What makes Hanoi special is the diverse culture here and nowhere in Vietnam has so many traditional villages as in Hanoi. Villages with Buddhist, folk, and French architecture are scattered throughout the city, making visitors extremely excited about the cultural values that exist in a busy city like Hanoi.
As the capital of a country, it is not uncommon for Hanoi to have such a bustling lifestyle. Rush hours are from 7:00-9:00 in the morning when everybody is rushing to their offices or schools, and from 5:00 to 7:00 in the afternoon when they head back home. However, after a working day, Hanoi returned to the true nature of an old town, quiet, ancient and peaceful in every house and small street.
Hanoi has not only a "street" culture, but also a "village" culture that has converged into the cultural traditions imbued with the people of Hanoi. They love and care for each other, they are ready to spread their arms to help less fortunate lives.
I - Hanoi things to do in exploring cultural and historical sites
1 - Visiting Vietnamese Women’s Museum
- Address: No 36, Ly Thuong Kiet, Hang Bai, Hoan Kiem
- Entrance fee:
+ Adult: 30.000VND (1.3USD)
+ Child under 10 and disabled: Free
2 - Vietnam Museum of Ethnology
Looking from outside, visitors will be attracted by the presentation, which is very scientific and logical and helps you easily grasp the cultural colors of every ethnic group.
- Address: No.1, Nguyen Van Huyen str., Nghia Do, Cau Giay, Hanoi
- Entrance fee:
+ Adult: 40.000VND (1.7USD)
+ Child under 6: Free
3 - Vietnam Military History Museum
Address: 28A Dien Bien Phu, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi City
Entrance fee: 40.000VND/person (1.7USD)
4 - Watching water puppet show
Some typical shows that you may watch in a Water Puppet Theater:
- Traditional Water Puppet Show - expressing the daily life activities of Vietnamese farmers in the past, their hardship but also happiness in life.
- Flying from the water - the collaboration between Vietnamese Water puppet and Western classic shows such as “Swan Lake” ballet show, Spanish Bullfighting, etc.
Recommended water puppet theater: Thang Long Water Puppet Theater
- Address: 57b Dinh Tien Hoang - Quan Hoan Kiem – Ha Noi – Viet Nam
- Entrance fee: 100.000 – 200.000VND (4.3 - 8.6USD)/person
- For more details, please see Hanoi water puppet show
5 - Visiting Duong Lam ancient village
- Entrance fee: 0.9USD/ person
- Bike rent:1.3 - 2.2USD/ hour or3.4-4.3USD/ day
6 - Learning to make pottery products in Bat Trang Pottery Village
- Address: Bat Trang village, Bat Trang Commune, Gia Lam district, Hanoi
- Entrance fee: Free
7 - Learning to cook Vietnamese dishes
Hanoi Cooking Centre
- Address: 44 Chau Long, Truc Bach, Ba Dinh, Hanoi
- Price: from 59$/person
Blue Butterfly Cooking Class
- Address: 69 Ma May, Hang Buom, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
- Price: 55$/person
Highway4 Cooking Class
- Address: 25 Bat Su, Hang Bo, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
- Price: 42$/person
- Address: 58 Quoc Tu Giam, Dong Da, Hanoi
- Entrance fee: 20.000VND/adult (~1USD) and 10.000VND/child (~0,5USD)
With its historical role, Hoa Lo Prison has now become a famous historical site among tourist attractions in Hanoi, which attracts a lot of domestic and foreign tourists.
- Address: No 1, Hoa Lo, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi.
- Entrance fee: 30.000VND/person (1.3USD)
- Children under 15 and disabled people: Free of charge
10 - Vietnam Fine Arts Museum
Here, there are artifacts preserved from the prehistory, 16th century, 17th-century artifacts to contemporary paintings of the 20th century, all of which are cherished, arranged scientifically and intimately, giving visitors the best sense of possible artistic values.
- Address: No 66 Nguyen Thai Hoc street, Ba Dinh, Hanoi
- Entrance fee: 30.000VND (1.3USD)/person
III - Cultural exchange and making friends with the local
1 - Dating with locals - cool things to do in Hanoi
Another place for a date is Hoan Kiem Lake walking street. Exciting, bustling, sweet and colorful are the words that describe this charming Hoan Kiem Lake walking street. There, you can start a conversation with a local that, who knows, will become your soulmate later.
