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40 Best Things to See & Do in Hanoi

Hey there, fellow wanderers! Matan here, your friendly neighborhood globetrotter, ready to spill the beans on the 40 best things to do and see in the mesmerizing city of Hanoi.

To me, Hanoi is not just a destination; it’s a captivating journey that unfolds with each step through its bustling streets and serene corners. 

What I love most about Hanoi is its unique ability to blend the past and the present seamlessly. 

The Old Quarter’s labyrinthine streets whisper tales of bygone eras while modern skyscrapers stand tall, embodying the city’s evolution. 

The vibrant street life, from sipping egg coffee in the quaint cafes to indulging in street food adventures, has a distinctly Hanoian charm. 

The city’s historical landmarks, like the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and the Temple of Literature, offer glimpses into Vietnam’s rich heritage. 

However, the people’s warmth, resilience, and lively spirit make Hanoi truly special. 

Whether wandering through the French Quarter, enjoying the tranquility of West Lake, or immersing myself in the chaos of the night market, each moment in Hanoi feels like a page in a captivating novel that I never want to put down. 

The city’s energy, its flavors, and the genuine smiles of its residents create an experience that lingers in my heart, calling me back to explore its enchanting tapestry time and time again.

Whether you’re a history buff, a foodie adventurer, or seeking unique experiences, Hanoi has covered you.

So, lace up those travel shoes and dive into this Vietnamese gem’s vibrant tapestry!

Best Things to See & Do in Hanoi

Wander around the Old Quarter

Kicking off our Hanoi escapade, stroll through the labyrinthine streets of the Old Quarter.

The lively atmosphere, vibrant markets, and well-preserved historic architecture like the ancient house or Bach Ma Temple make this area a perfect initiation into the city’s heartbeat.

Immerse yourself in the hustle and bustle, discovering hidden gems at every turn.

And if you want more, maximize your exploration of Hanoi by booking a city tour with a knowledgeable guide.

Gain insights into hidden gems, street food, local legends, and historical anecdotes that breathe life into the city’s streets.

A guided tour ensures you don’t just see Hanoi; you experience it!

Wander around the Old Quarter

People Watch at Hoan Kiem Lake

Find a cozy spot by the picturesque Hoan Kiem Lake and indulge in the simple pleasure of people-watching.

The lake, with the iconic Turtle Tower standing tall in its center, provides a serene escape from the urban buzz.

Reflect on the city’s legends and observe the ebb and flow of daily life as you soak in the tranquil ambiance.

People Watch at Hoan Kiem Lake

Cross The Huc Bridge and Visit the Ngoc Son Temple

For a touch of spirituality, embark on a journey across the gracefully curved Huc Bridge to reach the Ngoc Son Temple on Hoan Kiem Lake.

Nestled on an island in the lake, this pagoda offers a serene oasis amid the bustling surroundings.

The journey across the bridge is a visual feast, leading you to a place where history and tranquility coexist.

Cross the Huc Bridge and Visit the Ngoc Son Pagoda

Visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and See Uncle Ho

Pay homage to the revered founding father of Vietnam at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in the legendary Ba Dinh Square.

The imposing structure is a testament to the nation’s history and enduring connection to Uncle Ho.

Witnessing the embalmed leader is a historical encounter and an opportunity to reflect on Vietnam’s journey.

After your visit, you can explore the rest of the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Complex, which includes more landmarks of Hanoi, such as Ho Chi Minh’s Stilt House and Ho Chi Minh Museum, to continue your “Ho Chi’s Journey” in Vietnam’s capital.

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

Book a Cruise to Ha Long Bay

Embark on a captivating journey by booking a cruise to the world-renowned Ha Long Bay.

Marvel at the surreal limestone karsts that majestically rise from the emerald waters.

This stunning UNESCO World Heritage site that you can not miss if you are in Hanoi is a natural masterpiece, inviting you to explore its mystical caves and embrace the enchanting landscapes.

You can book a 1-day cruise or a 2-day Cruise – it’s up to you, while I recommend the two days – trust me, to take up in the bay will be worth it!

