FREE and CHEAP Things to do in Hanoi (CAN’T MISS)

Lê Ngọc Minh Châu - Updated July 05, 2019

Free and cheap things to do in Hanoi are suitable for those who hope to use their budget economically. Hanoi, the capital with one hundred years of culture and civilization is a wonderful heaven for backpackers and budget-conscious travelers. The reason is its affordability and availability regarding currency, cuisine, travel and sightseeing opportunities.

If you want to immerse yourself in customs and traditions as well as the culture of Hanoi without blowing your budget, here’s a whole bunch of mostly free things to do in Hanoi. The list is based on my personal experience and knowledge as well as so many experienced locals

>>> You might want to read: Top Things To Do in Hanoi 2019

Hanoi Old Quarter Ta Hien

Hanoi is full of free and cheap things to do for tourists

The free and cheap things to do in Hanoi below will be separated into 2 parts:

  • Free Activities in Hanoi
  • Free Attractions in Hanoi

No more with the introduction, let's find out what are the Free and Cheap things to do in Hanoi right now!


1. Visit Hanoi’s Morning And Night Markets

Hanoians go to outdoor markets more than go to supermarkets or malls to buy their stuff. Visiting markets in Hanoi is a great way to experience the local culture. Especially, in some large and popular markets, you can find hundreds of stalls selling fresh produce, quality textiles, and household supplies.

Dong Xuan Market

Dong Xuan Market is the largest indoor market of Hanoi

Dong Xuan Market is the largest market in Hanoi but I prefer the Hanoi Weekend Night Market - an outdoor market. However, this market only opens on weekend nights. If you're lucky to stay in Hanoi at the weekend, check out this market. What I like about this market is that it offers exotic Vietnamese street food.

Dong Xuan Market outside

A crowded street outside Dong Xuan Market in the afternoon

2. Join A Free Walking Tour Hanoi with Local Guides

Hanoi Free Tours are a great way to discover Hanoi city in the eyes of a local. Hanoi Free Tours are organized by AZ Local Trip to help travelers know more about our country, and Local University students have chances of improving themselves. The tours can be customized to meet your interests, include the French Quarter of Hanoi, Old Quarter, Museum of Ethnology, Bat Trang Handicraft Village, Temple of Literature, and West Lake. Although its main goal is to help these students to improve their language and social skills, feel free to tip your guide after the end of your walking tour.

See more:


Experiencing Vietnam cuisine culture through Experiencing Vietnam cuisine culture through delicious street food at Hanoi Old Quater


Hanoi Cathedral church

Gathering at St. Joseph's Cathedral with people in Hanoi 

3. Stroll around West Lake 

Making up your list of free and cheap things to do in Hanoi, don't miss out the West Lake area. If you are jogging lovers or you want to wander along West Lake, West Lake is definitely your perfect pick. The lake boasts significant landscapes around its perimeters such as Tran Quoc Pagoda and Quan Thanh Temple. Walking around the lake is an amazing way to spend the day and one of the free things to do in Hanoi. The 10-mile loop is filled with temples, locals and some really cool cafés and bars.

Local activities of  West Lake including riding bicycles, doing exercises or going paddle- boating (insta: minzi_in_vn)

  • Location: West Lake, Hanoi
  • Local tips:
    • Visitors can wear comfortable clothes and flat shoes or sandals to walk and take part in outdoor activities.
    • Bring a bottle of water or snacks for an interesting trip.

West Lake View

Mesmerizing sunset at West Lake

>>> Get your FREE ITINERARY PLANNING for an awesome trip <<<

4. Cross the Red River on Long Bien Bridge

Long Bien Bridge is a destination to experience a quiet escape from central Hanoi’s hectic traffic and congested walking lanes.

Despite having endured two grim wars of Vietnamese with the French and American, the bridge’s original foundations remain relatively intact, offering a popular spot for photography.

Long Bien Bridge

Long Bien Bridge overview

The bridge is a perfect place to enjoy the beauty of the sunset and you can pick up fresh fruit and veg from the sellers on the side of the road.

