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Activities to do in Hanoi

Activities to do in Hanoi

8 December 2023

10 Best Things to Do in Hanoi Vietnam


Traveling through Hanoi, Vietnam, is like walking into a living canvas where history, culture, and vibrant street life - all collide. Whether you're a culture buff, a foodie, or simply a wanderer looking for captivating experiences, Hanoi has much to offer. 


Let's explore the heart of Vietnam's capital city, discovering the ten best things to do in Hanoi that promise to weave amazing memories into the fabric of your travel tale. 


  1. Visit the Temple of Literature


The Temple of Literature, built in 1070, was Vietnam's first National University. It is more accurate to call it a place of wisdom, where ancient walls murmur stories of scholars and poets. 


The Temple of Literature in Hanoi, Vietnam, is more than just a tourist attraction; it's a trip into the heart of Vietnamese intellectualism. This historical treasure, dedicated to Confucius, is an everlasting homage to learning and enlightenment. Admire old courtyards decorated with well-preserved antiques and the renowned Well of Heavenly Clarity. 


The tranquility within these holy grounds provides a calm getaway from the metropolitan bustle. The Temple of Literature is more than just a tourist attraction in Hanoi; it offers a perfect blend of modern getaway with a historical grandeur.


  1. Stroll around The Old Quarter


The Old Quarter truly reflects Hanoi's soul. Its convoluted streets come alive with Hanoi's colourful fabric of history and present, where French colonial grandeur coexists with traditional tube houses, a chorus of motorbikes, merchants, and the alluring smells of street cuisine just outside the Imperial Citadel of Thăng Long. From old merchant homes to bustling markets, each corner offers a tale.


Here you can watch Hanoi's colourful fabric of history and present, where French colonial grandeur coexists with traditional tube houses. Discover hidden passageways brimming with local charm and treasures in lively markets. The Old Quarter is also known as the 36 Streets (Vietnamese: 36 phố phường), after the 36 streets or guilds that once served as the city's metropolitan centre. It's an ideal location for wandering, shopping, and soaking up the flavour of Hanoi.


  1. Indulge in Local Street Food 


One of the best things to do in Hanoi is to go on a culinary adventure. The vibrant streets offer a feast for your senses. Begin your day with the classic pho, a steaming bowl of noodle soup flavoured with aromatic herbs and spices. Allow your taste buds to dance with the crispy deliciousness of banh mi that offers a perfect blend of French and Vietnamese flavours. 


You can wander through the busy marketplaces, where local merchants prepare tasty delights like bun cha and famous Vietnamese egg coffee. Each taste conveys a narrative of Hanoi's rich culinary tradition, presenting a symphony of flavours ranging from savoury to sweet. Dive into the street food culture, where every turn reveals a new gastronomic surprise, making Hanoi a foodie's paradise. 

  1. Explore Vietnamese History at Museums


Want to enlighten yourself with the complex history and cultural richness of Vietnam? If yes, Hanoi is the perfect place for you.


Vietnam's capital city is home to several notable museums that highlight the country's rich history, culture, and heritage. Some notable museums in Hanoi include:


  • Vietnam National Museum of History: Features artefacts, displays, and collections that provide a thorough perspective of Vietnam's history from ancient times to the present.


  • Ho Chi Minh Museum: Dedicated to Ho Chi Minh, the founding father of modern Vietnam, and his revolutionary activities.


  • Vietnam Museum of Ethnology: Exhibits, traditional artefacts, and interactive exhibits showcase Vietnam's many cultures and ethnic groupings.


  • Vietnam Fine Arts Museum: This museum exhibits a wide spectrum of Vietnamese art, including paintings, sculptures, and contemporary art.


  • Hoan Kiem Lake Turtle Tower: While not an ordinary museum, this unique monument is tied to historical legends and is an important cultural attraction in Hanoi.


  • Vietnamese Women's Museum: Highlights the role and contributions of women throughout Vietnamese history, including exhibitions on fashion, traditions, and societal implications.


  • Vietnam Military History Museum: This museum focuses on Vietnam's military history, particularly its struggle for independence and resistance against foreign powers.


