    Hanoi Old Quarter is renowned for its local food shops, cafes, and historical sites.
    The local beer corner in Hanoi

    Hanoi French Quarter

    Hanoi’s French Quarter is a charming neighborhood boasting beautiful colonial buildings, cafes, and shopping. It features French and Vietnamese-style architecture, designed by French architects. Visit the Hanoi Opera House, Presidential Palace, and Sofitel Legend Metropole Hotel to get a glimpse of Hanoi’s rich cultural heritage.

    Hanoi’s French Quarter is a charming neighborhood boasting beautiful colonial buildings, cafes, and shopping. Hanoi Metropole Hotel in the Hanoi French Quarter

    → Read more: 21 Best Things to Do in Hanoi’s French Quarter – From Famous Local Cafes to Iconic Ice Cream

    → Read more: Hanoi’s Colonial Architecture – Top 10 Centenarian Works of French Architecture in Hanoi

    Hanoi Street Food & Vegan Street Food

    In Hanoi, street food stalls are ubiquitous, with vendors selling local food from sidewalk stalls along the side of the road. Each stall specializes in a certain dish, and everything is freshly made. Discovering the top vegetarian and vegan restaurants in Hanoi can be difficult. However, we have you covered! Join us for a remarkable walking tour of the best vegan/vegetarian food and get a glimpse into the lives of the locals.

    >>> Check out: Top 21 BEST Street Food in Hanoi Old Quarter

    Water Puppet Show

    The Thang Long Puppet Theater is widely regarded as the best and original theater, showcasing the old art form of water puppetry.

    Hanoi Heritage House at 87 Ma May Street

    The house resembles a small museum, showcasing the lifestyle of a wealthy family residing in the Old Quarter of Hanoi. It features traditional furniture, such as tables and chairs, and offers a living space that provides insight into the lives of the locals from the past. Conveniently located in the center of the Old Quarter, it is easily accessible for visitors. Admission tickets are priced at 10,000 VND, and the staff are available to guide you during your visit.

    Address: 87 Ma May Street

    Price: 10,000 VND

    Hanoi Heritage House at 87 Ma May Street

    >>> Check out: The Heritage House of 87 Ma May, Hanoi

    Museums

    Hanoi has plenty of museums showcasing historical artifacts and artwork that provide a glimpse into the rich cultural heritage of Vietnam. The Army Museum is a must-see for history buffs, with exhibits dating back to ancient times.

    Discover Cultural Treasures at Hanoi’s Museum of Ethnology

    → Read more: The Most Fascinating Museums in Hanoi, Vietnam from Culture Trip

    Hanoi Train Street

    Recently, due to safety concerns expressed by railway authorities, makeshift coffee shops and selfie hotspots along the train street have been shut down. Visitors can no longer walk along the train street, but can still see the place and the passing train at the entrance located at 5 Tran Phu Street.

    → Read more: Visit Hanoi Train Street, here’s how to do it!

    Hanoi Train Street

    Traditional Villages

    Several traditional villages surrounding Hanoi offer a glimpse into rural Vietnamese life and crafts. Bat Trang is known for its ceramic pottery, Van Phuc for silk weaving, Quang Phu Cau Incense Village, the Duong Lam ancient village, and Dong Ho for woodblock printing.

    → Read full Things to do in Hanoi

    Quang Phu Cau Incense Village

    Sunset view in Hanoi

    Hanoi is beautiful, especially when the sun sets. One of the best places to enjoy a panoramic view of the entire city is Skyline Hanoi. From there, you can see Hoan Kiem Lake, the French Quarter, and the Old Quarter, including the historic Long Bien Bridge. For alternative options, you can also consider the Red River Bank and the West Lake area on Thanh Nien Street.

    Hanoi Skyline with the best view to enjoy the sunset

    Visit the Dong Xuan Market

    The Dong Xuan market area is an interesting local market with a wide variety of goods. You can take a stroll through the market and explore the sections that sell silk. However, my favorite area is where the locals sell a range of spices, including lemongrass, chilies, kamquat, and garlic. This area is vibrant and well-organized. Just be mindful not to block the shops, as it may upset the shop owners.

    >>> Check out: Dong Xuan Market – The Biggest Local Market in Hanoi

    My favorite area is where the locals sell a range of spices, including lemongrass, chilies, kumquat, and garlic

    Food and drinks

    Bia Hoi

    Bia Hoi is a light and refreshing beer that is brewed daily and served fresh from the keg. It has become a staple of Hanoi’s social scene.

