20 Things To Do In Hanoi & Things To See In Hanoi In Your Visit


Hanoi Overview

Along the Red River's banks in Vietnam's Northern part, Hanoi seamlessly intertwines tradition with contemporary life. Let's explore why it's worth visiting and when to visit Hanoi!

Is Hanoi Worth Visiting?

A Corner In Hanoi

A Corner In Hanoi

Yes. Hanoi is a great place to visit. Travelers love it for its diverse architecture, delicious yet affordable cuisine, and historical landmarks.

  • Unique architecture

One attractive thing about Hanoi is its mix of Western and Eastern architecture.

Being the capital and having a long history, it has old and new landmarks, including the Old Quarter, The Opera House, One Pillar Pagoda, and more.

  • Delicious and affordable cuisine

Hanoi is famous for its yummy and unique dishes like Pho, Bun Cha, and Trang Tien ice cream. You can try these world-famous foods without spending a lot of money.

  • Abundance of historical and cultural landmarks

Lastly, Hanoi is full of interesting historical and cultural places. The Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, Turtle Tower, Tran Quoc Pagoda, and more show the city's rich history. So, Hanoi is like a treasure chest if you're into history and culture.

What Is The Best Month To Visit Hanoi?

Which Season Should We Travel To Hanoi?

Which Season Should We Travel To Hanoi?

If you like mild weather and pretty scenery, visit in the autumn, from September to November.

During this time, the temperature is comfortable, it's not too humid, and the leaves change color, making the streets look beautiful. Autumn is the best time to visit Hanoi, walk around the Old Quarter, and try local food in cozy cafes.

Spring, from March to April, is another good time. The weather is warm, and the city gets colorful, with flowers blooming everywhere. The Vietnamese New Year happens in spring with exciting celebrations, but note that it's a busy time for travel.

If you prefer cold weather, visit in winter from December to January. It's an excellent time to explore Hanoi's cultural sites, museums, and indoor attractions.

10 Things To Do In Hanoi

Below are ten activities I and other tourists love to do when visiting Hanoi. I'm sure they will make your Hanoi itinerary more complete!

Walk Around The Old Quarter

Old Quarter

Old Quarter

When one thinks of Hanoi, the Old Quarter immediately comes to mind.

Also known as the 36 Streets, this historic area is a treasure trove of stories and traditions. And walking around the Old Quarter is an experience that encapsulates the city's soul and essence.

The Old Quarter sprawls West and North of Sword Lake, encompassing 36 streets, each specializing in a unique trade or craft. It’s a labyrinth of history, commerce, and culture.

One of the most exciting aspects of walking around the Old Quarter is the sensory overload that accompanies it.

Each narrow street has its beauty, and as you weave through the bustling alleys, you'll see a mosaic of traditional shops, street vendors, and ancient architecture.

Among the 36 Streets, Hang Ma is a must-visit.

Hang Ma is a vibrant and bustling street in the heart of the Old Quarter, especially during festivals and Tet (Lunar New Year).

The entire street comes alive with the glow of lanterns, colorful decorations, and the sound of festivities, creating a lively atmosphere that is truly magical.

Exploring this place on foot allows you to absorb the city's energy. The narrow streets are filled with the hum of daily life, where locals go about their routines and the history of Hanoi is etched into the ancient buildings.

Alternatively, you can rent a bicycle or take a cyclo ride for a more leisurely exploration, allowing you to soak in the sights and sounds at a relaxed pace.

Taste Street Food

Banh Mi

Banh Mi

The street food in Hanoi is not only unique but also nearly impossible to find elsewhere. Below are some dishes you must try!

Hot Rice Cake

Hot rice cake is an ideal snack to savor during the chilly days in Hanoi. The chewy rice cake, made from brown rice and tapioca flour, is complemented by finely minced meat and topped with a hot, sweet, and sour fish sauce.

The best way to enjoy it is by sitting on a small stool by the sidewalk in the Old Quarter during the winter evenings.

Recommended addresses:

  • Le Ngoc Han Street

  • An Duong Street

  • Nghia Tan Street

Pork Rib Congee

A timeless and popular street food in Hanoi, pork rib congee, can be found in small eateries along narrow streets.

The thick, velvety congee is made from ground rice, and it comes with tender pork ribs, minced meat, dried shrimp floss, and crispy fried dough sticks. A bowl of pork rib congee with a side of soy milk is a comforting option for breakfast.

