Welcome to Hanoi, the vibrant capital of Vietnam, with its lively curbsides and busy roads, French architecture and narrow streets that make you feel like you’ve transported yourself to a South East Asian version of Paris.
On any given day in Hanoi you can watch the lives of the locals sitting on the curbside, sipping on Vietnamese coffee, downing some Pho and enjoying the company of their friends. Street vendors sell fruits the old fashioned way with wooden sticks and baskets on their shoulders, and everyone wears those hats, those lovely traditional Vietnamese hats – a pinnacle image that reminds you just where you are in the world.
Hanoi is the place where you could easily spend a week, or at least 3 days if you’re in a rush to travel the rest of this fascinating country. Here’s our guide to make your experience in Hanoi a memorable one.
Noi Bai International Airport (IATA: HAN, ICAO: VVNB) serves the capital city of Hanoi. Many cities across Asia fly direct to Hanoi as it is the largest airport in North Vietnam and a starting point for many who wish to take the north to south route. It is located about 25 kilometres from Hanoi centre.
To get to the city centre you can either take a metred taxi that will cost about 300,000 VND or there is an airport shuttle that leaves from the airport and drops you into the Old Quarter, which costs 40,000 VND per person. The bus stop is located about 30 metres to the left of the exit door at the airport.
Not to miss
Take a Tour with Hanoi Kids
Take a walk with Hanoi Free Walking Tours
Learn an art with Backstreet Academy
Spend a day museum hopping
There are many great museums to explore in Hanoi that are all within close proximity to one another. Spend a day museum hopping and learn about Vietnam’s history.
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
Closed Mondays & Fridays. Opening Hours 8:00 – 10:30am (Only open 2 hours daily)
Admission 30,000 VND
Ho Chi Minh Museum
Closed Mondays & Fridays. Opening Hours 8:00 – 10:30am / 14:30 – 16:30
Admission 30,000 VND
Open all week. Opening Hours 8:00 – 16:30
Admission 30,000 VND
Closed on Mondays. Opening Hours 8:00 –16:00
Admission 30,000 VND
Museum of Ethnology
Closed on Mondays. Opening Hours 8:30 –17:30
Other attractions & sights
Shop till you drop
Hanoi is a great place for shopping. Historically the streets of the Old Quarter were named according to what they sold and these streets have still kept their names today e.g. Hang Gai Street is silk street where you can find many shops selling silk products. There is a silver street, a footwear street, a clothing street and even a gift shop street, all located in the Old Quarter.
For markets you have the Hanoi Weekend Night Market in Hang Dao Street open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday night or the Dong Xuan Market on Dong Xuan Street open daily from 9am to 7pm.
Walk around Hoan Kiem Lake
Take a cooking class
See a puppet show
Visit St Joseph’s Cathedral
This beautiful cathedral was built in 1886 and is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hanoi. Stand in front of the church from the other side of the street for a perfect picture of this spectacular church. After visiting the cathedral head across the road to the famous Cong Coffee, an old style coffee shop that will take you back to the 1970’s.
Visit the Temple of Literature
Founded in 1070, the Temple of Literature was established as Vietnams first university six years later. The names of graduates are etched into numerous stone tablets each mounted on the back of a tortoise. If you’re looking for a little peace and quiet you can find it here. The temple grounds feature some beautiful architecture, sculpture and bonsai tree’s.
Food & drink
If you want to taste some of the delightful cuisines of the north then Hanoi is the place to be. There are many local restaurants where you can try traditional Vietnamese food like Pho, Bun Cha, Nom Bo Kho, and Bun Bo Nam Bo. Wondering what these are? Take a street food tour to help you get your head around all these different types of foods.
Feel like something familiar? You can find Banh My everywhere, which is what many tourists come to Vietnam for. 30,000 VND or less will get you one of these lovely Vietnamese rolls with the lot.
Looking for western food? Try Gecko Restaurant and Café, a chain of restaurants located in the Old Quarter that have a great range of meals and a 2 for 1 Tiger Beer special all day and night.
Feeling fruity? There are many street vendors selling the latest in-season fruit such as Lychees, Pineapples and Plums. Be prepared to bargain though as they will try and set a high price. 20-30,000 VND per kilo is a fair price for most fruits.
Want to dine for a cause? Visit social restaurants KOTO, Joma Bakery, Tea Talk Café, Donkey Bakery or Pots’N’Pans for food that gives back.
Best coffee in town ed-hrvatski.com? Visit famous Cong Coffee located near the St Joseph’s Cathedral. It’s a place where nostalgia and memories of old days meet an on-trend, inspirational, quirky design. You must try their specialty coconut coffee, which mixes coconut milk with delicious Vietnamese coffee or chocolate.
Looking for the best nightlife? Hanoi’s Beer corner between Ta Hien Street and Luong Ngoc Quyen Street offers beers for as little as 5000 VND a glass. The area is also full of bars and nightclubs and while Hanoi does have a 12am curfew, you can still find a few places open past this time.
Hanoi is full of very well priced guesthouses, hotels and hostels. The large choice of accommodation brings the prices down and you can often find yourself a nice private room in the Old Quarter for as little as $12 USD a night. For access to everything the Old Quarter would be your best choice however if you want something a little quieter there is also a lot of accommodation outside of this area.
When looking for accommodation sites like TripAdvisor and Booking.com can really be your best friend. Put your dates into TripAdvisor and you can search by price as well as seeing the ratings, helping you pick the best value for money. Use Booking.com to search 500,000+ hotels in more than 200 countries worldwide.