20+ Top Things To Do In Hanoi (and the ONE thing NOT to do!) + MAPS

Lê Ngọc Minh Châu - Updated July 26, 2019

Visiting Hanoi in 2019? Looking for the Best Things To Do in Hanoi or Best Hanoi Attractions?? Check out our latest Hanoi Bucket List of 2019 NOW!

Here are 20+ best things to do which include classic Hanoi tourist attractions and the latest trendy spots in Hanoi. And don't forget to check out the ONE thing NOT to do at the bottom as a bonus.

Things-to-do-in-Hanoi-LIST

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Top Things to do In Hanoi - Hanoi must-see point of interests and you will know what to do!

Table of Contents


1. Explore The Old Quarter

Without a doubt, Hanoi Old Quarter is the busiest hub in the city and one of the best Hanoi things to do.

In fact, no tourist coming here without visiting the Hanoi Old Quarter. Since it’s the center of the city, it’s easy to go everywhere from here.

The highlight of your journey to Hanoi for sure

The highlight of your journey to Hanoi for sure!

Here you can find small streets with many street vendors, selling food and souvenirs on the street. The streets are packed with scooters, bicycles, and cars.

It is truly a local experience that will give you an idea of what it is like to live in Hanoi. Here you can try some tasty street food as well.

  • Address: Hanoi Old Quarter, Hoan Kiem District

A tip for you: if you go by yourself, you need a map as the streets are very narrowed and confusing. Better to go with a FREE tour guide who knows the area as it saves your time and you can visit the most of it.

>>> Maybe check out some of the best FREE Walking Tour in town! <<<

2. See The Embalmed Body of The Great Father of Vietnam

You might be wondering who is the person that so loved by Vietnamese people and called by the name The Great Father.

He is no one else but Ho Chi Minh - the first president of Vietnam after Vietnam declared its independence in 1945.

Ho Chi Minh was the one who had the most contribution to the independence of Vietnam and as an act of respect, Vietnamese Government decided to embalm his body, installed it in an imposing concrete-and-granite block that stands before a vast square with dim lights. 

By this way, people can always come to this place to visit the Great Father. Now, the embalmed body placed inside Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum - a privately guarded place!

Ho Chi Minh Complex - All famous Hanoi things to do in one place

Ho Chi Minh Complex - All famous Hanoi things to do in one place

One interesting fact is that you can rarely find any of the photos of the embalmed body itself and inside the mausoleum. You may hear about it but you can’t see it. This place is strictly guarded and you can’t take photos. If you want to see, you have to go there by yourselves.

  • Address: Address: 8 Hung Vuong Street, Ba Dinh District.
  • Opening Hours: Tuesday - Thursday 07:30 - 10:30, Saturday & Sunday 07:30 - 11:00

>>> Already in Hanoi? Get to Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum with FREE Hanoi City Tours

3. Discover The Old Imperial of Hanoi - UNESCO World Heritage Site

A fact that not many people know about is that Hanoi is among one of the most ancient capitals in the world.

This city just celebrated its 1000th birthday in 2010. At the time when Hanoi was chosen as the capital of Vietnam more than a century ago, it was given the name “Thang Long” which means “the flying Dragon”.

Artifacts in the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long

Artifacts in the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long will give you an image of the capital in the past

The Imperial Citadel of Thang Long that still remains today has become an intriguing relic of Vietnam’s history and signifying its historical and cultural importance. It was the center of regional political power for almost 13 centuries without interruption.

This site was selected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and worth paying a visit for anyone want to dig deeper into the history and culture of Vietnam - top Hanoi things to do indeed.

  • Address: 19C Hoang Dieu Street, Ba Dinh District.
  • Opening Hours: Tuesday – Sunday 08:00 – 17:00
  •  Price Range: 30.000 VND

>>> Arrange the trip yourself or have local experts set all things up at a ZERO cost!

4. Visit Hoa Lo Prison - "Hell On Earth"

As a country of wars, there’re many prisons scattered throughout the territory of Vietnam. Hoa Lo Prison or Hanoi Hilton is one of the most popular.

Described as “Hell On Earth”, Hoa Lo Prison can be creepy for the fainted hearts. This prison can inspire sorrow, disgust, and, depending on your politics, different flavors of outrage.

Most exhibits relate to the prison’s use up to the mid-1950s, focusing on the Vietnamese struggle for independence from France. A gruesome relic is the ominous French guillotine, used to behead Vietnamese revolutionaries.

A 5-star Hilton Hotel or Prison on Earth

A 5-star Hilton Hotel or Prison on Earth?