Recommended addresses:

  • Hang Bo Ward

  • Dong Xuan Ward

  • Ngo Huyen Street

Pork Rib Congee

Pork Rib Congee


No list of street food in Hanoi is complete without mentioning Pho.

This iconic Vietnamese dish, consisting of fresh rice noodles, tender slices of beef or chicken, aromatic herbs, and a flavorful broth, is a must-try. Whether on bustling streets or quiet alleys, a steaming bowl of Pho is never far away.

Recommended addresses:

  • Ngo Thi Nham Street

  • Ly Quoc Su Street

  • Bat Dan Street

Bun Cha

Bun Cha is suitable for any meal, from breakfast and lunch to dinner.

Grilled meat, well-seasoned and aromatic, is served with fresh vermicelli noodles, fish sauce, and herbs. The combination of flavors makes it an irresistible choice for locals and visitors.

Recommended addresses:

  • Le Van Huu Street

  • Hang Than Street

  • Hang Manh Street

Bun Cha

Bun Cha

Fried Cakes

Fried cakes are a perfect way to end your day. Simple yet delicious, these treats are made with glutinous rice flour and filled with mung beans.

The most famous types are the sugar-coated fried cakes and the honey-filled fried cakes. Other variations, such as savory ones, are also worth trying.

Recommended addresses:

  • Hang Chieu Street

  • Luong Ngoc Quyen Street

  • Ly Quoc Su Street

Egg Coffee

This specialty coffee, known for its rich and creamy texture, is made with egg yolks, condensed milk, and robust Vietnamese coffee.

Sipping a cup of egg coffee in one of the atmospheric cafes in the Old Quarter is an experience that will leave a lasting impression.

Recommended addresses:

  • Dinh Tien Hoang Street

  • Nguyen Huu Huan Street

  • Hang Gai Street

Banh Mi

For those who find the best street food in Hanoi, head to the nearest Banh Mi vendor.

The freshly baked baguette, crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, is filled with various savory ingredients like meats, vegetables, and flavorful sauces. Many travelers agree that Hanoi's Banh Mi surpasses expectations.

Recommended addresses:

  • Lo Su Street

  • Hang Ca Street

  • Dinh Liet Street

Steamed Rice Rolls

Steamed rice rolls are filled with ground pork and wood ear mushrooms and sprinkled with crispy fried shallots. Dip them in the accompanying hot and savory fish sauce for a burst of flavor.

Recommended addresses:

  • Tho Xuong Street

  • Hang Ga Street

  • Dao Duy Tu Street

Drink Hanoi Beer (Bia Hoi)

Bia Hoi

Bia Hoi

The unique and delightful culture of sipping on Bia Hoi in Hanoi is an experience that defines the spirit of the city.

First things first, let's talk about the beer itself!

Bia Hoi is light on the alcohol content (2-4%), freshly brewed without preservatives, and served on the same day it's made. When ordering this beer, you'll get a giant barrel containing this crisp, unfiltered elixir.

What makes the Hanoian way of enjoying Bia Hoi even more special is the accompanying spread of delicious snacks.

You can order fermented pork rolls, grilled meats, squid, roasted sparrows, sausages, roasted peanuts, and more. It's a perfect excuse to gather with friends, share stories, and enjoy the laid-back atmosphere.

Unlike other regions, Bia Hoi in Hanoi is predominantly sold on the sidewalk. You'll find tiny plastic stools, maybe a few makeshift tables, and locals spilling onto the streets rather than sitting in formal establishments.

As the sun sets, the streets of Hanoi come alive with these vibrant spots. Every corner seems to be buzzing with people, and you'll find yourself surrounded by the hum of conversations, laughter, and the clinking of glasses.

If you prefer a bit more space, no worries! There are restaurants with ample seating, offering a comfortable environment to chat with friends or even meet business associates.

And if you're looking for some top-notch spots, here are some of my favorites:

  • Bia Hoi Hai Xom on Tang Bat Ho Street

  • Bia Hoi Thu Hang on Nguyen Phong Sac Street

  • Bia Hoi Lan Chin in Hang Tre Street

Explore Hoa Lo Prison

In Hoa Lo Prison

In Hoa Lo Prison

Let's step back in time and explore the haunting history of Hoa Lo Prison in Hanoi, a place that tells a gripping tale of struggle and resilience.

