12 Best Things to Visit in Hanoi Vietnam

Mar 13, 2024

Welcome to Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam. Hanoi is one of the world’s ancient cities, there are many interesting things to explore here that every tourist should not miss. If you’re planning a trip to this enchanting city and wondering what to see and do, here’s a curated list of the 12 best things to visit in Hanoi.

things to visit in Hanoi Vietnam

What are the best things to visit in Hanoi?

For first-time visitors to Hanoi, the bustling streets, with their intersecting roads teeming with motorbikes, can be a bit overwhelming. As you traverse the vibrant streets of Hanoi, you’ll encounter a myriad of must-visit attractions that showcase the city’s unique blend of tradition and modernity.

1. Explore Hanoi Old Quarter

One of the first things to visit in Hanoi, Hanoi’s Old Town Quarter offers a captivating journey through the city’s rich history and vibrant culture. In the Old Quarter, every corner tells a story, inviting you to immerse yourself in the essence of Hanoi’s past and present.

This historic district is where you’ll find traditional Vietnamese architecture, bustling markets, and an array of shops selling everything from silk clothing to local handicrafts. Take a leisurely stroll through the labyrinthine streets, soak in the sights and sounds, and don’t forget to sample some delicious street food along the way.

things to visit in Hanoi Hanoi Old Quarter things to visit in Hanoi Hoan Kiem Lake

2. Walk around Hoan Kiem Lake

Located at the heart of Hanoi, Hoan Kiem Lake is one of the best places to visit in Hanoi, a serene oasis amidst the bustling city streets. Take a leisurely walk around the lake and admire the iconic red bridge leading to the Ngoc Son Temple situated on a small island. This picturesque spot is perfect for taking photos, enjoying a peaceful moment away from the urban chaos, or simply watching locals go about their daily routines.

3. Visit the Temple of Literature

Visiting the Temple of Literature is among the quintessential things to visit in Hanoi, offering a fascinating glimpse into Vietnam’s rich cultural heritage. As one of the most revered landmarks in the city, this ancient complex stands as Vietnam’s first national university.

Built in the 11th century during the reign of Emperor Ly Thanh Tong, its well-preserved gateways, pavilions, and stelae inscribed with the names of scholars, reflect the country’s reverence for learning and scholarship. As you wander through its hallowed halls, you can’t help but feel a sense of awe at the centuries of intellectual pursuit that have taken place within its walls.

things to visit in Hanoi Temple of Literature things to visit in Hanoi Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

4. Visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

Visiting the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is a must for anyone exploring Hanoi and the surrounding areas. Situated in the heart of the city, this imposing granite structure serves as the final resting place of Vietnam’s revered revolutionary leader, Ho Chi Minh, fondly known as Bác Hồ.

Among the places to visit around Hanoi, the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum stands as a solemn tribute to Ho Chi Minh’s contributions to Vietnam’s struggle for independence and unity. Inside the mausoleum, visitors have the opportunity to pay their respects to Ho Chi Minh by viewing his embalmed body, which is preserved and displayed in a glass case.

5. See a show at the Water Puppet Theater

Experience the unique art form of Vietnamese water puppetry at the Thang Long Water Puppet Theater is an activity you should not miss when coming to Hanoi. Dating back to the 11th century, water puppetry originated in the rice paddies of northern Vietnam and has since evolved into a sophisticated theatrical performance. Watch in awe as intricately crafted puppets dance, glide, and splash across the water stage, accompanied by traditional music and storytelling.

>> Exploring Top 20 Best Attractions in Hanoi Vietnam, discovery here!

6. Explore and take photos of Hanoi Train Street

Exploring and photographing Hanoi Train Street is an exhilarating experience that should be at the top of any traveler’s list of things to visit in Hanoi. As one of the most iconic spots in Hanoi, Train Street provides visitors with the opportunity to capture stunning photographs and witness the dynamic intersection of tradition and modernity.

things to visit in Hanoi Hanoi Train Street

As trains thunder through the narrow alleyway, residents calmly go about their daily routines, seemingly unfazed by the spectacle unfolding before them. It’s a surreal experience that offers a fascinating insight into the everyday lives of the people of Hanoi. Grab your camera and head to one of the designated viewing spots to capture the dramatic sight of a train thundering through the narrow alley, an experience unique to Hanoi.

7. Learn about the Hoa Lo Prison

Also known as the “Hanoi Hilton,” the Hoa Lo Prison is among the best places to visit in Hanoi for Hanoians about Vietnam’s tumultuous past. Originally built by the French colonialists to imprison Vietnamese political prisoners, the prison later became notorious for housing American prisoners of war during the Vietnam War. Explore the museum exhibits and learn about the harsh realities faced by inmates through photographs, artifacts, and historical displays.

