With a history of more than 1000 years, from the beginning of Thang Long citadel until now, Hanoi is Vietnam’s most important cultural center with tangible and intangible cultural relics.
The villages, along with Buddhist and French architecture, are scattered throughout the city, making visitors immensely interested in the cultural values in this busy city.
If you’re looking for things to do in Hanoi, take a look at the detailed guide below for ideas on what to see and do in this capital city.
Explore Hanoi Old Quarter
Hanoi Old Quarter is the heart and soul of Hanoi.
Hanoi 36 streets with old houses still retain their looks from the 19th century. You can wander all day around Hanoi Old Quarter, watching local life and enjoying the peaceful and serene atmosphere of Hanoi.
Notably, during the autumn – one of the best times to visit Hanoi, it will be even more enjoyable to wander around Hanoi thanks to the nice weather and beautiful yellow leaves.
Also, several shops are selling exquisite art handicrafts and rattan wares, so you might want to buy some as souvenirs for your friends and family.
What to eat in Hanoi Old Quarter?
Hanoi is famous for its historical relics and atmosphere and its tasty dishes.
Hanoi Old Quarter is a fantastic place for food lovers. Here is the list of places to eat in the Hanoi Old Quarter:
- Phở Bát Đàn (49 Bát Đàn, Cửa Đông, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội) / Phở Lý Quốc Sư (10 Lý Quốc Sư, Hoàm Kiếm, Hà Nội)
- Chả Cá Lã Vọng (14 Chả Cá, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội)
- Bún bò Nam Bộ Hàng Điếu (67 Hàng Điếu, Cửa Đông, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội)
- Bún đậu mắm tôm Hàng Khay (31 Hàng Khay, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội)
- Xôi xéo Hàng Bài (37 Hàng Bài, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội)
- Bún chả Hàng Quạt (74 Hàng Quạt, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội)
- Nem chua rán Tạm Thương (36 Tạm Thương, Hàng Gai, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội)
- Nộm Mai Nga (25 Hàm Long, Hàng Bài, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội)
- Bún thang Cầu Gỗ (48 Cầu Gỗ, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội)
- Mỳ gà tần Hàng Bồ (49 Hàng Bồ, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội)
-> Read more about Hanoi Old Quarter
Join Hanoi Food Tour
Don’t know what your favorite Vietnamese food is? Join a Hanoi food tour and find out!
Dive into the busy food stalls of Hanoi and deliciously explore the capital with a Hanoi food tour.
Besides tasting yummy dishes, you can also learn about the history and different landmarks of the Hanoi Old Quarter.
- Chicken/Beef Noodle (Pho Bo/Ga)
- Vermicelli with Grilled Pork (Bun Cha)
- Steam-rolled Cake (Bánh Cuon Thit)
- Spring Rolls (Nem Cuon)
- Fermented Pork (Nem Chua Ran)
- Steamed Wheat Flour Cake (Banh Bao)
- Pillow Cake (Banh Goi)
- Fried Rice Pancake (Banh Xeo)
- Mixed Fruits (Hoa Qua Dam)
- Egg Coffee (Ca Phe Trung)
Try Egg Coffee
Trying Egg coffee should be on your list of things to do in Hanoi.
Traditionally prepared with egg yolks, sugar, condensed milk, and robusta coffee, this morning’s treat is what you need to start a new day in this capital city.
Where to drink egg coffee in Hanoi?
Giang Cafe is a famous place to try egg coffee in Hanoi. This cafe starts the trend of egg coffee, so tasting here will give you a complete experience.
Address: Currently, Giang Cafe has two shops
- 109 Yên Phụ
- 39 Nguyễn Hữu Huân
Attend Hanoi cooking class
Are you looking for fun things to do in Hanoi? Try Hanoi cooking class!
You will get a great chance to visit a local market to pick up fresh ingredients and then head to the kitchen to learn and prepare some Vietnamese dishes.
While taking part in a cooking class, you will also learn about Vietnamese culinary culture and traditions.
- Sample Menu: Phở, Bún chả, Spring roll, Papaya Salad, and Egg coffee
- Duration: 3 hours
Sounds fun? Check them out here:
- Rose Kitchen cooking class (Hotel pick up and drop off service included)
- Hanoi Cooking Class (cookbook or certification included)
Walk around Hoan Kiem Lake
Located in the heart of the city center, Hoan Kiem Lake is a great place to visit in Hanoi, with an ancient turtle tower situated on a small peninsula in the middle of the lake.
