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Best Things to Do in Hanoi, Vietnam: Planning Your Hanoi Itinerary

One of the most ancient cities in the world, The capital of Vietnam has so much to offer visitors. There are many exciting and fascinating things to do in Hanoi, from discovering the city’s rich history to experiencing the eclectic mix of cultural influences. We’ll show you the best things to do in Hanoi, Vietnam, to help plan your Hanoi itinerary.

Immerse yourself in a mystical city renowned for its overwhelming and hectic pace to discover the finer nuances unique to Hanoi Vietnam.

noodle stall with a large variety of noodles to choose from when shopping in Hanoi old quarter.
Noodles for all tastes are available when shopping in Hanoi Old Quarter.

How Many Days in Hanoi

We would recommend at least three days to see the best Hanoi attractions, longer if you want to relax a little and get a better feel for the city. Also remember, there is a lot to see in the north of Vietnam and Hanoi makes a great base for day trips.

Take a half-day trip to the Bat Trang Pottery Village to learn how to make traditional ceramics. A day trip to Ninh Binh should not be missed nor should a Halong Bay tour. 

If planning to explore further afield than Hanoi City, allow at least five days on your Vietnam itinerary to see the most of the region. 

Don’t Forget to Get Your Vietnam Visa before You Go
You must have a visa to enter Vietnam. Until 2017 you were required to apply for an “approval letter”. Then, on arrival queue and pay an additional USD$25 for a “visa on Arrival”.  The process is now simplified meaning citizens from over 40 countries can now apply for their visa online.

How to get a Vietnam visa – apply for your Vietnam Visa here but make sure you allow at least three business days before your departure date for processing.

Tam Coc in Ninh Binh on the river is one of the best day trips from Hanoi.
Tam Coc in Ninh Binh has some of the most beautiful scenery in Vietnam and is one of the best day trips from Hanoi.

You Might Also Like: Add a Halong Bay Cruise to Your Vietnam Itinerary

What to do in Hanoi Vietnam

Take One of the Hanoi Free Walking Tours

One thing we love to do in any city is to take a walking tour – a free walking tour is even better. 

A women holding hundreds of colourful helium balloons on the street.
The crazy sights you will see on a Hanoi Walking Tour. A hard choice is being made here!

Take a Hanoi walking tour as soon as you arrive to enhance your time in the city further. A walking tour is one of the best introductions to any city, especially one as hectic as Hanoi.

Guided by Hanoi locals, tours generally last from 1.5 – 2 hrs, some as long as a half-day with several different types of free walking tours available such as –

  • Hanoi City Walking Tours which include the highlights;
  • Hanoi Old Quarter Walking Tour;
  • Hanoi Street Food Tour
Women in conical hat carrying her vegetables to market. Shopping from these ladies in Hanoi Old Quarter is a great thing to do in Hanoi.
These ladies work hard to make a living for their families by selling fresh vegetables on the streets.

How Do Free Walking Tours Work? 

Guides earn money by way of tips given at the end of the tour, so work hard to ensure the best Hanoi experience for you.

A free walking tour will not include entry to the most popular attractions in Hanoi but provides a great way to get your bearings in the busy city, and tips for further independent exploration. It is also an opportunity to glean some local knowledge on where to eat and what to see during your stay in Hanoi.

There are several free walking tour companies in Hanoi, many run by local students who have excellent local knowledge of their city. Try Hanoi Free Local Tours or Free Walking Tours Hanoi.

Free Walking Tour Tip
Many tour companies in Hanoi will include a free pre or post-tour walking tour of Hanoi with the purchase of other tours such as the Halong Bay Cruise we did from Hanoi.

Enquire when booking additional tours around Vietnam.

Man sleeping in a cyclo on the side of the street, a unique things to see in Hanoi Vietnam.
Taking 5, not an easy job pedalling tourists around all day.

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Street vendors selling fruits on a rainy day.
Rain or shine Hanoi Old Quarter always alive with vendors.
Hanoi Like a Local Tour
If you are looking for a more personalised or private walking tour, try a Hanoi Like a Local Private Tour. The private 2-hour tour includes a local guide who will show you the authentic side of Hanoi beyond the touristic part of the Old Quarter.

The tour includes a professional guide, the walking tour and coffee at a local cafe. Prices start at VND 581,00 (USD $25pp) Get full Hanoi Like a Local Tour details here.