8. Check out St. Joseph’s Cathedral

St. Joseph’s Cathedral, with its striking neo-Gothic architecture, is a prominent landmark in Hanoi’s French Quarter. Built by the French during the late 19th century, this Catholic cathedral stands in stark contrast to the surrounding Buddhist temples and pagodas.

This is a famous check-in location for anyone coming to Hanoi. Moreover, upon stepping inside to admire, visitors will be amazed by the soaring vaulted ceilings, stained glass windows, and intricately decorated altars. Even if not following the faith, visitors can simply relax on the long benches, immersing themselves in the atmosphere of Hanoi’s Old Quarter, enjoying special Vietnamese coffee, and trying some “green sticky rice” if you visit Hanoi during autumn.

things to visit in Hanoi hanoi St. Joseph’s Cathedral

9. Try street food at Dong Xuan Market

No things to visit in Hanoi list would be complete without indulging in its world-renowned street food. Dong Xuan Market, the largest covered market in Hanoi, is a food lover’s paradise offering a plethora of culinary delights. From steaming bowls of pho to savory banh mi sandwiches and crispy spring rolls, there’s something to satisfy every palate. Join the locals at the bustling food stalls and embark on a gastronomic adventure through the flavors of Hanoi.

10. Cycling around West Lake

One of the top things to visit in Hanoi is to escape the bustling city and embark on a leisurely bike ride around the serene expanse of West Lake. Covering an impressive area of over 17 square kilometers, West Lake stands as the largest freshwater lake in Hanoi, boasting picturesque surroundings of verdant foliage, quaint cafes, and ancient pagodas. Visitors can easily rent bicycles from nearby shops and set off to explore the tranquil lakeside pathways, offering breathtaking vistas and invigorating fresh air as they pedal at their own pace.

11. Visit the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long

Step back in time and explore the ancient Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, a UNESCO World Heritage Site dating back over a thousand years. This sprawling complex served as the political and cultural center of Vietnam for over eight centuries and is steeped in history and legend. Wander through the ancient gates, palaces, and ruins, and marvel at the architectural grandeur of this historic site.

12. Making pottery at Bat Trang Pottery Village

Venture outside the city limits and explore a hidden gem among the places to visit near Hanoi, Bat Trang Pottery Village. Located just a short drive from Hanoi, this traditional pottery village has been producing exquisite ceramics for over 500 years and offers visitors the chance to try their hand at the ancient craft.

things to visit in Hanoi Bat Trang Pottery Village

For those eager to try their hand at pottery-making, Bat Trang offers hands-on workshops where visitors can learn the techniques of the trade under the guidance of experienced artisans.

In addition to its pottery workshops, Bat Trang Pottery Village also boasts a vibrant market where visitors can browse and purchase a wide range of ceramics, from delicate vases and tea sets to ornate sculptures and decorative tiles. It’s the perfect place to find a unique souvenir to take home as a memento of your visit to Hanoi.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best time to visit Hanoi?

The best time to visit Hanoi is during the autumn months from September to November when the weather is mild and pleasant, and the city is bathed in beautiful golden hues.

How many days do I need to explore Hanoi?

Ideally, you should plan to spend at least 3-4 days in Hanoi to fully experience its main attractions and immerse yourself in its rich culture and history.

What are some must-try dishes in Hanoi?

Some must-try dishes in Hanoi include pho (Vietnamese noodle soup), banh mi (Vietnamese sandwich), bun cha (grilled pork with noodles), and cha ca (turmeric fish with dill).

What are the other places to visit near Hanoi?

Some other places to visit near Hanoi are Van Phuc Silk Village renowned for its traditional silk-making techniques and exquisite textiles, the Perfume Pagoda for Buddhist temples, and Duong Lam Ancient Village for its rural charm and ancient architecture.

What are the best places to visit outside Hanoi in Vietnam?

Outside Hanoi, must-visit destinations include Halong Bay, famous for its emerald waters and limestone karsts; Sapa, offering trekking amid terraced fields and ethnic villages; Hoi An, with its lantern-lit streets and ancient architecture; and Hue, showcasing imperial palaces and royal tombs.

Exploring top things to visit in Hanoi and unveiling a tapestry of experiences that captivate the senses and enrich the soul. Each destination on the list of 12 best things to visit in Hanoi offers a glimpse into the heart and soul of Vietnam’s capital city. Whether you’re admiring ancient temples, indulging in street food delights, or immersing yourself in traditional craftsmanship, Hanoi promises a journey filled with discovery and wonder.

For more travel inspiration and expert guidance on exploring Asia, consider planning your next adventure with Asia Encounter. With their wealth of knowledge and passion for discovery, Asia Encounter is your trusted partner in creating unforgettable travel experiences across the diverse and enchanting landscapes of Asia.


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