Near Hoan Kiem Lake, you can find impressive architectural works and precious heritage of Hanoi, such as But Tower, Nghieng tower, and The Huc bridge leading to Ngoc Son temple.
Ly Thai To Monument
Address: 12 Le Lai, French Quarter, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
On the edge of Hoan Kiem Lake, you will find the monument of Ly Thai To – a historical symbol of thousand-year-old Hanoi.
Ly Thai To was a King of Vietnam, and he chose to move the capital from Hoa Lu, Ninh Binh to Thang Long, which is Hanoi nowadays.
Spend your weekend at Hoan Kiem walking street
Official opening time: 7 pm Friday to Sunday midnight
The weekend is a great time to experience street performance in Hanoi.
At the end of the week, the walking street around Hoan Kiem Lake comes into operation. Although pedestrians walk and take pictures daily, the most exciting time is still at the weekends.
Travelers and locals can enjoy performances, such as Vietnamese folk, pop, hip hop, Latin dances, or vibrant dance.
Also, you can find several stands selling delicious street food around the walking street. Papaya salad with dry beef and Trang Tien ice cream are signature dishes around Hoan Kiem Lake.
Drink beer on Ta Hien street
If Saigon is famous for Bui Vien street, Hanoi has Ta Hien street.
In the bustling Hanoi old quarter, Ta Hien is a superb spot for Hanoian and international visitors to enjoy beer.
Ta Hien street is not a place for high-end restaurants or bars, but more about sidewalk shops. You can see people sitting on plastic chairs outside the door of the shop, drinking cold beer and chatting with friends.
Food in Ta Hien is mostly simple but delicious, and these dishes are a great combination when drinking with fresh, cold beers.
Shop at Dong Xuan Market
- Address: Dong Xuan, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
- Opening hours: 7 am – 6 pm
Dong Xuan Market is the largest market in the Hanoi Old Quarter, with hundreds of stalls along narrow aisles.
Although this market focuses on wholesalers, you can still find retail stalls while walking in this market.
Next to the Dong Xuan market is a small alley with a wide range of restaurants.
If you’re a foodie, you should not miss this! You will be able to find different Hanoi cuisine, ranging from Pork rib porridge, Bun Cha to Che at a low price.
Visit Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
Address: 2 Hung Vuong, Ba Dinh, Hanoi
Today, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is one of the most attractive tourist destinations of the country in general and Hanoi in particular.
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum opens five days a week, on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday mornings.
Visitors are obliged to follow requests such as dressing correctly, not carrying electrical equipment to record, and lining up to visit the tomb.
Tips: You can join a Hanoi walking tour to visit the most popular attractions in Hanoi.
How to visit Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
When entering the mausoleum, you need to pay attention to the sign and follow its direction.
As there is only one direction, you will exit another door when you get out. This door will lead you to Uncle Ho’s stilt house and fish pond.
At this time, you can freely discover the natural beauty in Uncle Ho’s garden, but you’ll need to pay attention to areas not allowed to enter.
From the floor, you follow the guidance of the management board to continue to visit the Ho Chi Minh museum.
Below is more explanation of the area.
Ba Dinh Square
Nearby Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is the historic Ba Dinh Square, where Uncle Ho read the Declaration of independence to create the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
Uncle Ho’s stilt house
This place is where Uncle Ho used to live and work the longest in his revolutionary life, from May 17, 1958, until his death (1969).
The house is a historical, architectural, and cultural heritage of Vietnam.
Ho Chi Minh Museum
Address: 19 Ngoc Ha, Ba Dinh, Hanoi
Ho Chi Minh Museum is one of the largest museums in Vietnam. It focuses primarily on displaying artifacts and documents about Ho Chi Minh’s life and people.
Observe the architecture of One Pillar Pagoda
As Hanoi is the center of Buddhism in Vietnam, several temples and pagodas were built hundreds of years ago.
The most famous one is the One Pillar Pagoda, with the lotus-shaped architecture unique in Vietnam.
The One Pillar Pagoda is located near the area of Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum so that you won’t miss it.
