10 Awesome Things to Do in Hanoi

Posted in: ASIA, VIETNAM | 14

How do I even begin to describe Hanoi…

I’d like to think I’m a pretty experience traveller. I’ve been to 22 countries on 3 different continents. I’ve lived in Asia for about 6 months now. But DAMN, nothing prepared me for how f#@^#$g crazy the streets of Vietnam’s capital would be. Don’t believe me or think I’m exaggerating? Check out this video to see what I mean.

Okay now that you’ve watched it and have a better appreciation for the chaos that is Hanoi, you’ll either be repelled or be even more excited about going there. I was obviously the latter. So I’m here to tell you that yes, you could spend your days just walking around and have fun, but there are also tons of other awesome things to do in this city. Here they are:

1. Explore the streets of Old Quarter

In my opinion this is where all the good stuff is. You’ll find tons of great restaurants, shops and coffee shops. Plus, like I mentioned earlier, you’ll have a ton of fun just trying to cross the street without getting hit by a motorbike.

10 Things to Do in Hanoi

2. Take a stroll along Hoàn Kiếm Lake

If you’re looking for a quiet place among all the chaos, this is the place to be. You can stroll along the lake, grab some fruit (just make sure not to buy those doughnuts they sell ’cause they are naaasssttyyy). If you’re here on a weekend be sure to check out this part of Hanoi since locals come here to play games and hang out.

10 Things to Do in Hanoi

3. Learn more about Vietnamese history at Hỏa Lò Prison

An amazing place to learn more about Vietnamese history. I’m not going to give you a bunch of facts about this place, you’ll just have to come here and see for yourself. 😉 I will say this, I really enjoyed this place because everything is contextualized – you’re actually standing in the very place where these things happened. I don’t know about you but I always prefer that so much more than walking through the halls of some pristine museum. It makes everything just seem that much more real to me.

Admission to the prison is ₫30 000 VND (about $1.75 CAD). They also have a student discount so bring a valid student card for even more savings!

10 Things to Do in Hanoi
Photo By David McKelvey via StockPholio.net
4. Reflect at the Temple of Literature

Another great place to visit if you’re in need of a little peace and quiet from the city’s busy streets. I would recommend reading up about this place before coming or going with a guide since there isn’t really much information around the temple. We went on a walking tour with Hanoi Kids and found this to be the best way to learn about the temple’s rich history. We highly recommend booking a tour with Hanoi Kids since you can get to know locals, help them practice their English and learn more about the city. Just be sure to book a tour as soon as possible since they fill up quite quickly!

Admission to the temple is ₫30 000 VND (about $1.75 CAD).

10 Things to Do in Hanoi

5. Eat your way through the city on a DIY food tour

Make a list of all the foods you want to eat and walk around the city until you’ve found/tried them all! This is one of our favourite ways to discover a new city since not only are you able to taste all of the local cuisine, you also get to see areas that you may not have gone to otherwise. Click here for a list of awesome foods to try in Hanoi! My favourites were egg coffee, bun cha and bahn mi.

10 Things to Do in Hanoi

6. Seek hidden train streets throughout the city

Another by-product of us just randomly walking around the city – finding really cool s!#t. We first found these awesome hidden train streets while walking around with our Hanoi Kids guides, and then once more when just walking aimlessly through the city. If you don’t want to risk missing out on these cool streets, check out the map at the bottom of this post.

10 Things to Do in Hanoi

7. Chug a 30 cent beer at Beer Corner

Basically the liveliest street corner in all of Hanoi on any given night, you’ll find tourists and locals alike sitting on small (child-sized) plastic stools sipping on 30 cent beers. Grab a seat at any of the ‘bars’ at this intersection and you’ll be served with some locally brewed beer (it kinda tastes like Coors Light for those of you wondering). We were there on a Monday night and it was super lively! I can only imagine what this place looks like on the weekend.

10 Things to Do in Hanoi

8. Shop your heart out (or window shop)

Even if you’re broke, Vietnam is a place where you’ll be able to shop ’til you drop. You can find everything from North Face jackets to designer purses all for under $30 CAD! Just be warned, though I couldn’t tell initially, all the things I bought are definitely fakes lol.

