The 10 best things to do in Hanoi Vietnam – Rich with over 1,000 years of history, Hanoi remains one for the oldest capitals of the world. When visiting this charming and endearing city, you’ll notice plenty of preserved colonial buildings, beautiful pagodas, museums, mountain ranges, lush countrysides, and traditional villages. The local cuisine is flavorful and influenced by multiple cultures that have thrived in the area for generations. Taking from Russian, Chinese, and French influences, there’s no city with such an interesting mix of cultures and architecture quite like Hanoi anywhere else in the world.
The best time to visit this ancient city is during the mild weather months of September to November, March, and April. The days are drier and the weather isn’t swelteringly hot, making for an easier time enjoying outside activities and traveling from one site to another. If you’re a fan of colder weather and don’t mind bundling up to stay warm you can head over from November to March, though it’s best to know that the majority of houses in Hanoi don’t have heating. For getting around Hanoi, walking can get your to where you need to go with relative ease to do the close proximity of most places. If you’d rather save time, you can opt to travel by taxi, bus, or cyclo – a taxi bicycle that seats two!
There’s plenty of activities and places to explore in Hanoi, Vietnam, so give you a helping hand in where to start planning for your adventures you can read on to find the best places to stay in Hanoi and what to do while you’re there!
Where To Stay In Hanoi, Vietnam
Known for their gorgeous flower decorations, the Hanoi Guest House is perfect for travelers who prefer to spend their cash on food and fun rather than accommodation. The price is a steal for the services and amenities as the hotel offers guests air-conditioning, free WiFi, satellite TV, fridge, hairdryer, en suite bathroom, and transportation rentals. Those staying at the guest house can also enjoy a lovely vegetarian, Asian, or American breakfast at the on-site cafe. The deal is only sweetened by the fact that this guesthouse is located right in the heart of Hanoi’s Old Quarter!
Why Guests Love It: Guests are always taken with how friendly and helpful the staff can be no matter what time of day it is. There’s a sense of safety and security with the guesthouse that’s hard to find in many other properties, and although the guesthouse is in the center of all the action it’s peaceful and quiet. The breakfast is often the highlight of the morning, as the wide selection of food allows for even the pickiest of eaters to get exactly what they want!
Book It Now: Hanoi Guest House
Close to popular dining and entertainment establishments, the Prince II Hotel provides rooms with dark wood furnishings, flat-screen satellite TVs, hairdryer, minibar, fridge, toiletries, and private bathroom with tub and shower. Guest will also have access to the 24-hour front desk where they can book tours and reserve cars and bikes for transportation. The daily breakfast served in the on-site restaurant consists of various Vietnamese dishes. You can also purchase tickets and day trip tours to many scenic locations in Hanoi with the help of friendly staff!
Why Guests Love It: Check in is a breeze, the staff are attentive and dutiful, the rooms are always cleaned and well-maintained, and the location is perfect for sightseeing some of Hanoi’s most memorable landmarks! Guests are always pleased with the traditional and local cuisine served for breakfast, as well as how great a value the hotel is for how much the rooms and other amenities cost. The informative staff will not only help guests decide the best places to visit during their stay, but are also knowledgeable about seasonal changes, discounts on tours, and lesser known spots!
Book It Now: Prince II Hotel
For more info about accommodation in Hanoi, you can also read this article: Where to stay in Hanoi.
Top 10 Activities
Now let’s discover together our list of the 10 best things to do in Hanoi, Vietnam:
- Halong Bay
- Hoan Kiem Lake
- Vietnam Museum of Ethnology
- Hanoi Night Market
- Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre
- Temple of Literature
- One Pillar Pagoda
- West Lake
- Thang Long Imperial Citadel
- Trang An and Mua Cave
Things to do in Hanoi Vietnam #1 – Halong Bay
Designated as a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site, Halong Bay provides some of the most stunning views of the natural wonders Vietnam enjoys sharing with the world. Limestone bedrocks, sheer cliffs, beautiful blue water, and amazing cave formation await those who make the trip to this stunningly spectacular site! To get the most out of the experience, it’s recommended you book a day tour! You can book the best tour available for the bay here: Halong Bay Tour.
And if you are looking for amazing cruises, check out this top 10: Best Halong Bay Cruises.
Things to do in Hanoi Vietnam #2 – Hoan Kiem Lake
Surrounding the Ngoc Son Temple is a lake that represents tranquility, peace of mind, and calmness in the universe. Visitors have a chance to get away from the noise and buzz of the city and watch the world go by as they rest and relax with a spectacular view of life in Vietnam. For those who get antsy staying in one place, it’s possible to transverse the lake via bridge to reach the pagoda and temple on Jade Island in the center of the lake. There visitors will be greeted with an area of spiritual importance and historic significance.
It is said that the Golden Turtle God lives within the lake, and to see one of the few endanger soft-shell turtles swimming in the lake is a sign of fortune and luck. Many tourist enjoy taking time out of their busy travel schedules to watch the calm waters of the lake. Those who prefer to get up and explore will still have a hard time not enjoying the serenity of the lake, even if just for a moment.
