Vietnam is the most beautiful country in Southeast Asia. It offers a great tourist destination for everyone. If you want to experience mountains, rural villages, magnificent landscapes, chaotic crowd in the busy streets, shopping pleasures, beaches and many more, Vietnam serves your purpose. Moreover the destination is very much pocket friendly for the tourists and here you can do more spending a lesser amount of money.
Hanoi, the busy Capital City of Vietnam offers you some of the best travel moments which you can treasure in your lifetime. Though it may be challenging for a first time visitor but you would enjoy exploring Hanoi as a traveller which will give you one of the most finest moments of your life.
Hanoi makes you crazy at the first sight since you would see lots of bikes parking by the roads, the daily hustle and bustle of the crowd, the melody of the car horns and busy streets.
Also you would relish the smell of delicious food cooked in various shops making your stay comfortable and the night life will make you extremely wild giving you a beers’ kick and creating an idle time for a booze.
The place has some melodious DJ music parlour, live bands and altogether makes your nightlife memorable. It’s advisable to spend 4 nights at Hanoi if you are visiting for the first time since you need to explore some of the best places there with your loved ones. The best time to visit Hanoi in April since the weather is mild and the month of November is even better.
You can land in this wonderful city by your flight in the Noi Bai International Airport which is around 45 minutes from the Old Quarter, the shopping paradise of Hanoi. On reaching Noi Bai International Airport, take Uber or a taxi which would cost around 13 USD to reach to your Hotel which preferably should be in the Old Quarter which is strategically located in the heart of the city and from there you can do whatever you want like shopping, visiting various places and many more.
It's better if you stay in Hanoi Little Town Hotel which is very cheap and the best place to stay. It will cost around 20-25 USD per day including breakfast depending on the season. There are many other hotels in the Old Quarter which gives you a pleasant stay.
Best things to do in Hanoi as a First-Time Traveller
Visit the Old Quarter
The first plan in your agenda is to visit the 36 Old Quarter which will be very much near to your Hotel and around 45 minutes from the Bai Hoi International Airport. Have your breakfast on reaching the hotel and get ready to explore some of the best items in the 36 streets of Old Quarter. Take a stroll and visit the shops. It will be very much chaotic but you will love the crowd.
Also you would see fancy colour motorbikes in the busy streets of Old Quarter which will surely thrill you. Here in this place you will be able to buy handmade lanterns, traditional toys, antiques, handicrafts items, underwears, socks, children's dresses, lacquer paintings, propaganda art items, herbs, traditional medicines, lacquerware, women’s accessories and many more.
The prices are cheap but you need to bargain a lot. Within 2 USD to 4 USD you will get some of the best items to take to your home. Moreover you can spend time in some of the temples and pagodas there in the Old Quarter since the place has an architectural and historical importance.
Old Quarter is located 45 minutes from the Bai Hoi International Airport.
Roam around the Hoan Kiem Lake
It’s known as Lake of the Restored Sword and it is located in the center of the city just beside the main post office of the Old Quarter. This is a favourite place where the people spend their time in rest, eating their lunch, taking a stroll and many more.
Just take a walk around the lake and you will have some beautiful moments with the nature. There you will find an 18th century Buddhist temple known as Ngoc Soc Temple. The temple is situated in a small island in the lake and is not very far away from the shore of the lake.
You can have a chat with the local students and they will love to do so since they want to be familiar with english communication.
Hoan Kiem Lake is located just beside the Post Office of the Old Quarter.
Explore the Night Market in the city
If the day time doesn’t match with your shopping pleasures, to avoid more chaos night market in hanoi gives you the perfect opportunity to buy things peacefully. The market runs on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights.
The atmosphere becomes quite, the bargain becomes easy since the shopkeepers don’t insist on their rigid prices and most important you can enjoy some of the best cooked food there like grilled pork, grilled fish, hot soup, hot peanuts and much more.
The beer and the wine sold locally would also make your moment a perfect one.
The night market can is located in the Old Quarter.
Visit Ngoc Son Temple
This temple is also known as the “Temple of Literature” and it is surrounded by a marvellous landscaped garden which will create a best moment for a snapshot. You will find lots of greeneries and pavilions.
The temple was built in 1070 and was a place where the wealthy people use to study more academics than religion.