Trains are still used to cross the famous Red River and you can walk all the way along with incredible views. Walking through the bridge and take some pictures deserve to be another Hanoi free things to do in your list. 


  • Location: free space, Cau Long Bien, Phuc Tan, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
  • More information: Long Bien Bridge

5. Enjoy street performances in the Hanoi Pedestrian Street

Foreign visitors who hope to watch Vietnamese performances free can visit Hanoi Pedestrian Street at the weekends and take part in the lively atmosphere here.

There are many local musicians or groups of small people dance along. There're also many other activities such as traditional games, traditional music shows,... going on around here. I'm sure it'd be a fun night out for you.

Old Quarter Dancing

Having fun with a dance crew on Hanoi Pedestrian Street

  • Location: free space, Hoan Kiem Lake area. 
  • Local Tips: Pay attention to pickpockets

6. Check Out Authentic Handicrafts in Hanoi’s Old Quarter for free

The vendors along Old Quarter are fascinating places for shopaholics or simply people trying cloths without purchasing. The narrow alleyways of Hanoi Old Quarter boast a variety of shops selling authentic artifacts including paper lanterns, paintings, wood and stone carvings, silk, and paintings by local artists.

Free things to do in Hanoi

Some authentic souvenir stuffs sold on the streets


  • If you don’t intend to buy things, you can try these artifacts out.
  • You can see the daily lives of locals here with plenty of selling and purchasing activities. Watch out of pickpockets and thieves
  • Besides shops selling outfits, you can enjoy various local cuisines in here at a reasonable price.


>>> Strolling around with Hanoi Old Quarter FREE Walking Tours

7. Sensory overload at Quang Ba flower market

Variety of flowers species with fragrances in Quang Ba Night Flower Market

Although the market is not on the main tourist trail, you can explore it with a variety of flowers, heaven for flower fans.

This is where all of the flowers are brought before they’re taken to be sold around Hanoi.  It’s a sensory overload of colors and smells with food hawkers selling local grub to keep you going

Quang ba Market

Heaven for those love flowers (insta: afarinacci14)

  • Location: open outdoor market Au Co, Nhat Tan, Tay Ho
  • Opening hours: The market opens from 2 am, running the whole way through the night.

8. Help students learning English around Hoan Kiem Lake

Communication with young locals to discover more about Vietnamese culture

If you are keen on communicating with others or sharing about cultures and lifestyles then you can talk to locals who desire to boost their English skills. 

azlocaltrip free tour NPO

A good chance to make friend with locals

Local students will walk around looking for English speakers to practice conversations with. It’s a great way to meet the locals and get some insiders suggestions of what to do in Hanoi. This is one of the free and cheap things to do in Hanoi since you get to help the locals and discover the people and culture through them.

>>> Explore AZ Local Trip NPO


Above are all the activities you can join with a low budget. And now, let's move on with the next Free and Cheap things to do in Hanoi - the Tourist Attractions.

1. Take a morning stroll around Hoan Kiem Lake with a completely free cost

Hoan Kiem Lake is considered a pearl of the capital and a famous hangout spot throughout the day with locals and tourists. It is a magnificent place for you to recharge your battery after a stressful working day with a bunch of tasks and complicated issues as one of your Free things to do in Hanoi list


Doing Hoan kiem Lake exercises is the daily basis of people here

In here, you can easily catch the sights of many elderly couples walking hand in hand, doing exercises, midnight joggers working up a sweat and children speeding round in their toy cars. 

2. Ngoc Son Temple & The Huc Bridge

Ngoc Son Temple is a very unique temple which nestled in the center on a small island in the middle of Hoan Kiem Lake. The temple was built in commemoration of the 13th-century military leader Tran Hung Dao who made a considerable contribution to the battle against the Yuan Dynasty. 

  • Location: Hoan Kiem Lake
  • Opening hours: 7 a.m to 6 p.m
  • Entrance Fee: 30.000VND/person
  • More detail: Ngoc Son Temple

Ngoc Son Temple

The Huc Bridge leads to Ngoc Son Temple

The Huc Bridge is known as a charming scarlet-painted wooden bridge of classical Vietnamese design. In the sunlight, it's filled with the bright sunshine, forming beautiful scenery in Hoan Kiem Lake. 