Man on scooter making a purchase from a street meat vendor, looking to do something non touristy in Hanoi then try buying all your shopping from the street vendors and cooking an authentic Vietnamese meal.
Drive through grocery shopping Vietnam style. These are some of the vendors you will learn about on a Hanoi food tour.

Hanoi Old Quarter Old Town Hanoi

Get Lost in The Old Quarter 

The Old Quarter is where you will find the heart of Hanoi. The old sensory overload goes into overdrive in the Old Quarter as you confront the throngs of scooters, bicycles, cars and people all vying for space in the narrow streets.

Men on scooters and bicycles in Hanoi Old Quarter.
Regardless of how chaotic it seems, the traffic in Hanoi has a rhythm but crossing the road is still an art form.

Hanoi celebrated a millennial birthday in 2010 and the Old Quarter is where you will find Hanoi’s complete history on full display. Ancient pagodas, French Colonial architecture, Buddhist temples, Catholic cathedrals are all found among the chaos of commerce and traffic.

Hanoi Old Quarter Tour Tip
Want to experience the Old Quarter without the crowds? Take a 4 hour Good Morning Hanoi Tour.

Starting very early, you will visit a city park to see locals in the daily practice of Tai Chi. Take a cyclo tour of the 36 Streets of Hanoi’s Old Quarter before the daily traffic starts. See local merchants prepare for the regular trade at the famous Dong Xuan Market and finish with a traditional Vietnamese breakfast of pho, Vietnamese noodle soup, and fresh Vietnamese coffee.

There is no more relaxing way to experience Hanoi than early morning. Prices start from VND 1,160,500 (USD $49) See here for full details.

Discover the Best Things to do in Mui Ne, one of the best beaches in Vietnam with a coastal resort vibe.

A line of cyclos ready to start the day.
The three-wheeled Cyclo taxi is a popular way to get around Hanoi.

Explore The 36 Themed Streets of the Old Quarter

For millennia, the area around Hoan Kiem Lake is where traders and artisans from surrounding villages have come to trade wares.

Tradesmen and merchants of the same craft built their homes and business in the same streets creating communities or a kind of guild among other artisans of the same trade. The street each trade claimed were named for the item they sold.

Lady in 2 piece blue rain coat with conical hat next to her bicycle. Watching the locals get around is one of the best free things to do in Hanoi Vietnam.
It is worth picking up a little 2 piece rain suit, as you never know when it will rain in Hanoi.

The 36 streets of Hanoi still bear the names of their trades. Names like Tin Street, Silk Street, Bamboo Street etc. While some businesses have moved into more modern merchandise, the layout of the street remains, and many of the original trades still operate in their street.

Paper Street Hanoi Vietnam, a non touristy thing to do in Hanoi is to get all you Christmas decorations from paper street.
Paper Street Hanoi Vietnam

Paper Street

One such street is Paper Street or Hàng Mã. Paper Street is where Vietnamese still purchase joss paper products burnt in traditional ancestor worship ceremonies.

Traditionally, paper money or “Hell Money” was burnt as an offering to ensure the comfort and well being of dead ancestors. Now, you can buy the paper version of any modern convenience or item you think your dead ancestors may need in the afterlife.

Lady burning paper money a cultural thing to do in Hanoi Vietnam.
Vietnamese lady burns paper “Hell Money” in an offering to ancestors| Clemensmarabu – CC BY-SA 3.0

Anything from paper jewellery, paper scooters, houses, furniture, or shoes. You can even get a paper Mercedes Benz or washing machine. Whatever the deceased need in the afterlife, they’ve got it for a few bucks.

You can read more about the 36 streets of Hanoi here. You can find Paper Street on Google Maps here Hàng Mã, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội

Stay Safe In Hanoi.

Although Hanoi is a generally safe city, it is not uncommon to encounter scams and petty theft. Read our safe travel tips and anti-theft travel gear guides before you go to avoid any unwanted hassle.

Train Street

Train street is one of the more unusual things to do in Hanoi. Twice a day, at 3.30 pm and 7.30 pm, the train that connects Ho Chi Minh City in the south with the capital Hanoi hurtles through a narrow residential street in the middle of Hanoi’s old town.

