Things to do in Hanoi, Vietnam

Welcome to the heart of Vietnam, where history meets modernity, and the vibrant streets of Hanoi tell stories of a rich culture.
If you’re wondering about the best things to do in Hanoi, you’re in for a treat.
Let’s go on a journey through the bustling streets, flavorful eateries, cozy hotels, and some essential travel tips to make your visit to Hanoi truly memorable.

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Things to do in Hanoi

Fun things to do in Hanoi, Vietnam

Hanoi is a city that effortlessly blends ancient traditions with a lively urban pulse. Begin your adventure at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, a solemn tribute to the father of modern Vietnam. Stroll around the Hoan Kiem Lake, where the locals gather for Tai Chi at dawn and street food vendors come to life as the day unfolds.

Don’t miss the historic Old Quarter, a maze of narrow streets where you can haggle for unique souvenirs and savor local delicacies. 

Hanoi Old Quarter

Nestled in the heart of Hanoi, the Old Quarter is a labyrinth of narrow streets, each brimming with its own unique charm.
Here, centuries-old architecture coexists with modern storefronts, creating a captivating blend of tradition and trend.
Wandering through the bustling markets, you’ll discover hidden gems, from local artisans crafting traditional goods to vibrant street food stalls serving up Hanoi’s culinary delights.

Hoan Kiem Lake

A serene oasis in the midst of Hanoi’s vibrant chaos, Hoan Kiem Lake is a picturesque destination that captures the essence of the city. Locals gather along its shores for early morning Tai Chi sessions, creating a peaceful atmosphere that contrasts with the lively surroundings.

The iconic red bridge leads to Ngoc Son Temple, perched on a small island, adding a touch of mystique to the lake. Whether you’re taking a leisurely stroll or enjoying a boat ride, Hoan Kiem Lake is a tranquil escape that provides a refreshing pause from the urban rhythm.

Discover beautiful street art in Hanoi

Hanoi’s streets are vibrant canvases that tell stories through art.
The murals on the walls at Trompe L’Oeil depict scenes from daily life, historical events, and cultural motifs.
These colourful masterpieces inject a sense of creativity into the urban landscape, turning every street corner into a mini art gallery.

St. Joseph Cathedral

Standing tall with its neo-Gothic architecture, St. Joseph Cathedral is a striking landmark in Hanoi’s skyline.
Built in the late 19th century, the cathedral boasts twin spires and intricate stained glass windows. Inside, the tranquility contrasts with the lively surroundings, making it a testament to Hanoi’s historical and cultural richness.

Ngoc Son Temple

Opening times: Monday-Sunday 8:00-18:00
Entry fee: Adult 30.000 VND, Student 15.000 VND (about 0.75 – 1.5 €)

Tucked away in a quiet corner, Ngoc Temple is a hidden gem that invites contemplation and reflection.

This Taoist temple, adorned with intricate carvings and vibrant colors, offers a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.
The scent of incense fills the air as visitors pay homage to the deities.
Exploring the temple grounds reveals a sense of spiritual tranquility, making Ngoc Temple a must-visit for those seeking a moment of calm and cultural immersion.

Night Market

As the sun sets, Hanoi’s Old Quarter transforms into a bustling hub of excitement with the emergence of the Night Market.
Stretched along several streets, the market comes alive every Friday to Sunday from 6.00 PM – 12.00 AM, and is full of stalls selling everything from handmade crafts to delicious street food.
The lively atmosphere, illuminated by colorful lanterns and neon signs, creates a sensory feast.
Whether you’re hunting for souvenirs, trying local delicacies, or simply soaking in the energetic vibe, the Night Market is an essential Hanoi experience.

The famous Hanoi train street

A unique and somewhat surreal experience is Hanoi’s famous Train Street.
This narrow residential street sees trains passing through, only inches from the doorstep of houses and restaurants.
It’s a popular tourist spot so it gets busy really quickly, and it’s tricky to find accurate information on train schedules or how to even get onto the street to watch the spectacle.

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The best restaurants in Hanoi

Hanoi is a food lover’s paradise, and you can’t leave without trying some local delights.

Banh Mi 25

Yummy rating: 🤤🤤🤤🤤🤤
Must try:
Pork Banh Mi or deconstructed banh mi

Nestled in the heart of Hanoi’s Old Quarter, Banh Mi 25 is a tiny haven for food enthusiasts craving the perfect Vietnamese sandwich.

