Our “Ultimate Top Tips When Visiting Hanoi“ has been compiled to ensure get the very best of your time here in Hanoi. From History buffs to Nature Lovers, we hope to have included something for all tastes. You will discover places of interest and insider “Tips” to make your vacation memorable. After all, you have saved your hard earned cash, worked all year and now its time to relax and enjoy your holiday! So, in no particular order our “Ultimate Top Tips When Visiting Hanoi“!
1) Hanoi’s Old Quarter
After dropping your bags at your hotel and freshening up why not explore Hanoi’s historic Old quarter. This at first seems easier said than done due to the sidewalks in Hanoi being nothing more than parking lots for motorbikes. It is however essential if you want to get comfortable with the chaos of the traffic. Hanoi’s old quarter has many hotel and hostel options to choose from. Be it 5 star luxury to backpacking community hostels, Hanoi’s old quarter can satisfy your needs. Many of the city’s sights are located here too. So Hanoi’s old quarter is likely where you’ll be spending a good part of your time in Hanoi. Apart from hotels, restaurants, coffee shops, and sights, the old quarter is also excellent for finding those classic “I’ve traveled to Vietnam items“. Everything here is so wonderfully cheap! Remember, your best haggling skills are a must in Vietnam!Ultimate Top Tips When Visiting Hanoi – See our “Money Saving Tips in Vietnam“ for great ideas to make your budget go further!
2) Stroll Around Hoan Kiem Lake
This area is a huge draw for tourists, with many great bars, restaurants and markets. Meaning “Lake of the Restored Sword”, Hoan Kiem Lake is located in Hanoi’s old quarter. The lake is the heart of every Hanoians life. Hoan Kiem Lake is the perfect place to rest, enjoy street food, people watch, or simply take a gentle stroll. Ngoc Son Temple, an 18th century Buddhist temple, sits on a tiny island. It is reachable via the bright red bridge connecting the island to the northern shore of the lake. One very common activity for Vietnamese students is to come here to practice their English with tourists. Don’t be alarmed when you sit down you are approached by young people full of smiles. Its a great way to get some insider knowledge on the city for free!
3) Shop Hanoi’s Night Market
The night market in Hanoi is only open on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights. It’s all the same stuff you’ll find during the day, though, so don’t despair if you’re not in Hanoi over a weekend. If there’s nothing there you can’t buy in the daytime, why go to the night market at all? Because the atmosphere is better. The streets are quieter. There’s less insistence from shopkeepers that you look through their wares. Also you can often get better deals. It’s just a more pleasant shopping experience in general. Plus, there’s food – loads of choices cooked fresh right in front of you while you shop. Ultimate Top Tips When Visiting Vietnam –Luxury Food Tour or Cooking Class. These activities are a real breath of fresh air and provide something that little bit different!
4) Visit The Temple Of Literature
Ngoc Son Temple may be Hanoi’s most visited temple, but the prettiest is definitely the Temple of Literature. A quiet, green oasis, the Temple of Literature blooms in stark contrast with the concrete city surrounding it. With many landscaped courtyards, gardens, and pavilions, this place is definitely one for the photo album! Built as a temple to Confucius in 1070, the Temple of Literature was centered more on academia than religion. A place of study for the wealthy. The Temple of Literature was Vietnam’s first national university. Many monuments still remain on the grounds dedicated to the scholars who graduated here. Ultimate Top Tips When Visiting Hanoi– arrive as early as you can because the temple is a popular sight. It can get very busy even just a couple hours after opening.
5) Take A Tour Of Hoa Lo Prison
Hoa Lo Prison has a dark and foreboding history. First built in the late 1800’s by the French, the prison was used to house Vietnamese political prisoners. Later in its history the prison would become known by another name, the dreaded Hanoi Hilton.Used by the northern Vietnamese to house American POW’s during the war, today only the gatehouse of Hoa Lo Prison remains. The remaining structures have been transformed into a museum where tourists stroll this once nightmarish place. Hoa Lo prison is open to visitors 7 days a week from 8:00 am until 5:00 pm and will take approximately one hour to explore.
