Hanoi – diverse, bustling, and full of energy – is becoming one of the most popular destinations for travelers around the world for many reasons: There are countless things to put on your Hanoi bucket list! With more than 1000 years of history, Hanoi is more than the capital city of Vietnam. Hanoi is famous for its ancient temples, citadels, authentic museums, French architectural buildings, colorful markets, and delicious street food.
Hanoi also attracts tourists by the 36 hustling and bustling streets with plenty of shops with varied options from food to clothes. Both tourists and locals agree this one-of-a-kind city is a mix of old and new that continues to grow and is certainly a must-stop destination while traveling in Southeast Asia!
Here is our Hanoi bucket list of things to do when visiting this incredible city.
FIRST, COFFEE! EXPLORE HANOI’S COFFEE CULTURE
The coffee culture in Hanoi is an experience unto itself, and exploring it shouldn’t be missed on your Hanoi bucket list. You will hardly be able to find a Starbucks anywhere but instead will find a variety of chains and artisan cafes on every corner that encourage you to sit down to enjoy your coffee, rather than taking it to go. No matter what time of day, you always see tables with people drinking coffee. It is worth slowing down to enjoy a “ca phe sua da” (literally translates to coffee with condensed milk), an iconic coffee style in Hanoi with a strong, bitter Robusta coffee bean from Vietnam.
Check out some local coffee stops:
- Lam Caphe – 60 Nguyen Huu Huan str, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
- Dinh Caphe – 15 Dinh Tien Hoang str, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
- Habakuk Fine Coffee & Bistro – lane 4 Phan Huy Chu, Hanoi
- Loading T Cafe – 8 Chan Cam, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
- Caphe Pho Co – 11 Hang Gai, Hanoi
INDULGE IN VIETNAMESE BREAKFAST
Vietnamese breakfasts are famous for serving a wide variety of rice products: Banh Cuon, Bun Cha, Pho, Bun Bo. You will also come across “banh mi” (bread with pate, pork, beef, coriander, carrot, cucumber, and sauce). While many hotels serve breakfast buffets, it is worth checking out some fantastic breakfast options that Hanoi has to offer.
- Banh Mi 25– 25 Hang Ca, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
- Bun Bo Nam Bo- 67 Hang Dieu, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
- Bun Cha – 41 Cua Dong, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
- Banh Cuon Thanh Van – 14 Hang Ga, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
- Mi Van Than – 1 Hang Chieu, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
Join our Hanoi Street Food Walking Tour or Hanoi Vegan Street Food Tour to discover some of the best street food in Hanoi. Although the tour will introduce you to local cuisine, you’ll sample must-try foods in Vietnam.
DRESS LIKE A LOCAL
Hanoians are known for their unique style. You will see all types of fashion as you roam the streets, and you will see how almost anything goes when it comes to street style. Check out some cute local shops to try out some of the looks to see if you can blend in with the locals! These shops should be on your Hanoi bucket list:
- Shop Airashi Silk – 96 Hang Gai, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
- Chăn Con Công, Vintage Store – 14 Duong Thanh, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
ART AND CULTURE
Hanoi is known for its booming art scene, and exploring this is undoubtedly one of the things you must do when visiting. From contemporary to street art, you can find it all. Not to mention the continually growing music scene, which is gaining attention worldwide.
- Join a guided Hanoi Old Quarter Tour through Hanoi
- Hanoi National Fine Arts Museum – 66 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Hanoi
- Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, Nguyen Van Huyen Str, Cau Giay, Hanoi
- Join a concert at Hanoi Opera House
- Vietnam National Museum of History – 1 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
I SCREAM, YOU SCREAM, WE ALL SCREAM FOR…
Nothing beats ice cream on a hot day! You have your pick of some of the world’s best ice cream. Ranging from classic flavors to dairy-free/vegan ice cream to some of the best-frozen yogurts out there, you can find whatever you crave at any of Hanoi’s must-try ice cream stops. Locals eat ice cream, rain, or shine. So anytime is a good time for ice cream.
- Kem Trang Tien – 35 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
- Kem Thuy Ta – 1 Ly Thai To, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
- Take Eat Easy Ice Cream and Coffee – 18B Nha Tho, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
STROLL THROUGH THE NEIGHBORHOODS
It is easy to spend a morning, afternoon, or evening just exploring this incredible city on foot. Hanoi is a highly walkable city, and you can find tiny little pockets as you explore different neighborhoods. So put on your walking shoes, and get lost in these gorgeous streets and areas, with a Hanoi Old Quarter Walking Tour– no map necessary!
Spend an afternoon walking casually through the beautiful neighborhood of the French Quarter. Daisy flowers pouring into the streets and Instagram-worthy walkways, this neighborhood is a perfect place to spend an afternoon shopping or just enjoying the surroundings. Many visitors opt for taking this French Quarter Walking Tour with a guide.
Meander through West Lake and check out the ceramic-lined streets or relax at Hanoi Botanical Garden, a beautiful, green, and extensive park in the middle of the city. Perfect place to take a bike ride or enjoy a picnic.
GRAB A DRINK
After a long day of checking things to do off your bucket list, sit back, relax and grab a drink, there is something for everyone from local artisan beer to gourmet cocktails custom-made just for you. So check out some of these local watering holes to quench your thirst and enjoy!
- Mojito Bar & Lounge Restaurant – 19 Nguyễn Quang Bích, Hoàn Kiếm, Hanoi
- Craft Brewery C-Brewmaster – 35B Luong Ngoc Quyen
- Beer Temle – 71 Ly Nam De, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
- Evenstar Craft beer – 157 Ba Trieu, Hai Ba Trung, Hanoi
- Skyline Bar & Restaurant – 38 Gia Ngu, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
ESCAPE THE CITY AND EXPLORE THE REST OF VIETNAM
Hanoi is not only a fantastic city, but it is also an excellent base for day trips to the rest of the North of Vietnam. Ninh Binh – the green area – a place full of rice fields, rivers, and mountains is only an hour drive away, so it makes for the perfect destination for a day trip. If you prefer to escape the bustling city life completely, join a trip to the famous wonder of the world Ha Long Bay for a day filled with nature and relaxation. Extend your bucket list with an only-in-Vietnam experience and watch the sunrise over Sapa and Ha Giang from the most northern point of Vietnam by taking a Sapa trekking tour.