Hanoi is the capital and second most populous city (after Ho Chi Minh City) of Vietnam. Hanoi is located in the northern region of the country, situated in Vietnam’s Red River delta.
This old city is large and spread out and Old Quarter is the heart of the city where Hoan Kiem Lake is located.
The Legacy of Chinese and French colonial influence can still be seen throughout the city. The city is more characterful and elegant than its other counterparts. It is a bustling settlement, museums, street food, motorbikes, and very cheap beer.
The Old Quarter is the most happening place where you’ll spend all your money and time. All the activity and touristy spots are located here. This is the place where most of the cafes, mid-budget Hotels, lounges, markets, clubs, street stalls, and shops are concentrated.
The most overwhelming thing is that more than half of the vehicles in Hanoi are motorbikes. Crossing streets can be a bit tricky.
Where to stay
There are a plethora of accommodations in Hanoi around the Old Quarter. It is the best place to stay as it has pretty stylish hotels, cafes, shops and most of the attractions at walking distance.
You can book hotels in advance ranging from high to low according to your budget.
Some of the Budget Hanoi Hotels are
1. Hanoi Little Town Hotel
2. Angel Palace Hotel
3. Hanoi Fantasea Hotel
4. Luxury Backpackers
Things to do in Hanoi
● Walk Around Hoan Kiem Lake
The meaning of Hoan Kiem lake is the “lake of the returned sword”. The lake located at the center of Old Quarter and is a major scenic spot of the capital. The beautiful lake is an escape for locals on weekends when cars are blocked off and it’s for pedestrians only.
● Take a stroll in and around Old Quarter
This is the best place for the people who want to grasp the city’s culture or have a curiosity to travel back in time. This place is full of old hidden gems, churches (especially St Cathedral church), French colonial architecture and tons of cafes, bars etc.
● Go on an overnight Halong Bay Cruise
Halong Bay is a Unesco World Heritage site about three hours east of Hanoi. The beauty of this place is due to the Emerald green waters of the Gulf of Tonkin, limestone pillars and around 2000 islets. It is a vision of ethereal beauty.
Price: Paying between US$110 and US$130 should get you a worthwhile overnight midrange cruise.
● Go to the weekend night market
Held every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday on the main street in town- vibrant gathering of food stalls, mini vendors, locals, and tourists. Open at 19:00 onwards, starting from Hang Dao Street and running north to the edge of Dong Xuan Market. Bargain half the price of what they offer. It’s all fake products cheap market.
● Watch a water puppet show
Catch a water puppet show if you are interested in cultural shows at Thang Long Water Puppet Theater in Hanoi. You’ll be entertained with hour-long performance of Vietnamese folktales with a live orchestra.
This theatre showcases traditional content of water puppet performance like daily life of Vietnamese farmers (cultivating, tending buffalo, catching fishes…), communal entertainment (swimming contest, dragon dancing…), or historical legends (Le Loi returns precious sword…).
The modest performances have appealed audiences for centuries. The theatre prides itself in being the only theatre across Asia that performs Water Puppetry all 365 days of a year and, is one of Vietnam’s best.
Price: Starting from ₹ 789.10
● Drink a Beer on Ta Hien Street
It is known as the Beer street of Hanoi where people sit outside on small chairs drinking local beer and eating BBQ. People wander around with friends and party.
Price: One beer costs between 5,000 – 7,000 VND (0.23- 0.32 USD)
● Take a motorbike taxi
It is probably going to be the best experience. Book a motorbike by uber/grab and hang out in Hanoi like a local.
● Visit the Temple of Literature
The Temple of Literature was founded in 1070. It is also known as the Van Mieu Temple is a great example of Vietnamese architecture. It was originally dedicated to Confucius-a respected philosopher.
The temple complex is sprawling. Inside is a lake of plump carp, rows of stone slabs engraved with the names of scholars and an altar clouded with incense sheltering a statue of Confucius.
● Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
This place is the final resting place of Ho Chi Minh. He was the most iconic and popular leader of Vietnam. His body is preserved in a glass case at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in central Hanoi.
● Doan Mon Gate
It is another of Hanoi’s defining structures, located in the heart of the city and is one of the few standing remnants of Hanoi’s Citadel since the last 1,000 years.
It is one of the few standing remnants of Hanoi’s Citadel and it was recognized as the world heritage site by UNESCO in 2010. It had been the center for political power in the region and has a distinct mix of south-east Asian architectural styles.
● Ho Chi Minh Museum
This museum will take you on the journey of Ho Chi Minh’s life. Everything is elaborately described in 8 chronological topics.
Here you will witness a beautiful collection of artifacts, miniatures and various other gifts gathered nationally and internationally. There is also a description written in English and France.