This historic site, located on Hoa Lo Street, encapsulates the hardships endured by the Vietnamese people during a tumultuous period.

The architecture of Hoa Lo Prison is a chilling reminder of its grim past. Though the original prison covered over 12,000 square meters, only 2,434 square meters have been preserved to take visitors through Hanoi's history.

During French colonial rule, the prison emerged with imposing structures, including 4-meter-high stone walls reinforced with electric wires. It’s divided into sections A, B, C, and D:

  • Sections A and B housed detainees under investigation or less significant prisoners.

  • Section C was for French or foreign prisoners.

  • Section D held prisoners awaiting execution.

Hoa Lo Prison earned the nickname Hell on Earth, featuring grim cells that accommodated about 500 inmates.

The cells have harsh measures, including brutal shackles and inhumane conditions. As you walk through the prison, you'll encounter remnants of cruel tools used by the French.

Instruments of torture, like massive chopping machines and electric shock devices, serve as haunting relics. The design of doors, locks, and shackles, all imported from France, emphasizes the strict control imposed by the oppressors.

A standout artifact is the colossal chopping machine, which inflicted immense suffering. This device has etched Hoa Lo Prison into history as one of the most infamous jails of its time.

Visiting this place evokes horror, as vivid reconstructions bring to life the agonizing beatings and torment inflicted upon prisoners.

Have Fun At West Lake

West Lake At Sunset

West Lake At Sunset

West Lake is a colossal water body in the heart of Hanoi and a cherished gem of our capital city. Spanning 500 hectares, with a scenic perimeter road stretching over 20 kilometers.

As you stroll along the dreamy pathways, the vibrant scenes of people promenading, shopping, and lounging under the shade come to life.

The charm of this place lies in its tranquility and serenity. You'll feel a breath of fresh air acting as a gigantic lung purifying the capital's atmosphere.

It's a haven for romantic souls, a peaceful retreat for relaxation after the hustle and bustle of life, and a convergence point of positive energy.

Besides strolling around the lake, you can explore the surroundings and join in some fun activities, such as:

  • Water park

Water Park becomes the go-to destination when the scorching Hanoi sun takes center stage. Here, you can indulge in many aquatic activities to beat the heat, from diving off bridges and high-speed slides to water mats, cable gliding, and tube sliding.

Water Park

Water Park

  • Valley of flowers

A stone's throw from the lake's heart lies the famous Valley of Flowers, a floral wonderland near the freshwater hub. Here, you'll witness the beauty of various flowers, including lavender, daisies, roses, and blue salvia.

  • Play SUP on the lake

In recent times, SUP has gained popularity, especially during Hanoi's scorching days.

Equipped with a paddleboard, life jacket, and essentials, you can gracefully navigate the lake waters. The feeling of freedom, surrounded by the serene panorama, helps castaway fatigue, worries, and concerns.

  • Duck pedal boating exploration

With a vast expanse of 500 hectares, West Lake is perfect for leisurely pedal boating, allowing you to admire the scenery slowly. Invite your friends to join in, enjoy the scenery, and engage in heartfelt conversations.

Explore The City On A Bike

Explore The City On A Bike

Explore The City On A Bike

Exploring the city on a bike offers a unique perspective. You can discover hidden gems and iconic landmarks while indulging in the joy of cycling. Don't know where to bike? Check out these places!

  • In the city parks

The first and most popular choice for cyclists in Hanoi is the city's numerous parks. Spread across Hanoi, these parks have lush greenery, providing an ideal setting for physical activities such as jogging and, of course, cycling.

Pedaling through the park allows you to not only engage in a physically demanding activity but also to relax and enjoy the cheerful atmosphere.

  • Along the West Lake

The tranquility of the lake offers a break from the hustle and bustle of city life. With fewer vehicles, you can pedal easily, enjoying the surroundings without traffic problems.

  • Through Old Quarter

The Old Quarter is a cyclist's delight. The narrow, tree-lined streets of the Old Quarters exude a romantic charm that attracts cyclists and photographers.

Riding through these historic lanes, you enjoy the thrill of cycling and immerse yourself in the poetic beauty of the city.

So, why miss out on the fantastic experience of exploring Hanoi on a bike? It's a perfect blend of fitness, fun, and the sheer joy of discovering the city's soul on two wheels.

