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Top 18 Things to Do in Hanoi of Vietnam, Ranked the Best Experience for any of Hanoi Tour

Hanoi is a fascinating blend of vibrant culture, stunning landscapes, and rich history.

With ancient temples, bustling markets, and a huge variety of cultural activities, Hanoi experiences that cater to every type of traveler.

To help you get the most out of your visit, here’s a link of the top 18 things to do in Hanoi.

(Must-Do) Walk around the Hoan Kiem Lake, the Most Famous Spot in Hanoi

Start your Hanoi tour from the most famous site of Hoan Kiem Lake. Hoan Kiem Lake is a serene oasis located in the heart of Hanoi.

Often referred to as the “lake of the Returned Sword”, the legend of the lake traces back to the 15th century when Emperor Le Loi reclaimed a magical sword from the lake which he used to drive out invading armies.

A leisurely stroll around Hoan Kiem will immerse you in a world of tranquility. It is an idyllic setting surrounded by vibrant greenery, traditional pagodas, and charming bridges.

Besides the street performances and street food stalls serving tempting Vietnamese snacks, the historic Ngoc Son Temple is located on a small island within the lake, a cultural gem well worth a visit.

---Most recommended Hanoi luxury tour:

(Must-Do) Try All of the Food; So Many Delicious Food Options around Hanoi

Hanoi’s food scene is home to culinary treasures rooted in tradition and innovation, and all with a love for flavors that awaken the senses. From street-sides stalls to upscale restaurants, the range of eating options will leave anyone satisfied. Take a Vietnam food tour to experience various popular delicacies.

Pho, Vietnamese rice noodle soup, is one of the first things that comes to mind when thinking of Vietnamese cuisine, and is something not to be missed on a visit to Hanoi.

Another truly local cuisine, Bun Cha, is a great example of how a balance of different flavors, sweet, sour and savory, are valued. This dish of grilled pork, served atop a bed of vermicelli noodles can be found all over the city.

Foods that are a fusion of different cuisines are another hallmark of Hanoi food.

Banh Mi is a prime example of how French influence is combined with local flavors. A delicious sandwich served on a French baguette, and stuffed with grilled meat, pickled vegetable and chili sauce.

Egg coffee (ca phe trung) is another unique Hanoi specialty. A rich Vietnamese coffee topped with a frothy layer made from whisked egg yolks, sugar, and sweetened condensed milk making for a sweet indulgence that offers a taste of Vietnamese creativity.

---Find more Vietnamese delicacies: Ultimate Guide on Vietnamese Food Features & Must-Try Dishes When Visit Vietnam

---Most recommended Vietnam food tour of Hanoi:

(Must-Do) Follow the Never-Ending Narrow Laneways & Stroll around the Old Quarter

Hanoi’s Old Quarter is a world where history, culture and daily life collide in a rich tapestry of sights, sounds and scents.

A must-do for all visitors to the city, the narrow laneways of this district have a legacy dating back over a thousand years. With markets, colonial-era shop houses, and traditional architecture, every turn through the captivating maze of streets reveals new surprises.

The never-ending laneways are a place to embrace the chaos that comes with the true pulse of the city, and an area where historic and modern Hanoi can be seen side by side. Seamlessly integrated into the district, alongside the timeless charm, are trendy cafes, art spaces and boutique hotels creating a harmonious balance between tradition and progress.

Tour along the laneways of the Old Quarter.

(Must-Do) Never Miss Out the National Museum to Learn the Vietnamese History

Vietnam National Museum of History is must visit for learning about Vietnam’s history and national identity.

With displays, multimedia presentations and interactive elements setup to ensure visitors of all backgrounds can engage with and understand the deep history of the country, it is a place to understand modern Vietnam’s connection to the past.

The museum's galleries are divided into thematic sections, each dedicated to a distinct phase of Vietnamese history. From prehistoric artifacts, to the dynasties that ruled early history, into the colonial conflicts that led to Vietnam’s independence, the exhibits convey the traditions and resilience of the Vietnamese people through history.

---Most recommended Vietnam culture tour:

(Must-Do) Take a Trip to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is an awe-inspiring structure in the heart of Hanoi that stands as a testament to his enduring legacy.