Visit the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long
- Address: 19C Hoang Dieu, Quan Thanh, Ba Dinh, Hanoi
- Opening hours: 8 am – 5 pm
Known as one of the most famous monuments in Vietnamese relics, the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long was built by dynasties in different historical periods starting from the 7th century.
Thang Long Citadel area has a total area of 18,395 ha, including archaeological sites of 18 Hoang Dieu and other remains such as Doan Mon, Hanoi flag tower, Dien Kinh Thien, D67 House, Bac Mon, Hau Lau, city walls, and eight gates of the Citadel built under the Nguyen Dynasty.
See Hanoi Flag Tower
- Address: 28A Dien Bien Phu Street, Ba Dinh, Hanoi
- Opening hours: 9 am to 5 pm
- Ticket price: 20,000 VND / person.
- Height: 33 m
Built in the 19th century, Hanoi Flag Tower is one of the oldest historical relics and a great spot not to be missed to discover Ha Noi’s history.
On top of the 33-meter tower, you can see the Vietnamese flag flying in the wind.
Following the steps leading to the top of the flagpole, visitors can look at the tanks and helicopters of the Le-nin Park and Military Museum.
How to get there?
If you’re around the Citadel, you can get there quickly on foot.
Also, from the shore of Hoan Kiem Lake to the Flag tower is less than 1km. You can take a taxi or a bus or ride a bicycle to this place.
Visit the Temple of Literature
- Address: 58 Quoc Tu Giam, Van Mieu, Ba Dinh, Hanoi
- Opening hours: 8 am – 6 pm
The Temple of Literature is my favorite place to visit in Hanoi.
Considered the first university in Vietnam, the Temple of Literature, or Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam, is a famous historical monument of Hanoi and a place preserving Vietnam’s traditional and cultural values.
Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam consists of two main areas: Van Mieu and Quoc Tu Giam.
Van Mieu is an area worshiping Confucius (551 – 479 BC) – the Master of Chinese Confucianism. Quoc Tu Giam, the first university in Vietnam, is a place to worship Chu Van An, the famous teacher in Vietnamese education.
Nowadays, the Temple of Literature is a famous attraction in Hanoi and awards excellent students. Before the exams, students usually visit the Temple of Literature to pray for luck.
Watch Water Puppet at Thang Long Puppet theater
Address: 57B Dinh Tien Hoang, Hang Bac, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
Located near Hoan Kiem Lake, Thang Long Puppet theater is a cultural place to visit in Hanoi.
The theater has successfully built unique and attractive programs and plays – Water Puppet Show, attracting the attention of domestic and foreign customers.
The theater offers five performances every day of the year at 3 pm, 4:10 pm, 5:20 pm, 6:30 pm, and 8 pm.
Explore Vietnam Museum of Ethnology
- Address: Nguyen Van Huyen, Cau Giay, Hanoi
- Opening time: 8:30 am – 5:30 pm
Although the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology is located quite far away from the center of Hanoi (8 km), it’s definitely worth the trip to get here.
Vietnam Museum of Ethnology has great exhibitions displaying and preserving the cultural values of 54 ethnic groups across the country.
The artifacts are displayed in various clothing, jewelry, weapons, musical instruments, and other spiritual activities.
In the outdoor exhibition area, you can see the unique architecture of the ethnic people, such as the stilt houses of Tay or Ede people or the Pomu concrete roof of the H’mong.
Notably, the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology organizes different activities such as water puppet shows or folk art activities at the weekend.
Enjoy performances at Hanoi Opera House
Address: 1 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
Built at the beginning of the 20th century, the Hanoi Opera house was designed according to the model of the Paris Opera House but with a smaller size.
Hanoi Opera House has excellent value in terms of history and architecture. It’s also used as a venue for performances of many leading musicians and artists in Vietnam.
You can admire the magnificent architecture of Hanoi Opera House from the outside, or better – buy tickets to see one of the regular performances and enjoy the gorgeous interior of the theater.
Ride a bike around West Lake/ Ho Tay
Are you looking for a romantic place in Hanoi?
Get to West Lake – one of the most romantic corners of the capital.
The lake has a poetic beauty with the purple color of the Lagerstroemia flower or the pink glow of the Phoenix flowers every summer.
