Hanoi offers an outstanding travel experience when it comes to exploring Southeast Asia. Discover charming, ancient temples, explore busy streets and experience a diverse culture. Vietnam’s capital explodes with what seems to be a countless number of exciting activities. You might not have enough time to see it all. So, in no set order, here are 12 of the top things to do in Hanoi!
Discover Hanoi’s interesting story, with its many temples and old buildings. The country used to be the home of Chinese, French and Japanese rule.
1. Temple of Literature
See one of Hanoi’s most picturesque sites with your own eyes. The Temple of Literature has been around since 1070 and is one of the best historic things to do in Hanoi. Explore the five quaint courtyards, a relaxing scene for the scholars that formerly studied at the temple. Each courtyard is unique, with magnificent pavilions, turtle statues (carved out of bluestone, with the names of all the graduates) and sacred altars. See the Temple of Literature in all its former glory even 1,000 years later, thanks to the team dedicated to preserving it. The entrance fee is ₫30,000 (approximately R18).
|Address:||58 Quốc Tử Giám Văn Miếu Dong Da, Văn Miếu, Ba Đình, Hanoi|
|Phone:||+84 24 3823 5601|
|Open:||07:30 – 18:00|
2. Hỏa Lò Prison Memorial
Anyone fascinated by the history of Vietnam should definitely visit the Hỏa Lò Prison Memorial. Though it may be sad to learn about the conditions Vietnamese prisoners suffered during French, it’s thanks to this period that the spirit of independence was strengthened. Most of the prison was demolished in the mid-1990s, although you will still get a sense of its history. The cost to enter is ₫30,000 (around R18).
|Address:||1 Hoả Lò, Trần Hưng Đạo, Hoàn Kiếm, Hanoi|
|Phone:||+84 24 3934 2253|
|Open:||08:00 – 17:00|
3. The Imperial Citadel of Thăng Long
This intriguing relic of Vietnam’s history is a UNESCO World Heritage Site (since 2010). Explore every part of it, discovering artefacts dating back to between the 6th and 20th centuries. The citadel was the capital of the country for eight centuries! Inside, you will find a display room featuring excavated items and mock-ups of the citadel. To see one of the top things to do in Hanoi, be prepared to pay ₫30,000 (approximately R18).
|Address:||19C Hoàng Diệu, Quán Thánh, Ba Đình, Hanoi|
|Phone:||+84 24 3734 5427|
|Open:||Tuesday to Sunday, 08:00 – 17:00|
Fun Shopping Scene
One of the famous things to do in Hanoi is shopping – a favourite pastime in Vietnam you’ll fall in love with. There are shops everywhere!
4. Hang Gai Street
Looking for some local attire while in Hanoi? Head to Hang Gai Street, alternatively known as Silk Street. Discover a 300-metre long road lined with fashion boutiques and tailor shops that have been around for decades. Shop for high-quality silk materials, traditional Vietnamese apparel, and more. Fancy getting a suit? Have one made for yourself and collect it in just a few days! For the fashion-conscious, exploring Hang Gai Street is one of the finest things to do in Hanoi.
Location: 21°01’55.9″N, 105°51’01.6″E
5. Hanoi Weekend Night Market
If you love shopping at night, then the Hanoi Weekend Night Market is where you need to go! This bustling scene is home to numerous roadside stalls and local food vendors. Shop around for inexpensive t-shirts, handicrafts, accessories and souvenirs. Part of the reason why the Hanoi Weekend Night Market is so lively is that bargaining is standard practice there. No surprise, since the vendors love to barter! The common practice is to offer 75 percent off the starting price.
|Address:||8 Hàng Đào, Hoàn Kiếm, Hanoi|
|Open:||Friday to Sunday 20:00 – 23:00|
6. Dong Xuan Market
Head to the northern part of Hanoi’s Old Quarter to discover the city’s largest indoor market. Peruse all the items on sale, covering everything you could need, be it fashion, souvenirs, food, and even pets!