By having a local girlfriend/boyfriend, you will understand a lot about Vietnamese culture and customs.
2 - Meeting students in Hanoi
IV - What to do in Hanoi to enhance your experience
1 - Discover Hanoi’s cuisines
Pho: Pho is a dish that people remember right away when talking about Hanoi. Hanoi has all kinds of Pho: Beef Pho (famous at Pho Thin by the Hoan Kiem lake or 11 Lo Duc), Chicken Pho (172 Ton Duc Thang and Quan Thanh), Rolling Pho (Tay Ho), Mixing Pho (Lan Ong) and Saute Beef Pho (Bat Dan). If you come to Hanoi and you don’t enjoy Pho, it will be like you were never here.
Bun Cha: Like pho, bun cha is also one of the typical dishes of Hanoi people. Bun cha is seen in all streets, even in deep alleys. To enjoy it, simply dip grilled patties into sauce, then eat with some tangled vermicelli noodles and a few pieces of crunchy green papaya. I bet you will like to have the second bite right after you take the first bite.
Banh Mi: Banh Mi bread is a dish that appeared from the French time, basically it is the combination of bread and other ingredients such as pate, eggs, meat .... Hanoi has many famous banh mi shops, with all kinds of prices from affordable to expensive. Here are some of the most popular banh mi shops in Hanoi.
- Old Quarter bread – 38 Dinh Liet street.
- Ba Dan Bread – 34 Lo Su street.
- Nguyen Sinh Bread – 19 Ly Quoc Su street.
Old Quarter Night Market
This is a special "fair" in the heart of the Old Quarter has long been a familiar destination of Hanoians every weekend. This place is not only a trading center but also a culture exchange center, preserving many unique features of 36 old streets in Hanoi, attracting domestic and foreign tourists.
Hanoi Old Quarter Night Market is actually a 3km long street between Hang Dao street and Dong Xuan Market, which is closed from vehicles every weekend. Regardless of the weather, from 6pm to 11pm every Friday, Saturday, Sunday, the streets of Hang Ngang, Hang Dao and Hang Duong are more bustling than ever.
There are about 4000 booths in this special market, with a variety of categories and items ranging from clothes, toys, souvenirs to crafts, fine arts, food, etc. with reasonable prices. The market is overwhelmed with a colorful and vibrant atmosphere. Especially on the Mid-Autumn Festival, Christmas or Lunar New Year, the lanterns, star lights, Christmas decorations, etc. of many colors are being sold, anyone passing by has to stop for a look.
Quang Ba Market
It is not an exaggeration to say that Quang Ba is one of the biggest night flower markets in Hanoi that you cannot ignore. Located only 5kms from the center of Hanoi, Quang Ba has all kinds of flowers from popular to luxury ones. One of the best Hanoi things to do at night is having some night food in the old quarter and walking to this flower market early morning.
Quang Ba market is only open from 2AM to 4-5AM. Flowers here are extremely cheap, you can easily bargain for the best prices. Of course, you need to pay attention that the price will increase slightly prior to and during holidays
- Only from 10 – 30.000VND for a bunch of rose buds up to 50 flowers.
- Only 15-20.000VND for a bouquet of 20 Easter lilies.
- With expensive flowers like gladiolus, it will only cost you 250-300.000VND for a bunch of up to 50 flowers.
And there is a small note that the price of flowers at the end of the market is usually cheaper than that near the gate but the quality of flowers is still very good.
Dong Xuan Market
Referring to Hanoi, it is impossible not to mention Dong Xuan Market, an icon and interesting shopping destination of Vietnamese capital. Dong Xuan Market is located in the old town area with the east in the Dong Xuan market alley, the west in Dong Xuan street, the south in Cau Dong street and the north in Hang Khoai street. The main gate of the market is on Dong Xuan street.
At the market, there are diverse types of items such as clothing, shoes, household items, toys, fabrics with traditional motifs, ... In addition, there are also stalls outside of the market which sell candies, souvenirs, food, ...
In addition, next to Dong Xuan market is Dong Xuan Lane, which is an extremely concentrated place for many restaurants and food shops. This is a place you cannot miss if you want to explore Hanoi cuisine. Certainly you can find a lot of delicious, nutritious, cheap dishes such as rib porridge, bun cha, shrimp cakes, eel vermicelli, sweet tea,...