People walking next to the tracks on train street, one of the most popular things to see and do in Hanoi Vietnam.
Train street Hanoi, the train will wizz pass shortly inches from the houses and people.

The train line takes up the full width of the street so when the train comes through, the resident of Ngõ 224 Lê Duẩn have to make sure everything and everyone is tucked away.

As the horn blasts down the road and the tracks start to rumble, bikes, drying laundry, makeshift kitchens, children and dogs are whipped inside. The train allows only a narrow space on either side for bystanders to stand pressed against a wall or in the alcove of a doorway.

You can literally feel the wind of the speeding train on your face as you stand flush against a wall on the edge of the tracks. It is much more exciting than we had anticipated.

Once the train has passed, residents return to life on the tracks until the next brief interruption to their day at 7.30 pm.

Train coming down train street inches from people and houses.
And here it comes, thundering down Train Street.

When to Visit Train Street

If you want to experience the unusual spectre of life on train street, we advise arriving at least half an hour before the train is due. It often runs early – or late. Arriving early also gives you time to find a spot and to witness the nonchalant attitude of the street’s residents and businesses in the preparations for the approaching train.

The 3.30 train is better for taking photos due to it being lighter although the rush of the train through the narrow street at night adds an additional thrill.

Lady washing dishes next to the train tracks in train street.

Things to Consider When Visiting Train Street

Train street is becoming a very popular spot with tourists. With this in mind, be respectful of the fact it is also where people live. Ask to take photos of locals and respect private property.

Train street can also be hazardous. The train is travelling at high speed and will not slow for any reason. Do not do anything stupid in the quest for the perfect Instagram shot or selfie. Make sure you have a safe place to stand and are well clear of the tracks when the train comes through.

Men waiting next to train lines for the train in train street Hanoi. Read on to find out where train street is in Hanoi and when the trains come past.
Tourists and locals alike await the arrival of the train.

Where to Find Train Street

Train Street is located in Hanoi’s Old Quarter at Ngo 224 Le Duan between Lê Duẩn and Khâm Thin street, in Hanoi’s Old Quarter.

If walking, it will take approx half an hour from the city centre. Otherwise, take a Grab Taxi or Grab Bike from the city. Expect around VND 25,000 for a taxi and up to VND 15,000 for a Grab Bike.

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Hanoi City

Hoàn Kiếm Lake

The Old Quarter may be the heart of Hanoi, but Hoan Kiem Lake (Turtle Lake) is the centre of the city. Hoan Kiem is where you can join locals who gather to escape the madness of honking scooters and traffic.

Temple framed by tree leaves in the middle of Turtle Lake Hanoi.

Head there early morning, and you will find locals enjoying the parks around the lake for exercise and Tai Chi.

Go in the evenings for a photo opportunity like no other in Hanoi. When the sun sets the famous landmarks on Hoan Kiem Lake are lit, leaving beautiful reflections on the lake.

Bridge lit red crossing turtle lake in Hanoi Old Quarter.
One of the best photography spots in Hanoi.

The lake is such a central story in Hanoi’s history. It is also one of the most popular Hanoi attractions and continues to be an essential leisure area for Hanoi locals and tourists.

Head to Hoan Kiem Lake on the Weekend

There is no denying, city exploration in Vietnam can be death-defying thanks to the insane traffic. In a bid to return the city to the people, the streets around Hoan Kiem Lake are closed to traffic from Friday evening until late Sunday night.

It is lovely to enjoy the anomaly of a traffic-free Hanoi in a festival atmosphere with live music, street stalls, and hoards of Hanoi locals enjoying the city unencumbered by traffic.

Two tourists enjoying the best thing to do in Hanoi and that is people watching.

What to See Around Hoan Kiem Lake

Turtle Tower

The lake’s iconic status stems from the ancient legend of an Emperor and a turtle, one of the four sacred creatures of Vietnam.

The legend states that Emperor Le Loi lost his magic sword at Hoan Kiem Lake to a turtle.

The Emperor believed it was the Golden Turtle God, the same turtle who had initially given him the magic sword. It is why the lake is often referred to as the Lake of the Returned Sword.

Turtle tower lit with golden light, spending time around this lake is the best thing to do in Hanoi at night.

In the centre of the lake is a small island with a symbolic tower known as Turtle Tower, home to a softshell turtle population, a species that is becoming increasingly endangered.