This popular little spot offers a variety of fillings, from savoury grilled pork to flavourful vegetarian options. 
Take your sandwich to go or order the deconstructed version and enjoy it in their little seating area across the street.

Pho Vui Hang Giay

Yummy rating: 🤤🤤🤤🤤🤤
Must try: Beef pho, and don’t forget to order the fried bread with it!

Voted one of the best places to have Vietnam’s famous noodle soup, Pho Vui Hang Giay is a haven for pho enthusiasts.
Tucked away in a bustling street, this modest eatery is known for its aromatic broth, tender slices of beef, and perfectly cooked rice noodles. Whether you’re a pho novice or a seasoned enthusiast, the authentic flavors and inviting atmosphere of Pho Vui Hang Giay make it a standout destination for a comforting bowl of Vietnam’s most iconic dish.

Tung's Kitchen

Yummy rating: 🤤🤤🤤🤤
Must try: Bun Cha and spring rolls

A culinary gem tucked away in the vibrant streets of Hanoi, Tung’s Kitchen is a testament to the art of Vietnamese cuisine.
With a menu that showcases the diverse flavours of the region, this cozy eatery provides a gastronomic journey for any food lover.
From aromatic pho to crispy spring rolls, each dish is a celebration of fresh, locally sourced ingredients and time-honoured recipes.

MET Vietnamese Restaurant

Yummy rating: 🤤🤤🤤🤤
Must try: Spring rolls

MET Vietnamese Restaurant stands out as a culinary gem, offering a contemporary twist to traditional Vietnamese dishes.
The elegant ambiance and modern decor create a sophisticated setting for diners to indulge in a culinary journey.
With a menu that showcases Vietnamese flavors with a refined touch, MET is a gastronomic delight where presentation is as exquisite as the taste.

THE Roti

Yummy rating: 🤤🤤🤤🤤
Must try: Chocolate roti

The rotis THE Roti in the Old Quarter of Hanoi aren’t your traditional indian roti. They’re sweet buns filled with chocolate, vanilla or coffee mousse, and are the best dessert after any dinner.

Dream Beans Coffee Roastery

Yummy rating: 🤤🤤🤤
Must try: The famous egg coffee; it’s not everyone’s taste but they make a great one here, so give it a try.

For coffee connoisseurs, Dream Beans Coffee Roastery is a hidden gem.
Tucked away in a quiet corner, this artisanal coffee shop takes pride in its meticulously roasted beans and personalized brewing techniques.
The cozy ambiance and the rich aroma of freshly ground coffee beans create an inviting space to savor each cup.

The Note Cafe

Yummy rating: 🤤🤤
Must try: Hot chocolate

The Note Cafe in Hanoi’s Old Quarter is not just a place to enjoy coffee; it’s an immersive experience in creativity and community.
Adorned with colorful handwritten notes from visitors all over the world, the cafe exudes a warm and welcoming atmosphere.
Patrons are encouraged to leave their own messages, creating a tapestry of sentiments that adds to the cafe’s charm.

Sachiko

Yummy rating: 🤤🤤🤤🤤
Must try: Sushi and ramen

If you’re in the mood for some Japanese food in the heart of Hanoi’s Old Quarter, head to Sachiko.
Their sushi and ramen are amazing, with a view from the balcony over the bustling streets of Hanoi.

Where to stay in Hanoi

Hanoi has some great hotel options, from budget-friendly hostels and guesthouses to luxury accommodation.
The best location is the Old Quarter because you’re right in the middle of everything.

BUDGET

Central Backpackers Hostel

Meet fellow travelers and share stories of your Hanoi adventures.

BOOK HERE

Mid-Range

Flora Centre Hotel & Spa

Boutique experience with personalized service and stylish decor.

BOOK HERE

Luxury

The Apricot Hotel

Art-inspired interiors and a rooftop bar overlooking the city provide a luxurious escape.

BOOK HERE

How to get around Hanoi

Getting around Hanoi is an adventure in itself.
Traffic can be overwhelming, but don’t be afraid to channel your inner local and navigate the bustling streets. Walk confidently, and the traffic will magically flow around you.