When you’re looking to rest your feet after all the shopping, head to the huge dining area. There are many food vendors selling Vietnamese coffee and exotic local dishes (for as low as ₫15,000 = R10), such as tiet canh (duck blood soup), fried frog, bun cha (marinated grilled pork served with noodles), and banh cuon (rolled cake).
|Address:||Đồng Xuân Hoàn Kiếm Hanoi|
|Open:||Monday to Thursday, 07:00 – 18:00
Friday to Sunday, 07:00 – 00:00
Arts and Entertainment
Vietnam’s vibrant culture comes alive through the performing arts in Hanoi. There are several theatres around the city, some sitting in many historic colonial buildings.
7. Hanoi Opera House
This major arts venue is another great example of French architecture in Hanoi. Despite its historic significance, the Hanoi Opera House is the biggest and most popular theatre in Vietnam, explaining perfectly why it’s one of the top things to do in Hanoi. The seating arrangements offer a delightful concert experience, with three storeys serving ideal vantage points. Enjoy a wide variety of entertaining performances, including local Vietnamese opera, traditional folk music, international concerts, ballet productions and more.
|Address:||Số 01 Tràng Tiền, Phan Chu Trinh, Hoàn Kiếm, Hanoi|
|Phone:||+84 24 3933 0113|
8. Thang Long Ca Tru Guild
Head inside the beautifully restored, ancient home of Thang Long Ca Tru Guild, to witness the performances inspired by the 15th-century Northern Court. The guild has been around for more than 10 centuries! Indulge in musical renditions and poetry recitals, showcasing Vietnam’s rich cultural heritage.
|Address:||28 Hàng Buồm, Hoàn Kiếm, Hanoi|
|Phone:||+84 773 266 897|
|Open:||Thursday and Saturday, 20:00 – 23:00|
9. The Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre
Get a taste of a traditional form of Vietnamese entertainment that originated in the 11th century! The Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre treats you to performances by artists using large rods to control the puppets. Enjoy one of the greatest things to do in Hanoi – with fascinating and humorous folk stories and legendary tales with the accompanying traditional music, courtesy of the orchestra.
|Address:||57B Đinh Tiên Hoàng, Hàng Bạc, Hoàn Kiếm, Hanoi|
|Phone:||+84 24 3824 9494|
Take in the fresh air and stunning views. Explore the spectacular national parks, nature reserves and bays around Hanoi.
10. Ba Bể National Park
Covering more than 23,000 hectares, the Ba Bể National Park is an amazing location, home to waterfalls, rivers, valleys, lakes, and towering peaks. Keep an eye out for the over 550 named plant species. The animals deserve their own special shoutout, with 233 bird species, the highly endangered Vietnamese salamander, 106 species of fish, four kinds of turtle, and 353 types of butterflies! Get the best conditions for experiencing the park by visiting during the dry season, which is usually from November to February.
|Address:||Bố Lù, Ba Bể District, Bắc Kạn Province|
|Phone:||+84 93 648 90 68|
11. Cúc Phương National Park
Discover one of Vietnam’s most important protected areas in Ninh Binh Province, 3 hours south of Hanoi, established in 1962. The picturesque park’s 222-square kilometres of primary tropical forest is the home of an astounding variety of wildlife (100s of bird species, mammals, and reptiles) and 1000s of plant species. The best time to visit Cúc Phương National Park is during the dry season, from November to February.
|Address:||Nho Quan District, Ninh Bình Province|
|Phone:||+84 229 3848 018|
|Open:||08:00 – 18:00|
12. Ha Long Bay
Head to Ha Long Bay and set your eyes on one of the reasons so many travellers fall in love with Southeast Asia. The bay is renowned for its spectacular emerald waters and a seemingly endless number of towering limestone islands topped with rainforests. Enjoy boat tours and kayak expeditions around islands named for their shapes, such as the Teapot islets and Stone Dog. The area is a hotspot for unforgettable outdoor activities, including scuba diving, rock climbing and hiking.
Location: 20°54’36.2″N, 107°11’02.0″E
Also read: Top 10 Things to Do in Vietnam
Now you know what to look forward to with all these top things to do in Hanoi.
Get your plans in order and start arranging accommodation in this incredible destination, and then book cheap flights to Hanoi!
Make sure you also get your Vietnam visa applied for and approved well before your departure date.
Have you been to Hanoi recently? Let us know about your favourite things to do in Hanoi in the comments below!
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