things to do in hanoi

Last Updated on: 5th March 2024, 11:06 am

Welcome to the vibrant city of Hanoi, Vietnam! If you’re looking for an unforgettable travel experience, you’ve come to the right place. Hanoi offers a plethora of exciting things to do and see, making it the perfect destination for explorers and adventure seekers.

Are you ready to discover the best things to do in Hanoi and immerse yourself in the rich culture and history of this captivating city? From iconic landmarks and delicious cuisine to off-the-beaten-path gems and day trips to stunning natural landscapes, Hanoi has something for everyone.

Whether you’re strolling through the charming streets of the Old Quarter, marvelling at historical sites and landmarks, or sampling mouthwatering street food, Hanoi will enchant you with its unique blend of tradition and modernity.

Get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey as we guide you through the top activities, must-visit attractions, and hidden gems in Hanoi. Let’s dive into the enchanting world of Hanoi and discover what makes it one of the most captivating cities in Southeast Asia.

Stay tuned for an adventure of a lifetime! Our comprehensive Hanoi travel guide will help you plan your trip and make the most of your time in this captivating city. From the top 10 things to do in Hanoi to the best places to visit, we’ve got you covered. So, let’s get started on your Hanoi adventure!

Things To Do in Hanoi – Rich History of Hanoi

Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam, has a fascinating history that spans centuries. It has witnessed the rise and fall of numerous dynasties and empires, each leaving behind a rich cultural heritage. From its establishment in 1010 to the events of the French colonization and the Vietnam War, Hanoi has played a significant role in shaping the country’s past.

One of the best ways to delve into the historical significance of Hanoi is by exploring its numerous historical sites. The Old Quarter stands as a testament to the city’s past, featuring traditional architecture and narrow, bustling streets. Here, you can immerse yourself in the charm of the past while discovering local crafts and vibrant street life.

hanoi old quarter

Another significant period in Hanoi’s history is the French colonization era, which left a lasting impact on the city’s architecture and cultural landscape. The French Quarter showcases beautiful colonial-style buildings, including the Hanoi Opera House, which continues to host cultural performances to this day.

The Vietnam War is another crucial chapter in Hanoi’s history. The city served as the capital of North Vietnam and experienced bombings and other significant events during the conflict. Visiting the Hoa Lo Prison Museum, also known as the “Hanoi Hilton,” provides a haunting glimpse into the prison’s role during the war.

Hanoi’s Cultural Heritage

In addition to its historical sites, Hanoi is known for its cultural heritage. Traditional art forms such as water puppetry and ca tru singing have been passed down through generations, providing a glimpse into Vietnam’s rich artistic traditions. The Thang Long Imperial Citadel, a UNESCO World Heritage site, showcases the country’s architectural and cultural achievements.

“Hanoi is a city that wears its history proudly, showcasing its cultural heritage through its historical sites and traditions.”

Exploring Hanoi’s cultural heritage allows visitors to witness the fusion of influences that have shaped the city. The city’s diverse ethnic communities showcase their unique customs and traditions, adding to the cultural richness of Hanoi.

Overall, Hanoi’s history and cultural heritage make it a captivating destination for history enthusiasts and culture lovers alike. From its ancient origins to its more recent past, this city tells a story that continues to be written by its vibrant and resilient people.

Historical Sites in Hanoi

Site Description
Old Quarter Showcases traditional architecture and vibrant street life.
Hoa Lo Prison Museum A former prison that provides insight into the Vietnam War.
Thang Long Imperial Citadel A UNESCO World Heritage site showcasing Vietnam’s cultural achievements.

Explore Iconic Landmarks and Cultural Sites

Hanoi is home to an array of iconic landmarks and cultural sites that are a must-visit for any traveler. From serene lakes to grand opera houses, there’s something to captivate every visitor’s imagination.

Hoan Kiem Lake: Start your journey at Hoan Kiem Lake, a peaceful oasis in the heart of the bustling city. With its picturesque surroundings and the ancient Ngoc Son Temple perched on a tiny island, it’s a perfect place to relax and soak in the tranquility.

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum: Pay homage to Vietnam’s beloved leader at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. This imposing structure houses the embalmed body of Ho Chi Minh and stands as a symbol of the nation’s deep reverence for its revolutionary leader.

Temple of Literature: Step into the past at the Temple of Literature, a historical site dedicated to Confucius and scholars. Marvel at the traditional Vietnamese architecture and explore the centuries-old courtyards and gardens.

Old Quarter Hanoi: Immerse yourself in the vibrant ambiance of the Old Quarter Hanoi. Lose yourself in the maze of narrow streets lined with colonial-era buildings, filled with bustling markets, street food vendors, and traditional houses.