● One Pillar Pagoda
It is a Buddhist temple which worth stopping to pay your respect just outside the Ho Chi Minh museum.
● West Lake
The West Lake, also known as the Lake of mist is Hanoi’s largest freshwater lake which is located in Tay Ho District. This place offers an array of attractions.
The lake is surrounded by many lush green gardens, villas, hotel, nightlife venues, cafes and a row of trees by the shore. It is located in the very center of the capital of Vietnam with a circumference of 17 km.
This place is accessible from the Old Quarter within a 15-minute drive. It is locally known as Tay Ho Lake and provides a sanctuary of great natural.
Best places to eat in Hanoi
The Vietnamese food is as diverse as its landscape. The finger licking food is irresistible. It is the most flavorful and balanced cuisine. Food is literally everywhere in Hanoi.
The food is worth exploring since it’s one of the freshest, healthiest and most flavorful cuisines in the world. Hanoi is packed with places to eat.
● Bun Cha:
This dish is only served in Northern Vietnam. It’s pork fatty meatballs, grilled over a fire, and served in a soup with rice noodles and green vegetables.
Where To Eat:
● You can have best bun cha is at 34 Hang Than which is a small, very cheap eatery with plenty of flavors.
● Bun Cha Hang Quat is located at 74 Hàng Quạt, Hàng Gai, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam.
● Bun Thang:
It is rice vermicelli with chicken, egg, and pork can be enjoyed at any time of the day. The flavourful broth is made with 20 different ingredients. All these are carefully arranged as a flower.Where To Eat:● Best Place to eat this dish is at 48 Cao Go, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi.
● Pho:It is the most classic Vietnamese dish, which is rice, noodles served with beef or chicken, onions, garlic and cilantro in a sour and tasty broth.The two main varieties are pho bo, or beef pho; and pho ga, or chicken pho. Where To Eat:
● You can get the best Pho at GIA TRUYEN on 49 Bát Đàn, Cửa Đông, Hoàn Kiếm between 18:00 to 22:00.
● Pho Bat Dan is one of the best restaurants in Hanoi.
● Pho Thin (13 Lo Duc) south of Hoan Kiem Lake.
● Banh Cuon:
It is one of the iconic street food dishes of the capital. It is perfect for snacking as it is very light and you can eat it on your way through Hanoi.
Banh Cuon can be found all over the Old Quarter, especially in the morning, You will usually find it at small shops or carts.Where To Eat:
● Visit 14 Hang Ga, which is run by a family for generations.
● A good Banh Cuon stall is located in Old Quarter on the corner of Hang Buom and Ta Hien.
● Cha Ca:
Cha Ca is a Northern Vietnamese specialty that consists of Rice noodles, pan-fried chunks of meaty, fatty skinned fish, served with dill, turmeric, peanuts, shrimp paste. There is an entire street in the Old Quarter which is dedicated to this dish.Where To Eat:
● The best place to try this flavorful concoction is at 21 Duong Thanh Street, Old Quarter, Hanoi.
● Banh Duc:
It is made from a blend of rice flour and water. The mixture is eaten with pork, mushrooms, fried tofu, herbs, and a topping. The dipping fish sauce is the main part is this dish.Where To Eat:
● 8B Le Ngoc Han Street is the best place to enjoy Banh Duc.
● Bun Ca:
Fried Fish noodle soup is yet another popular and delicious Hanoian soup. This is also a noodle soup.Where To Eat:● You can have it at Bun Ca Sam Cay Si, 5 Ngo Trung Yen off Dinh Liet Street, Old Quarter.
Xoi is glutinous sticky rice served with additions such as hard-boiled eggs, pork, chicken and more. Glutinous rice is flavored with green mung bean paste and lots of chicken fat.
Hanoi sticky rice is a true guilty pleasure.Where To Eat:
● Try it at Xoi Yen (35b Nguyen Huu Huan).
● Bun Dau Mam Tom:
It is another classic street food dish in the capital. It is a beef noodle salad served with fried tofu, pork, herbs and a bowl of mam tom or pungent fish paste.Where To Eat:
● There are several bun dau nam dau eateries down alley 27 on Hang Khay at the southern end of Hoan Kiem Lake.
● Quan Bun Dau Viet is the best eatery.
● Banh Mi:
It is a sandwich made on a French Baguette and loaded with tons of vegetables, meat and Vietnamese spices.Where To Eat:
● Favorite Banh Mi sandwiches in Hanoi were are at nameless stands.
● You’ll get eat best Banh Mi at Hoi An.
Overall you will get to enjoy the city’s culture and a delicious mix of French colonial architecture.