2-Day Ha Long Bay 5-Star Cruise & Balcony Cabin

Book a Two-Day Tour to Sapa, Including Trekking and Homestay

Escape the urban sprawl and delve into the scenic beauty of Sapa.

A two-day adventure in Sapa awaits, trekking through mist-covered mountains and a homestay experience that immerses you in the warmth of local hospitality.

Discover the unique culture and breathtaking landscapes of this northern Vietnamese region.

Book the tour here.

2-Day Sa Pa Tour from Hanoi (with Homestay & Trekking)

Book a Day Tour to Ninh Binh, Hoa Lu, Tam Coc, and See Mua Cave

Indulge in a day tour to Ninh Binh, where history and nature intertwine seamlessly.

Explore the ancient capital of Hoa Lu, glide along the serene Tam Coc, and conquer the steep steps leading to Mua Cave for panoramic vistas.

This day trip promises a blend of historical richness and natural wonders.

Book a Day Tour to Ninh Binh, Hoa Lu, Tam Coc, and See Mua Cave

Try the Egg Coffee at Giang Cafe

Satisfy your caffeine cravings with a twist by indulging in the iconic egg coffee at Giang Cafe.

This unique Hanoi specialty blends rich coffee with a creamy, frothy egg concoction.

The cozy ambiance of the cafe adds an extra layer of charm to this must-try culinary experience.

Try the Egg Coffee at Giang Cafe

Watch the Performance at Thang Long Water Puppet

Enjoy traditional Vietnamese entertainment by catching a performance at Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre.

The ancient art of water puppetry comes alive, narrating folk tales and legends in a captivating and visually stunning manner.

It’s a cultural experience that shouldn’t be missed.

Watch a Performance at Thang Long Water Puppet

Visit The Imperial Citadel Hanoi

Step back in time as you explore The Imperial Citadel, the beautiful UNESCO World Heritage site that echoes the whispers of Vietnam’s past.

Wander through the well-preserved remnants of ancient structures, gaining insights into the imperial history that shaped the nation. 

Each stone and wall tells a story waiting to be discovered.

On the way out, don’t forget to take a selfie with the Flag Tower inside the Citadel complex!

Visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of The Imperial Citadel Hanoi

Visit the Temple of Literature

Head to the Temple of Literature, a revered Confucian temple that pays homage to scholars and literature for a dose of academic history.

Explore the serene courtyards, ancient pavilions, and intricate details that make this site a cultural treasure trove.

Temple of Literature
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Eat Pho in the Tiny Chairs Around the City

No visit to Hanoi is complete without savoring a bowl of authentic pho.

Hunt for a street-side spot adorned with tiny chairs, and let the flavors of this iconic Vietnamese noodle soup tantalize your taste buds.

It’s not just a meal; it’s a quintessential Hanoi experience!

Street Food Walking Tour in Hanoi (Small Group)

Eat Bun Cha at Bun Cha Huong Lien

Follow in the footsteps of influential figures like Barack Obama and Anthony Bourdain by indulging in Bun Cha at Bun Cha Huong Lien.

The flavors that impressed these luminaries await your discerning palate, offering a culinary journey into the heart of Hanoi.

Don’t forget to go up to the second floor to see the place where Obama and the chef ate, as the table and all the utensils they used for the meal are in a glass box today.

I recommend you order the “Obama Combo” on the menu for 120,000 VND, which the former US president ordered when he arrived here.

Not for nothing; everyone in Hanoi calls this place “Bun Cha Obama”!

Eat Bun Cha at Bun Cha Huong Lien

Take in the Views from Long Bien Bridge by Booking a Motorcycle Tour Around Hanoi

Elevate your Hanoi experience by booking a motorcycle tour that leads you across the historic Long Bien Bridge.

Feel the wind in your hair as you take in panoramic views of the Red River and the cityscape.

This exhilarating journey provides a unique perspective on Hanoi’s diverse landscapes.

Prefer a jeep over a motorcycle? Spice up your exploration by booking a Jeep tour around Hanoi!

Zip through the city streets in style, uncovering hidden gems and off-the-beaten-path locales.

The open-air adventure offers a thrilling way to discover Hanoi’s lesser-known wonders.