    Two guests from the Philippines enjoy the local bia hoi with host Cong at 55 Bat Dan Street.

    → Read more: Bia hoi: Hanoi local beer – a unique drinking culture

    Craft Beer

    Craft beer is becoming increasingly popular in Hanoi. You can enjoy the unique flavors of local craft beer, ranging from jasmine to dragon fruit. Whenever I have friends visiting me, I always take them to my favorite beer shop located at 1 Au Trieu, just behind the St. Joseph Cathedral in Hanoi.

    Address: 1 Au Trieu, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi

    Pasteur Street Craft Beer – Hoan Kiem Taproom & Restaurant at 1 Au Trieu Street

    Nuoc Mia

    Nước Mía, sometimes called Mía đá, is a refreshing and popular drink in Hanoi, especially during the hot and humid summer months. It is made by extracting the juice from pressed sugarcane sticks.

    Vietnamese coffee

    Strong and flavorful Vietnamese coffee can convert people as quickly as it raises their pulse. Although French colonists introduced coffee to Vietnam, the morning cup of ca phe soon became a local habit. Vietnamese coffee has developed its own unique style, with variations that make use of yogurt, eggs, and even fruit. Coffee in Hanoi is so popular that you can enjoy it almost at every corner of Hanoi while enjoying seeing your friends and family.

    → Read more: A guide to Vietnamese coffee from Lonely Planet

    Pho

    To truly experience Hanoi, you must try Pho. Pho is a popular dish enjoyed by people of all ages in Vietnam. Starting your day with a hot bowl of Pho for breakfast, accompanied by a cup of coffee, is the perfect way to begin. There are numerous places where you can try Pho, ranging from street vendors to upscale restaurants, each offering its own unique flavor and taste. Our personal favorites are Pho 10 located at 10 Ly Quoc Su, and Pho Bat Dan. With its delicious broth, soft noodles, and garnished with spring onions, Pho is a delight to the senses. The good thing about restaurants in the north of Vietnam is that they always provide spices on the table, allowing you to add more chili sauce, black pepper, garlic, and lime to customize the taste to your preference.

    Pho 10 at 10 Ly Quoc Su Street

    Vegan and Vegetarian advice

    Vietnam is a great place to visit! Friendly locals, stunning sights, and plenty of activities. The food is the best part – with dishes to suit any dietary needs or restrictions. This guide will help you navigate all your options.

    → Read more: Vegan and vegetarian food in Vietnam

    Nightlife

    Get ready to immerse yourself in the enchanting atmosphere of Hanoi’s nightlife streets. Neon lights illuminate bustling crowds, and the air is filled with the aroma of delicious street food.

    Explore the 13 most exciting night adventure destinations along Hanoi’s nightlife streets. Let the energy, authenticity, and unique experiences of Hanoi’s vibrant nights enhance your travel journey and leave you with cherished memories.

    1. Ta Hien Street – a famous Hanoi nightlife street

    • Address: Ta Hien Ward, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi

    Known as Beer Street, Ta Hien Street is a popular destination for beer enthusiasts and night owls. With vibrant bars and pubs lining the street, you can enjoy a cold Vietnamese beer while soaking up the lively ambiance and engaging in conversations with fellow travelers.

    2. Hang Buom Street

    • Address: Hang Buom Ward, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi

    Located in the heart of Hanoi Old Quarter, Hang Buom Street offers a diverse range of culinary delights, from Vietnamese cuisine to international street food.

    3. Trang Tien Street

    • Address: Trang Tien Ward, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi

    This is one of the most famous streets of 36 Street Hanoi, where you can find authentic Trang Tien ice cream.

    4. Tong Duy Tan Food Street – a must-visit Hanoi nightlife street

    • Address: Cua Nam Ward, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi

    Tong Duy Tan is known for its delicious and affordable Hanoi street food. Here, you will be overwhelmed by the multitude of vibrant eateries.

    5. Hanoi Nightlife Walking Street – Hoan Kiem Lake Walking Street

    • Address: Hang Trong Ward, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi

    Hoan Kiem Lake, intertwined with numerous legends and myths, is a deeply spiritual place. During the weekends, the surrounding area transforms into Hoan Kiem Lake Walking Street filled with various activities, from music performances to traditional Vietnamese games.

    6. Long Bien Bridge

    • Address: Ngoc Thuy Ward, Long Bien District, Hanoi

    Built as the first bridge spanning the Red River, Long Bien Bridge is a witness to countless events in Hanoi. During the day, the bridge is bustling with traffic. At night, the area becomes peaceful and beautiful, and it is one of the most beautiful spots to admire the sunrise and sunset in Hanoi. Since cars are not allowed on the bridge, you can explore it on a motorbike, bicycle, or by walking.