A solemn monument built with reverence and admiration, a trip to this mausoleum is chance to learn about the life and ideals of the man who played a pivotal role in shaping modern Vietnam.

In main chamber, visitors line up to view Ho Chi Minh’s embalmed body in an atmosphere of silent reflection.

Throughout the rest of the mausoleum, exhibits and informative displays showcase his thoughts, beliefs, and how he dedicated himself to the country’s causes.

Visiting Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum is a deeply meaningful experience that imparts a profound message about the power of determination and unity.

---Most classic Hanoi city tour:

(Must-Do) Never Miss the Vietnamese Women’s Museum

The Vietnamese Women’s Museum is a beacon of empowerment established to celebrate the roles and contributions of women throughout the nation’s history. It is a platform for sharing stories that have shaped Vietnam’s cultural fabric.

The museum’s exhibits cover a range of themes from family life, traditions, fashion, art, and women’s participation in wartime efforts.

Not limited to the past, present-day challenges are also addressed in a way that seeks to engage visitors in critical conversations about the journey towards equality.

vt-woman's museum
The Vietnamese Women’s Museum

(Must-Do) Admire the Tran Quoc Pagoda & Enjoy the Peace and Quiet at West Lake

Located on the shore of West Lake, Tran Quoc Pagoda is a serene haven from the hectic bustle of the city, and stands as a symbol of spirituality and inner peace.

Known as the “Stabilizing the Nation” pagoda, Tran Quoc is one of Vietnam’s oldest Buddhist temples, and dates back over a thousand years. Rich in architectural beauty, the temple’s design is one of vibrant colors, intricate carvings and ornate decorations.

More than just a place for worship, visitors also come to Tran Quoc for the experience of contemplation. The city sounds fade into the background as you walk around the serene courtyard, and the temple’s tranquility is well matched by the natural beauty of the surround lake.

Tran Quoc Pagoda

(Must-Do) Visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long

The Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, also known as the Hanoi Citadel, is a bridge between the past and the present, giving a glimpse into the storied history of Vietnam's capital.

Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its importance in preserving Vietnam’s cultural heritage, the site is the location of architectural marvels, and a repository for important historical artifacts.

Entering through the iconic South Gate, known as the Doan Mon Gate, in like stepping into a bygone era. From there you can tour a fusion of cultures and traditions across the dynasties of Vietnam’s past.

---More UNESCO World Heritage Sites: All UNESCO World Heritage Sites for Indochina Tour

The Imperial Citadel of Thang Long

(Must-Do) Visit the Temple of Literature, Known as the Stele of Doctors

The Temple of Literature is a unique haven of learning and cultural significance located in the heart of Hanoi.

Founded in 1070 by Emperor Ly Thanh Tong, it is Vietnam’s first national university. Established to honor Confucius, it served as a center for educating scholars and fostering intellectual growth.

With elaborate gates, serene courtyards, and intricately carved woodwork, the architecture is a blend of traditional Vietnamese design and Confucian principles.

One of the most captivating aspects of the Temple of Literature is the "Stele of Doctors”. These stelae bear the names of scholars who successfully passed the imperial exams, and serves as a profound reminder of the historical significance of the site.

The Temple of Literature

(Optional) Wander Along the Train Tracks and Stop for a Coffee or a Beer

Hanoi offers many chances for delightful urban experiences such as wandering the along train tracks in Hanoi Train Street that weave through the city.

Along the way you’ll get a glimpse into the neighborhoods that line the route and see traditional houses, markets, and people about their daily activities.

One of the most charming aspects of this urban adventure are the quaint cafés nestled beside the train tracks where you can stop to savor to the experience over a coffee or beer. These establishments have creatively transformed the unique urban space into inviting havens where you can enjoy a refreshing drink while watching the world go by.

---Most recommended Vietnam tour with must-visit cities for first-timers:

(Optional) Take a Cyclo Tour through the Old Quarter

A cyclo tour through the Old Quarter of Hanoi is a way to get a unique perspective of the vibrant streets with a bit of nostalgic charm.

Your cyclo rider will lead you through the labyrinthine district while providing insights into the history and traditions of the Old Quarter help to create a deeper connection to the neighborhood.