Things to do in Hanoi Vietnam #3 – Vietnam Museum Of Ethnology
If you’ve ever been curious about Vietnam and its people then head over to the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology to learn all about the country’s culture heritage and socio-cultural diversity! Visitors will be given an insight to Vietnam’s 54 different ethnic groups, including daily lives, religious events, symbolic rituals, and cultural practices of each group. Utilizing over 15,000 artifacts of different forms of media – including photographs and audiotapes – visitors will be invited to learn all they can about each of the 54 communities that comprises Vietnam.
Things to do in Hanoi Vietnam #4 – Hanoi Night Market
If your plans happen to have you staying in Hanoi on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday night, it’s advised that you head over to the Hanoi Weekend Night Market for great finds! Tons of vendors set up shop from Hang Dao Street to Dong Xuan Market in the Old Quarter starting at seven at night. The streets and surrounding buildings have decorative lighting throughout the night, making the marketplace a great spot to take dynamic and interesting photographs.
For those who are new to haggling or otherwise aren’t comfortable doing so, don’t worry – it’s completely normal to start off by asking for 75% off of an item or more to get the ball rolling. See how low you can talk down the prices of keepsakes and souvenirs to save your funds to visit even more interesting destination in Hanoi!
Things to do in Hanoi Vietnam #5 – Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre
You’ve never seen a performance in a theatre quite like this! Dating back to the days when field workers in flooded rice paddies wanted to entertain each other, water puppet theatre is an art with roots in Vietnam that has sense made its way to stages across the world. Performers manipulate puppets on long rods from behind a screen to make it look as if the puppets are moving across the surface of the water. It takes incredible strength and skill to do so, and the performers take great pride in their work.
Seeing a water puppet theatre show live in the place of its birth is a true delight, and also a way to learn about Vietnam’s rich history through the folklore and legends that are performed. Live music is played during the performances and is an important part of the ambiance of the show. Singers will even shout out encouragements to the puppets during the performance!
Things to do in Hanoi Vietnam #6 – Temple of Literature
Oftentimes called Hanoi’s most picture-perfect site to visit, the Temple of Literature has been well preserved since it was originally built in 1070. The temple was dedicated to scholars, sages, and Confucius himself. The entire area is a perfect representation of traditional Vietnamese architecture and is absolutely gorgeous to look at. There are many different buildings and sights to enjoy on the property, including the Well of Heavenly Clarity, spacious courtyards, ornate passageways, beautiful turtle styles, and relaxing pavilions. Many of the buildings actually date back to the Ly and Tran dynasties and have seen their fair share of education and knowledge gathering.
Things to do in Hanoi Vietnam #7 – One Pillar Pagoda
Standing on a single pillar in the center of an elegant, square lotus pond is the One PIllar Pagoda, which represents a lotus flower growing out of the water. The pagoda was built around 1030 during the Ly dynasty and stands as one of Vietnam’s most iconic temples today. Though the pillar is made of stone, the temple itself was constructed from wood, and as such has been rebuilt several times due to the passage of time and decay. Make sure you at see this famous pagoda at least once during your trip to Hanoi, as it’s the city’s most revered sight!
Things to do in Hanoi Vietnam #8 – West Lake
Tay Ho District’s West Lake is a freshwater lake that measures 17 kilometers around. Surrounding the lake are famous hotels, posh restaurants, lively bars, and quaint cafes that bring in tourists from around the world. The lake is known as a place to relax and unwind due to its natural beauty and great spots for quiet activities. Botanical gardens are commonly found around the lake, as are historic and spiritual sights. There’s even a floating restaurant for those who want the sensation of floating while enjoying their meal!
Things to do in Hanoi Vietnam #9 – Thang Long Imperial Citadel
Made into a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010, the Imperial Citadel has a huge cultural and historical relevance to Vietnam. Often referred to as the Hanoi Citadel, visitors are encouraged to explore the area and discover a newfound respect for Vietnam’s history and culture. The citadel was where numerous items from various places in Asia were discovered and excavated, which demonstrates how closely Vietnam traded with neighboring countries. The most intriguing part of the citadel has to be the display room, as it hosts interesting items that were previously excavated and the original blueprints for the citadel itself!
Things to do in Hanoi Vietnam #10 – Trang An and Mua Cave
One of the most fun and exciting things visitors in Hanoi can treat themselves to is the Trang An Mua Cave tours! Most tours feature a trip to Bai Dinh to see the largest Buddha statue in Vietnam, cycling around the Trang An area, and exploring Mua Cave to get the best views and learn more about Vietnam’s scenery and history. Visitors are often delighted by the fact that they get to row throw the caves to better see the rock formations and snap a few great shots of the journey!
Just because Hanoi is rich in cultural history and traditions doesn’t mean you can’t have fun during your travels there! Visitors enjoy learning about the city’s rich history just as much as they do exploring the areas and partaking in entertaining and delightful experiences that can’t be found anywhere else in the world. Hanoi is the perfect destination for thrill seekers, relaxation lovers, and history buffs to create lasting memories of one-of-a-kind experiences.
See you around! 🙂