10 Best Things to Do in Hanoi

Experience the best of Hanoi, Vietnam! Visit these top tourist attractions in Hanoi and have fun in one of the country’s top tourist destinations

Vietnam’s colorful history, rich culture, ancient architecture, and tropic wonders all come together in a single place and that is Hanoi. The capital city of Vietnam was established over a millennia ago so you should expect that one of its greatest wealth is its astonishing history. From ancient temples, citadels, castles, and other remains of the Old World, exploring Hanoi, Vietnam would surely feel like traveling back in time. 

The capital city is also a melting pot of cultural diversity as Hanoi is heavily influenced by several Southeast Asian countries, China, and France. It is also blessed with countless natural wonders such as majestic peaks, lakes, and natural parks. On top of all these, visitors are also guaranteed to have a blast with Vietnam’s irresistible cuisine. So, be sure to go on a gastronomic adventure around the wonderful city of Hanoi! 

With the countless attractions of Hanoi, it could be quite difficult for some tourists to create the perfect itinerary for their unforgettable adventure! So, allow me to help you as we discover the 10 Best Things to do in Hanoi, Vietnam! 

Stop By the Temple of Literature 

One of the first things you should do in Hanoi is to visit one of its most picturesque tourist destinations, the Temple of Literature. The perfectly preserved temple is the ultimate example of Vietnam’s traditional style of architecture. The temple was built in the year 1070 as a dedication to Confucius. 

Temple of Literature  Gate in Hanoi
Temple of Literature  Gate in Hanoi | Photo by nstanev/stock.adobe.com

Today, thousands of tourists frequent the temple for its cultural significance and aesthetic features. Some of the attractions to look forward to are the Well of Heavenly Clarity, Thai Hoc, and the Sage Courtyard which houses a large statue of Confucius himself. 

Visit the Iconic West Lake of Hanoi 

Another thing you shouldn’t miss doing in Hanoi is visiting the country’s largest freshwater lake that covers a huge area of 500 hectares. The famous West Lake of Hanoi not only serves as a significant resource for the country’s economy but also plays a huge role in uplifting Vietnam’s tourism. 

A visit to the Iconic West Lake of Hanoi is one of the best things to do in Hanoi
West Lake of Hanoi | Photo by efired/stock.adobe.com

The lake is a popular place for recreation that’s why it is surrounded by countless hotels, restaurants, and entertainment hubs. The calm and tranquil ambiance of the lake makes a perfect getaway destination for people who are tired of the city’s hustle and bustle. 

Hanoi’s West Lake is also surrounded by numerous cultural landmarks such as the Vong Thi Pagoda, Tao Sach Pagoda, and the famous Quan Thanh Temple. Riding a bike to stroll across the 17-kilometer shore of West Lake would be a great idea! 

Watch a Show at the Thang Long Water Puppet Theater 

If you want to immerse yourself in the rich culture of Vietnam, then you should probably watch a show at the famous Thang Long Water Puppet Theater. Water puppetry has been a Vietnamese tradition since the 11th century. It started when the villagers stood in floodwaters as a form of entertainment. 

Thang Long Water Puppet Theater 
Thang Long Water Puppet Theater | Photo by Gryffindor/Wikimedia under creative commons

Tickets to the puppet shows in Tang Long are usually selling out fast so it’s better to book your tickets in advance to enjoy the spectacular show. 

Visit the Hoan Kiem Lake 

Nestled inside the historical city of Hanoi is another natural wonder that gives the city a romantic and relaxing vibe. Hoan Kiem Lake also known as Luc Thuy Lake has a wide area of more than 12 hectares and houses some of the city’s cultural landmarks. 

Hoan Kiem Lake is one of the top tourist spots in Hanoi
Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi

Thousands of tourists frequent the lake to admire the lush gardens and cultural attractions it possesses. Hoan Kiem Lake is surrounded by numerous landmarks such as the Turtle Tower, Huc Bridge, and the Ngoc Son Temple which is a spectacular symbol of Buddhist architecture. 