About Me

Appreciate Girl Power at the Vietnamese Women’s Museum

Celebrate the strength and resilience of Vietnamese women by visiting the Vietnamese Women’s Museum.

The exhibits showcase women’s vital role throughout history, from wartime heroines to modern-day trailblazers.

It’s an empowering and enlightening experience.

Vietnamese Women's Museum

Brush Up on Ethnic History at the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology

Deepen your understanding of Vietnam’s diverse ethnic tapestry by visiting the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology.

The exhibits meticulously detail the traditions, customs, and lifestyles of the country’s numerous ethnic groups.

It’s a fascinating journey into the rich cultural mosaic that defines Vietnam.

Vietnam Museum of Ethnology

Put a Note at The Note Coffe

Visiting The Note Coffee in Hanoi is not just a coffee break; it’s a chance to leave your mark on this vibrant city.

Located near Dong Kinh Nghia Thuc Square, this cozy cafe is adorned with colorful sticky notes covering every surface, each bearing messages from visitors near and far.

Join the tradition by jotting down your thoughts, dreams, or simply your name, and add it to the eclectic collage. It’s not just a delightful coffee stop; it’s also an Instagram-worthy spot that captures the whimsy and creativity of Hanoi.

Don’t forget to capture a photo of your note and share it with the world, leaving a piece of yourself behind in this charming city.

Trust me – your Instagram followers will thank you!

The Note Coffee Hanoi

Try Banh Mi

Satiate your culinary curiosity with a Banh Mi, a Vietnamese sandwich that’s a harmonious blend of flavors and textures.

This street food classic offers a delightful experience for your taste buds and is a quick, satisfying snack as you explore the city.

Try Banh Mi

Go Shopping at Dong Xuan Market

Don’t miss shopping at Dong Xuan Market, Hanoi’s largest covered market.

Navigate through the bustling aisles where vendors peddle various goods, from local handicrafts to fresh produce.

It’s a sensory journey through the heart of Vietnamese commerce.


Visit Hoa Lo Prison Museum (The Hanoi Hilton)

Delve into the sad chapters of Vietnam’s history by visiting the Hoa Lo Prison Museum, famously known as The Hanoi Hilton.

The exhibits offer a poignant glimpse into the struggles and sacrifices made by those who endured captivity during various periods of conflict.

Visit Hoa Lo Prison Museum (The Hanoi Hilton)

Take a Cooking Class

Immerse yourself in the culinary arts of Vietnam by taking a cooking class.

Learn the secrets behind preparing traditional dishes using fresh local ingredients.

It’s not just a class; it’s an interactive experience that lets you bring the flavors of Hanoi to your kitchen.

If you like Vietnamese Coffee, you can also book a Vietnamese Coffee Workshop or join an Old Quarter Market Tour and Cooking Class that includes a cooking class and a tour of the city.

Take a Cooking Class

Book a Street Food Tour

Embark on a gastronomic adventure with a street food tour.

Navigate through the maze of food stalls, sampling Hanoi’s diverse and delectable street foods.

This tour ensures you don’t miss any culinary gems hiding in plain sight, from savory to sweet.

Another popular street food tour includes a visit to Train Street (no. 37 in this list).

We also have a Vegan Street Food Tour!

Book a Street Food Tour
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Make Your Pottery at Bat Trang Ceramic Village

Tap into your artistic side by crafting pottery at the Bat Trang Ceramic Village.

Get hands-on with the traditional artistry of the village, creating unique pieces that serve as souvenirs and a personal connection to Hanoi’s artisanal heritage.

Bat Trang Pottery Village

See the Beautiful St. Joseph’s Cathedral

Marvel at the architectural beauty of St. Joseph’s Cathedral, a Neo-Gothic masterpiece that stands tall amidst the city’s hustle.

The tranquil ambiance inside provides a welcome escape, inviting moments of reflection amidst the vibrant urban backdrop.

See the Beautiful St. Joseph’s Cathedral

Take a Cyclo Tour

Unwind and let the city unfold with a leisurely cyclo tour around Hanoi.