Hoa Lo Prison is truly a thought-provoking site and definitely worth things to do in Hanoi even if you’re not keen on history. This can be some scary things for some people and you’ve got my warning!

  • Address: 1 Tran Hung Dao Street, Hoan Kiem District.
  • Hours: 8 am - 5 pm
  • Price: 30.000 VND/adult and FREE for children.

>>> Visit Hoa Lo Museum in FREE Hanoi War Sites Walking Tour

5. Stroll Around Hoan Kiem Lake - Things to do Hanoi

What I’ve found interesting of Hoan Kiem Lake is that although located in the middle of chaos city with crazy traffic like Hanoi, it still remains the serenity and gives out this peaceful feeling.

Hoan Kiem Lake is also a charming social and cultural center for Hanoi citizens.

Hoan Kiem Lake is considered as the heart of Hanoi

Hoan Kiem Lake is considered as the heart of Hanoi

You can see people practice tai chi in the morning, couples take wedding photos around the lake. The lakeside offers an excellent opportunity to take in the local color, and it's an easy walk to the Old Quarter afterward.

While strolling around Hoan Kiem Lake, don’t forget to visit Ngoc Son Temple and The Huc Bridge!

  • Address: Hoan Kiem Lake, Hoan Kiem District

6. Visit the Temple of Literature

Here is the thing: Asian culture really emphasizes education. We can see that from Chinese culture, Korean culture and Japanese culture. Vietnamese culture is not an exception.

Temple of Literature is the first university of Vietnam and has proven its historical and cultural importance. Nowadays, students always come here before exams or in Lunar New Year to wish for the best luck in their study.

The first university of Vietnam

Here comes the first university of Vietnam.

The temple is laid out in a sequence of five courtyards from south to north, spanned by three pathways running through the Temple's length. This things to do is surely for anyone who wants to dig deeper into the history and culture of Vietnam.

  • Opening Hours: Tuesday - Sunday 8:30 - 11:30 & 13:30 - 16:30
  • Address: 58 Quoc Tu Giam Street, Dong Da District.
  • Price: 30.000 VND/adult and FREE for children

>>> Book a Hanoi FREE Tours to Temple of Literature and other famous spots!

7. Watch a Water Puppet Performance

Vietnamese art performances don’t win a point in fanciness or complexity. In fact, the performances are normally seen in small stages.

However, each performance is unique in its own way. Water Puppet Show is a one-of-a-kind performance you cannot see anywhere else.

The most unique show you have ever seen in Hanoi Attraction

The most unique show you have ever seen

Water Puppet Show is truly a unique form of art. It’s not plainly a music show or a play. It somehow a mixture between two of them and with storylines of Vietnamese folktales.

The main actors are puppets controlled by artists. The whole performance happens to be on the water. Sounds interesting, right?

If you’re curious enough, note down on your list of Hanoi things to do to come and figure out how they perform it!

  • Address: Thang Long Water Puppet Theater, 57B Dinh Tien Hoang Street, Hoan Kiem District.
  • Opening Hours: Daily 15:00, 16:10, 17:20, 18:30 & 20:00
  • Tel: +84 43 824 9494
  • Price Range: 100.000 VND

8. Lap Up The Coffee Culture

If you thought Europeans were the world’s coffee connoisseurs, try to taste the authentic Hanoi coffee will make you reconsider.

Just like Banh Mi, coffee was introduced here by the French colonists in the late 19th century. However, the Vietnamese quickly started to modify and make their own recipes and create a unique taste.

In my experience, to taste the really delicious and authentic Hanoi coffee you should check out the street pavement coffee shop instead of drinking the coffee at your hotel or a big restaurant.

An absolute must-try is the local egg coffee (ca phe trung) - the very very very delicious and famous coffee of Hanoi. For the best and original egg coffee, come to Giang Cafe, 39 Nguyen Huu Huan Street. This things to do won’t disappoint you, just trust me with that!

>>> Check out FREE Hanoi Food Tours taste Egg Coffee and other tasty dishes out!

A brand new way to enjoy coffee for Things to do in Hanoi

A brand new way to enjoy coffee

9. Shop at Dong Xuan Market

Finding some Vietnamese goods? Dong Xuan Market is a good consideration.

Dong Xuan Market is housed within a four-storey Soviet-style building on the northern edge of Hanoi Old Quarter.

This is the largest indoor market in Hanoi and you can find almost anything here. The market offers a wide range of goods such as fresh produce, souvenirs, accessories, and clothing, as well as electronic and household appliances.

