Discover the best things to do in Hanoi

Posted On: 09/05/2024

Hanoi, the vibrant capital of Vietnam, stands as a captivating fusion of rich history, profound culture, and delectable cuisine. This ancient city, with its roots stretching back over a thousand years, offers a mesmerizing array of activities ranging from exploring historic sites and indulging in cultural experiences to embarking on scenic day trips. Whether you're a history buff, a food enthusiast, or an adventure seeker, Hanoi promises an unforgettable journey through its narrow streets and sprawling landscapes.

1. Exploring Hanoi

Things to do in Hanoi Exploring

Hanoi, the heart of Vietnam, offers a journey back in time and a deep dive into the country's rich heritage. This guide highlights must-visit historical landmarks, introduces you to traditional handicraft villages, and suggests cultural experiences that should not be missed.

1.1. Must-See Historical Landmarks

Hanoi is home to several historical landmarks that tell the stories of Vietnam's past, its struggles, and its rich culture.

  • Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum: This imposing structure houses the embalmed body of Ho Chi Minh, the most iconic leader of Vietnam, offering a profound glimpse into the country's revolutionary history.

  • One Pillar Pagoda: A symbol of Hanoi, this unique pagoda stands on a single pillar, emanating peace and serenity amidst the bustling city.

  • Temple of Literature: Established in 1070, it honors Vietnam's sages and scholars. This Confucian temple hosts the Imperial Academy, Vietnam's first national university.

  • Hoa Lo Prison Relic: Often referred to by American POWs as the "Hanoi Hilton," this site showcases the grim reality of Vietnam's colonial past under French rule.

  • Vietnam Military History Museum: Offers an extensive collection of war artifacts, providing insight into Vietnam's military history, including the resistance against colonial powers.

1.2. Handicraft Villages

Dive into the artisanal heart of Vietnam by visiting its famous handicraft villages. Each village specializes in a unique craft that has been passed down through generations.

  • Bat Trang Pottery Village: Known for its high-quality ceramics, visitors can witness the entire making process and even try their hand at pottery.

  • Van Phuc Silk Village: This village is famous for its silk textiles, offering a glimpse into the traditional silk weaving practices of Vietnam.

  • Quang Phu Cau Incense Village: Experience the colorful and fragrant world of incense making, where the process itself is a ritual.

  • Chuong Conical Hat Making Village: Discover the artistry behind Vietnam's iconic conical hats, a symbol of the country's culture and lifestyle.

  • Quat Dong Embroidery Village: Admire the intricate handiwork of Vietnam's skilled embroiderers, who bring fabric to life with their traditional techniques.

1.3. Cultural Experiences

To truly immerse yourself in Hanoi's culture, engaging in local experiences is a must.

  • Traditional Water Puppet Show: A unique art form originating from northern Vietnam, where puppeteers control wooden figures in a water stage to tell folk tales accompanied by traditional music.

  • Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre: Offers an alternative venue to enjoy the mesmerizing water puppet shows, showcasing Vietnam's folklore, legends, and history.

  • Explore the Old Quarter: Wander through the narrow streets lined with shops selling local crafts, traditional foods, and souvenirs, offering a snapshot of Hanoian life.

  • Visit a Local Pagoda: The Bach Ma Temple and Tran Quoc Pagoda stand as serene retreats amidst the city's hustle, providing a spiritual glimpse into the local way of life.

  • Performance at the Hanoi Opera House: Experience the pinnacle of Vietnamese culture with a night out at this stunning French colonial-style opera house, hosting a variety of performances from opera to traditional music.

2. Your Taste Buds

Things to do in Hanoi Taste Buds

Exploring the vibrant capital of Vietnam, Hanoi, is an adventure for the senses, especially your taste buds. The city offers a rich tapestry of flavors, from the sizzling street food stalls to elegant restaurants and unique cafés, each presenting a slice of Hanoi’s diverse culinary scene. Whether you’re wandering through the bustling Old Quarter or exploring the serene lakeside boulevards, you’re never far from an enticing food experience. Let's delve into some of the culinary delights that Hanoi has to offer and why they're a must-try for any visitor.

2.1. Hanoi's Diverse Cuisine

Street Food

Hanoi’s street food is legendary, offering an authentic taste of Vietnamese culture with every bite. The city's streets are lined with vendors and small eateries where you can savor freshly made dishes. These street food stalls not only offer delicious food but also an insight into the local lifestyle, as you join the residents in their daily dining habits, often perched on small plastic stools at communal tables.


For those who prefer a more serene dining environment, Hanoi’s restaurants range from traditional Vietnamese eateries to upscale dining experiences. These establishments offer a wider range of dishes, including regional specialties from across Vietnam. The ambiance and detailed service provide a different perspective on the country's cuisine, perfect for those special dining occasions.


Hanoi's café culture is thriving, blending traditional Vietnamese coffee rituals with modern, innovative twists. The city's cafés are ideal for those looking to enjoy a quiet moment, sipping on Vietnam's renowned robusta coffee while watching the world go by.

Train Cafés

One of the most unique experiences in Hanoi is the train cafés located in the narrow streets alongside the railway tracks. These cafés offer a thrilling experience as you enjoy your coffee just inches away from passing trains. It's a must-visit for adventure seekers and Instagram enthusiasts alike.