Explore The City On A Cyclo

Explore The City On A Cyclo

Explore The City On A Cyclo

Cyclo is a unique feature that sets Hanoi apart. If you're wondering what a cyclo is, it's a three-wheeled bicycle taxi that's practically a cultural icon here.

When on a cyclo, you're stepping into a time machine that takes you through Hanoi's bustling streets and rich history.

The cyclo, born in 1939, has been a common mode of transportation for the people of Vietnam. Initially, it was a luxury reserved for the elite and wealthy in big cities like Saigon, Hanoi, and Hue during the early 20th century.

Currently, it is a means of transportation that tourists in Hanoi love. You can easily find one when passing through famous tourist destinations such as the Old Town, Hoan Kiem, etc.

As you settle into the seat of a cyclo, cruising through the ancient streets of Hanoi's Old Quarter with its 36 bustling streets, you'll find yourself transported to a bygone era.

Looking up at the ancient houses, observing the daily activities of the locals, hearing the vibrant sounds of the streets, or stopping by a street food vendor.

The cyclo driver, more than just a peddler, is your tour guide. He shares tales of historical landmarks, recounts the culinary delights of Hanoi, and introduces you to the unique flora that graces the city's streets.

The slow pace allows you to soak in the intricate details of the city, appreciate the timeless buildings, and witness the ebb and flow of life in Hanoi. If you're a foreigner, fear not; many cyclo drivers are well-versed in English or even French!

Visit Craft Villages

In Bat Trang Village

In Bat Trang Village

When visiting Hanoi, don't forget to visit the craft villages! I'm talking about a journey that explores the rich cultural tapestry of Vietnam and lets you dive hands-on into the intricate world of traditional craftsmanship.

Bat Trang Village

16 km from the city center, this place has been dishing out quality ceramics that have stolen hearts for generations. On weekends, you'll see many youngsters come to explore the art of pottery.

You'll stumble upon walls adorned with drying pottery when wandering the village. From everyday pottery to high-end ceramics, Bat Trang offers diverse products in trendy designs and colors, catering to a diverse clientele.

But here's the kicker: you can get your hands dirty and try your hand at pottery, turning your visit into a memorable and interactive experience.

Van Phuc Village

Van Phuc is a village where the air is infused with the delicate scent of silk.

Just 10km from the city center, this place has been weaving its magic for over a thousand years. Back in the day, the silk produced here adorned the royalty of imperial dynasties.

Strolling through the village, you'll encounter the charming sights of ancient trees, wells, and communal yards beside the poetic Nhue River.

The products crafted here range from silk, linen, and satin to brocade, damask, and crepe, meticulously woven from natural silk threads.

In Van Phuc Village

In Van Phuc Village

Chuong Village

Head to Phuong Trung, about 30 km from Hanoi, and discover Chuong Village, where the age-old tradition of making conical hats thrives. Initially helpful for farmers, the conical hat has become a cultural symbol.

This village not only preserves this traditional craft but also elevates it to create diverse products, from leaf hats to silk and intricately decorated interior decor.

Every weekend, a bustling market showcases and sells these beautifully crafted hats, making them perfect gifts or stylish home decorations.

Chang Son Village

Venture into Thach That district, where the centuries-old Chang Son Village resides. Stroll through its narrow lanes, and you'll see an abundance of paper fans gracefully fanning out to dry. These fans have evolved into high-quality gifts and decorative items.

Thach Xa Village

Lastly, head to Thach Xa to explore the enchanting world of firefly lanterns. This traditional handicraft village has been thriving for over two decades, adapting its creations to compete with modern electronic toys.

As you step into the village, colorful trellises of treelight insects basking in the sun will catch your eye.

The designs range from animals to butterflies, boasting eye-catching colors and lively patterns. What was once a simple toy for children has now expanded its reach to various customer groups.

Explore Dong Xuan Market

In Dong Xuan Market

In Dong Xuan Market

Situated in Dong Xuan Ward, Dong Xuan Market is a bustling and renowned market in the heart of the Old Quarter.

Spanning an area of 6,500 square meters, with three floors and five arched gates, it is surrounded by lively streets that epitomize the essence of Hanoi.

Just 800 meters away from Sword Lake, it's conveniently close to Long Bien Station and Hang Ma Street, facilitating easy movement for visitors.

When coming to this market, the first thing you should not miss is trying local delights like:

  • Shrimp Fried cakes

  • Bun Cha Que Tre

  • Pho Tiu

  • Snail noodle soup

  • Various snacks, from Banh Gio, Banh Duc, Banh Xu Xe to Banh Xoai.