    7. Dong Xuan Market Street Food

    • Address: Dong Xuan Ward, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi

    As an iconic landmark of Hanoi, Dong Xuan Market is a bustling hub of trading activities. Visitors can explore the vibrant market area, especially in the evening. This Hanoi night market street is filled with crowded food stalls that offer famous street snacks and delicacies.

    8. Quang Ba Flower Market

    • Address: No. 236, Au Co Street, Quang An Ward, Tay Ho District, Hanoi

    For plant lovers, Quang Ba Flower Market is a must-visit destination. At around 2 am, the market comes alive with lights, bustling sounds of vehicles, and busy crowds of buyers and sellers. On this Hanoi night market street, visitors can find the most beautiful bouquets at affordable prices. This is a unique destination for those who prefer to sleep during the day and explore at night in Hanoi.

    9. Phung Hung Mural Street

    • Address: Hang Ma Ward, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi

    Phung Hung Mural Street is a vibrant and artistic attraction. This captivating street is adorned with colorful and intricate murals that depict scenes from Vietnamese folklore, daily life, and historical events. This Hanoi night market street has become a popular destination for art enthusiasts, photographers, and tourists seeking a unique and visually captivating experience in Hanoi.

    10. Night Market Hanoi Old Quarter

    • Address: Hang Dao Ward, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi

    The Hanoi weekend night market is a great place to shop for clothing, accessories, decorations, food, and handicrafts. It is only open on weekends and is located in the Hanoi Old Quarter.

    11. Church Street

    • Address: Hang Trong Ward, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi

    St. Joseph’s Cathedral is a magnificent and iconic religious landmark located in the heart of Hanoi. It was built in the late 19th century and features stunning neo-gothic architecture with intricate details and towering spires. It is surrounded by charming Hanoi nightlife streets, cozy cafes, and vibrant shops.

    Photo: St. Joseph’s Cathedral of Hanoi

    12. West Lake

    • Address: Tay Ho District, Hanoi

    West Lake is a must-visit destination for its nightlife scene, which is bustling with numerous bars, pubs, and nightclubs to the northeast of the lake. On the other hand, to the southwest of West Lake, you can admire the beauty of Hanoi from the opposite shore, soak in the peaceful ambiance, and enjoy the cool breeze from the lake.

    13. Vibrant Bars in Hanoi

    There are many bars and pubs to choose from in Hanoi each with its own unique atmosphere and signature beverages. Some prominent bars you can consider visiting are:

    • 1900 Le Theater Club
      • Address: No. 8, Ta Hien Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
    • The Bank Hanoi
      • Address: No. 41, Hai Ba Trung Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
    • Binh Minh Jazz Club
      • Address: No. 1, Trang Tien Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi

    14. Hanoi French Quarter at night

    Hanoi French Quarter is beautiful during the day time but it looks gorgeous at night as well.

    Hanoi Opera House at night

    What’s next after Hanoi?

    Hanoi is a great base to explore the north of Vietnam. You can easily take a bus to visit popular destinations like Sapa, Halong Bay, Ninh Binh, Mai Chau, and Ha Giang. These places offer activities such as trekking, cruising, and cycling through rice fields. All of them are within a four-hour drive from Hanoi.

    Some of the top destinations include:

    • Halong Bay,
    • Ninh Binh
    • Trang An
    • Cat Ba Island
    • Ha Giang

    What are the top attractions to visit in Hanoi?

    The top attractions to visit in Hanoi are: Hanoi Old Quarter, Hanoi French Quarter, Temple of Literature, Vietnam Museum of Ethology, Vietnamese Women’s Museum, Hoa Lo Prison, etc

    Is Hanoi worth visiting with kids?

    Hanoi is the perfect destination for first-time visitors to Vietnam. It offers a wealth of history, culture, shopping, dining, and natural beauty, making it an excellent family getaway.

    Posted on October 11, 2023

    October is a pleasant season in Hanoi, known for its nice weather. It is the ideal time to enjoy a cup of Vietnamese coffee, indulge in a breakfast of Pho or Banh mi, and take a leisurely stroll around the city. We hope you enjoy the autumn season in Hanoi as much as we do!

    The local market in autumn time in Hanoi

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    One thought on “Travel to Hanoi 2024 – A Complete Guide for Your First Time in Hanoi

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