An independent selection of the best things to see and do in Hanoi. No paid placements, no advertorial.

Hanoi see and do guide

Introduction

Last updated 16 Nov 2011

Hanoi is one of Asia’s most visually exciting cities. The capital is home to Vietnam’s best museums and some of its most important monuments. But the real draw is its street life - a frenetic clash of old and new set amidst the narrow lanes of the old quarter and tree lined boulevards peppered with fading relics of French empire.

Museums

Museums are not Vietnam’s strong suit but the capital is home to the best of an underwhelming national collection. The Vietnam History Museum is a good place to get your head around thousands of years of history without much focus on the war that dominates most other museums. Its setting in one of the city’s most dramatic French colonial buildings is also impressive.


Photo: Mark BowyerVietnamese History Museum, Hanoi
The Ho Chi Minh Museum, close by his mausoleum in Ba Dinh square, was a Soviet sponsored dedication to Uncle Ho that was completed just as the Soviet Union was collapsing. It’s a must for museum buffs.

Hoa Lo, also known as the Hanoi Hilton is another worthwhile museum stop. Renowned as the prison where US POWs, including US Senator John McCain, were held during the Vietnam War, the French also made good use of it holding some of Vietnam’s most celebrated national leaders here in barbaric conditions.

Hanoi's war museum is a good place to see some well earned crowing about the country's modern military achievements.


Other sights



Photo: Mark BowyerOld Quarter, Hanoi
The city's old quarter teems with atmosphere. Cast your eyes above the crammed shopfronts for a glimpse of the traditional houses of the the 36 guild based streets. Walk amidst the grand edifices of the French quarter and explore Ba Dinh Square with its museums and imposing colonial era government buildings. A visit to Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum in the heart of the square is an inescapable rite for visitors.


Hoan Kiem Lake is Hanoi’s spiritual heart and a great spot for an early morning or late afternoon walk as the city gets its daily hit of exercise.

Hanoi is where Vietnam's story begins and the city confidently asserts itself as the centre from which political and cultural power radiates. The locals will be sure to tell you as much.

You can easily spend two or three days wandering, eating and visiting Hanoi’s sights. It’s also the staging point for travel north to Sapa, Halong Bay, Mai Chau, Hoa Lu and the Perfume Pagoda.

Read on for more information.
Read more introduction

Ho Chi Minh's house on stilts, Hanoi

The simple timber house on stilts, in a lovely garden setting, from which Ho Chi Minh ruled wartime North Vietnam prior to his death in 1969. The... Read more

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Ho Chi Minh's house on stilts, Hanoi
Ba Dinh Square behind Ho Chi Minh
 

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Ho Chi Minh Museum, Hanoi

There may be museums dedicated to Ho Chi Minh in cities and towns across the country, but this is the definitive effort, set in Ba Dinh Square. We... Read more

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Ho Chi Minh Museum, Hanoi
19 Ngoc Ha, Ba Dinh, South of Ho Chi Minh
 

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Hanoi Citadel, Hanoi

World Heritage listed Hanoi Citadel, also known as the Thang Long Imperial Citadel, is one of Vietnam’s most important historical sights. Years... Read more

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Hanoi Citadel, Hanoi
Enter from Hoang Dieu St, Hanoi, nearby the Cot Co Tower.
 

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Ba Da Pagoda, Hanoi

Ba Da Pagoda is a delightful and historic pagoda on Nha Tho St a short walk from St Joseph’s Cathedral. Read more

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Ba Da Pagoda, Hanoi
3 Nhà Thờ, Hoan Kiem Hanoi
 

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Ba Dinh Square, Hanoi

Ba Dinh Square is where several of the Hanoi’s most historic sights are located - Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum, Ho Chi Minh’s house on stilts, Ho Chi... Read more

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Ba Dinh Square, Hanoi
Ba Dinh District Hanoi
 

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Bach Ma Temple, Hanoi

11th century Bach Ma Temple is Hanoi’s oldest place of worship and is easily visited while strolling through the Old Quarter. Bach Ma  or White... Read more