  • Sweet soups

For avid shoppers, this market has earned its reputation as one of Hanoi's most enticing shopping destinations. Serving as the largest wholesale market in the North, it spans three floors showcasing essential items:

  • Ground floor: You'll find clothing, sunglasses, and footwear for electronic gadgets like phones, chargers, and batteries.

  • Second floor: Retail and wholesale of adult clothing and various fabrics like silk, brocade, and satin for tailoring or gifting.

  • Third floor: Specialized in selling baby clothes and other items catering to infants.

Beyond the market's main structure, explore the rear area, where you'll find shops selling ornamental birds, fish, and pets.

The food section offers a variety of Hanoi specialties from the northern regions. Particularly in the Northern part of the market, you can find vendors serving customers late into the night.

Watch Sunset From A Rooftop Bar

Sunset In Hanoi

Sunset In Hanoi

There's something truly magical about watching the sunset in Hanoi, a unique experience that not every place can offer.

The best time to witness the breathtaking beauty of a Hanoi sunset is in the late afternoon, especially during the radiant summer days.

Here are some rooftop bars that provide an exceptional setting for this enchanting spectacle:

  • ABC Coffee Roaster

In a corner near the West Lake, ABC Coffee exudes a chill and relaxed vibe reminiscent of a rustic garden cafe.

With its vintage design and open layout, it allows the refreshing West Lake breeze to sweep through. So, this spot is a favorite among the younger crowd, especially during the mornings and evenings.

  • The Sipping Bar

For a truly unique experience, head to The Sipping Bar, a cafe housed in a boat with an intimate connection to nature.

Spread across two spacious floors, the bar provides a serene atmosphere with a view of the tranquil water and sparkling sunlight in Thong Nhat Park. The modern design, with warm brown tones, exudes sophistication and class.

  • Blank lounge cafe

Blank Lounge takes the rooftop sunset experience to new heights, situated in a prime location by Sword Lake, rivaling the charm of ABC Roaster.

This venue serves as an office space and a cafe lounge, offering a versatile setting for meetings and leisure. The outdoor area is a unique sky haven, providing an unparalleled view of the Opera House and Trang Tien Street.

These rooftop cafes and bars not only provide stunning views but also create an atmosphere that captures the essence of Hanoi. It's a blend of nature, culture, and contemporary living.

So, why not elevate your Hanoi experience by sipping a delightful drink while watching the sunset?

10 Things To See In Hanoi

When coming to Hanoi, you must visit the following ten places because they show the essence of this capital city.

Long Bien Bridge

On Long Bien Bridge

On Long Bien Bridge

For over a century, Long Bien Bridge has stood proudly across the mighty Red River. It’s not merely a witness to Hanoi's grand history but also a familiar landmark in the city center.

At first glance, one might perceive Long Bien as just another bridge, perhaps even weathered and antiquated. However, few know it's the first steel bridge spanning the Red River.

Situated within the Long Bien District, this bridge is a vital link between two central districts of Hanoi: Long Bien and Hoan Kiem.

This bridge comprises 19 steel spans supported by 20 stately pillars, stretching over 2,20 meters. Additionally, an 896-meter stone pathway leads to the western end.

It boasts a width of 4.75 meters, divided into three lanes. The outer lanes are for motor vehicles and pedestrians, while the central lane is a single-track railway for trains.

The bridge inherited advanced construction techniques from contemporary European engineering, particularly in steel structures. Furthermore, the artistic elements of this architectural style contribute to its allure.

When standing on the bridge, you can behold a lush expanse of green fields, merging with houses and the reddish waters heavy with silt from the Red River.

So, it's no surprise that Long Bien Bridge is a favorite spot to wander around, circling the area on motorbikes and breathing in the peaceful air.

Sword Lake (Hoan Kiem Lake)

Sword Lake

Sword Lake

Visiting Hanoi without strolling around Sword Lake would be a significant omission. Often referred to as the Bright Pearl and considered the soul of the capital city, Sword Lake is a freshwater lake spanning approximately 12ha.

The lake serves as the nexus between ancient quarters like Hang Dao, Luong Van Can, and Hang Ngang and the Western-influenced areas planned by the French over a century ago.