Dong Xuan Market - the biggest indoor market of the capital city

Dong Xuan Market - the biggest indoor market of the capital city

  • Address: Dong Xuan Street, Hoan Kiem District.
  • Opening Hours: Daily 06:00 - 19:00.

For making the most of your time in Hanoi, take a Customized FREE Itinerary Planning here!

10. Pay a Visit To The “Notre Dame de Paris” of Hanoi

The French colonists used to build many sites and constructions in Hanoi. All of them has this unique French architectural style which is really easy to spot. We call it Hanoi French Quarter.

If you are still wondering about things to do in Hanoi, pay a visit to St.Joseph's Cathedral, one striking example of French architecture. The cathedral is said to be a smaller version of the Notre Dame de Paris.

Familiarly called by the locals as “The Big Church”, St. Joseph Cathedral is the headquarter of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hanoi for more than 4 million Catholics in the country.

The Little Paris at Hanoi center - Best Hanoi Attraction

The Little Paris at Hanoi center

  • Opening hours: For Outside visit: all the 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.

  • Address: 40 Nha Chung Street, Hoan Kiem District.
  • Price: Free

>>> Take your time around Hanoi French Quarter with Hanoi Free Walking Tours to see it through the eyes of locals!

11. Sky-high City View at Lotte Center

Where to find the best view of Hanoi from above? Lotte Observation Deck is the answer without hesitation!

Top Things to do - Sky-high City View Hanoi

Lotte Observation Deck Hanoi offers beautiful panoramic views of the city as it is located on the 65th floor of the Lotte Center. From this height, you can observe Hanoi skyline and take gorgeous pictures.

  • Address: 54 Lieu Giai Street, Ba Dinh District.
  • Price: influenced by a number of factors, including age and time of day. It is more expensive to visit during the day than in the evening
    • Evening time is considered from 18:30-22:00 (Summer) / 17:30-22:00 (Winter).
    • For 3-7-year-olds, or over 65 the fee is 90.000 - 110.000 VND (day/night) (4 - 5 US$).
    • Those aged between 8-19 years pay 110.000 - 170.000 VND (5 - 7 US$)
    • 20 to 64-year-old pay an entrance fee of 130.000 - 230.000 VND (6 - 9 US$)

12. Catch Sunset Moment in West Lake

West Lake is known to be the best spot to watch the sunset in Hanoi and the best time to watch sunset during summer time.

Before sunset, many people come here including professional photographers with the hope of catching the picturesque sunset scenery.

Sunset in West Lake is very romantic and peaceful. You will feel blessed only looking at such a breathtaking view.

  • Address: West Lake, Tay Ho District.

Seeking for the peacefulness at West Lake Hanoi

Seeking for the peacefulness at West Lake Hanoi

13. Go On a Street Food Adventure in Hanoi

And yes, here comes one of my favorite things to do among all. Leaving out a Hanoi street food tour would be the biggest mistake!

Even if you don’t have much time in Hanoi, just don’t skip a street food tour. Why?

Because all the street food is such a blessing to your taste buds! I’ve tried all of the street food that I could and none of them was even close to average. The thing that I like the most about the food is the balance of all the taste and ingredients when mixed together.

However, remind that most of the dishes will taste better if you follow the right way to eat them. For example, only how to put in the sauce and herbs to enlighten the taste varies among different dishes.

And unfortunately, only the locals know how to eat the food properly so you can enjoy it the most. So let's go on a food adventure!

14. Visit the Women’s Museum

The Vietnamese Women’s Museum delivers a beautifully presented tribute to the women of Vietnam across the ages. There are plenty of historical contexts alongside a wealth of information on today’s more modern Vietnamese woman.

This museum features displays across five floors delivered over three sections – women in a family, women in history and women’s fashions. There are more than 1000 artifacts on display depicting the many faces and changing roles of Vietnamese women.

Things to di in Hanoi at women's museum

The display on the ‘Heroic Mothers of Vietnam’ that memorializes women who lost children during Vietnam’s many years of warfare

If you have an interest in museums, don’t leave out Women’s Museum. It’s a very modern museum with unique architecture and one of the popular Hanoi things to do.

  • Address: 36 Ly Thuong Kiet Street, Hoan Kiem District.
  • Opening Hours: From 08:00-16:30 every day except Monday 
  • Price: 30.000 VND/adult and FREE for children.

15. Hop On a Cyclo in Hanoi

Are you tired of walking around? Then taking a cyclo is a good choice to explore the Old Quarter. Cyclo is unique transportation of Vietnam and I think it’s really fun to give it a try!

