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Things to do in Hanoi

Things to do in  Hanoi

Welcome to Hanoi

Between maze-like streets, a never-ending sea of traffic, and crowded marketplaces, Vietnam's ancient capital can be overwhelming at first. But just beneath the surface, you'll find Hanoi's rich heritage and proud cultural traditions are waiting to be discovered. Start your city tour in the atmospheric Old Quarter, where countless craft shops and food stalls line dozens of narrow ""trade streets."" Around Hoan Kiem Lake, beautifully restored, French Colonial buildings, including the Grand Opera House and the Presidential Palace, flank wide, stately boulevards, and a painted footbridge leads to the antique Ngoc Son Confucian temple on the lake. Learn more about Vietnam's most influential leader at the Ho Chi Minh complex, where you can see ""Uncle Ho's"" former house-on-stilts, as well as his earthly remains (housed in the mausoleum). Don't miss the Temple of Literature, built in the 11th century as the country's first university, or the excellent Museum of Ethnology. Take a tasting tour to sample some of Asia's best street food, which might include classic bun cha (slow-roasted pork served with rice vermicelli, herbs, and lettuce), followed by thick, sweet, and highly addictive Vietnamese coffee. Enjoy a traditional water-puppet show and a cyclo (three-wheeled taxi) ride, and you'll soon feel right at home in Hanoi. When you're ready to explore farther afield, Hanoi makes an easy transport hub: Junk boat cruises on UNESCO-listed Halong Bay are just a few hours away, while south of the capital, highlights include the Perfume Pagoda, Bai Dinh Pagoda, and the Trang An grottoes.

Top 15 attractions in Hanoi

Ha Long Bay

A UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the Gulf of Tonkin, Ha Long Bay is renowned for its spectacular scenery. One of the most popular tourist attractions in northern Vietnam, Ha Long Bay is home to sparkling emerald waters, more than 1,600 towering limestone islands and islets, caves, and traditional floating villages.More

Hanoi Old Quarter

The Old Quarter, a triangular area surrounding Hoan Kiem Lake, has been the cultural heart of Hanoi for nearly 2,000 years. Daily routine starts early and builds to a friendly bustle in this ancient neighborhood, where streets have distinct character and are named after the crafts once made there, such as silver, silk, and paper.More

Hanoi Opera House (Nha Hat Lon)

Over a century old, the Hanoi Opera House (Nha Hat Lon is a national landmark due to its neoclassical French architecture and Gothic embellishments. Home to the Vietnam Symphony Orchestra, the opera house also hosts the Hanoi Philharmonic Orchestra, the National Ballet, and both traditional and modern local productions.More

Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre

The art form of water puppetry originated at least 1,000 years ago in the rice fields of north Vietnam. Particularly if you’re traveling with kids, you’d be remiss to leave Hanoi without catching a show at the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre. A Vietnamese orchestra accompanies the water puppets, with some modern special effects.More

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

One of the most visited attractions in Hanoi, the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is the final resting place of “Uncle Ho,” the beloved founder of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. He lies here in state, embalmed and in a glass case, with a military honor guard watching over him and the many visitors who come to pay their respects.More

Temple of Literature (Van Mieu-Quoc Tu Giam)

Few truly historic buildings exist in Vietnam, which makes the Temple of Literature (Van Mieu-Quoc Tu Giam) extra special. First built as a Confucian temple in 1070 AD, it became Vietnam’s first university (Quoc Tu Giam) and operated as one for more than 700 years. Between ponds, gardens, and tranquil courtyards, it’s a haven in the heart of the HanoiMore

Lake of the Restored Sword (Hoan Kiem Lake)

A key landmark in the historical center of Hanoi, charming Hoan Kiem Lake (Lake of the Restored Sword) offers a peaceful escape from the hectic pace and crowds of the city. It’s a popular meeting spot, and also makes a great place to people watch and experience local culture.More

Long Bien Bridge (Cau Long Bien)

Designed by the same architect responsible for the Eiffel Tower, Long Bien Bridge (Cau Long Bien) was the first bridge to span the Red River in Hanoi, providing a vital transport link between cities and towns in Northern Vietnam. During the Vietnam War, the bridge was bombed in American air attacks, and yet today, it still stands as a testament to the nation’s tumultuous history.More

Vietnam Museum of Ethnology (VME)

Learn about Vietnam’s 54 different ethnic groups at the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology (VME), one of Hanoi’s most interesting museums. Featuring a range of exhibits, from replicas of homes and everyday objects to priceless antiques and multimedia displays, the museum offers valuable insight into the culture and heritage of the country’s many groups.More

St Joseph’s Cathedral (Nha Tho Lon)