Dong Xuan Market: Indulge your senses at Dong Xuan Market, the largest covered market in Hanoi. Explore the stalls filled with an abundance of goods, from clothing and electronics to fresh produce and Vietnamese spices. Don’t forget to try some delicious street food.

Hanoi Opera House: Admire the grandeur of French colonial architecture at the Hanoi Opera House. Catch a performance or simply marvel at the stunning facade and intricate details of this iconic landmark.

Perfume Pagoda: Escape the city and venture into the lush countryside to visit the Perfume Pagoda. Nestled among limestone mountains, this sacred site is a place of pilgrimage and offers breathtaking natural beauty.

Water Puppet Theatre: Experience the enchanting art of water puppetry at the Water Puppet Theatre. Watch as skilled puppeteers bring traditional Vietnamese folk tales to life in a mesmerizing and unique performance.

From ancient temples to bustling markets, Hanoi’s landmarks and cultural sites offer a glimpse into the city’s rich history and vibrant culture. These iconic destinations are sure to leave a lasting impression on every visitor.

Hanoi Landmarks

Landmark Description
Hoan Kiem Lake A serene lake in the heart of the city, surrounded by Ngoc Son Temple
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum A monument honoring Vietnam’s beloved leader, Ho Chi Minh
Temple of Literature A historical site dedicated to Confucius and scholars
Old Quarter Hanoi A vibrant area filled with narrow streets, bustling markets, and traditional houses
Dong Xuan Market The largest covered market in Hanoi, offering a wide range of goods and street food
Hanoi Opera House A grand example of French colonial architecture, hosting various cultural performances
Perfume Pagoda A serene escape from the city, nestled among limestone mountains
Water Puppet Theatre A unique experience showcasing traditional Vietnamese puppetry

Indulge in Mouthwatering Vietnamese Cuisine

Hanoi is a food lover’s paradise, offering a plethora of delicious dishes and culinary experiences. From steaming bowls of pho to grilled pork in bun cha, and flavorful banh mi sandwiches, the city’s street food scene is unmatched. The Dong Xuan Market is the perfect place to sample some of Hanoi’s famed dishes and indulge in local flavors. Don’t miss the chance to try unique Vietnamese drinks like egg coffee. Exploring the vibrant food culture in Hanoi is an essential part of the travel experience.

When it comes to hanoi street food, the options are endless. One of the most famous dishes in Hanoi is pho. This iconic Vietnamese noodle soup is made with a flavorful broth, rice noodles, and your choice of toppings such as beef or chicken. It’s a must-try when visiting Hanoi and can be found at local street stalls and restaurants throughout the city.

If you’re a fan of grilled meats, then bun cha is a dish you can’t miss. This mouthwatering specialty consists of grilled marinated pork served with rice noodles, fresh herbs, and a tangy dipping sauce. The combination of smoky flavors and refreshing herbs creates a delightful explosion of taste.

For a quick and delicious meal on the go, try a banh mi sandwich. This popular street food features a baguette filled with various ingredients such as grilled pork, pâté, pickled vegetables, and herbs, creating a harmonious blend of flavors and textures. It’s the perfect choice for a satisfying snack or light lunch.

Dong Xuan Market is a bustling marketplace in the heart of Hanoi, offering a wide variety of local ingredients and street food stalls. This vibrant market is a food lover’s paradise, where you can sample traditional Vietnamese dishes and explore the diverse flavors of Hanoi cuisine. From fried spring rolls to steamed buns and fresh tropical fruits, Dong Xuan Market is a haven for food enthusiasts.

“Food is a central part of Vietnamese culture, and Hanoi is the perfect place to indulge in the country’s diverse culinary traditions. From the tantalizing aromas of steaming bowls of pho to the vibrant colors and flavors of fresh herbs, Hanoi street food is a sensory feast for the senses.”

While exploring the street food scene in Hanoi, don’t forget to try unique Vietnamese drinks like egg coffee. This rich and creamy beverage combines strong Vietnamese coffee with a frothy egg yolk mixture, creating a sweet and decadent treat that is sure to satisfy your caffeine cravings.

So, venture into the vibrant streets of Hanoi and immerse yourself in the local food culture. From the famous dishes like pho, bun cha, and banh mi to the bustling Dong Xuan Market, Hanoi’s cuisine is a true delight for gastronomes.

Discover the Surrounding Beauty on Day Trips from Hanoi

Hanoi serves as a gateway to the natural beauty of Vietnam’s countryside. Embark on day trips from Hanoi and immerse yourself in the breathtaking landscapes and captivating culture of the surrounding region. Explore iconic destinations like Halong Bay, Bat Trang Village, and Sapa, each offering a unique and enriching experience.