Ngoc Son Temple (Temple of the Jade Mountain)

On the northeast corner of the lake, visit Ngoc Son Temple (Temple of the Jade Mountain) reached by the famous red Húc Bridge which translates to “Perch of the Morning Sunlight”.

Red bridge leading to temple on Turtle Lake.

Turtle sightings are frequent around the temple, but it is at the temple where you can see a preserved example of the lake’s most famous giant turtle inhabitants.

Entry to the temple is VND 20,000 (USD $0.80).

Bonsai outside red temple doors.

Visit Hoa Lo Prison Memorial ( The Hanoi Hilton)

The infamous Hoa Lo Prison Museum, dubbed by American POWs “The Hanoi Hilton” is a must-see in Hanoi.

The museum shows the suffering of Vietnamese revolutionaries held by the occupying French government during the early 20th century and later, US POWs captured by the North Vietnamese during the Vietnam war.

Another top thing to do in Hanoi Vietnam is to visit the Hoa Lo Prison Museum, here you see Uncle Mick behind the bars of this old prison cell door.
No escape Uncle Mick.

The unique location of the prison in the city centre was a strategic placement by the French Government as a message to Independence agitators. Ironically, the central location also served prisoners well in that it created an industry for street peddlers passing messages and contraband through and over the walls.

The massively overcrowded prison was plagued with accounts of grossly inhumane conditions and human rights atrocities. These atrocities are documented in many post-war accounts including Senator John McCain’s semi-autobiographical memoir Faith of my Fathers.

Hoa Lo Prison Museum Opening Hours & Entry

Open daily: 8.00 am – 5.00 pm

Entry: VND 30,000 (about USD $1.30)

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Dong Xuan Market

Visit the Dong Xuan Market to shop where the locals shop. The largest indoor market in Hanoi, Dong Xuan dates back to 1889 during French Colonial rule.

The building has since had a Soviet-style makeover, but you can still find anything in the old four-level marketplace. Knock-off t-shirts, shoes, bags, souvenirs, and electrical and household appliances, they have loads of stuff for the bargain hunter as much of the merchandise is at wholesale prices.

The best shopping in Hanoi Vietnam can be found here at the Dong Xuan Market.
Traditional cyclo taxi’s ride past the front of Dong Xuan Market in Hanoi | By trungydang, CC BY 3.0,

On the lower level is a bustling wet market where locals barter over seafood, meat and veg. At the back, a pet and flower market with cats, dogs, fish, birds and flowers from all over the country. 

Flower seller and her baskets of flowers on motorbike outside the best place for shopping in Hanoi, the Dong Xuan Market.
Flower seller outside the best market in Hanoi, the Dong Xuan Market.

See the World Record Ceramic Road

Hanoi is home to the largest ceramic mural in the world. Created in commemoration of the millennial anniversary of Hanoi, Ceramic Road measures 6 km in length.

Pictures made from ceramics along the side of Ceramic Road, Hanoi Vietnam. Looking for non touristy things to do in Hanoi then do not miss this little treat.

Using ceramic tiles from local artisans measuring no more than three cm; the mural depicts Vietnam’s history, world monuments, and even includes drawings from local children.

You can find Ceramic Road on Google Maps at Hồng Hà, Ấp Thạnh Vinh, Ba Đình, Ấp Thạnh Vinh Ba Đình Hà Nội. The majority of the mural is on a busy highway so take a Grab Taxi or Grab Bike for a cruise along its length.

Men making murals on Ceramic Road, Vietnam.
Hanoi’s ceramic road requires constant maintenance and restoration, all done by local artisans by hand | Newone – CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Long Bien Morning Market & Long Bien Bridge

Plan an early start for the best local market experience in Hanoi. Long Bien morning market is where restaurants and local market vendors come to buy their produce.

Women organising fruit and vegetables for the best market in Hanoi, the Long Bien morning market.
Long Bien morning market is a hive of activity from 1 am onwards.

Trucks from country farms start to arrive at around 1.00 am signalling the start of a frenzy of trade under the eerie radiance of artificial light. Duck and weave your way through the lanes of commerce which continues at a boisterous pace until around 6.00 am.

Arrive at Long Bein Market early enough; you can still make it to Long Bien Bridge in time for sunrise. 