6) Eat Everything
Eating may be one of life’s necessities, but in Vietnam it’s one of its greatest pleasures, too. There are so many foods to try here. Like everything else, it’s all incredibly cheap. A few things you must try – bun cha (BBQ pork and noodles), pho xao (stir fried noodles with beef), bun nem (spring rolls), banh mi (Vietnam’s version of a sandwich), and of course, everyone’s favorite – pho (beef noodle soup). Ultimate Top Tips When Visiting Hanoi – one of the best bowls of pho can be found at a little place on Bat Dan Street. I swear I will never forget that meal, and not just because it tasted out of this world. Our food at “Pho Bat Dan” was served to us piping hot outside on communal picnic tables as we were sitting elbow to elbow with strangers. Unusual, maybe, but a part of the charm of eating in Hanoi.. Besides these outdoor cafe-style places that you will see all over the Old Quarter, another place to get delicious and cheap food is from the street vendors. They move from place to place, but you won’t have any trouble finding them.
7) Make A Pit Stop At Bia Hoi Corner
Listen up beer drinkers, you’re going to want to pay attention to this one! There is actually a place where beer costs less than water! It’s right here at the intersection of Ta Hien and Luong Ngoc Quyen. Known as Bia Hoi Corner, the “pubs” around this intersection in the Old Quarter serve freshly-made local beer, for just 20 cents (5,000 VND). What if you don’t drink beer, should you still stop by? YES! The atmosphere at Bia Hoi Corner is fantastic. This is one of the best places to come if you want to meet other travelers, expats, and locals. Everyone sits on little plastic stools on the edges of the streets. It’s easy to strike up conversations and meet people. The environment is kid-friendly and all sorts of non-alcoholic drinks and street food are available in addition to cheap beer. Ultimate Top Tips When Visiting Hanoi – Arrive here quite earlier if you are wishing to spend the evening here. It can get very busy after 8pm.
One of the most obvious places to take an overnight trip from Hanoi is Ha Long Bay. A UNESCO world heritage site, Ha Long Bay is one of the most popular tourist destinations in all of Vietnam. Waking up to see the sunrise above the rocks and islands in the bay is a once in a lifetime experience. A variety of overnight junk boat tours are available in a range of budgets. The activities available are mostly the same for all tours, so the difference in price usually comes down to how luxurious the boat and meals provided on the trip are. Ultimate Top Tips When Visiting Hanoi – Book online for your Halong Bay Cruise to get the best prices available.
9)Visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
Next up is the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. Ho Chi Minh will forever be etched into Vietnamese history. He is remembered as the savior of his people, which explains the reverence with which he is held. Ho Chi Minh was the first communist ruler of Vietnam, defeating the French during the colonial era in 1954. Modeled after the tomb of Lenin of Russia, visitors can now see the body of Ho Chi Minh preserved for eternity in a coffin of glass. The grounds around this immense Mausoleum are really worth exploring and should definitely be on your list of things to do in Hanoi. Ultimate Top Tips When Visiting Hanoi –This attraction can get very busy, best to get there as soon as it opens. Mon – Fri: 08:00 – 11:00. Sat – Sun: 08:00 – 11:30. (Times correct at time of writing)
10) Visit the Citadel of Hanoi
The imperial citadel of Thang Long is a must-see when visiting the city. This UNESCO protected world heritage site once stood at the center of ancient Hanoi and is still spectacular to see. For an incredible thirteen centuries the citadel has stood as the heart of northern Vietnam. Located in the Ba Dinh district of Hanoi, the Citadel is open 7 days a week from 8:00 am until 7:30 pm. Ultimate Top Tips When Visiting Hanoi – A good way to see the citadel of Hanoi is by combining your visit with the Mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh which is close by.