The Old Quarter is very walkable, and to visit other neighbourhoods there are lots of options.
Taxis and ride-sharing services are available, with an average cost of 1-2 € per kilometer.
For a more budget-friendly option, take the city’s efficient and inexpensive public buses (about 0.25 € per ride).
Cyclos and traditional pedicabs provide a unique way to explore the city, with costs ranging from 1-3 € for short distances.
Renting a motorbike can be an economical choice for the more adventurous, with daily rates starting from 5-15 €.

Day trip to Ninh Binh from Hanoi

Escape the urban bustle with a day trip to Ninh Binh, just a couple of hours by train from Hanoi.
The lush landscapes and serene nature offer a refreshing contrast to the lively streets of the city.
Visiting Ninh Binh is like stepping into a Vietnamese postcard, where limestone karsts rise dramatically from emerald-green rice paddies.

Cruise through the stunning Tam Coc, often referred to as the “Halong Bay on Land,” explore the ancient temples of Hoa Lu, and take in the breathtaking view from the top of Mua Caves.
Boarding a traditional sampan, you’ll glide through narrow waterways bordered by towering limestone cliffs and lush vegetation.
The boat ride unveils hidden caves and grottoes, like the famous Tam Coc.

A highlight of this picturesque province is the enchanting Bich Dong Pagoda, nestled against a karst cliff.
As you climb the stone steps, flanked by lush vegetation, the pagoda reveals itself in stages, each level offering breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.

Visit the famous Halong Bay from Hanoi

A couple of hours drive from Hanoi lies the famous Halong Bay, a beautiful UNESCO Heritage Site and one of the natural wonders of the world.

Take a cruise through the bay or explore it on your own, but it’s definitely a must when visiting Hanoi and Northern Vietnam.

More helpful travel tips for planning your trip to Hanoi

Navigating Hanoi is an adventure in itself, so here are some tips to make the most of your experience.

The best time to visit Hanoi

For the best weather, not so many crowds and an overall amazing time, the best time to visit Hanoi is from September to November, and March and April.
Hanoi experiences distinct seasons so pack accordingly, especially if you plan to visit during the rainy season (May to September) or the cooler months (November to February).

Travel costs to help you budget

Depending on how you travel, and where you want to splurge vs save, costs for visiting Hanoi vary.

A budget traveler can expect to spend around 40 – 60 € per day on accommodation, meals, transportation, and admission fees.
Mid-range travelers might budget between 60 and 150 € per day, while luxury travelers can expect upwards of 150 € per day.
And while many places accept cards, having some cash on hand is advisable, especially in the Old Quarter and street markets.

Transportation

Taxis and ride-sharing services: 1 – 2 € per km
Public buses: ca. 0.25 € per ride
Renting a motorbike: between 5 – 15 € per day

Accommodation

Hostels/guesthouses: 15 – 30 € per night
Mid-range hotels: 40 – 100 € per night

Foods & drinks

Street food, like banh mi or pho: between 1-5 €.
Restaurant meals: between 10-20 € per person, including drinks.

Admission fees

Between 1-3 € per attraction

What to pack

Pack light and breathable clothing for Hanoi’s varying climate, including a light jacket or sweater. Bring modest clothes for temple visits, comfortable footwear for walking, and a rain jacket for the occasional downpour during the May to September rainy season.

Don’t forget a power adapter and voltage converter, travel-sized toiletries, and essential travel documents in both physical and digital copies. Include a portable charger, a reusable water bottle, and some local currency. Carry a small backpack for daily explorations, ensuring you’re well-prepared for city exploration, cultural experiences, and unexpected weather changes.

Also, to fit everything nicely into your suitcase or backpack, use packing cubes! They’re a game changer and make it possible for me to basically travel with hand luggage only whenever I go anywhere.

Packing cubes gift ideas for travel lovers

My favourite are these ones from traveldude, made from 100% recycled plastic so they’re super practical AND sustainable!

Don’t forget about travel insurance!

Better to be safe than sorry, so don’t forget your travel insurance before heading to destination.

Last but not least, do you need a visa?

European passport holders can visit Vietnam without a visa for 14 days, or get an E-visa which is valid for 30 days for 25 € per person.

Thanks so much for reading my travel guide to Hanoi!
I hope it inspires you to plan your own adventure in this beautiful city.

Chúc bạn có một chuyến đi an toàn (safe travels in Vietnamese),
Nadine

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I share my best travel tips, detailed itineraries and delicious food recommendations
over on Instagram @haveyoutriedtraveling to make your next trip epic.

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