3 - The Old Quarters - hub for free things to do in Hanoi
With Neo-Gothic style, this old Roman Catholic church is located in the heart of Hanoi. From Hoan Kiem Lake to the west, visitors can easily recognize the faded façade of the church from a distance. The streets around the church area are quite popular with hotels and fashion boutiques.
After years of pause, Masses have been reorganized at the church since 1990 and attracted a large number of parishioners. The ceremony is held every day of the week and is always crowded.
Hang Dau Water Tower
Hang Dau Water Tower is an ancient water tower located at a six-street intersection on Hang Dau street. This unique architecture was built to contain clean water for the city in the 19th century, imbued with French architecture. Now, although it no longer has the capacity to store and supply water, Hang Dau Water Tower exists as evidence of a time of slavery and liberation. It is a historical architectural landmark, becoming a familiar symbol of tourism in Hanoi.
Hoan Kiem Lake
Checking in Hoan Kiem lake definitely is one of the Hanoi top things to do. Hoan Kiem Lake (also called Ho Guom) is the heart of Hanoi. This is not only a place for people to relax, take a walk, but also attach to Hanoians in many cultural and historical aspects. On the weekends, the streets around Hoan Kiem Lake will become walking streets with many interesting activities such as street music and folk games….
Ma May Ancient House
Ma May ancient house is one of the few houses preserved by Hanoi City as an attraction, exhibition, and provider of information about Hanoi history. The house is a typical ancient house in Hanoi, which is a tube house and can be used for multiple purposes. Outer layer is a store that is open to the street to display goods. Inside there is a separate yard. Next is the back room, warehouse and kitchen. The 2nd floor is the worshiping space and the bedroom.
During the day, the ancient house of Ma May is open to receive tourists and can answer visitors' questions. In the evening, this place regularly organizes Ca trù singing performances.
Bach Ma Temple
4 - West Lake
5 - Imperial Citadel of Thang Long
To visit Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, you should go to 19C Hoang Dieu, which is the main gate for visitors. From the center of Hanoi you can easily go there by means of transport like motorbikes, bikes, cars, buses ... If you take the bus, get on route 22, this bus will stop at the bus station in front of Hoang Thanh.
Imperial Citadel of Thang Long is open on weekdays (except Monday).
- Morning: 8:00 - 11:30;
- Afternoon: 14:00 - 17:00
- 30,000 VND/person
- For students, aged 15 and older (must have student cards), seniors over 60, entrance ticket price is 15,000 VND/person
- Free admission for children under 15 and those with meritorious services to the revolution.
6 - Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Complex
The road from the mausoleum to Uncle Ho's stilt house is very beautiful, with a lake and a garden so the atmosphere is extremely cool. Visitors can learn more about Uncle Ho's revolutionary life and career or visit a small, simple house to learn more about his simple life.
Finally, you can visit One Pillar Pagoda - the thousand-year-old lotus of Hanoi capital, one of the symbols of the capital.
Uncle Ho's mausoleum is usually open in the mornings of the week except Monday and Friday. However, special days such as the 1st of Lunar New Year, May 19 (Uncle Ho's birthday) and September 2 (National Day) that coincide with Monday or Friday will remain open.
- Entrance fee: Uncle Ho’s mausoleum doesn’t require a ticket.
The entrance fee for foreign visitors who wish to visit the Uncle Ho's stilt house, where Uncle Ho used to live is 25,000VND/person (~1USD).
7 - Ba Vi National Park
Stepping into Ba Vi National Park, you will have the opportunity to explore the magical natural forest immersed in the mist. A whole pine forest towering with lush greenery, you are spoiled with your best friends to take extremely vivid virtual pictures that are seemingly like being lost in Wonderland. In autumn, you will be immersed in the yellow color of the leaves, like a picture in a romantic movie.
There are many specialties in Ba Vi such as barbs, Da river catfish, goat, piglet, goat milk, grilled goat meat, taro soup, stir-fried pickles, cassava, etc. Especially in the cold season, visitors can burn campfires, show off cooking talents and organize a barbecue party in the middle of the vast space of the forest.
It’s the best to visit Ba Vi between April and October. You can go there either by bus, car or motorbike.