The traditional three-wheeled bicycle takes you on a laid-back journey through the city’s vibrant streets, allowing you to soak in the sights (and the traffic) without breaking a sweat.

Take a Cyclo Tour

Visit Tran Quoc Pagoda

Seek solace and spiritual reflection at Tran Quoc Pagoda, the oldest Buddhist temple in Hanoi.

Nestled on a small island in West Lake, the pagoda offers a serene retreat from the urban chaos, with stunning views of the surrounding landscapes.

And if it’s not enough, visiting Tran Quoc Pagoda in Hanoi means you don’t have to trek to India to see the famous Bodhi tree.

The Bodhi tree is like a green, peaceful time machine. It’s believed to be a cutting from the original tree under which Buddha found enlightenment.

Plus, who knows? You might even get lucky and snag a leaf as a souvenir! It’s like a bonus prize for your journey!

Visit Tran Quoc Pagoda

Tour the Vietnam National Museum of History

Embark on a captivating journey through Vietnam’s past at the National Museum of History.

The extensive collection of artifacts and exhibits provides a comprehensive overview of Vietnam’s history, from ancient civilizations to modern-day Vietnam.

Vietnam National Museum of History

Appreciate the Art at the Vietnam National Museum of Fine Arts

Indulge your artistic senses at the National Museum of Fine Arts.

The museum showcases Vietnam’s vibrant and evolving art scene from traditional to contemporary.

It’s a visual feast that offers insight into the nation’s creative spirit.

Vietnam National Museum of Fine Arts

Visit Ba Vi National Park

Escape into the embrace of nature by visiting Ba Vi National Park.

The lush landscapes, diverse flora, and well-marked hiking trails make it an ideal destination for any nature lovers who visit Hanoi.

Whether you seek a challenging hike or a stroll, the park has something for everyone.

Ba Vi National Park

Walk Around the French Quarter

Stroll through the French Quarter and admire the grandeur of the Hanoi Opera House (in the iconic Square of the August Revolution).

The architectural elegance of this area reflects Hanoi’s colonial history, providing a captivating blend of European aesthetics and Vietnamese charm.

Square of August Revolution

Book a 1-Day Tour to Perfume Pagoda

Unravel the mysteries of the Perfume Pagoda by booking a day tour to this sacred site nestled in the Huong Tich Mountains.

The pagoda complex, with its intricate architecture and serene surroundings, offers a spiritual journey that complements the landscape’s natural beauty.

Perfume Pagoda

Get Social and Drink Bia Hoi on the Street

Enjoy Hanoi’s vibrant social scene and nightlife by sipping Bia Hoi, a local draft beer.

Join the locals on the street or head to the lively Beer Street (Ta Hien) for a convivial atmosphere.

It’s a fantastic way to unwind and connect with the city’s energetic pulse!

Get Social and Drink Bia Hoi on the Street

Find a Rooftop Bar

Elevate your Hanoi experience by discovering a rooftop bar.

Sip on your favorite drink while relishing panoramic views of the city’s skyline.

These elevated spots offer a serene escape from the urban hustle, whether during the day or under the sparkling night sky.

Find a Rooftop Bar

Enjoy the Silence at West Lake & Truc Bach Lake

Escape the urban buzz and revel in the tranquility of West Lake.

Whether you stroll along its shores or rent a boat to explore its waters, the lake provides a peaceful retreat, allowing you to recharge amidst nature’s embrace.

Steeped in history and serenity, visit the nearest Truc Bach Lake, offering a poignant reminder of Vietnam’s past.

One of its most notable features is the John McCain Memorial, a modest monument commemorating the late U.S. Senator’s capture and imprisonment nearby during the Vietnam War.

Visiting this site is a chance to pay respects to a significant figure in history and reflect on the complexities of war and reconciliation.

Surrounding the lake, you’ll find a peaceful ambiance, perfect for a stroll or quiet contemplation.

Enjoy the Silence at West Lake

Visit One Pillar Pagoda

Marvel at the architectural wonder of One Pillar Pagoda, located inside the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum.

Supported by a single pillar, this unique structure is not just a symbol of Vietnamese ingenuity but also carries deep Buddhist significance.