Located in Hoan Kiem district, the neo-Gothic St. Joseph’s Cathedral is the oldest Roman Catholic church in Hanoi and the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hanoi. Modeled after Notre Dame in Paris, St. Joseph’s Cathedral is one of the most famous and striking landmarks in Hanoi from the colonial era.More

Hoa Lo Prison

Built by the French in 1896 to hold Vietnamese political prisoners and known originally as Maison Centrale, Hoa Lo Prison was taken over by the Vietnamese in 1954. During the American War (Vietnam War), it housed American POWs, who referred to it as the “Hanoi Hilton.” Today, parts of the original prison have been turned into a museum.More

Tran Quoc Pagoda (Chua Tran Quoc)

One of the oldest pagodas in Vietnam, and the oldest in Hanoi, Tran Quoc Pagoda (Chua Tran Quoc) was built in during the reign of Emperor Ly Nam De (AD 541–547) and moved to its present location in 1615. Located on an islet within West Lake, Tran Quoc Pagoda offers beautiful architecture, historic relics and artifacts, and a serene and scenic environment.More

West Lake (Ho Tay)

West Lake (Ho Tay), the largest freshwater lake in Hanoi, provides a tranquil escape from the chaos of Vietnam’s capital. Lakeside cafés offer gorgeous views; historic attractions such as the Tran Quoc Pagoda and Quan Thanh Temple provide insight into Vietnam’s past; and 5-star hotels offer fine dining and luxury accommodation.More

Cat Cat Village

The closest village to Sapa, Cat Cat Village is a popular trekking destination to experience the distinctive culture and traditions of the Black Hmong tribe. Located in Vietnam’s Muong Hoa Valley, at the base of Fansipan Mountain, Cat Cat Village is also known for its stunning scenery of terraced fields, rolling hills, and waterfalls.More

One-Pillar Pagoda (Chua Mot Cot)

Built on a single pillar and rising out of a square-shaped lotus pond, the One Pillar Pagoda (Chua Mot Cot) is said to resemble a lotus flower. Originally built in the 11th century, the pagoda has been rebuilt over the years, most recently in 1955 after it was destroyed by the French, and remains one of Hanoi’s most iconic pagodas.More

Trip ideas

Top activities in Hanoi

Ninh Binh Full-Day Tour from Hanoi to Hoa Lu, Tam Coc & Mua Cave Via Boat & Bike
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Ninh Binh Day Trips- from Hanoi

Ninh Binh Day Trips- from Hanoi

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Full-Day Ninh Binh Highlights Tour from Hanoi
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Recent reviews from experiences in Hanoi