Day trip from Hanoi is to Long Bien Bridge for sunrise and to see people cycling through the plantations beside the bridge.
This is another one of the best photography sites in Hanoi Vietnam.
Long Bien Tour Recommendation - Sunrise Photo Tour
Experience the exciting energy of Hanoi’s Long Bien Market before dawn with a professional photographer as your guide. Hone your photography skills on this unique early morning walking tour. Photograph the frantic pace of trade in the market and capture the sunrise from Long Bien Bridge.

On the small group tour, your guide will teach composition, how to get the best shots in different light situations and various other photography tips. Capture the best photo’s at the market, and get great travel photography tips for the rest of your travels in Vietnam.

The 4 hr tour includes a professional photographer/guide, breakfast & coffee, hotel pickup. Prices start at VND 2,065,556 (~ USD$89) Get full tour details here.

Explore Ngoc Ha Neighbourhood and B52 Lake

A quiet oasis in Hanoi, Ngoc Ha Neighbourhood in the Ba Dinh district has one of Hanoi’s best attractions. A reminder of how Hanoi used to be, the quiet neighbourhood is a tranquil area with temples, pagodas and lotus filled lakes.

B52 lake with reflections of surrounding buildings.
The wreckage of a B52 Bomber in Huu Tiep Lake is one of the more interesting things to see in Hanoi |    fredsharples cc by 2.0 

However, in the Huu Tiep Lake, now known as B52 Lake, the upturned wreckage of a B52 bomber shot down on Christmas day 1972 reminds us of the horrors of the Vietnam war.

Explore the markets and enjoy the day to day life of this quiet corner of Hanoi. You may glean a little insight into how the city of Hanoi was once made up of small villages like this.

Hanoi Food

Hanoi Street Food Tour

Vietnamese food has long captivated foodies around the world, and Hanoi is a food lovers dream. From street food to fine dining, Hanoi has the lot, but exploring the street food culture is hands down one of the best things to do in Hanoi.

Lady on scooter outside street food stall, the best way to really enjoy Vietnamese street food is with a Hanoi Street Food Tour.

SE Asia is renowned for its street food, and Vietnamese street food is some of the best in the world. Street food is not just an integral part of Vietnamese culture; it is an extremely cheap way to eat delicious, fresh and healthy food in Vietnam.

men on plastic stools enjoying lunch at an outdoor food stall.

Uncover the best street food in Hanoi on a street food tour.

A street food tour in Hanoi is a great way to acquaint yourself with the various dishes, some more exotic than others. Learn about local dishes unique to Hanoi and know how to pick the best street food vendors.

There are so many ways you can enjoy a Hanoi street food tour. However, we suggest you do it in the early stages of your trip so you can navigate Hanoi’s street food stalls like a pro.

These Are Some of the Best Street Food Tours in Hanoi.

Take a Vietnamese Cooking Class in Hanoi

One of the most fun things to do in Hanoi is to take a Vietnamese cooking class. What better souvenir of Vietnam than learning how to cook some of the local dishes.

Vietnamese spring rolls and sauce which you can learn to make yourself with a Vietnamese cooking course in Hanoi Vietnam.

Most cooking classes in Hanoi will include a market visit. Your guide and chef will teach you about the local produce and guide you in selecting fresh local ingredients for your dishes. A cooking class is a great way to see another, more local side of Hanoi and learn more about Vietnamese food and culture.

These are Two of the Most Popular Vietnamese Cooking Classes in Hanoi.

Grab a Drink at a Rooftop Bar Hanoi Style

The perfect way to appreciate the city scene of Hanoi, especially at night, and escape the constant rush of traffic is to go up. Hanoi has loads of rooftop bars worth exploring, each offering a unique vibe and view.

Rooftop view of cyclos around turtle lake.

From the chic Diamond Sky bar in the heart of Old Town with sweeping views of Hanoi from its three terraces to the Top of Hanoi on the 65th floor of the Lotte Centre – the highest rooftop bar and restaurant in Vietnam. Hanoi has no end of impressive rooftop bars to suit all budgets.

Tip: The Top of Hanoi has a very generous 3 hr happy hour starting from 5 pm, making it a great value place to live it up at sunset.

See six of Hanoi’s best rooftop bars here.

night sky, buildings and dramatic cloud formations in Hanoi
Table setting at the Press Club Hanoi one of the best places to eat in Hanoi Vietnam.