More Ultimate Top Tips When Visiting Hanoi
11) Watch A Show at The Opera House
Modeled after the famous opera house of Paris. The Opera House of Hanoi is the most exquisitely beautiful building in the city. The Opera House is located in the French quarter of the city. It was built in 1911 during the French invasion of Vietnam. The building fell into decline after the departure of the French. 1997 saw the rejuvenation of the Opera House which brought the ruined building back to its former grandiose appearance. Today regular shows are held at the Opera House showcasing the absolute best of Vietnamese Opera, Dance and Ballet. For those who love the arts, a trip to the Opera House is a must. Ultimate Top Tips When Visiting Hanoi –Book online through the opera house before you arrive to save both time and money.
12) Watch a Water Puppet Show
Hanoi is famous for its water puppet shows, with several theaters showing daily performances. The most famous water puppet theater is Thang Long Theater, which is located next to Hoan Kiem Lake. Thang Long Theater hosts five water puppet shows a day, often selling out every seat in the theater. Here puppets dance and slide over the water filled stage, operated by a team of expert puppeteers. At Thang Long Theater, most shows tell the Vietnamese legend of the Turtle and Hoan Kiem Lake. As stated, Thang Long Theater holds shows seven days a week, five times a day. Ultimate Top Tips When Visiting Hanoi – Do not miss this slightly wacky entry on the list of things to do in Hanoi. Again booking online before you arrive is highly advisable.
13) Visit Tran Quoc Pagoda
Next up is another of Hanoi’s little wonders, Tran Quoc Pagoda. This ancient place is the oldest temple in all of Hanoi. It was first constructed in the 6th century by the Emperor Ly Nam De, making the Pagoda almost 1500 years old. Tran Quoc Pagoda is located on an island in the city’s West Lake near its southeastern shore. Due to the beauty of not just the Pagoda but also West Lake itself, many Buddhists from around the world travel here to meditate in its presence. Tran Quoc Pagoda is open daily for tourists and admission to the site is free. Ultimate Top Tips When Visiting Hanoi – Why not take a full tour of west lake on the new electric open mini bus service.
14) Cycling around West Lake
The best way to soak up one of the city’s marvels is on two wheels. Arguably the least polluted area in Hanoi, West Lake is popular with a spectrum of architectural styles. West Lake has traditional temples to an explosion of Western-style restaurants and coffee shops. The road has limited traffic during the daytime and is considerably smooth for a pleasant riding. Ultimate Top Tips When Visiting Hanoi – Between the hours of 9am and 11.00am are ideal to do this activity.
15) Wandering Long Bien market at midnight
In the boom of gentrification and air-conditioned malls, Long Bien, one of the biggest Hanoi’s wholesale vegetable and fruit markets, surely offers you an animated scenery of traders and local buyers buzzing around.Ultimate Top Tips When Visiting Hanoi – As with all markets, the early bird catches the worm!
16) Joining Vietnamese cooking classes
A quick cooking course is a brilliant add-on to your trip to Hanoi. It will take you well beyond popular pho or banh my and show how a mix of cheap ingredients can create distinctly perfect flavors. Ultimate Top Tips When Visiting Hanoi – Be-careful to read the “Inclusions/Exclusions” info when booking. Many classes do not include the cost of the ingredients.
17) Being on the top of the city
Feeling like the view from a rooftop bar is not thrilling enough? Head to Lotte Tower, the Vietnam’s second tallest building. Step on to the 65th floor and buy the entrance ticket for the glass observation desk to get access to the most impressive feature: 360-degree views of Hanoi. When the sun goes down, the glow from the lighted buildings and the non-stop flows of traffic really adds magic. Ultimate Top Tips When Visiting Hanoi – Even bottled water at this attraction is very expensive ($7 approx). Bring your own small bottle to refresh you.
18) Enjoying the Vietnamese coffee
Vietnam is one of the leading exporters of coffee. It is no surprise then that the coffee here is amazing. Visiting a local coffee shop is not just about becoming more engaged in the culture or supporting an independent business. It’s also a step away from a casual type of coffee that most people have come to accept as the norm. And there isn’t merely the egg coffee in Vietnam that will surprise you. Ultimate Top Tips When Visiting Hanoi – Why not have some fresh coffee beans ground and blended, the perfect souvenir.
“Ultimate top tips when visiting Hanoi” – written by – My Anh.
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