What to See and Do in Hanoi
Hanoi has a lot to offer for travelers who want to explore its culture, history, and attractions. Here are some of the highlights that you should not miss:
- Visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and Museum to learn about the history and legacy of the former leader of Vietnam.
- Explore the Old Quarter and its bustling streets, shops, cafes, and temples. Don’t miss the Dong Xuan Market, the oldest and largest market in Hanoi.
- Enjoy a traditional water puppet show at the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre, a unique art form that dates back to the 11th century.
- Admire the architecture and beauty of the Temple of Literature, the first university in Vietnam and a symbol of Confucian culture.
- Relax at the Hoan Kiem Lake and see the Turtle Tower and the Ngoc Son Temple, two iconic landmarks of Hanoi.
- Experience the nightlife and entertainment options at West Lake, where you can find bars, clubs, restaurants, and karaoke venues.
9 unique things to do in Hanoi
Hanoi is a fascinating city with many hidden gems, awesome street food, local art, and much more to offer. Our guide will help you discover the best of the city with ease.
Hanoi Old Quarter
Hanoi Old Quarter is a must-see destination for anyone visiting the city. This historic neighborhood is known for its narrow streets, traditional architecture, and bustling markets.
But did you know that the Old Quarter has a rich and fascinating history dating back over 1,000 years? This neighborhood was once the center of commerce and trade in Hanoi, and it was divided into guilds and streets that specialized in different products, such as silk, jewelry, and herbs.
Over the centuries, the Old Quarter has undergone many changes and has survived wars, fires, and floods. Today, it remains a unique and vibrant neighborhood that showcases the best of Hanoi’s culture and history.
→ 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 French Quarter
Hanoi French Quarter is a must-visit destination for history and architecture lovers. This charming neighborhood boasts beautiful colonial buildings, cafes, and shopping. Built during the French colonial period, the Quarter 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. Explore the lively Quarter for a unique and unforgettable experience!
There’s no better way to experience the historical part of Hanoi than with an expert guide who can share stories with you while you enjoy a delicious cup of Vietnamese coffee.
→ Join us for the Coffee, History, and Architecture of the French Quarter Tour
Hanoi Street Food & Vegan Street Food
Vietnamese people take great pride in their food, which is readily available on every corner, both in restaurants and on the street. 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. Eating at one of these stalls is a delicious and authentic local experience, often accompanied by plastic blue stools for seating.
→ Join our delicious Hanoi Food Walking Tour with a local foodie.
Vegan Street Food Tour
Vegetarian travelers no longer have a hard time in Vietnam! The vegetarian dining scene has grown significantly in the last decade, and Hanoi now boasts more vegan-friendly places than ever. There is a wide variety of delicious plant-based restaurants to choose from.
OneTrip with local has put together a list of the top seven vegan-friendly restaurants in the city. If you are vegan, vegetarian, or just looking for plant-based food, these are the places to check out!
Water puppet show
One of the nicest things to see in Hanoi is the old art form of the water puppet show. This unique Vietnamese take on Asian puppetry tradition can be enjoyed at several theaters in the city. The Thang Long Puppet Theater is widely regarded as the best and most original theater. Dolls dance and glide elegantly across the water stage, controlled by a group of puppet masters hidden behind a screen.
Nightlife in Hanoi – Enjoy the iconic Bia Hoi
Vietnam is renowned for its diverse and distinctive drinking culture. One of the most popular drinking experiences in Hanoi is Bia Hoi, a light and refreshing beer that is brewed daily and served fresh from the keg. This unique drinking culture has become a staple of Hanoi’s social scene, and visitors to the city should not miss the chance to try it out for themselves.
Visit some museums or mausoleums in Hanoi
For those looking for more culture, Hanoi has plenty of entertainment options available. There are a multitude of museums showcasing historical artifacts and artwork that provide a glimpse into the rich cultural heritage of Vietnam. Vietnam Military History Museum is a must-see for history buffs, with exhibits dating back to ancient times. Vietnamese Women’s Museum is another popular attraction, which offers a unique perspective on the lives and struggles of Vietnamese women throughout history.
Hoa Lo Prison is also a fascinating place to visit, providing a glimpse into the harsh realities of life in a Vietnamese prison during the French colonial period. With so many options available, visitors to Hanoi are sure to find something that piques their interest and satisfies their cultural curiosity.
Hanoi Train Street
Hanoi Train Street, located in the Old Quarter of the city, is easily accessible by foot, bike, or taxi. 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.
Another great spot to visit is Kham Thien Train Street, located approximately 1.5 km away from Hoan Kiem Lake, where visitors can enjoy a delicious cup of coffee while waiting for the train.
→ Read more: Visit Hanoi Train Street, here’s how to do it!
Visit traditional villages
There are several traditional villages surrounding Hanoi that offer a glimpse into rural Vietnamese life and crafts. Bat Trang is known for its ceramic pottery, Van Phuc for silk weaving, and Dong Ho for woodblock printing. You can experience traditional production techniques and purchase handmade goods directly from the artisans. Quang Phu Cau village is also a great choice, particularly for its beautiful incense sticks.
Visit a not-to-go-alone area to learn more about the history of Vietnam
Cho Gioi, also known as Gioi Market, is a popular market in Hanoi that is located 2.5 km away from Hoan Kiem Lake and 3.5 km away from Hanoi Old Quarter. The market offers a diverse range of goods, from small items like nails and watch batteries to larger products such as motorbikes, electronics, and refrigerators.
Despite the emergence of many professional shops in the area, small exchanges still take place at Gioi Market, which has a rich history and remains an interesting part of Hanoi. Join our tour to discover one of the most fascinating parts of the city.
What to Eat in Hanoi
- Phở: A popular Vietnamese dish consisting of rice noodles, beef or chicken, onions, and a rich broth seasoned with herbs. You can find some of the best phở in Hanoi’s Old Quarter.
- Bún chả: A specialty of Hanoi, this dish features grilled pork patties in a tangy broth, served with rice noodles, fresh herbs, and dipping sauce. You can enjoy bún chả at many street stalls or restaurants in the city.
- Chả cá: Another Hanoi delicacy, this dish is made of grilled marinated fish, usually, catfish, served with rice noodles, herbs, peanuts, and fermented shrimp paste. Chả cá is so famous that there is a street named after it in the Old Quarter.
- Bánh mì: A Vietnamese sandwich that combines French baguette with various fillings such as pâté, ham, cheese, eggs, vegetables, and sauces. Bánh mì is a convenient and delicious snack that you can find everywhere in Hanoi.
- Bánh cuốn: A type of steamed rice crepe filled with minced pork and wood ear mushrooms, topped with fried shallots and cilantro. Bánh cuốn is served with a dipping sauce made of fish sauce, vinegar, sugar, and lime juice.
- More about food: BEST Street Food in Hanoi Old Quarter (What to eat)