Hanoi is one of the oldest capitals in the world, where you can find well-preserved colonial buildings, ancient pagodas and unique museums in the center of the city. Hanoi still has a lively atmosphere. From the early hours until late in the evening, the streets are swarming with moving motorcycles. You will find delicious food on every corner of the street. Not to mention the peaceful countryside is a short drive away, with lush forests, green mountains and traditional villages, not to mention the iconic Halong Bay.

5 reasons to visit Hanoi

  1. Explore the old city center; Hanoi Old Quarter.
  2. Walk around the Hoan Kiem lake.
  3. Visit one of the many museums about the Vietnam War.
  4. Enjoy a traditional water puppet show.
  5. Use Hanoi as a base to discover the north of Vietnam.

Practical information

In short

Region

North Vietnam, Hanoi Capital Region

Number of residents

7,600,000

Recommended travel days

2 days

Vietnamese name

Hà Nội

Best travel time

  • Best travel time: Fall (around September to November) and spring (March and April) are the two best seasons. Then the weather is pleasant with milder temperatures.
  • Winter: During this period (December to February) it is quite cold in Hanoi when temperatures can drop below 10 degrees.
  • Summer: It is very hot in Hanoi from May to August, with July as the hottest month. A lot of rain can fall.

Money

Hanoi has many ATM’s. Currency exchange is often the cheapest in gold and jewellery stores. The rates in these stores are often surprisingly fair, without extra costs.

Local events and holidays

  • Tet: Lunar New Year is the mega festival of Vietnam to celebrate with family members and to commemorate the dear deceased. The holiday lasts up to a week when many stores are closed.
  • Full Moon Festival: This festival, also known as the Mid-Autumn Festival, starts on the 15th day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar, usually mid-September or early October. You will see things like singing and dragon dance.
  • Hanoi Pride: The annual Hanoi Pride festival is a colorful week full of parties, film screenings, lectures and a bicycle rally. It is held for a week between July and September.
  • Vietnam’s National Day: celebrated with a rally and fireworks in front of the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum. There are also boat races on Lake Hoan Kiem.
  • Quang Trung Festival: Wrestling competitions, lion dances and human chess take place on the 5th day of the first lunar month.

What to see and do in Hanoi

Best things to do

There is a lot to do in the city, you can see the top 10 best things to do in Hanoi below. But Hanoi is also a good base to explore the region. You will also see that if you visit many destinations in the north during your trip in Vietnam, you will have to travel back a few times via Hanoi to your next destination. But there are also a number of destinations from Hanoi that you can visit in one day trip.

1. Old Quarter
A fascinating district where you can enjoy beautiful colonial architecture, packed along narrow streets and endless traffic of motorcycles, bicycles and cars zigzagging around street vendors.

2. Water puppet show
An old traditional art form where dolls dance and glide elegantly over the stage of water. The Thang Long Puppet Theater is the best known place to view this.

3. Hoan Kiem Lake
This lake is a central point in Hanoi and is a popular meeting place for locals and tourists all day long and with a temple on a small island in the middle of the lake connected by a red bridge.

4. Drinking beer at Bia Hoi Junction
This junction in the center of the old quarter is the best nightlife spot. Here you will find various shops that have converted their entrances into bars with plastic tables and stools. They serve fresh beer for just 0.30 cents.

5. Visit a museum
Hanoi has many high-quality museums. Hoa Lo Prison Museum are the remains of an old prison, the Ho Chi Minh museum shows the life of Ho Chi Minh and Vietnamese Women’s Museum about ethnic minorities and the role of women in wartime.

6. Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum
Ho Chi Minh has left an indelible mark on Vietnamese history and he is honored in Hanoi as the country’s greatest leader. Nicknamed “Uncle Ho” by the locals, his preserved body is now laid to rest in a glass box in the Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum.

7. Food tours
Vietnamese are of their food. You’ll see street food everywhere in Hanoi; withplastic blue stools and stall on the sidewalk selling local food. You can go exploring yourself, but a much nicer way is with a food tour.

8. Imperial Citadel or Thang Long
The imperial citadel of Thang Long is one of the oldest sights in Hanoi and a beautiful remnant of Vietnam’s history and, as a sign of its historical and cultural importance, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

9. Markets
Dong Xuan Market is known as the largest indoor market in Hanoi. Hanoi Weekend Night Market is every weekend in the Old Quarter with stalls everywhere on the street. The Quang Ba flower market starts very early, where you can find flowers from all over Vietnam.

10. Hanoi Train Street
You probably have seen the iconic photos of Hanoi with a train track through a residential area. This street is also called Hanoi Train Street. Trains run daily through these busy and inhabited streets of Hanoi.

Most popular activities in Hanoi

Favorited experiences, day trips and tours in Hanoi booked by fellow travellers.