It is Vietnam’s First National University which has many monuments made for the scholars who have graduated from the Temple. It is advisable to go there early as possible since it becomes crowded in the afternoons.
Ngoc Son Temple is Located on the Hoan Kiem Lake.
Tour the Hoa lo Prison
Also known as Hanoi Hilton, this prison will give you a nostalgic taste of the Vietnamese war. It was built to keep the Vietnamese political prisoners and later on it was used to keep the American prisoners during the Vietnamese war.
The dark prison will show you some of the historical moments faced by the country during the war. You will also see the models of the prisoners kept there to give you a feeling of the past history.
Hoa lo Prison is located near Hoan Kiem lake.
Stop at Bia Hoi Corner
If you love to drink chilled beer, this place serves your purpose. Here the local made beer costs around 20 cents (5000 VND) and it is made without preservatives. The pubs are situated at the junction point of Ta Hien and Luong Ngoc Quyen.
Here you get world’s cheapest beer which will make you crazy.If you don’t like to drink beer, you should visit this place because the environment will make you crazy. You will love sitting on the plastic tools and gossiping with your friends watching the crowd.
Also you would see some people striking a serious conversation but should stay there till 9 pm. Avoid late night visit.
Taste the some of the best food at Hanoi
Hanoi will give you some of the mouth watering recipes cooked with pork, fish, meat and many more. Try some of the items like hot soup, grilled pork, grilled fish and there are more to fill your hungry stomach.The cafes give you the best moments to have your food.
Bun Cha is one of the popular food in Hanoi. It is grilled pork with noodles which would excite you a lot. You would find the best Bun Cha in the Bun Cha 34 a small family runned eatery which has a history behind it.
Once the famous US President Barack Obama had delicious Bun Cha from this eatery.
If you are not well accustomed eating fish oil food products, please try some vegetarian dishes like the hot soup Pho and many more. Try hot food items instead which are safe for your hungry stomach. You can also have Bun Ca which is made up of grilled fish with soft noodles.
Enjoy Cycle ride around the Old Quarter
The trip remains incomplete if you don’t take a tricycle ride around the Old Quarter. You will love that since its something different and gives you a unique experience.
The same was very much frequent during the French rule in Vietnam. Its known as Cyclo. One Cycle fits two tourists at a time.
Please do bargain before riding. One hour ride costs 100000 VND.
Spent your memorable moment at Quang Ba Flower market
It is open from 2 am till 6 am and is located at Hau Co street. If you are a lover of beautiful flowers this is the perfect place for you. Here you would be surprised to see such flowers beings packed onto Motorbikes.
You will find some of the bright coloured roses, lilies, daisies, orchids and many more. Take a snapshot of these flowers which will be an adorable moment of your life.
Explore the Museum of Ethnology
Here you will find excellent collection of tribal arts, handicrafts and fabulous antique objects. It is open from 8:30 am till 5:30 pm from Tuesday till Sunday. It is situated near the Van Huyen street of Hanoi. Here the Kids will enjoy to explore since there are stilt houses.
This place will give you lots of information about the Vietnamese ethnic groups. The exterior of the museum has an ethnic looks with pictures and work of art.
The Museum is located in the Cau Giay District around 8 km from City centre.
Enjoy your life on the Train street
The Train street is one of the busiest places in Hanoi. Here you would experience the joys of living by the train tracks. Everyday you would watch the trains moving here and there and how lives are growing up by the train tracks.
A nostalgic experience to cherish in lifetime, such street would give a real pleasures of Hanoi.You can move to Ngo 224 Le duan in the Old Quarter to watch the trains.
End your day watching the Water Puppet Show
Water Puppet show is one of the Unique things at Hanoi. Evening time is the best time to watch such water puppets which will give you lots of laugh. The show is organized in a pool where lots of puppets resembling people and animals are controlled by puppeteers.
The show moves on depicting different traditional tales of the city with music in the background played from string instruments and drums.Go to Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre in the Hoan Kiem lake which is open from 3:30 pm to 5:00 pm and then it is open form 6:30 pm till 8:00 pm from Monday to Saturday.
On Sunday, you can watch it at 9:30 am.
Lastly be aware of pickpockets at Hanoi and be safe.