Over time, it has evolved into a must-visit destination in Hanoi, adored by residents and international tourists. Here are some landmarks around Sword Lake to explore:

Turtle Tower

Turtle Tower was built between 1884 and 1886 on Turtle Island in the middle of Sword Lake. It has a distinctive architectural style with three rectangular stories diminishing in size as they ascend.

The southern and northern sides feature two pointed arched doors at the top, while the Eastern and Western sides have three arched doors.

The first and second stories are surrounded by railings adorned with four curved sword-like protrusions. They lead to a star-shaped symbol atop the tower, a representation of the Vietnamese nation.

Turtle Tower

Turtle Tower

Ink Stand and Pen Tower

Situated northeast of Sword Lake, Ink Stand and Pen Tower are two inseparable architectural structures built in 1865. They symbolize the scholarly tradition of Hanoians and Vietnamese people in general.

  • Ink Stand consists of inclined legs resembling three frogs supporting a platform, and on the sloping body is inscribed a poem composed of 64 Chinese characters by Nguyen Van Sieu.

  • Pen Tower is designed in the shape of a 9-meter tall quill pen with a sharp nib, standing upright towards the sky.

The Huc Bridge

The red-painted The Huc Bridge is a bridge spanning Sword Lake, leading to Ngoc Son Temple. Constructed in 1865 by the legendary figure Nguyen V. Sieu, it resembles a shrimp, garnering admiration from all who see it.

Ngoc Son Temple

Built in the 19th century, this temple is a sacred place in the heart of the capital. With a history dating back a thousand years, it's a historical and cultural monument and a vivid representation of the Vietnamese belief in Three Religions Harmonized as One.

Walking around the lake, you can sense Hanoi's pulsating heartbeat, feel the tranquility's breeze, and absorb the rich tapestry of stories in each landmark.

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

HCM Mausoleum

HCM Mausoleum

HCM Mausoleum is on Hung Vuong Street. It's a testament to the unwavering respect and deep connection that the Vietnamese people hold for President Ho Chi Minh.

With a meticulous design comprising three layers and standing at a towering height of 21.6 meters, it spans a width of 41.2 meters.

The exterior, clad in gray granite, exudes a dignified aura, with sturdy columns made of basalt surrounding all four sides.

Stepping onto the three-tiered platform, you'll be ushered into the room where the embalmed body of President Ho Chi Minh rests in peace. The atmosphere inside is one of solemnity, inviting contemplation and reflection.

Within the Mausoleum complex, beyond the central area of President Ho Chi Minh's remains, there are other significant structures to explore, including:

  • Presidential Palace

  • Stilt House

  • Museum

Each area has unique regulations, so you must observe and respect the guidelines to maintain the site's sanctity.

For those with a penchant for capturing Instagram-worthy photos and creating memories, the exterior of the Mausoleum is an ideal spot.

The surroundings are adorned with lush greenery, expansive lawns, and towering trees. The grandeur of the square outside the Mausoleum provides an excellent backdrop for those seeking to capture moments through photography.

The vast, open expanse, coupled with the distant silhouette of the Mausoleum, encapsulates the essence of the visit.

Train Street

Train Street

Train Street

In the lively neighborhoods of Le Duan, Kham Thien, and Phung Hung, there's a place that has become a magnet for both locals and global wanderers: the famous Train Street.

Train Street has gained international fame for its peculiar character, drawing people in with its one-of-a-kind atmosphere.

Walking on Train Street, you'll witness a unique routine. As the train approaches, shop owners, cafe workers, and locals calmly move their belongings away from the tracks.

Due to safety rules, some cafes along the tracks have closed. Though the scene may seem surreal, remember that these tracks are operational. So, you must comply with traffic safety laws when exploring this place.

St. Joseph Cathedral

St. Joseph Cathedral

St. Joseph Cathedral

St. Joseph Cathedral holds the city's rich history and spiritual heritage. Located at 40 Nha Chung Street, this iconic church is a captivating architectural marvel.

Constructed in 1884, this Cathedral holds the distinction of being the oldest church in the capital, marking the introduction of Catholicism to Vietnam during that era.

Today, it remains a significant pilgrimage site for believers and a compelling landmark for its awe-inspiring Gothic architecture amidst the ancient streets.

  • Overall architecture

Reputed as possessing the most beautiful architecture in Hanoi, the cathedral mirrors the classic Gothic style, reminiscent of the Notre Dame Cathedral.