Ngoc Son Temple and The Huc Bridge are 2 of the most popular places in Hoan Kiem Lake. You can't miss the opportunity of visiting these places.

>>> Get your own FREE ITINERARY PLANNING now <<<

3. St.Joseph's Cathedral 

St. Joseph's Cathedral resembles the Notre Dame de Paris

Saint Joseph Cathedral is the representative evidence of the French colonial architecture in Hanoi. It was built based on the design and architecture of the Notre Dame de Paris.

Familiarly called by the locals as “The Big Church”, Saint Joseph Cathedral is the headquarters of the Roman Catholic of Hanoi. It 's free to go to the church and discover around. You can enter the church and admire the Neo-Gothic design of this church.


  • Location: 40 Nha Chung Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi - French Quarter
  • Opening hours:
    • For Outside visit: all time.
    • For Inside visit: visitors can only enter the Cathedral in Hanoi in the opening time of ceremonial practice as the following schedule:
    • Weekday: 5:30 am and 6:15 pm
    • Saturday: 6:00 pm
    • Sunday: 5:00 am, 7:00 am, 9:00 am, 11:00 am, 4:00 pm, 6:00 pm and 8:00 pm
    • A special ceremony is on 19th March every year.

>>> Explore on French Quarter FREE Walking Tour

4. Visit Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum without spending a penny

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

Visitors can visit to see Uncle Ho’s body

For visitors as well as local residents, a trip to Uncle Ho’s final resting place can be an extraordinary experience as it is not just a normal tourist attraction, it’s an itinerary of discovering a unique history.

You can follow the queue to observe Uncle Ho’s body preserved in a glass case at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. The granite building stands for a great deal for many locals as it ensures that their beloved leader ‘lives on forever’.

The gardens outside have 250 species of flower gathered from all regions of Vietnam and many locals exercise on the long stretches of concrete.

  • Location: 2 Hung Vuong Street, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi
  • Opening hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday.
    • Hot season (from 1st April to 31st October): from 7:30 AM to 10:30 A(Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays: from 7:30 AM to 11:00 AM
    • Cold season (from November 1 to March 31 of the following year): from 8:00 AM to 11:00 AM
  • Entrance fee: free

>>>  See more Ho Chi Minh Complex Walking Tour with local students

5. Explore Temples and Pagodas everywhere

One Pillar Pagoda

One pillar pagoda - a pagoda with aunique architecture inspired by lotus flower in Buddhist religion built in the Ly Dynasty (1009 -1225) (insta: hanoicapital)

Tran Quoc Pagoda - the most ancient and beautiful pagoda in Hanoi. Vietnam is a multi-religious with many religions such as Buddhism and Catholicism, so temples and pagodas are omnipresent, most of which don’t require an entrance fee.

Tran Quoc Pagoda

Bao Thien Tower on West Lake in Tran Quoc Pagoda (insta: ay_renita)

Free and cheap things to do in Hanoi here: 

  • Normally, temples are relatively tranquil, but on occasional events including Tet, Mid-Autumn Festival and Buddha’s Birthday, the vibrant atmosphere here will surprise you.
  • You can observe the images of prayer ceremonies, traditional music, and dance performances and fireworks display.
  • Simply, you just sit silently to keep your soul restful, getting out of your speedy pace of life.

Basic Information:

  • Address: Some famous temples and pagodas in Hanoi: The Perfume Pagoda, Cau Dong Pagoda, Ngoc Son Temple, and Bach Ma Temple.
  • More Information: Tran Quoc Pagoda

Local tips:

  • Opening hours: Most temples open daily from 7 am to 6 pm.
  • Dress code: You should wear a suitable outfit when visiting worshipping areas.

Trang Tien Street

We hope at the end of this post, you can now make up your own list of free & cheap things to do in Vietnam, especially in Hanoi. If you have any question, feel free to ask us!





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