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Bach Ma Temple, Hanoi
76 Hang Buom St, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi - in the Old Quarter
 

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Bat Trang Pottery Village

More for those with a serious interest in purchasing pottery than for an experience of a traditional craft village.  There’s little that feels... Read more

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Bat Trang Pottery Village
16kms south east of Hanoi
 

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Ca Tru traditional music performance, Hanoi

Ca Tru is an ancient northern Vietnamese vocal music tradition performed Tuesday to Sunday nights in one of two old quarter venues in Hanoi. Read more

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Ca Tru traditional music performance, Hanoi
42 Hang Bac St Hoan Kiem District Hanoi
 

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Co Loa Citadel, Hanoi

Co Loa Citadel dates back to the 3rd century BC and ties in with some crucial milestones in the past 2 millenia of Vietnamese history. It's a very... Read more

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Co Loa Citadel, Hanoi
Co Loa, 16kms from Hanoi
 

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Duong Lam Village, outside Hanoi

Duong Lam is a surprisingly picturesque traditional village about 50kms from Hanoi. Read more

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Duong Lam Village, outside Hanoi
Duong Lam, Son Tay - 50kms from Hanoi
 

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Fine Arts Museum, Hanoi

Vietnamʼs most important collection of painting, sculpture, lacquer and other objects is set in a French colonial building not far from Ba Dinh... Read more

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Fine Arts Museum, Hanoi
66 Nguyen Thai Hoc Str., Ba Dinh Dist., Hanoi
(84.4) 7332131

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Halong Bay day trip

The day trip to Halong Bay is the most popular day trip from Hanoi - and for good reason. The World Heritage listed site is Vietnam’s most... Read more

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Halong Bay day trip
3 hours east of Hanoi
 

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Hanoi Cooking Centre, Hanoi

A professional cooking centre on the fringe of the Old Quarter offering both cooking classes and tours of markets and street food. Read more

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Hanoi Cooking Centre, Hanoi
44 Chau Long St, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi
+84 4 3715 0088

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Hanoi Museum, Hanoi

You’ll need to have a lot of time, patience and enthusiasm to make the journey out of town to Hanoi’s newest museum. Impressive only in... Read more

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Hanoi Museum, Hanoi
Pham Hung Street, Từ Liêm, Hanoi
 

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Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum, Hanoi

Ho Chi Minh's Mauloleum is the imposing Soviet style block in which President Ho Chi Minh’s embalmed corpse lies. Located at the centre of historic... Read more

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Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum, Hanoi
Ba Dinh Square, Hanoi. Enter at Southern end near Ho Chi Minh Museum.
 

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Hoa Lo - Hanoi Hilton Prison, Hanoi

Most of the infamous Hoa Lo Prison, aka Hanoi Hilton, was demolished to make way for an office and apartment complex in the 1990s. One wing has been... Read more

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Hoa Lo - Hanoi Hilton Prison, Hanoi
1 Hoa Lo St, Hanoi, Vietnam
 

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Hoa Lu and Tam Coc day trip

In classic tourist parlance, brochures describe the mystical Hoa Lu and Tam Coc  landscape as “Halong Bay on land” on account of its stunning... Read more

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Hoa Lu and Tam Coc day trip
Ninh Binh Province - around 2 hours from Hanoi
 

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Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi

An early morning spent wandering around legendary Hoan Kiem Lake is a perfect way to start any Hanoi day. If you’re feeling energetic, join the... Read more

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Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi
Central Hanoi
 

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Long Bien Bridge

A Hanoi icon in all senses, the Long Bien Bridge - formerly known as the Paul Doumer Bridge - was one of the greatest engineering accomplishments of... Read more

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Long Bien Bridge
Up the ramp from Hang Khoai in the Old Quarter
 

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Military History Museum, Hanoi

The ultimate museum tribute to Vietnam’s twentieth century struggles against larger and better equipped enemies - the French and the US. Read more