Halong Bay: A Natural Wonder

Start your journey by visiting Halong Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its mesmerizing limestone formations and emerald waters. Marvel at the karst islands that dot the bay, and discover hidden caves filled with intriguing stalactites and stalagmites. Take a boat tour to explore the bay’s beauty up close or simply relax on one of its charming beaches, surrounded by the tranquility of nature.

Bat Trang Village: Artisan Traditions

For a glimpse into Vietnam’s rich artistic heritage, visit Bat Trang Village. This traditional village is renowned for its pottery and ceramics, with a history that spans over 500 years. Wander through the village’s narrow streets lined with shops and workshops, where skilled artisans craft exquisite pottery by hand. Take the opportunity to learn about traditional ceramic techniques and even create your own unique piece to take home as a memento.

Sapa: Majestic Landscapes and Cultural Diversity

Escape to the mountain town of Sapa, nestled amidst breathtaking landscapes, including cascading rice terraces and mist-covered peaks. Immerse yourself in the vibrant ethnic minority culture of the region, with opportunities to visit local villages and interact with the Hmong, Dao, and Tay communities. Trek through picturesque trails, encounter local traditions, and witness the sheer beauty of the Sapa countryside.

Natural Beauty of Hanoi

These day trips from Hanoi offer a captivating contrast to the bustling city, allowing you to reconnect with nature and unwind amidst the serene beauty of the Vietnamese countryside. Whether you choose to explore the mystical landscapes of Halong Bay, delve into the rich artistic traditions of Bat Trang Village, or embrace the cultural diversity of Sapa, you’ll find yourself immersed in the natural wonders and unique experiences that surround Hanoi.


Hanoi, the captivating capital city of Vietnam, offers a wealth of experiences and attractions for travelers seeking adventure and discovery. Whether you’re drawn to its rich history and cultural heritage, its vibrant food scene, or its breathtaking natural surroundings, Hanoi presents a journey that is bound to leave a lasting impression.

Explore the city’s iconic landmarks and cultural sites, such as Hoan Kiem Lake and the Temple of Literature, to immerse yourself in the fascinating history of Hanoi. Indulge in mouthwatering Vietnamese cuisine, from the famous pho to scrumptious banh mi sandwiches, and delve into the bustling street food scene at Dong Xuan Market.

For a truly memorable experience, venture beyond the city borders and embark on day trips to magnificent places like Halong Bay, with its stunning limestone formations, or the charming village of Bat Trang, known for its traditional ceramics. These excursions provide a chance to witness the natural beauty and diversity that surrounds Hanoi.

Whether you’re wandering through Hanoi’s old streets or cruising through the enchanting landscapes nearby, Hanoi promises an unforgettable journey filled with exploration and enchantment. So, pack your bags, consult a reliable Hanoi travel guide, and get ready to embark on a remarkable adventure in the heart of Vietnam.


What are some top attractions and activities in Hanoi?

Hanoi offers a multitude of exciting things to do and see. Some top attractions include Hoan Kiem Lake, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Temple of Literature, and the vibrant Old Quarter. You can also explore the bustling Dong Xuan Market, catch a cultural performance at the Hanoi Opera House, or witness traditional Vietnamese puppetry at the Water Puppet Theatre.

What is the historical significance of Hanoi?

Hanoi boasts a rich and complex history that dates back centuries. The city has witnessed the rise and fall of different dynasties and empires, including French colonization and the Vietnam War. Historical sites like the Old Quarter showcase traditional architecture and offer a glimpse into the city’s past.

What are some must-try dishes in Hanoi?

Hanoi is a food lover’s paradise, with a wide range of mouthwatering dishes to try. Some must-try dishes include pho (noodle soup), bun cha (grilled pork with noodles), and banh mi (Vietnamese sandwich). Be sure to explore the vibrant street food scene in Hanoi, with Dong Xuan Market being a great place to sample local flavors.

Are there any day trips I can take from Hanoi to explore the surrounding region?

Yes, Hanoi serves as a gateway to the natural beauty of Vietnam’s countryside. You can take a day trip to Halong Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its stunning limestone formations and emerald waters. Other popular day trips include visiting the traditional village of Bat Trang, known for its pottery, and exploring the breathtaking landscapes of Sapa, a mountain town with vibrant ethnic minority culture.

What should I expect from a trip to Hanoi?

A trip to Hanoi promises an unforgettable journey filled with discovery and adventure. You can explore iconic landmarks, indulge in delicious Vietnamese cuisine, and immerse yourself in the rich history and cultural heritage of the city. Whether you’re a history buff, a food lover, or a nature enthusiast, Hanoi offers something for everyone.