8 - Hanoi Ceramic Mosaic Mural
The project was a gift for Hanoi on the occasion of the 1000th anniversary of Thang Long - Hanoi, and in 2010, the “Ceramics road” was awarded by the Guinness organization as "The world's largest ceramic mosaic”. From then on, the road has become a must-visit destination for tourists when visiting Hanoi.
9 - Huong (Perfume) Pagoda
The Huong Pagoda Festival takes place from the 6th of the First and lasts until the end of the Third lunar month. This is the biggest festival of Perfume Pagoda which can be considered to be the biggest in the North only after the Hung Temple Festival.
The main festival takes place from the full moon of the first lunar month to the 18th of the second lunar month, so the number of people who go to worship the Buddha is quite large and therefore can be quite hectic.
Upon arrival in Huong Pagoda, you might need to get on a small boat or a cable car to get to different caves and pagodas.
10 - Rockbank of the Red River
V - Recreation and relaxation
1 - Chilling at bars, clubs or pubs
- Push Club bar: 23M Hai Ba Trung str., Hoan Kiem district, Hanoi
- The Rooftop bar: 19th floor Pacific Place, No.83B Ly Thuong Kiet str., Hanoi
- King Pirates Pub: 24B Hang Giay str., Hoan Kiem district, Hanoi
- Factory 47 Pub: 47 Hang Buom str., Hoan Kiem district, Hanoi
- Mao’s Red Lounge: 7 Ta Hien, Hoan Kiem district, Hanoi
2 - Bao Son Paradise Park
Bao Son Paradise in Hanoi is a place to preserve the beauty of traditional culture, a paradise of arts, technology, ecology, entertainment and cuisine. Bao Son Paradise Park includes 8 specialized locations:Safari combination, aquarium, water park, combination of games, flying cinema, craft village, cuisine and stay.
Among all, Safari combination is the most popular place. It is divided into rare zoos, ocean worlds and ecological zones. Here is the favorite place for children, especially the rare zoo and the ocean world. The rare zoo nourishes wild animals from South Africa and North America such as giraffes, white tigers, Chita leopards, etc. and precious birds from South America like red-winged parrots,..., reptiles from the tropical countries.
At the heart of Bao Son Paradise is the multi-purpose stage of up to 30,000 m2 with a capacity of 11,000 seats. This area attracts many young people with professional dolphin and sea lion circus performances during the day and impressive laser shows and color spray with music shows at night. In general, this place is heaven with many things to do in Hanoi with kids.
In addition, you can also explore the old town with 20 houses built in the style of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries’ Hanoi. Exciting games, XD high-tech movie theater are also unforgettable experiences for you.
Address: Bao Son Paradise Park, Le Trong Tan Street, An Khanh Commune, Hoai Duc District, just 6km from the National Convention Center, along Thang Long Boulevard.
- Adults: 300,000/person on weekday - 350,000 VND/person at weekend
- Children from 0.9m-1.3m: 220,000/child on week day - 250,000 VND/child at weekend
- Children under 0.9m: free
3 - Ho Tay Water Park
The park has 14 water games, all of which are equipped with modern materials imported from Spain, ensuring safety for everyone when coming here for entertainment. In addition, you are completely assured of the water in the park because the water here is treated through an extremely reliable circulating water filtration system.
Address: West Lake Water Park has a main gate located at 614 Lac Long Quan, Nhat Tan, Tay Ho, Hanoi.
- Children under 1.35m: Week days VND 100,000 / Person, Saturday & Sunday VND 120,000 / Person.
- Adults above 1.35m: Week days VND 120,000, Saturday and Sunday VND 150,000 /person.
- After 17:00: all are discounted to VND 90,000.
- Children under 0.9m: free
4 - Massage and spa
- Hương Sen Massage: No.49 Thái Thịnh str., Thịnh Quang ward, Đống Đa district, Hanoi
- Kingston Life Massage: No. 2/168 Hào Nam str., Dong Da district, Hanoi
- Mộc Spa: 65A Trần Quốc Toản, Hoàn Kiếm, Hanoi
5 - Golf course
- Long Bien Golf Course: 918 regiment area, Phuc Dong ward, Long Bien district, Hanoi
- Hanoi Golf Course: Minh Tri commune, Soc Son district, Hanoi
- Legend Hill Golf course: BRG Legend Hill Golf Resort, Soc Son district, Hanoi
- Dong Mo Golf Resort (BRG Kings Island Golf Resort): BRG Kings Island Golf Resort – Dong Mo, Son Tay, Hanoi
VI - Unique things to do in Hanoi
1 - Riding a bike around West Lake
Bike renting places:
The Old Quarter or places surrounding West Lake provide bike rental services. So you can easily set up a cycling trip. You can rent a bike at Hanoi cycling shop on Lac Long Quan street. Or some bike rental shops around Ngo Huyen, located in the Old Quarter. Around the West Lake, some tourist coffee shops also offer this service for your convenience.