10 Things to Do in Hanoi

9. Taste Vietnamese coffee (and all the other amazing flavours!)

Though I personally prefer yogurt coffee (ommgggg soooo amazziinnggg) and egg coffee (it’s like drinking a cup of delicious fluffyness), drinking some Vietnamese coffee is still a must do. Gotta check it off the ol’ bucket list! Be warned: it’s super bitter and sweet all at the same time so it’s an, ummm, acquired taste.

10 Things to Do in Hanoi

10. Visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

Honestly one of the weirdest things I’ve ever experienced. As you may or may not know, Ho Chi Minh is Vietnam’s national hero, and as such, his remains were impeccably preserved. In comes the mausoleum where you can actually come see Ho Chi Minh’s remains in person, free of charge. Just be sure to come early since the mausoleum closes around 11AM.

10 Things to Do in Hanoi

BONUS: Be amazed in Halong Bay 

Halong Bay is about 4 hours away from Hanoi and thus the capital is the perfect jumping off point to seeing this marvel. Visiting Halong Bay was one of the highlights of our time in Vietnam and we highly recommend making the time to visit it. We splurged a little and went on a luxury overnight cruise (and it was AWESOME!).

Read more about our experience on an overnight cruise by clicking here!

10 Things to Do in Hanoi

A handy map to help you find all of these amazing places!


Have I convinced you to come to Hanoi yet?

Have you been to Hanoi? What would you add to this list?

If you’re planning a trip to Vietnam, please feel free to contact us with any questions you may have and we’ll do our best to help!

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10 Things to Do in Hanoi

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Katherine is the co-founder of travel and lifestyle blog, World Abound. When she isn't working or jetting off to a new destination, Katherine can be found getting her zen on in the yoga studio or eating tacos at the nearest Mexican restaurant.

14 Responses

  1. Sandy N Vyjay

    This is a refreshingly different perspective on Hanoi. Looks beyond Halong Bay. There is so much more to discover in Hanoi. Your list is definitely full of interesting things to do in Hanoi. The rail road streets seem intriguing. The Mausoleum looks solemn and magnificent too.

  2. Global Girl Travels

    If I do travel to Vietnam someday, I’d definitely cruise the Ha Long Bay and visit the mausoleum. But there are a few others you listed here that I would add to my itinerary too. I’d love to explore the cuisine of Vietnam and sample their coffee!!

  3. Gemma

    You had me at exploring the old quarter, this was my favourite part of Hanoi. Plus its so true, it takes a lot of time trying to cross the road without being hit haha!

  4. Scenes From Nadine

    My husband and I went to Hanoi for our first wedding anniversary and said, “I could live here for a month!” We didn’t have a strict itinerary except for our scheduled Halong Bay cruise, which was magical. Most of the time, we just walked around and explored the streets of Hanoi, strolling around the Old Quarter and Hoan Kiem Lake. So much activity there, and so much to see! This post is making me miss the egg coffee! It tastes like tiramisu, doesn’t it? 🙂

  5. Allison

    Such a timely post as I am heading to Vietnam for the first time in May. Hanoi will be our first stop and I’m looking forward to al that craziness. We will definitely be doing a Halong Bay Cruise and I love the idea of a 30c beer in a lively atmosphere. Bring it on!

  6. Marina

    Thanks for an awesome post! We will be travveling to Vietnam at the end of the year and will see the same places you visited. How was the weather in Hanoi, Halong Bay and Hoi An that time of the year? It looks like it was quite chilly!

    • World Abound

      Hi Marina – Thanks for your comment! Honestly the weather wasn’t as great as we thought it would be (but that could also just be bad luck). Hanoi and Halong Bay was on the chillier side, about 10-15 degrees – we wore pants and jackets the entire time. Hoi An was a little bit warmer, about 20-25 degrees and we were able to wear shorts (yay!). There was also quite a bit of rain while we were there. We hope you have a great time in Vietnam!! 🙂 It’s a great place.

  7. The Open Route

    We had fun exploring the Old Quarter especially at night. We passed by beer street on a weekend and it was teeming with people drinking and having a good time. A DIY food tour is one of the best things you can do in Hanoi. You should try Pho, Vietnamese coffee and Bun Cha. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to go inside the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum because we were wearing sleeveless shirts. This list sums up all the amazing things you can do in Hanoi. Thanks for sharing!

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