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Military History Museum, Hanoi
28A Dien Bien Phu St, Hanoi
 

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Museum of Ethnology, Hanoi

Hanoi's Museum of Ethnology explores Vietnam's 54 ethnic minority groups looking at costumes, rituals and traditions. A very worthwhile stop -... Read more

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Museum of Ethnology, Hanoi
Nguyen Van Huyen Rd, Cau Giay District, Hanoi

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Museum of Vietnamese History, Hanoi

Vietnam’s best account of its thousands of years of history is set in one of Hanoi’s finest buildings. A refreshing break from war and propaganda... Read more

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Museum of Vietnamese History, Hanoi
1 Trang Tien St, Hanoi - in the French Quarter
 

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Museum of Vietnamese Revolution, Hanoi

If you’ve been travelling in Vietnam a while, you’ll recognise the pattern here - a huge collection of photos peppered with some artefacts and... Read more

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Museum of Vietnamese Revolution, Hanoi
25 Tong Dan St, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi (there's another entrance on the opposite side)
 

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Old Quarter, Hanoi

Hanoi’s Old Quarter is a warren of bustling lanes that have been the commercial heart of the capital for centuries. The 36 streets were created in... Read more

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Old Quarter, Hanoi
From the north end of Hoan Kiem Lake
 

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One Pillar Pagoda, Hanoi

One of Hanoi’s most revered sights, the One Pillar Pagoda dates back to Hanoi’s founding and is a commonly used symbol of the city. It’s located... Read more

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One Pillar Pagoda, Hanoi
Ba Dinh Square Hanoi, nearby the Ho Chi Minh Museum
 

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Perfume Pagoda, Ha Tay

The Perfume Pagoda is a complex of pagodas located in limestone mountains 60 kilometres from Hanoi. It's a popular day trip from Hanoi that includes... Read more

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Perfume Pagoda, Ha Tay
Ha Tay province around 60kms from Hanoi
 

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St Joseph's Cathedral, Hanoi

Hanoi’s main Catholic cathedral, the beautifully faded St Joseph’s, sits at the head of one the city’s most attractive streets. Read more

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St Joseph's Cathedral, Hanoi
40 Nha Chung St, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
 

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Street Food tours, Hanoi

If all those Hanoi outdoor eateries of low tables, plastic stools and unrecognisable culinary concoctions, spark your curiosity, Mark and Tu’s Hanoi... Read more

Temple of Literature, Hanoi

Along with the One Pillar Pagoda, the Temple of Literature, dates back to Hanoi’s founding 1000 years ago. Vietnam’s first university was... Read more

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Temple of Literature, Hanoi
Quoc Tu Giam St, Hanoi
 

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Thay and Tay Phuong Pagodas, Ha Tay

These two mountainside pagodas can be visited in a pleasant half day from Hanoi. Read more

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Thay and Tay Phuong Pagodas, Ha Tay
Ha Tay province around 30kms from Hanoi
 

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What's On At Morin Hotel, Hue

AudiOhm

The Hanoi Social Club

6 Hội Vũ, Hoàn Kiếm | Map
Wed Feb 22, 2017
9PM
Tiếng Việt ở dưới It's that space just after consciousness. Just before sleep. Somewhere in... Read more

Let's fall in love at 88 Lounge

88 Lounge

88 Xuân Diệu | Map
Sat Feb 11 till Sat Feb 25, 2017
LET'S FALL IN LOVE AT 88 Lounge -English version is below- Điểm đến ngọt ngào cho ngày lễ... Read more

Redroom Sessions - Puddles

HRC Tô Ngọc Vân

27 / 52 To Ngoc Van | Map
Thu Feb 23, 2017
9PM
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=kwgZgEsRKDs Redroom Sessions introducing Puddles: Three... Read more

HRC Live

HRC Tô Ngọc Vân

27 / 52 To Ngoc Van | Map
Fri Feb 24, 2017
9PM
Another Friday night with a big line up with 4 live acts - Etienne Rousseaux: A charming... Read more