Hanoi, a thousand-year-old capital city which has gone through many ups and downs in the history, it is home to various unique and appealing sites known far and wide. With the fact that many tourists coming to Hanoi don’t know where to go and how to spend their time there, we hereby would like to suggest some amazing things to do in Hanoi.
Amazing things to do in Hanoi : Take a cyclo tour around the Old Quarter
One of the must-see sites when visiting Hanoi is the Old Quarter where tourists can contemplate many typical examples of Hanoi architecture in the French Colonial Era packed along narrow lanes and alleys. A seemingly endless stream of scooters, cars, and bicycles pass by vendors selling fruits and souvenirs on the pavement and small food stands offering scrumptious dishes at very low prices. Having a walk or taking a cyclo tour around Hanoi Old Quarter is the best way to explore this unique corner of the thousand-year-old capital city.
Always remember to ask the price before taking cyclo trip. Normally you can take 1 hour cyclo at 5-7USD. And if you love their works, you can give them 1-3 USD tipping
The best time for cyclo is the early morning or late afternoon (during summer). In Autumn or Winter, you can take the cyclo trip all day because it’s not too hot. But be aware of the rush hours: 7.30AM – 8.30AM and 5.00PM – 6.30PM when local people go and come back from their offices.
Amazing things to do in Hanoi : Wander around Hoan Kiem Lake
Most of the time, when speaking of Hanoi, the image of Hoan Kiem Lake would appear in the minds of the hearers because Hoan Kiem Lake has become a significant symbol of Hanoi. A walk around the lake is a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the capital city. Tourists can sit back on a random bench on the bank and enjoy peaceful and quiet moments. Besides, it is also a good idea to pay a visit to Ngoc Son Temple, an ancient building sitting in the middle of Jade Island, a small island on the lake.
Please always be alert with your personal stuff, camera or wallet. Even Hanoi is a safe city, sometimes, we still have to face with pick pockets hence be careful when walking around.
Amazing things to do in Hanoi : Visit Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, located in Ho Chi Minh Complex, is a significant and historical attraction in Hanoi. The structure is well known as the final resting place of President Ho Chi Minh, where preserves the embalmed remain of the national hero and people come to express their honor and gratitude towards him. Built from 1973 to 1975, the mausoleum, which is constructed from materials (mainly granite and wood) contributed by people from all over the country, is a symbol of national unity.
If you would love to see Uncle Ho’s body inside, you will need to visit Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum on the morning of Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday or Sunday. But it is noted that the waiting time will be quite long: ~1 hour as many people come to Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum every day.
You will need to follow the rules when visiting Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum such as no short, no sun glasses, no hat and no putting hands in your pocket. We always show respect to our greatest president when visiting him.
Amazing things to do in Hanoi : Look around the Temple of Literature
The Temple of Literature, the very first university in Vietnam, was built in 1070 under Ly dynasty to honor Confucius, and glorify the doctors of philosophy and best scholars in feudal time. The complex, mainly constructed from wood and tiles, is a magnificent and perfectly conserved example of Vietnamese architecture in the 11th century. Visiting the Temple of Literature, you will have a glance at the education and examination process in Vietnam a million years ago. Besides, the temple houses 82 stone steles with the name and hometown of 1307 doctors who passed the corresponding 82 examination courses from 1442 to 1779.
There are many T-shirt sellers outside the temple and waive you or chase you to buy something for them. Please remember to bargain if you want to have some T-shirt. The cost is from 2-3USD per T-shirt. If you do not want to buy anything, just go and do not touch on their T-shirt.
Amazing things to do in Hanoi : Drop by Vietnam Museum of Ethnology
Just opened recently in 1997, Vietnam Museum of Ethnology is arguably the largest and most captivating museum in Hanoi. This museum is the right place for those who want to learn about 54 different ethnic groups in Vietnam and their cultures. Within the museum complex, tourists can find various information about the traditional ways of life of Vietnamese people, from religious events to the spiritual rites of every ethnic group in Vietnam. The exhibition hall displays objects used in the daily life of each group. Besides, there are libraries, research centers and auditorium within the complex.
The Museum opens every day, except Monday and its opening hours is from 8h30 to 17h30. The entrance fee is VND 25,000 (around $ 1.2). If you want to take photos, you will have to pay an extra amount of VND 50,000 (nearly $ 2.5) per camera.
Amazing things to do in Hanoi : Visit Hoa Lo Prison
This intriguing site is the remnant of a vast structure which once was Hoa Lo Prison, ironically called the ‘Hanoi Hilton’ by American prisons who were held captive during the Vietnam War (a.k.a American War). Most of the exhibits in the prison demonstrate the use of the prison up until the 50s of the 20th century.
They mainly concentrate on the struggle of Vietnamese nation for independence from French Colonialists. Tourists can see a horrible relic of the French guillotine, used to execute Vietnamese revolutionaries, in display. In addition, there are exhibitions about pilots of U.S army who were captured and imprisoned during the Vietnam War.
To understand better of what happened in Hoa Lo Prison, you should either buy a guidebook at the ticket booth or take a guided tour. The entrance fee is only VND 30,000 per adult.