Cyclo is like a bicycle but with 3 wheels and 1 seat in the front. You will seat in the front and the peddler will ride you around the Old Quarter really slowly. By this way, you can discover all 36 streets which is something you can’t do by just walking around.

However, some tourists have said that this could be a scary experience because of the crazy traffic in Hanoi. But that's just worrying because accidents rarely occur.

>>> Take the challenge and book a Hanoi Cyclo Tour around the city! <<<

16. Attend a Cooking Class

Remember I talked about taking a Hanoi Street Food Tour and how delicious the food taste?

If you wonder how Vietnamese people make their food, why not attending a cooking class? It sounds like a great idea and lots of fun you will have.

A cooking class with local chef will give you detailed instructions and tips. Some classes even allow you to go to the local wet markets to buy the ingredients yourself. What a great way to experience local life!

Things to do in Hanoi cooking

Choose the ingredients yourself!

17. Hanoi Night Market

If you’re lucky enough to stay in Hanoi at the weekend, visiting Hanoi Night Market is definitely one of the things to do you cannot miss.

The market runs through the Old Quarter district from 7 pm onwards, starting from Hang Dao Street and running north to the edge of Dong Xuan Market.

Pedestrian streets and historical sites within the area are illuminated with decorative lights, making this a popular spot for traveling photographers. You will find many things in the market at a cheap price.

If you’re not keen on shopping, you can stroll along the market to enjoy the local atmosphere.

>>> See what you can get with a FREE ITINERARY PLANNING! <<<

18. Sit Behind a Motorbike

Another way to come down the streets and join in the traffic is by taking a Hanoi Motorbike Tour. In my opinion, this is the most local and fun experience that you can ever have in Hanoi.

You might never ride a motorbike before and this could be your chance. In a motorbike tour, you will seat behind the driver and she/he will take you around the city, visit the famous attractions, taste local food and give you some insights and stories about this beautiful city on the way.

Things to do in hanoi with a motorbike tour

The must-try local activity while in Hanoi.

I know that Hanoi’s traffic can be hard but don’t worry, these tours are safe. And trust me, just give it a try!

>>> Get a ride now and you won’t regret this experience! <<<

19. Discover Hanoi Nightlife in Hanoi Old Quarter

When the sun goes down, then it’s the perfect time to explore Hanoi Nightlife. Hanoi Nightlife has much to offer with a multitude of things to do, from relaxing, chilling activities to fun and dynamic activities.

One of the top things to do in Hanoi you would love. See Things To Do in Hanoi at Night for more details!

Hanoi at night

20. Grab Some Beer at Ta Hien Street

Ta Hien Street is known as the first street where the majority of foreign tourists set foot on when coming and before leaving Hanoi. Therefore, everyone is familiar to call Ta Hien Street with the name "Pho Tay" (Foreign Street).

Ta Hien street is super famous for beer, from Vietnamese traditional beer to luxury foreign beer. Not only for beer lovers and night owls, Beer street Hanoi is a paradise to discover the Vietnamese cuisine.

Things to do in Hanoi at Ta Hien Street

All the best Hanoi street foods are here! If you are a food enthusiast, don't miss this delicious chance to savor it all!

There is no proper pub here, not even a proper table in Ta Hien Street. Customers will sit on small stools around a little taller plastic or wooden stools on which food and beer bottles are placed.

If you have a night in Hanoi, just don’t miss the chance of going to Ta Hien and grab some beer!

21. Take a Day Trip From Hanoi

If your trip lasts more than 3 days, you might consider a day trip from Hanoi. The famous destinations are Bat Trang Ceramic Village, Ninh Binh, and Halong Bay. These are all destinations that are suitable for a day trip.

  • Price: From $35/day

For a day trip, get yourself some information of

And a bonus, the ONE thing NOT to do while in Hanoi!

Cross the street without paying attention

No "zebra" no crossing!

One of the most “freaking-out” experiences to every foreigner come to Hanoi must be crossing the street. As a local, I must admit the traffic here is kind of "a mess".

Do not try to run as fast as you can crossing the street in Hanoi. This will most likely end up with an accident. Instead, keep yourself slowly walking over the street. You can also make signals to transportations to slow down, but always with respect! Unless you are professional like this guy...

Don’t stop when crossing a road. Frightening as it can be, just keep walking ... but slowly ...

You can kindly ask the locals for a favor. Don’t be shy! 

After your feet meet the other side pavement, exhale and relax. Congratulations, you’ve safely crossed the street in Hanoi!

So above are 21 Things To Do in Hanoi and 1 little Thing Not To Do. If you are planning your trip to Hanoi soon, make sure to get things ready beforehand!

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