Go Back in Time at Hanoi’s Old Quarter 

The city of Hanoi is known for its colorful history. It has been home to some of mankind’s most significant civilizations and was also influenced by different countries like Japan, China, and France. Hanoi was able to preserve its history including countless ancient buildings that are now tourism hotspots. 

A street vendor in the Old Quarter of Hanoi
A street vendor in the Old Quarter of Hanoi | Photo by Roman Babakin/stock.adobe.com

One of those hotspots is the iconic Old Quarter of Hanoi. A thousand years of history are stored within the halls of the ancient buildings still standing here. There are also several structures perfectly depicting the beauty of French architecture. Some of these buildings are transformed into popular stores and boutiques. So, it kinda makes you feel like you’re traveling back in time. 

Explore Vietnam Museum of Ethnology 

Vietnam is always known to give importance to its history and culture. The Vietnam Museum of Ethnology is a perfect example to support that statement. Erected with the intention of preserving the cultural heritage of the 54 ethnic groups in Vietnam, this museum has now become one of the country’s premier tourist destinations. 

Vietnam Museum of Ethnology 
Vietnam Museum of Ethnology | Photo by Rungbachduong/Wikimedia under creative commons

With over 15,000 artifacts that depict the way of life of different tribes, learning more about the people and culture of Thailand is a guarantee! 

Discover the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum  

Ho Chi Minh is an important personality in Vietnam’s rich history. He was one of the most influential communist leaders of the 20th century and he ultimately led the country to achieve Vietnam’s independence. This is the main reason why the country’s largest city is named after him. 

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in Hanoi
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in Hanoi | Photo by Kontrollstellekundl/Wikimedia under creative commons

The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in Hanoi contains the tomb of Ho Chi Minh himself. His embalmed body is said to be resting in a glass case within a marble building in the mausoleum. There are also countless artifacts and possessions of Ho Chi Minh within the museum, including plenty of information about the devastating Vietnam War. 

Tour Around the Imperial Citadel 

The Imperial Citadel is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that once held the highest seat of military power in the country. The structure’s role in Vietnam’s colorful history which started a thousand years ago is unmatched, making it earn the whole country’s respect.

Imperial Citadel Hanoi
Imperial Citadel in Hanoi | Photo by Alex 69200 vx/Wikimedia under creative commons

Countless historical artifacts have been unearthed in this location as well as the foundations of ancient buildings and palaces that once stood in its place. 

Check Out the One Pillar Pagoda 

Another one of Vietnam’s most iconic temples is the One Pillar Pagoda. This little temple is a haven for Buddhist followers as hundreds of them visit it daily to offer prayers. The reason why it was named “One Pillar” is because the whole structure is based on a single stone pillar. The One Pillar Pagoda’s design is made up of wood and carefully crafted into the shape of a lotus blossom. 

One Pillar Pagoda in Hanoi
One Pillar Pagoda in Hanoi | Photo by Daderot/Wikimedia under creative commons

As a national symbol of Vietnam, One Pillar Pagoda is regularly visited by thousands of tourists that are seeking peace and life contemplation. 

Banh Mi, Definitely

Ah, you didn’t think we would finish the trip without even trying the iconic Banh Mi, did you? This simple submarine sandwich has become the icon of Vietnamese cuisine even in other countries. 

Bahn Mi - a must try food in Hanoi
Bahn Mi – a must-try food in Hanoi

Invented in the 1950s, a Banh Mi consists of a short baguette with a thin and crispy crust and then savored different kinds of meat and vegetables. It is then usually topped off with a sweet and savory kind of sauce to add another layer of flavor and texture. 

Some of the best-tasting Banh Mi spots to look out for in Hanoi are Banh Mi 25, 6/28 Huong Vien, and Banh Mi Pho Hue. Make sure to check them all out! 

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