See Hanoi off the tourist track.
Tracy_G, Jan 2023
Hanoi Jeep Tours: Food+ Culture + Sight + Fun By Vietnam Army Legendary Jeep
This was a fun tour and great way to see greater Hanoi - so much more than just the old quarter.
Beautiful Show
David_B, Jan 2023
Skip the Line: Thang Long Water Puppet Theater Entrance Tickets
We didn't use the English audio guide and still felt that we could follow along with the story and appreciate the traditional music/puppetry.
Taste of Hanoi
KrishanuChakrabarty, Dec 2022
Private Street Food Tour - Walking Hanoi Old Quarter
Thanks a ton to our guide Summer and the company for making our little trip in Hanoi even more special.
Fun trip on jeep with excellent guide
CheeSeng_W, Dec 2022
Hanoi Jeep Tour: HIGHTLIGHTS & HIDDEN GEMS By Vietnam Army Jeep
Tour around Hanoi like a VIP and visited many must see attractions.
Wonderful time in Hanoi
Leeza_J, Dec 2022
Hanoi Motorbike Tours: FOOD + CULTURE + SIGHT +FUN By Vintage Motorbike
Our riders Ms Ryley and Mike spoke good English and accommodating to our needs.
Back Street Motorbike Tour
Shermae_S, Nov 2022
Hanoi Motorbike Tours: FOOD + CULTURE + SIGHT +FUN By Vintage Motorbike
He also speak english very good and funny 😄
A day in Hanoi
Margo_T, Nov 2022
Hanoi Full Day Tour(ALL IN ONE - SUPERIOR - Hanoi City Tour - ALL INCLUDE
A great way to see the major sites of Hanoi in one day.
A must do!
Sahar_C, Nov 2022
Cruising LIKE A BOSS - Overnight on GREAT CRUISES with ALL INCLUSIVE activities
All spoke excellent English.
Such a great way to see...
Liz_S, Nov 2022
Private Hanoi Street Food Tour With Mr.Ha
Such a great way to see the city as well as learn about Vietnamese food and culture.
Old Quarter Hanoi
Mary_H, Oct 2022
Highlights & Hidden Gems With Locals: Best of Hanoi Private Tour
It was a great introduction to Hanoi and I would highly recommend this trip to visitors.
Loved this class!
MAYETTE_P, Oct 2022
Hanoi Egg Coffee Making Course
We were also given our choice of Vietnamese spring roll which we had with our coffee.
The best tour guide!
Katherine_H, Sep 2022
Highlights & Hidden Gems With Locals: Best of Hanoi Private Tour
We had already seen the key tourist points the day before but this tour allowed us to visit the real Hanoi with the best guide possible - thank you, Ella!
Great food, great people
Elaine_W, Aug 2022
Small-Group Street Food Cyclo Tour of Hanoi Old Quarter
He also helped recommend other things to do in Hanoi to ensure a pleasant stay outside of that food tour.
Best way to explore Hanoi
Tracy_G, Jan 2023
Small Group Hanoi Street Food Tour with a Real Foodie
He took us to his favorite places - excellent food - summer rolls, catfish, and home brew being our favorites.
Fabulous Afternoon in Hanoi
Yasmine_D, Jan 2023
Hanoi Jeep Tours: Food+ Culture + Sight + Fun By Vietnam Army Legendary Jeep
I will definitely come back to Vietnam 🇻🇳 in the future to see more.
Book this tour NOW!
Yoojin_A, Jan 2023
VIETNAM BACKSTREET TOURS: Hanoi Food + Fun + Culture By GAZ69 Jeep
I highly recommend this tour for families with kids!
A treat that will long be remembered.
Albert_P, Jan 2023
Private Hanoi Street Food Walking Tour With Real Foodie
Her English was good and she is a real communicator.
Last minute trip and booking!
Duyen_N, Dec 2022
Hanoi/Noi Bai Airport pick-up (private transfer from Airport to Hotels)
One thing of note, our driver didn’t speak English which wasn’t a problem since I do speak Vietnamese.
One of the best tours we've done in Vietnam.
Richard_R, Nov 2022
Private Hanoi Motorbike Sightseeing and Food Tour
Chung and Kenny both spoke excellent English and were very informative, knowledgeable and had a good sense of humour.
The one tour you have to do in Hanoi.
William_B, Oct 2022
Hanoi Motorbike Tours Led By Women: Hanoi City Insight Motorbike Tours
The guides spoke great English, were knowledgeable and very accommodating and friendly.
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All about Hanoi

When to visit

Given its northern location, Hanoi has more distinct seasons—and lower temperatures—than most of Vietnam. Travelers who prefer moderate weather should consider planning a trip between November and April. Mid-autumn, during the Full Moon Festival, and mid-winter, when it’s Lunar New Year, are among the most memorable times of the year to visit.

People Also Ask

What is Hanoi known for?

The Vietnamese capital and your base for exploring Northern Vietnam, Hanoi is known for street food, colonial-era architecture, and a charming Old Quarter set around the Lake of the Restored Sword (Hoan Kiem Lake). The 11th-century Imperial Citadel of Thang Long is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

How many days do I need in Hanoi?

Four days in Hanoi gives you time to explore the Old Quarter, take a cooking class, ride a bike in the countryside, visit the Imperial Citadel, catch a water puppet show, learn about indigenous cultures at the Ethnology Museum, and discover the Vietnam War at Hoa Lo Prison.

Is Hanoi safe for tourists?

Yes. Pickpockets, bag snatchers, and taxi scams are not uncommon, but violent crime is rare. However, many tourists have died on Vietnam’s roads. Only rent a scooter if you have a license and insurance, always wear a helmet, and never drink and drive: it’s illegal to drive with any alcohol in your bloodstream.

What can you do in Hanoi for free?

Take a sightseeing stroll around Hoan Kiem Lake and the Old Quarter, then admire Gustave Eiffel’s Long Bien Bridge. Free-to-enter religious sights include Bach Ma Temple, Tran Quoc Pagoda, and St. Joseph’s Cathedral, while Quang Ba Flower Market is fascinating. Many parks see free group exercise sessions early in the morning.

What can $100 get you in Vietnam?

US$100 buys a lot in Vietnam. A budget hotel can cost as little as $15, a glass of bia hoi (draft beer) under $0.50, while a simple meal might cost just a couple of bucks. Mid-range hotel rooms start at around $50 and aspirational restaurants at about $10.

Is Hanoi worth visiting?

Yes. Hanoi is Vietnam’s capital and offers more than 1,000 years of history, including the UNESCO-listed Thang Long Imperial Citadel, not to mention a wealth of museums. And the food is to die for: it was here that Barack Obama chose to eat street food with Anthony Bourdain.


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