The defining features include symmetrical towers and archetypal Gothic elements that transport visitors to European landmarks.

Stretching 64.5 meters in length with a bell tower soaring 31.5 meters high, the cathedral is firmly grounded by massive stone pillars.

A focal point is the meticulously crafted statue of the Virgin Mary holding baby Jesus, sculpted entirely from exquisite stone, captivating all who stand before it. The earth-toned clay brick floor and paper-paste-covered walls add a touch of nostalgia to the ambiance.

The main entrance and windows are adorned with pointed arches characteristic of Gothic design. Meanwhile, the high vaulted ceiling, highlighted by circular patterned windows, enhances the cathedral's overall grandeur.

  • Interior architecture

The interior has three distinct areas: the welcoming hall, the sanctuary, and the worship area. The sanctuary houses the resting places of three Archbishops: Trinh V. Can, Trinh N. Khue, and Pham D. Tung.

The sanctuary features a statue of St. Joseph carrying the infant Jesus, flanked by two altars dedicated to the Virgin Mary and various saints.

When coming here, in front of the church is a photo corner that attracts many tourists. The imposing facade, adorned with a hint of mossy green, provides a perfect backdrop for your timeless photographs.

Tran Quoc Pagoda

Tran Quoc Pagoda

Tran Quoc Pagoda

One of my favorite places to unwind and marvel at the beauty of history and spirituality in Hanoi is Tran Quoc Pagoda.

Situated on a small island in West Lake, this pagoda has been a cherished spot for both tourists and Buddhists in Vietnam.

In this pagoda, here are some standout areas:

  • Nine-Storeyed Stupa

Built in 199, the Nine-Storeyed Stupa is like a garden of lotus-shaped towers, with 11 floors covering about 10.5m2.

Inside, there's a Buddha statue made of precious stones. It also holds around 66 other Buddha statues. At the top, there's a nine-story tower shaped like a blooming lotus made of sparkling gemstones.

  • Buddha Worshiping House

After exploring the Nine-Storeyed Stupa, you can visit the Buddha Worshiping House in the West. This house is home to many captivating Buddha statues.

The most beautiful is a wooden statue of Shakyamuni Buddha, shining with gold lacquer. The whole area feels scared with its dazzling bronze Buddha statues.

  • Upper Sanctuary

Behind the Upper Sanctuary is a bell tower, a wooden structure with red-tiled roofs that gives a sense of history.

To the right is the ancestral house, and to the left is the stele house. Tran Quoc Pagoda has 14 steles with poems by famous scholars from the past, adding a touch of history to the place.

  • Bodhi Tree

Another special thing at this pagoda is the Bodhi tree. It's grown from a cutting of the Great Bodhi Tree in Bodh Gaya, where Buddha attained enlightenment.

The Bodhi tree symbolizes Buddha's wisdom and compassion. People come here to pray and pay respects to this sacred tree. Maintained carefully for almost 60 years, the Bodhi tree adds a refreshing atmosphere to the pagoda.

Water Puppet Show

Water Puppet Show

Water Puppet Show

If you want a taste of Hanoi, don't miss a water puppet show. This ancient art has puppets, music, and stories in a truly mesmerizing way. Among the places to catch this enchanting performance, the Thang Long Theater is a standout spot.

On Hoan Kiem's pedestrian street, Thang Long Theater is a hub of tradition and entertainment. With room for 300 people, it's a place where the old meets the new, creating a show that captivates everyone.

The water puppet acts at this theater showcase Vietnam's rich farming heritage. The performances reflect the life of a society deeply connected to rice cultivation.

As the show unfolds, you'll witness puppetry acts depicting village tales, dragon and phoenix dances, buffalo herding, flute playing, ancestral rituals, and boat racing.

What makes the show worth watching is the variety of puppets and the incredible skill of the puppeteers behind the scenes.

Puppets gracefully dance on water, defying gravity. Behind a screen, puppet masters work together, skillfully moving the puppets and bringing them to life.

Temple Of Literature

The Gate Of Temple Of Literature

The Gate Of Temple Of Literature

One of the most remarkable places encapsulating Hano's rich heritage is the Temple Of Literature, Vietnam's first university.

Nestled in the heart of Dong Da, it stands proudly, connecting Quoc Tu Giam, Nguyen Thai Hoc, Van Mieu, and Ton Duc Thang Streets. It's a must-visit destination for those exploring Hanoi's millennia-old cultural tapestry.