2.2. Popular Dishes to Try

Bun Cha

Bun Cha is a Hanoian specialty, consisting of grilled pork served over a plate of white rice noodles (bun) and herbs with a side of dipping sauce. This dish perfectly encapsulates the balance of flavors that Vietnamese cuisine is known for.


Pho is perhaps Vietnam's most famous dish, and tasting it in Hanoi, where it originated, is a culinary delight. This comforting noodle soup typically features beef or chicken, aromatic spices, and herbs, offering a warming and satisfying meal at any time of the day.

Banh Mi

This iconic Vietnamese sandwich, Banh Mi, combines a crispy baguette filled with a variety of ingredients, such as meats, vegetables, and sauces. Its fusion of flavors and textures makes it a perfect quick meal or snack while exploring the city.

Egg Coffee

A unique Hanoian creation, egg coffee is a must-try for coffee lovers. This creamy and rich coffee is made with egg yolks, sugar, condensed milk, and robusta coffee, offering a sweet and indulgent twist on the traditional Vietnamese coffee.

Pho Cuon

Pho Cuon combines the flavors of pho in a roll, wrapping thinly sliced beef, lettuce, and herbs in soft rice paper. It's served with a dipping sauce and is a fresh, lighter alternative to the soup version of pho.

Bia Hoi

No culinary exploration of Hanoi is complete without experiencing "Bia Hoi," a unique and beloved aspect of Vietnamese food culture. Bia Hoi is a light, refreshing draft beer that is brewed daily and served cold. Often enjoyed on bustling street corners, Bia Hoi joints are lively places where locals and travelers alike gather to drink, chat, and watch the world go by. 

Exploring Hanoi’s culinary landscape is an adventure in itself, with each meal and snack offering a deeper understanding of the city’s culture and traditions. Whether you're indulging in a bowl of steaming pho, savoring the complex flavors of Bun Cha, or enjoying the unique experience of egg coffee, your taste buds are sure to embark on a memorable journey.

3. Practical Tips

Things to do in Hanoi Tips

Visiting Hanoi, the heart of Vietnam's rich culture and bustling life, is an adventure filled with memorable experiences. To make the most of your journey, here are some practical tips covering currency exchange, transportation, and bargaining etiquette.

Currency Exchange: The official currency in Vietnam is the Vietnamese Dong (VND). While international airports and major hotels offer currency exchange services, you might find better rates at local banks and authorized exchange bureaus. It's advisable to carry some cash in VND for small daily expenses as not all places accept credit cards, especially street vendors and local markets. Additionally, keeping smaller denominations can facilitate smoother transactions.

Transportation Options: Navigating Hanoi can be an exciting part of your visit, with various transportation options available. The city's charm can be absorbed through a leisurely cyclo (three-wheeled bicycle taxi) ride, offering a unique way to view the bustling streets. For more efficient travel across longer distances, consider using taxis or ride-hailing apps like Grab, which are both convenient and affordable. Additionally, renting a scooter gives you the flexibility to explore at your own pace, though it's recommended only if you're comfortable with the lively traffic conditions. Public buses also present an economical way to travel, connecting major attractions throughout the city.

Bargaining Etiquette: Bargaining is a common practice in Hanoi, especially in markets and street stalls. It's an art that involves friendly negotiation and understanding when to compromise. Start by offering a lower price than what you're willing to pay, but remain respectful and patient. Vendors usually quote higher prices to tourists, so having an idea of the standard rates can give you an upper hand. Remember, the goal is to reach a fair deal that reflects the value of the item and the effort of the seller, making the purchase satisfying for both parties.

4. Embrace the soul of Hanoi

Things to do in Hanoi embrace

Hanoi, with its rich tapestry of cultural history, bustling street markets, serene lakes, and vibrant culinary scene, offers an array of unforgettable experiences that capture the essence of Vietnam’s heart and soul. From the tranquil beauty of Hoan Kiem Lake at dawn to the exhilarating rush of navigating the Old Quarter's narrow lanes, each moment in Hanoi is a step through layers of tradition and modern vibrancy. The city's allure lies not just in its well-known landmarks but also in its hidden gems – quaint tea houses, ancient pagodas tucked away in the bustling cityscape, and streets dedicated to a single type of merchandise, offering glimpses into the local way of life.

As you walk through Hanoi, let curiosity be your guide. The city reveals itself through its flavors, sounds, and the warmth of its people. To truly know Hanoi is to wander beyond the guidebook's suggestions and into the heart of what makes this city unique. Each corner turned and every narrow alleyway explored may lead you to stories untold and sights unseen. So, we encourage every visitor to dive deep into the experience, to seek out and savor the hidden gems that make Hanoi a profoundly beautiful mosaic of cultural richness. Whether it's your first visit or your fiftieth, Hanoi always has something new to offer, something more to discover, making every trip an endless adventure into its soul.

From Hanoi's charm to hidden gems across the country, experience the very best of Vietnam with our Highlights of Vietnam tour. Explore the essence of Vietnam through our tailored tour packages. Each private tour is carefully designed to match your individual tastes, providing a unique and personal journey through Vietnam's secret wonders and cultural riches.



Years Experiences


Tour Packages


Happy Customers


Award Winning


For unique travel ideas and an insider's eye on all things
Southeast Asia, subscribe to our Asia Mystika e-Newsletter.

Follow Us

Cookie Consent

button cookies

We use cookies to improve your experience. You consent to the use of our cookies if you proceed. For more information, please visit Cookie Policy

Leave An Email
Customize Your Trip