Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam and one of the country's most popular tourist destinations. Hanoi is home to many historical and cultural sites, as well as a wide range of stores and restaurants. Once in Hanoi, you can enjoy activities such as exploring the Old Quarter, visiting temples and museums, and taking part in traditional Vietnamese festivals.
Prepare your stay in Hanoi
To avoid unpleasant surprises during your trip to Hanoi, we strongly advise you to book your airport-hotel-airport transfers in advance. Cab transport can be a source of stress and scams in Vietnam, as in many Asian countries. To make your stay in Hanoi easier, we recommend choosing accommodation in the Old Quarter, where most hotels and other lodgings are located. This will make it easier for you to organize certain activities, such as a visit to Ha Long Bay.
Temple of literature
The Temple of Literature is a historic Confucian temple in Hanoi. Founded in 1070, it is one of Vietnam's oldest temples and its first university. The temple is dedicated to Confucius, sages and scholars. It is a place to venerate Confucius, study his teachings and offer him sacrifices. The temple comprises five courtyards, each with its own function.
The first courtyard is home to the statue of Confucius. The second courtyard is where students took their exams to become court officials during the feudal period. The third courtyard houses the Well of Celestial Clarity, which was used for sacrificial rituals. The fourth courtyard is where you can see the brilliant architecture of the pavilions, corridors and steles. The fifth courtyard houses the temple museum, with exhibits on the temple's history and culture.
If you're interested in Vietnamese history and culture, a visit to the Temple of Literature is a must during your stay in Hanoi. Even if you're not particularly interested in these things, it's well worth a visit, as it's one of the city's most emblematic monuments.
Ngoc Son Temple
Ngoc Son Temple is one of Hanoi's most popular tourist attractions. The temple is located on an island in the middle of Hoan Kiem Lake. Visitors can take a boat to the island, or cross a bridge to the shore.
The temple was built in the 18th century and is dedicated to the Chinese general Nguyen Hanh. Ngoc Son Temple is a fine example of traditional Vietnamese architecture, with intricate carvings and decorations. Inside the temple are several statues and paintings telling the story of Nguyen Hanh and his battles against the Chinese.
Visitors to Ngoc Son temple can learn about Vietnamese history and culture, and admire the superb views of Hanoi from the island.
Saint Joseph's Cathedral
St. Joseph's Cathedral is one of Hanoi's most iconic and popular tourist attractions. This magnificent Gothic-style cathedral was built in 1886 and is still an active place of worship today. Visitors can admire the superb architecture and stained glass windows, or attend mass. The cathedral is located in the heart of the old quarter and is surrounded by restaurants, cafés and boutiques.
The Old Town
Hanoi's oldest district is one of the most picturesque and historic parts of the city. Dating back to the 13th century, it was the original center of Hanoi and is brimming with narrow streets and traditional stores. For centuries, it was the commercial heart of the city, and many of the businesses established in those days, such as jewelers, metalworkers and textile stores, are still in operation today.
You can also discover numerous markets brimming with culinary wonders and local produce. Attend traditional shows such as the famous water puppet show. Last but not least, you may be lucky enough to see the train passing right through the middle of town, close to the homes and shops.
A stroll through the Old Quarter is a great way to get a feel for the city and see some of its most interesting architecture. The district is also home to a number of museums, temples and other historical sites.
Ha Long Bay
It would be unthinkable to visit Hanoi without taking the opportunity to discover the magnificent Ha Long Bay. Located around 3 hours by bus from the city center, this bay is considered one of the most beautiful places in the world. Take a 2-day/1-night boat trip (Pelican Cruise) and discover the bay in the most beautiful way.
Ha Long Bay is one of Vietnam's most popular tourist destinations. Situated in the northeast of the country, Ha Long Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, home to thousands of islands, caves and beaches.
Street madness is an unmissable experience in Hanoi. There are stalls and carts on almost every corner, selling everything from pho (Vietnamese noodle soup) to banh mi (Vietnamese sandwiches) to Bun Cha (a type of noodle dish). Be sure to try a bit of everything - you won't be disappointed!
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is one of Hanoi's most popular tourist attractions. The mausoleum is the final resting place of Ho Chi Minh, the founder of modern Vietnam. Visitors can view Ho Chi Minh's body, displayed in a glass coffin, and visit his house on stilts, where he lived from 1958 until his death in 1969.
Admission is free, but visitors must respect a strict dress code (no shorts, mini-skirts or sleeveless shirts).
Ho Chi Minh Museum
The Ho Chi Minh Museum is a must-see for anyone interested in Vietnamese history. The museum traces the life of Ho Chi Minh, from his early years as a revolutionary to his term as President of Vietnam.
The museum is divided into three sections: the first covers Ho Chi Minh's early life and revolutionary days; the second covers his years as President of Vietnam; and the third covers his legacy.
Other things to do in Hanoi
Hanoi is a city full of life and activity, making it an excellent choice for a trip. If you decide to extend your stay, here are a few more ideas of things to see and do.
Take a walk along Hoan Kiem Lake
Hoan Kiem Lake is the focal point of Hanoi and a wonderful place to stroll. You can hire a boat to explore the lake or simply sit on the banks and admire the beauty of this peaceful place.
Travel up the Red River
Take a boat trip up the Red River for breathtaking views of lush rice paddies and floating villages.
Discover the One Pillar Pagoda
The Single Pillar Pagoda (Môt Côt Pagoda) is an impressive and historic place to visit. It's a small Buddhist pagoda built in honor of a former emperor. It was built in 1049 by Emperor Lý Thái Tông to celebrate the birth of a son. The pagoda consists of a single lotus-wood pillar on which a domed roof is built. The pagoda is surrounded by a garden of trees and plants.
How do I get to Hanoi in Vietnam?
Assuming you're coming from outside Hanoi, the best way to get there is to fly into Noi Bai International Airport. From there, you can take a cab or airport shuttle to the city center.
If you're coming from inland Vietnam, there are several bus and train options that will take you to the heart of Hanoi. Once in the city center, it's best to get around on foot or by bike, as traffic can be quite congested.
Let yourself be enchanted by this city
This vibrant city has so much to offer, from delicious food and historic sites to beautiful temples and bustling markets. With a little preparation, you can easily fill your days with interesting activities and make a lasting memory of your stay in Hanoi.