Have Lunch at the Historic Press Club Hanoi

Looking to spoil yourself with Hanoi’s most exceptional French dining? Head to the Press Club Hanoi, a Hanoi institution in the French Quarter.

The Press Club is aptly located above the renowned Journalist Association, a centre for journalists, correspondents, and writers since the war.

While Vietnam has one of the most famous street food scenes in the world, conversely, they also excel in exceptional dining experiences. The Press Club has French Michelin star chef Alain Dutournier at the helm so you can always expect a stunning dining experience.

For excellent value for money fine dining in an iconic and historic venue, The Press Club has great degustation lunch deals. Make sure you book in advance, especially on weekends or public holidays.

Check the Press Club website for the set menu or degustation lunch deals. Expect prices to range from VND 450,000 (USD $19.50) – VND 600,000 (USD $26) for a 3-course degustation menu.

Try the Original Vietnamese  Egg Coffee

No visitor to Hanoi should leave without trying the creamy sweet cà phê trứng egg coffee. 

Much like Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi has a thriving cafe culture, and there is no shortage of cafe’s laying claim to the best egg coffee in Hanoi. We believe that if you are only to try this deliciously sweet beverage once, you should at least try the original. 

Café Giang was founded in 1946 along with the first egg coffee recipe. A milk shortage in the 40s’ was the impetus that spawned the egg coffee recipe.

A barman, Nguyen Van Giang from the Metropole Restaurant went in search for milk alternatives, and so the whisked egg espresso drink was born. Although the original recipe is still a guarded secret, it is said to contain not just coffee and egg yolks, but also butter and cheese. 

A cup of egg coffee, looking for the best food and drink in Hanoi then start with this traditional egg coffee.

Where to Find Café Giang

Café Giang is hidden down a narrow alley off the main street, so it is hard to find, but it is worth the effort. You’ll be surprised at how delicious Hanoi’s signature drink is.

You can find Café Giang here on Google Maps– 39 Nguyễn Hữu Huân, Hàng Bạc, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội. Look for the sign hanging over a narrow alley. 

The Ho Chi Minh Complex

Around Ba Dinh Square and the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in the Ho Chi Minh Complex, there are numerous important and impressive monuments and museums to visit. The area is closed to traffic, so it is an enjoyable space to walk around. 

black cat through carved wooden arches

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in Ba Dinh Square is the final resting place of the revolutionary leader, Vietnamese President, and the father of modern Vietnam.

Inspired by Lenin’s Mausoleum in Red Square Moscow, the massive granite structure sits in the place where Ho Chi Minh read the Declaration of Independence, establishing the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in 1945.

The square blocked structure which is a must see in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum.

In the inner sanctum of the tomb, Ho Chi Minh lays perfectly preserved in a Khaki suit in a glass sarcophagus, overseen by an honour guard of four sentries at each corner.

Prepare for queues as visiting the mausoleum is a highlight for tourists and, Vietnamese visiting the capital would rarely miss a chance to see the father of their country. 

When entering, you will have to surrender any bags and cameras. Visitors are expected to move slowly and quietly through the mausoleum. Absolute respect must be shown at all times while inside the tomb, including in your dress. Anyone not deemed to be behaving or dressed respectfully will be singled out by guards.

The tomb of Ho Chi Minh

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Opening Hours & Entry

April – September: Tues-Thurs: 7:30 am to 10:30 am | Weekends: 7:30 am to 11.00 am

December – March: Tues-Thurs: 8:00 am to 11:00 am | Weekends: 7:30 am to 11.00 am

The Mausoleum is closed on Fridays and for two months in October and November when Ho Chi Minh’s embalmed body is sent to Russia for maintenance and a touch-up.
Entry is free.

The One Pillar Pagoda

 Located next to the Ho Chi Minh Museum, The One Pillar Pagoda is a thousand-year-old Buddhist temple from the time of Emperor Ly Thai Tong. Built from wood on a single stone pillar; the temple’s design resembles a lotus blossom – the symbol for purity. It is considered one of Vietnams most iconic temples. 