  • Hao Lo Prison Museum: Built by French colonists in 1896, it became a symbol of tenacity during the Vietnam War. Exhibits illustrate the severe conditions faced by political prisoners, offering a sombre reminder of the country's complex history.


  1. Walk around Hoan Kiem Lake


Located in the centre of Hanoi, Hoan Kiem Lake is a serene haven that enchants visitors with its tranquil beauty and historical significance. The lake, surrounded by lush flora and dotted with islets, offers a welcome refuge from the hustle and bustle of the city. 


The tranquil settings, the renowned Turtle Tower, and the cultural depth of Ngoc Son Temple combine to provide a visual feast for photographers like you. Here you can witness locals indulging in a range of activities, ranging from early tai chi sessions to leisurely boat rides, creating a bustling atmosphere.


  1. Stroll through the French Quarter


Indulge yourself in the enchantment of Hanoi's French Quarter, located south-east of Hoan Kiem Lake, and embark on a time-travelling trip where French colonial beauty meets vibrant Vietnamese culture. Wander its tree-lined avenues, encountering buildings such as the stately Opera House and the historic Metropole Hotel, each of which tells a story of a bygone period. 


In contrast to the vibrant Old Quarter, this area has a more peaceful atmosphere, with vast boulevards and wonderfully maintained colonial architecture. At cosy cafés and bistros, indulge in the wonderful mix of French and Vietnamese flavours. 


  1. Watch the Water Puppet Show


Another fantastic activity to do in Hanoi is to watch the fascinating water puppet show. The sight of traditional Vietnamese puppetry taking the stage on the water will astound you. Intricately constructed puppets dance and glide across the liquid stage, conveying enchanting stories from Vietnamese culture and daily life. 


You'll be transported into a realm of cultural depth and creative sophistication as exciting music fills the air and the puppets skillfully traverse the water. The Water Puppet Show is more than simply a show; it's a mesmerising experience that immerses you in Vietnam's distinct heritage.


  1. Hop to Bat Trang 


Popularly known as ‘the ceramic village’, Bat Treng is one of the best visit places in Hanoi. Located 13 kilometres southeast of the main city area, this bustling neighbourhood is a treasure mine of artistic creativeness. Stroll through narrow passageways lined with bustling studios, each exhibiting the miracle of hands sculpting clay into beautiful works of art. 


From delicate porcelain to colourful glazed pottery, Bat Trang displays a kaleidoscope of colours and styles. Here you can observe the age-old traditions passed down through generations. Engage with local artisans, try your hand at the potter's wheel, and immerse yourself in the rhythmic pulse of creativity that distinguishes this ceramic haven. 


  1. Drink at Hanoi Social Club


Looking for things to do in Hanoi at night? Make your way to the Hanoi Social Club. This bright cafe, located a few steps from Chuon Chuon Quan, flawlessly blends historical charm with contemporary flair, providing an artistic refuge in the centre of Hanoi. If you're searching for a vegetarian getaway, this is the place to go. 


Whether you're enjoying a carefully prepared coffee or a speciality cocktail, each drink takes you on a different journey. Hanoi Social Club is a lively social hub where conversations flow and creativity abounds. What makes it unique? Regular music events that give emerging foreign artists a platform to display their work in an intimate, barrier-free environment. 


  1. Shop for Souvenirs


Your trip to Vietnam will remain incomplete if you don't buy some local specialities and souvenirs to bring back home. And Dong Xuang Market is the perfect place to start your shopping adventure in Hanoi. 


Located in the Old Quarter, this four-story landmark is a bustling shopping haven offering everything from clothes to food, artefacts, and unique gifts. standing since 1889, it’s a timeless destination where you can immerse yourself in a day of exploration. 


If you are looking for things to do in Hanoi at night, then Hanoi Weekend Night Market is the place for you. As the name suggests, this market runs from Friday to Sunday starting at 7 pm, and sprawls from Hong Dao Street to Dong Xuan Market. This vibrant market is perfect for street shopping, honing your bargaining skills, and savouring the best of street food in the heart of the city.


Take Away!


Hanoi offers the perfect place to start your Vietnam journey. You can find several amazing activities to do in Hanoi that are worth your time and money. To ensure you make the most of your journey, it's crucial to know the must-dos and the avoidable pitfalls. 

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