Stretching over 54,000m2, the temple complex is a symphony of architectural wonders. The architectural layout of this temple follows a symmetrical arrangement along the North-South axis, portraying a blend of elegance and precision.

The primary facade faces a large pond. Surrounded by brick walls, the site has five sections, each with its own gate and distinct purpose.

Walking through its hallowed halls and peaceful courtyards, you're transported through time. You’ll experience the legacy of scholars and the enduring spirit of Vietnamese culture.

Imperial City Of Thang Long

In Imperial City Of Thang Long

In Imperial City Of Thang Long

The Imperial City Of Thang Long evolved through various dynasties and is a testament to Vietnam's enduring history. Positioned on Hoang Dieu Street, it has rightfully become one of Vietnam's paramount historical treasures.

  • Exploring the archaeological area

The archaeological site on Hoan Dieu unfolds a vast expanse, encompassing the Eastern part of Dai La Citadel on the lower level.

Above lies the palace of the Ly and Tran dynasties, accompanied by a section of the Eastern palace of the Le dynasty. At the highest tier, a fragment of the 19th-century Hanoi Citadel adds another layer to this historical tapestry.

  • Iconic check-in spot: Hanoi Flagpole

The Hanoi Flagpole, constructed in 1812 during the reign of King Gia Long, beckons explorers. At approximately 60 meters, this architectural wonder consists of three parts: the pedestal, the column shaft, and the canopy.

The square-shaped base spans over 2000m² and has three gradually tiered platforms, each intricately decorated with floral patterns.

  • Admiring the majestic Doan Mon Gate

A short stroll from the Hanoi Flagpole leads to the imposing Doan Mon Gate, the primary entrance to the Imperial City.

Originating from the Ly dynasty, Doan Mon is a popular backdrop for Hanoi's vibrant youth due to its grandeur and significance.

  • Exploring the Sentry Gates

The Sentry Gates are housed vigilant soldiers safeguarding the king and princess's safety. Each gate has a sturdy and intricate architectural design, enhancing the magnificence of the citadel.

As you stroll around these gates, you're transported to an era where the imperial court's splendor was safeguarded with meticulous grandeur.

One Pillar Pagoda

One Pillar Pagoda

One Pillar Pagoda

One Pillar Pagoda is more than a thousand years old and holds a unique charm, making it a must-visit spot in the city. It's behind Ong Ich Khiem Street.

This pagoda is famous for its exceptional design. A small wooden temple sits gracefully on a big stone pillar, resembling a giant lotus in the Linh Chieu pond.

The pillar holding up the pagoda is cleverly made with two stone columns firmly joined together. Above, a wooden structure shaped like a square supports the Lotus Platform, designed to withstand the surrounding waves.

The pagoda's roof, covered in red tiles and curving gracefully at the corners, represents twin dragons embracing the moon; this symbolizes life, growth, and the balance of Yin and Yang, adding an Eastern touch to the pagoda's beauty.

Now, what makes the One Pillar Pagoda special?

As you wander through the One Pillar Pagoda, you'll discover its unique structures. The Three-Gate Pavilion is a peaceful place for prayers, and the Lotus Platform stands out with its beautiful design.

Don't miss the impressive Bodhi tree, planted by the President of India in 1958. Over 60 years old, it adds to the serene atmosphere with its lush greenery.

Apart from its historical beauty, this pagoda offers practical amenities. You can find drinks, snacks, resting areas, and souvenir services. Whether you're a curious traveler or seeking a spiritual experience, this pagoda caters to all.

Enjoy the calm surroundings, seek blessings for peace and health, and join the tradition of offering incense before the altar of the Bodhisattva of Compassion.

Hanoi 1 Day City Tour

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  • Depart Time:Daily
  • Starts/Ends:Hanoi/Hanoi
  • Tour type:Private Tours
  • Age range:1 To 90 Years
  • Operated in:English, French, Spanish, German, Italian
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Final Thoughts

In this guide on things to do in Hanoi and things to see in Hanoi, I've guided you through the historical corners, tasty eats, and cultural treasures this place offers. As you can see, Hanoi has proven to be a total package. Every street corner in this city has a story.

To help you enhance your trip, Asia Tour Advisor has crafted several Vietnam tours for different audiences. Check out these tours and contact us if you have questions!

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