Open daily from 7.00 am – 6.00 pm. Entry is free

An unusual thing to do in Hanoi is to visit this Pagoda than stands on only one pillar.
 Over a thousand years old, the One Pillar Pagoda is one of the most popular things to see in Hanoi | Daderot – CC0

The Ho Chi Minh Museum

The Ho Chi Minh Museum commemorates the life of the revered Vietnamese leader, “Uncle” Ho Chi Minh, and Vietnam’s struggle against foreign powers.

Open Daily.

Tuesday to Thursday: 8.00 am – 12.00 pm | 2.00 pm – 4.30 pm

Monday and Friday: 8.00 am – 12.00 pm

Entry: VND 40, 000 (~ USD $1.70)

A statue of Ho Chi Minh inside the entrance to the Ho Chi Minh Museum, our pick as the best museum in Hanoi Vietnam.

Presidential Palace

Constructed in 1900 by French architect Auguste Henri Vildieu as the residence for the French Governor-General of Indochina, the Presidential Palace was also intended as the residence of Ho Chi Minh.

The lavish three-storey, 30 room yellow building surrounded by lush gardens still serves as a government building so visitors may only visit the surrounding gardens and Ho Chi Minh’s Stilt house. 

The yellow presidential palace.
The iconic yellow French colonial Presidential Palace in Hanoi would never be the home of the father of modern Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh| helloandrew – flickrCC BY-SA 2.0

Ho Chi Minh’s Stilt House

When Ho Chi Minh became president of Vietnam, memories of French rule were still too fresh in the minds of the Vietnamese. Not wishing to follow in the footsteps of the French, Uncle Ho chose to live in a modest stilt house behind the lavish French Colonial Presidential Palace. 

Inspired by traditional stilt houses from the northwest; Ho Chi Minh asked that the toilet be removed from the initial plans as it did not represent the traditional design. 

Ho Chi Minh's Stilt House a wooden house on stilts.
  Ho Chi Minh’s Stilt House in Hanoi  |Richard MortelCC BY 2.0, Link

The President of North Vietnam lived in the small two-room house from 1954 until his death in 1969. Visitors can now visit the house known to Vietnamese as Nha San Bac Ho, “Uncle Ho’s Stilt House.”

Ho Chi Minh’s Stilt House is part of the Presidential Palace complex.

Open Daily 7.30 am – 11.00 am | 1.30 pm – 4.00 pm

Entry: VND 25,000 (~USD $1.10)

Phung Hung Fresco Street, Hanoi’s Best Photo Street 

The Vietnamese love a great photo opportunity so, it is no wonder the new fresco street of Phung Hung in Hoan Kiem District is a hit with both locals and visitors.

Hanoi's Fresco Street is one of the most exciting new things to see in Hanoi Vietnam
Image courtesy of Emily Luxton Travels

Motorbike Street has had a fabulous makeover with gorgeous 3D murals depicting the history and culture of Hanoi. Much like Hoan Kiem on the weekend, the area is being made pedestrian-only to provide a new cultural and entertainment space for Hanoi locals.

You can find Fresco Street on Google maps here at 29 Phùng HưngHàng Mã, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam

Man carrying vegetables on a pole past murals in fresco street, one of the best photo spots in Hanoi Vietnam
Image courtesy of Emily Luxton Travels

Where to Stay in Hanoi

One thing Vietnam does exceptionally well, other than fantastic cuisine, is quality, value for money accommodation. You might be surprised at how affordable high end accommodation is and the quality, value for money budget options available.

Old Quarter, Hoan Kiem

Stay close to the Old Quarter for ease of access to the best Hanoi attractions, nightlife, and dining options. You will also find a more diverse range of accommodation here, which makes it popular for budget travellers.

Ba Dinh

Choose Ba Dinh for a quieter inner-city option but still close to all the best Hanoi sights such as Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and the Temple of literature. Accommodation in Ba Dinh tends to lean towards the mid to high range accommodation.

Hai Ba Trung

Hai Ba Trung is a more modern area adjacent to the Old Quarter offering excellent fashion shopping (a good choice for tailor-made clothing), the beautiful inner-city Union Park and the fascinating Women’s Museum which is well worth a visit.

Tay Ho, West Lake

Tay Ho, West Lake is a quieter area popular with ex-pats. Here you will find loads of good quality restaurants and peaceful temples. While not close to the main attractions, the area offers a different experience than the mainstream of the Old Quarter.

Search The Best Hanoi Accommodation Deals