The cost of renting a bike is about $ 4 or about 100,000 VND per day.
2 - Wandering around Old Quarters’ 36 streets
At 8AM, depart for Dong Xuan Market. After that, go to O Quan Chuong and take photos. After that, go to Bach Ma temple and then to 87 Ma May ancient house. Next to Kim Ngan communal house (Hang Bac) - the temple worshiped the ancestor of the Jeweler profession. After that, you find a lunch restaurant, then choose a cafe to rest.
In the afternoon, depart at about 2pm. The first destination is to go around Ho Guom to enjoy the fresh air, remember to visit The Huc Bridge, Ngoc Son Temple and enjoy Trang Tien or Thuy Ta ice cream. After that, you can wander to some eating places such as boiled snails in Dinh Liet, drinking beer in Luong Ngoc Quyen st., stir-fried hearts in Nguyen Sieu st.
Afterward go to the Cathedral or Cho Gao Street to watch the street, drinking lemon tea and having a chit chat. If you go on weekends, you can go to Hang Ngang and Hang Dao streets to have a look at the night market and or souvenirs.
3 - Ta Hien Beer street
Ta Hien Old street is built based on French architecture with dozens of two-storey houses adjacent to each other, with the same design, echoing the beauty of the early 20th century. Ta Hien's irresistible beauty is often compared with the famous Khaosan road in Thailand. Different from the quiet beauty in the early morning mornings, Ta Hien put on a sexy, exciting outfit when night falls.
There are few places in Hanoi with such a unique, vibrant and bustling beauty as Ta Hien when the night comes. The shops and sidewalk beer pubs located close to each other selling the delicious sidewalk specialties in Hanoi have become an unforgettable impression to the people here in general and international tourists in particular. When you arrive here, you will be overwhelmed by the bustling space with hundreds of people passing by. The image of the young people or the Western backpackers gathering to drink beer, chit chat has made a strong impression on the first time visitors to Ta Hien. It seems that all the barriers of language, culture, cuisine, etc. have been removed.
4 - Experience traffic jam is crazily stuff to do in Hanoi
5 - Try to bargain
Pre-valuation: When you like an item, you should spend time surveying the items you want to buy in many stores or online to find out how much the price is.
Bargain confidently: When shopping, you should bargain a little “low”, if the seller does not agree, then gradually increase the money up. According to the experience of many shoppers, just increase the price to 10 thousand to 50 thousand VND every time you negotiate.
Do not show emotions: When buying, do not be too fond of the item in front of the seller. You should keep a cold attitude and express that you are willing to go to other shops to buy goods at better prices.
6 - Enjoy street food in Hanoi
7 - Take photos in beautiful streets in Hanoi
Phan Dinh Phung is one of the rare streets in Hanoi with a row of green perennial Indochina dragon plum trees. The sidewalk of this street is also one of the largest ones in Hanoi. With a few leaves falling in the summer-spring days, Phan Dinh Phung street has become more and more popular among young people for “hot” pictures.
VII - How long & what to do in Hanoi?
To the first-time visitors, Hanoi seems to be a hub of culture, cuisine & tons of other interesting things to do. In order to experience a “true Hanoi”, visitors need to spend at least two - to- three day for sightseeing and exploring activities.
Here are some suggested itineraries that cover the most popular attractions and exciting activities in Hanoi for travelers.
2 - What to do in Hanoi for 2 days
3 - For a 3-day trip in Hanoi
What to do in Hanoi Vietnam? Referring to Hanoi, many people will think about the features of an old city and historical sites during many feudal dynasties. But besides that, Hanoi also has a dynamic rhythm of a growing city day by day. Above are our suggestions for things to do when coming to Hanoi. All you need to do now is to come and experience them by yourself