Authentic Mekong Delta tour (My Tho)

$53.00
  • Exploring a peaceful Island– hardly visited by other tourists.
  • Taking a bicycle and motorcycle to discover the countryside.
  • Rowing sampan along the wonderful canal without tourist.
  • Visit some local coconut workshops.
diner cruise Ho Chi Minh City over the Saigon river

Diner cruise on the Saigon River

$36.00
  • Enjoy delicious dinner with set menu.
  • Great views over the sky line of the city.
  • Traditional music performances.
  • Pick up and drop off at hotel.
Cai Be floating market Mekong Delta tour

Cai Be floating market & local Mekong Delta tour

$72.00
  • Learn how to make coconut candy, pop-rice, rice paper.
  • Visit fruit orchard and listen to traditional Vietnamese.
  • Visit local market and join a cooking class.
  • Make a bicycle ride through a village.
  • Visit a local pagoda and ancient house.
  • Rowing sampan along busy canals

Accommodation in Hanoi

Where to stay

Hoan Kiem (the Old Quarter) – The historic soul of the city, it is clear why most tourists choose to stay here. Temples, old gates and traditional shops create a busy neighborhood that will stimulate all your senses! From luxury hotels to backpacker hostels, there is something for everyone here. Hoan Kiem is the best area to stay in Hanoi if you want a convenient and cultural experience in the center!

Best hotels & hostels in Hanoi

Budget hotels & hostels

  • Central Backpackers Hostel – Old Quarter
  • Old Quarter View Hanoi Hostel:
  • Cocoon Inn
  • Luxury Backpackers

Mid range hotel

  • Hanoi Golden Moment Hotel
  • New Vision Palace hotel
  • The Hanoian Hotel
  • Hanoi Graceful Hotel

High end hotel & resort

  • Hanoi La Siesta Hotel Trendy
  • The Chi Boutique Hotel
  • Hanoi Bonsella Hotel
  • Tirant Hotel

Food & drinking

Restaurants

Deciphering Hanoi’s street food scene can be astonishing, but it is worth keeping up and diving into. The city’s best food comes from the dozens of vendors that line the city’s sidewalks with smoking charcoal burners, tiny plastic stools and queues of locals.

Local restaurants

  1. Hong Hoai’s Restaurant
  2. Hoang’s Restaurant
  3. Green Farm Restaurant
  4. Bun Cha Ta
  5. Banh Mi 25
  6. Bun Bo Nam Bo
  7. New Day Restaurant

Fine dining

  1. Madam Yen Restaurant
  2. The Gourmet Corner Restaurant
  3. Cau Go Vietnamese Cuisine Restaurant
  4. Essence Restaurant
  5. Ngon Villa Restaurant

Nightlife

There is is a lot to do at night in Hanoi. You can join the locals with a beer on the street, go clubbing, chill in a bar or enjoy a impressive performance in the Opera House.

1. Bia Hoi Junction
2. Hanoi Opera House
3. Dragonfly
4. Legend Beer
5. Water Puppet Theatre

6. Hoan Kiem Lake
7. Craft Beer Pub
8. Weekend Night Market
9. Hero Club Hanoi
10. Savage

Transportation

How to get there?

Plane

Hanoi has fewer direct international flights than Ho Chi Minh City. Read all about flights to Vietnam here.

Jetstar Airways, VietJet Air and Vietnam Airlines connect Hanoi with destinations throughout Vietnam. Popular routes are Hanoi to Dalat, Da Nang, Ho Chi Minh City, Hue, Nha Trang and Phu Quoc, all daily flights. Read more about booking domestic flights in Vietnam here.

Bus

Hanoi has four major bus stations. They are fairly well organized, with ticket offices, fixed prices and schedules. It is often easier to book through a travel agent. From Hanoi there are buses to everywhere in Vietnam such as Sapa, Da Nang, Dalat, Hue, Ninh Binh. Cao Bang and Ha Giang. Many open-ticket bus tours through Vietnam start or end in Hanoi.

Tourist minibuses can be booked at most hotels and travel agents. Popular destinations are Halong Bay and Sapa. Prices are usually about 30% to 40% higher than those of the regular public bus, but include a hotel pick up service.

Train

The train station is in the center. You can buy tickets for trains that can take you all the way south to Ho Chi Minh City, or north to Sapa and across the border to China.

How to get around?

Hanoi’s taxis have meters, but not all drivers want to use them. The problem with taking a taxi is that they cannot all speak English well. The most reliable taxis are: Hanoi Taxi, Mai Linh Taxi and Taxi CP. A good alternative is to use the Grab taxi app.

Metro: Hanoi is working hard to build a metro network. It is expected that the first connections can be used by 2021.

Cyclo are Hanoi’s bicycle taxis. Passengers drive in the front cabin, while the driver is behind the passenger. Cyclo cabins are made for two passengers and are ideal for exploring short distances in the center of Hanoi.

Xe Om are Hanoi motorbike taxis. You will find them especially on street corners. The best way to use an Xe Om is with the Grab app.

Itinerary 2 days Hanoi

Day 1

  • Explore Old Quarter (by cyclo optionally)
  • Walk around Hoan Kiem Lake
  • Watch a water puppet show
  • Enjoy street food (by food tour)
  • Have a beer at Bia Hoi Junction

Day 2

  • Walk to Hanoi Cathedral
  • Visit Hoa Lo Prison (Hanoi Hilton)
  • Walk around Temple of Literature
  • Visit Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
  • Visit the Imperial Citadel
  • Watch a show at Hanoi Opera House