You’ll have a chance to sample everything the district has to offer. From the historic shop houses and centuries-old architecture, to street vendors and hidden food stalls.

The vivid colors and bustling scenes are a photographer’s dream, and a chance for anyone to immerse themselves in the city’s ambience free of the distractions of modern transportation.

Train track in Hanoi’s Old Quarter

(Optional) Get Social and Drink Beer on the Street

Sharing a cold beer on the busy streets for Vietnam nightlife is a lively social ritual that is a big part of Hanoi’s social scene.

Throughout Hanoi, impromptu ‘beer corners’ pop up and become meetings points for friends, family and strangers to gather together in an informal and relaxed setting.

It’s a great opportunity to strike up a conversation with locals or other travelers and share stories about your experience of the city.

Bia Hoi Corner (beer corner)

(Optional) Enjoy a Water Puppet Show or Other Shows

The Water Puppet Show is a Hanoi experience that combines puppetry, music, and storytelling in a truly unique way.

Originating in the rice paddies of northern Vietnam, this traditional art form brings puppets to life on water stages, narrating folk tales, legends, and scenes from rural life. 

Hanoi’s cultural scene is full of other folk performances that showcase the diversity of Vietnam’s different ethnic groups. The music, dance, and vibrant costumes offer a window into the traditions, beliefs, and customs of different communities around the country.

Water Puppet Show

(Optional) Take a Cooking Class for Authentic Vietnamese Food

For anyone with a passion for food, a cooking class in Hanoi is a great way to connect with the deep culinary traditions of Vietnam.

The hands-on experience of selecting fresh produce, herbs and spices, and then preparing and creating the intricate flavors that define Vietnamese dishes is an important kind of cultural exchange as you work alongside local chefs and discuss ingredients and techniques.

---Most recommended Vietnam food tour with cooking class arrangement:

(Optional) Check Out the 4-Kilometers Mosaic Wall

The 4-Kilometer Mosaic Wall, located on the banks of the Red River, is an artistic masterpiece in the heart of Hanoi.

Showing off the city’s creativity and community spirit the wall stretches along the dyke road between Hanoi’s Long Bien Bridge and Tran Quang Khai Street.

The wall is a storytelling medium that narrates the city’s history, culture and daily life. 

Part of the 4-kilometers Mosaic Wall

(Optional) Walk around the Military History Museum

The Military History Museum in Hanoi stands in remembrance of the country’s tumultuous history struggling against foreign invasions and its struggle towards independence.

Home to an array of historical artifacts, including weaponry, uniforms, vehicles, and documents displayed in exhibits that span from the ancient era to modern times, a tour of the museum is an educational experience the provides insights into the country's evolution and the resilience that has shaped its identity.

While showcasing the harsh realities of war, it also seeks to promote peace and understanding, inviting visitors to reflect on the importance of diplomacy, cooperation, and the pursuit of global harmony.

---More information about Vietnam War: 10 More Misunderstandings You May Have About Vietnam War

The Military History Museum

(Optional) Take in the Views from Long Bien Bridget

Long Bien Bridge is a symbolic landmark connecting the neighborhoods of Hanoi's Old Quarter to the outlying areas. 

Constructed during the French colonial period over a century ago, its iron trusses and distinctive arched spans reflect the craftsmanship of a bygone era. Offering stunning panoramas of the city, the bridge is a hub of activity that pulses with the energy of daily life.

Have a walk on Long Bien Bridge.

(Optional) Take in the Best Views over Hanoi from the Lotte Tower Observation Deck

The Lotte Tower Observation Deck is another landmark for taking in unparalleled views of the city.

Perched high above the city, it offers an unparalleled panoramic experience with 360-degree vistas that encompass the sprawling metropolis. The Observation Deck is a paradise for photography, and a unique place to take in sunrise or sunset over the city.

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---15 Best & Unique Things to Do in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) for First-timers


Hanoi’s rich offerings of sites and activities make it a city where visitors can immerse themselves in the local culture.

Any trip to the city must include sampling the food, visiting important landmarks, and spending time in the many cultural sites that stand as reminders of Vietnam’s rich history.

We can help you plan your trip to Hanoi and make sure you can visit all the must-see place across this vibrant city. Contact us for more information.

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