Amazing things to do in Hanoi : Watch a performance in Thang Long Water Puppet Theater
Not very far from Hoan Kiem Lake, Thang Long Water Puppet Theater, which was established in 1990, is the place of choice for tourists who want to enjoy a water puppet performance and learn about the beauty of this traditional form of entertainment. Most of the performances convey such traditional contents as the everyday life of Vietnamese peasants (farming, tending live stocks, fishing, etc), communal recreation (swimming contest, dragon dance), or historical legends (King Le Loi return the precious sword in Hoan Kiem Lake). In recent years, the puppet artists have renovated the shows with light effects and music and have harvested certain success.
From Monday to Saturday, there are puppet shows every day at different time frames: 15h30, 17h00, 18h30, 20h00 and 21h30. On Sunday, there is only one performance at 9h30. The ticket price is from VND 60,000 to VND 100,000 ($3 -5) depending on the seat. Tickets can be purchased at door or pre-ordered.
Amazing things to do in Hanoi : Pay a visit to Saint Joseph Cathedral in Hanoi
Constructed more than 120 years ago when the French army had dominated Hanoi, on the land once belonged to BaoThien Pagoda, Saint Joseph Cathedral is a Roman Catholic cathedral with neo-catholic style. The cathedral has the length of 64.5 meters and the width of 20.5 meters with two imposing bell towers of 31.5 meters high.
The architectural design bears the influence of the Gothic style and the design of cathedrals in Paris with many domes. Although the exterior decoration follows Western style with colorful window glass and mural paintings, the interior is mainly adorned in Vietnamese traditional style with two typical colors, red and yellow. The Statue of Mother Maria is placed in front of the cathedral.
You can visit the church any day, but if you want to explore the space inside, you have to check the opening hours beforehand because the church does not all day long. Generally, the church opens at 8h00 and closes at 17h00.
Amazing things to do in Hanoi : Visit Bat Trang Ceramic Village
With the history of more than seven centuries, the traditional porcelain and ceramic village of Bat Trang is truly a fantastic attraction that you should not miss out when visiting Hanoi. From the feudal time, Bat Trang village mainly produces ceramics for daily household use, decoration and worshipping purposes.
Recently, there have been many renovations in production techniques, making Bat Trang ceramics favorite products not only in domestic markets but also in foreign ones. When visiting Bat Trang, tourists can have a walk around the village for sightseeing and shopping. There are also many pottery workshops around the village where tourists can take part in making porcelain products as gifts to bring home for family and friends.
You can catch the bus line 47 (Long Bien – Bat Trang), with the interval of 20 minutes, which stop near Dong Xuan Market. Besides, you can hire a motorbike taxi to take you there or hire a motorbike to ride yourself.
Amazing things to do in Hanoi : Participate in a Cooking class
Although many tourists coming to Vietnam would choose to take a cookery course in Hoi An, it is worth considering the participation in a cooking class in Hanoi. Amongst various cooking classes in Hanoi, we recommend ‘Hanoi Cooking Centre’ (located on Chau Long, near Truc Bach Lake) which is highly valued by many tourists. All learners of the center will be instructed by experienced and professional chefs.
The center offers classes covering six themes: Vietnamese street food, Hanoi and northern highlands, food from the coast, barbecues and salads, vegetarian and spring rolls. There are also classes for kids if your children are really passionate for cookery. All courses are offered at the price of VND 1,350,000 (around USD 59.44).
Amazing things to do in Hanoi : Walk or Cycle on Long Bien Bridge
If Hoan Kiem is the symbol of an elegant Hanoi, then Long Bien Bridge is the symbol of a brave Hanoi at war for having gone through many bombard attack during Vietnam War. The bridge was built from 1898 to 1902 during the French Colonial Era. At that time, it was among the four greatest bridges in the world.
Though Long Bien Bridge was designed by a French architect, its construction was performed by Vietnamese workers with domestic construction materials. The bridge is not only a historical construction but also a wonderful spot for sight-seeing. It is said that Long Bien Bridge is the best place to admire sunrise and sunset in Hanoi. Having a walk or a ride on a bicycle along the bridge would bring you peaceful moments and unforgettable memories.
Long Bien Bridge is not very far from the Old Quarter, so if you stay in the area, you can walk on foot or rent a bike to cycle to the bridge. Importantly, while going along the bridge, remember to go on the left side.
Amazing things to do in Hanoi : Stroll around Quang Ba Flowers Market at night
If you are a flower lover and photography enthusiast, you would love a stroll around Quang Ba Flowers Market, the most colorful, photogenic and also busiest flower market in Hanoi. The Market often becomes crowded from 2 AM until 6 AM. You might feel hesitated, but believe me, the experiences that you have there would totally worth your night. Various kind of greenery and flowers are displayed for sales, such as sunflowers, roses, orchids, gerberas, lilies, chrysanthemums and hydrangeas, just to name a few. The flowers are often sold in bundles of the same kind, but you can still find stalls selling arrangements. Also, you will be awed at the quantity of flower packed on a single scooter of the sellers.
Because this is a busy market, you should always watch out for scooters zipping in along unexpected spaces and be prepared to make way.
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