The lake always has a cool breeze, making it’s a great place to relax.
You can see people jogging or walking around the lake to exercise in the morning. Especially when the sun is about to come down, the lake is a lovely place to enjoy the sunset.
Pagodas in West Lake
Also, West Lake is an attractive cultural tourist destination of the capital with many famous landmarks such as Tran Quoc Pagoda, Quan Thanh Temple, Van Nien Pagoda, Kim Lien Pagoda.
Located on the East side of West Lake, Tran Quoc Pagoda is an ancient temple built during Ly Nam De King’s regime in the 6th century.
Take a look at Long Bien Bridge
With a history of over 100 years, Long Bien Bridge is a historical witness and a meaningful symbol of Hanoi.
Also, it is an ideal place to admire the panoramic view of Hanoi from above while enjoying the most relaxing and peaceful moments.
Nowadays, Long Bien Bridge attracts many domestic and international tourists to visit and admire and learn about old historical stories.
Visitors will have the opportunity to admire the view of the poetic Red River, take a walk, or ride a bike on the bridge.
You should visit the nearby flea market in the afternoon to buy fresh vegetables and fresh fruits to have a quick bite.
Read books at Dinh Le book street
Located near Trang Tien street, one of Hanoi’s most expensive and luxurious streets, Dinh Le street is, on the other hand, calm and quiet. Perhaps what makes this difference is partly because this street is full of books.
Dinh Le has long been a favorite place for book lovers in Hanoi.
Although it’s just about 200 meters, this street has almost twenty book stores. From detective to love novels and foreign literature, you can find many interesting books here.
Even if you can’t find your favorite ones, observing local life is also a great way to travel.
Book store Number 5 Dinh Le
An interesting point of Dinh Le street is the particular book store located on the apartment’s 2nd floor of 5 Dinh Le.
This one is the oldest store in Dinh Le and is a book heaven with bookworms.
How to get there: After walking through the narrow alley, you will see the sign “Book store Number 5” with an arrow pointing to the 2nd floor.
Alternative: Book street 19/12
Located next to the People’s Court of Ha Noi, the 19/12 road is a beautiful book street with book stores from different publishers.
Visiting this street, you can buy your favorite books, sit on a wooden chair, and read under the shades of trees. There’s also a cafe that offers snacks and coffee on the street.
Take pictures at St. Joseph’s Cathedral
With ancient French architecture, St. Joseph’s Cathedral is an ideal place to visit in Hanoi.
The area surrounding the church is also a favorite place to meet up for young people. The atmosphere around the church was always crowded and youthful, with different shops to eat and drink.
Explore Bat Trang pottery village
Bat Trang Pottery village is an ancient village on the left bank of the Red River, located at the foot of Vinh Tuy bridge.
The distance from Hanoi center to Bat Trang village is only 10 km, making Bat Trang a great place to escape from the bustling city.
Bat Trang is one of Vietnam’s most famous ceramic villages with brick walls, red tile roofs, and a yard full of beautiful ceramics.
You can find different sets of dishes, teapots, flowerpots, animal statues, and jewelry made of rustic ceramics with Bat Trang style.
As the ceramic price here is very reasonable, Bat Trang is the right place if you’re looking for a memorable souvenir in Hanoi.
Best day trips from Hanoi
If you have more than two days in Hanoi, check out these day trips to enrich your travel.
- Explore Lan Ha Bay in one day
- Day trip to Hoa Lu and Tam Coc Ninh Binh
- Explore Trang An and Bai Dinh Ninh Binh
- 2-day Sapa trekking
Where to stay in Hanoi
Do you know that Hanoi Old Quarter is the best area to stay in Hanoi?
Why? Because most famous places to visit in Hanoi are just a short distance from Hanoi Old Quarter, you can walk from your accommodation or hire a cab to get there.
There are several budget hostels in Hanoi, and I recommend staying at Little Charm Hanoi Hostel. Located in the heart of Hanoi Old Quarter, this hostel provides facilities similar to a hotel except with a shared room. You can also enjoy a lovely swimming pool after a long day exploring Hanoi.
For a trendy hotel, you can check out Aira Boutique. This hotel has an outdoor swimming pool, a fitness room, and a garden. The staffs are friendly and welcoming, and tasty breakfast will make your trip enjoyable.