It’s a spiritual landmark that captivates history enthusiasts and seekers of serenity.

Visit One Pillar Pagoda

Check Out the 4-kilometer Mosaic Wall

Witness creativity comes to life along the 4-kilometer Mosaic Wall.

This vibrant and colorful public art display adds a unique charm to Hanoi’s urban landscape.

Stroll along the wall, appreciating the intricate details and diverse stories portrayed through the mosaic.

And if you want more art, ensure to visit the Street Murals.

Hanoi Ceramic Mosaic Mural

Watch the Train passing at the Train Street

Experience the unique spectacle of a train passing through the narrow streets of Train Street, a.k .a. the most dangerous street in Hanoi.

This quirky intersection of urban life and transportation provides an unforgettable sight.

Join locals and fellow travelers as you witness this harmonious dance between trains and daily life.

Watch the Train passing at the Train Street

Drive your followers crazy at Quang Phu Cau

Experience the timeless charm of Incense Village (Quảng Phú Cầu) on a day tour from Hanoi, a must-see destination for those seeking an authentic Vietnamese experience.

Explore the village’s rich cultural heritage as you visit ancient temples, witness traditional incense-making, and immerse yourself in the picturesque countryside.

The day tour from Hanoi to the village offers a unique opportunity to escape Hanoi’s hustle and bustle and discover rural Vietnam’s beauty.

Quang Phu Cau Incense Village Day Tour from Hanoi

Visit Duong Lam Ancient Village

Step back in time and immerse yourself in history by visiting Duong Lam Ancient Village.

The well-preserved architecture and ancient traditions glimpse Vietnam’s rural past.

Wander through narrow lanes, explore ancient houses, and connect with the timeless charm of this village.

Duong Lam Ancient Village

Enjoy the Hanoi Night Market on Weekends

Wrap up your Hanoi adventure by immersing yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of the Hanoi Night Market.

The streets come alive on weekends with bustling stalls, local crafts, and street performances.

It’s the perfect opportunity to meet locals, grab souvenirs, and savor the lively spirit of Hanoi after dark.

Hanoi Night Market

Get a Haircut in the middle of the Street

For a truly authentic Hanoi experience, I challenge you to get a haircut on the city’s bustling streets.

It’s a bold move that promises a memorable story to tell.

However, before you take the plunge, ensure the barber shop meets specific standards: hygiene is paramount, so ensure the barber changes the knife and the surroundings are clean.

Opt for a reputable and well-known barber in the area, ensuring a professional and safe experience.

To sum up

In conclusion, dear fellow adventurers, Hanoi is not just a destination; it’s an immersive experience waiting to unfold.

From the charming chaos of the Old Quarter to the serene shores of West Lake, this guide has aimed to be your compass through the diverse wonders of Vietnam’s capital. 

Whether you’re a history buff, a culinary explorer, or simply someone seeking the heartbeat of a vibrant city, Hanoi welcomes you with open arms. 

From sipping egg coffee at Giang Cafe to witnessing the spectacle of Train Street, every recommendation on this list is a thread woven into the intricate fabric of Hanoi’s story. 

As you embark on this journey, may the echoes of the city’s rich history, the flavors of its delectable cuisine, and the warmth of its people leave an indelible mark on your travel soul. 

So, pack your curiosity, embrace the spirit of adventure, and let Hanoi weave its magic on you. 

Have a safe trip, and may your Hanoi escapade be a chapter in your unforgettable exploration tale!

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Picture of Matan Cohen
Matan Cohen

Hey there! I'm Matan, an avid lover of Hanoi. In my free time, you can usually find me exploring the city's vibrant streets, sampling the delicious local cuisine, or immersing myself in the diverse culture of Vietnam.

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2-Day Sa Pa Tour from Hanoi (with Homestay & Trekking)
About Me

Hey, I’m Matan! As a passionate, thrill-seeking traveler, I instantly connected with Hanoi.

From the bustling streets and flavorful street food to the unique culture and vibrant nightlife – this dynamic city held something new and exciting around every corner.

Exploring further revealed hidden gems – peaceful parks, colorful temples, friendly locals – that truly made it a place I wanted to call home.

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