hanoi girl

10 things you can do in Hanoi

Vietnam overall is so diverse and multifaceted that it is definitely worth a visit. And Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, is as Asian as you imagine: noisy, colorful, exotic and friendly. 

So, 10 things to do in Hanoi:


1. Walk around Hoan Kiem Lake (“Lake of the Returned Sword”), learn the legend of a Golden Turtle God, visit a beautiful temple, see there the giant stuffed turtle that was caught in the lake (may be the legend has some truth in it!).

2. Attend Water Puppets Theater – a unique cultural experience included into UNESCO intangible heritage list.train street hanoi

3. Walk along the weird city street with railway tracks in the middle. You may also check the train timetable and see how local inhabitants move their laundry racks and cooking pots from the tracks before the train comes.

4. Visit Hoa Lo prison, also known as “Hanoi Hilton”. Experience Vietnamese propaganda – they will tell you stories about awful French oppression of Vietnamese communists. The guide would mention that the prison was also used to detain American pilots during the war, but “they were treated with respect and in good conditions”. Do you believe this for a moment?

market hanoi

5. Get a visual overdose at Hang Ma street market from thousands of paper lanterns, holiday decorations and “fake money” cakes for burning in temples.

6. Treat yourselves with Vietnamese cuisine: pho soup and bun cha noodles with meatballs deserve your attention.

temple hanoi

7. Have a rest in the Temple of Literature. Try to absorb some Confucian wisdom.

8. Buy souvenirs in one of many small shops of the Old Town – maybe a copy of vintage propaganda poster or an embroidered wallet.

guard change

9. Visit Ho Chi Min Mausoleum and his modest house nearby. Wrap-up with a surrealistic Ho Chi Min museum with gigantic 3D installations symbolizing the struggle of Vietnamese people.

10. In the evening drink beer with locals at the corner of Ta Hien and Luong Ngoc Quyen streets. Tap beer costs here just 5-10 thousand dongs ($0.25-0.5) per pint! If you are not into beer, try exotic smoothies in one of cafes nearby. I even saw a crazy smoothie of mango, tomato, cucumber and dolce de leche… and no, I did not risk to try it!


  1. These are great tips and thanks for sharing, we are travelling through Vietnam early next year so we will definitely check these things out when we get to Hanoi!

    • Elena Nemets

      Good luck with your trip. Many people treat Vietnam as just a place to relax on sea resort, but it is so much more than this.

  2. Carol Colborn

    I will definitely visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, the Temple of Literature, the market, and eats lota of Vietnamese food!

  3. Yes, very nice. I have bin there last Chrismas.

  4. Great phoots! I loved Hanoi. I And I definetly agree abotu trying the fresh beer and pho. I didn't get to go to the Hanoi Hilton when I was there before but at least now I have a reason to go back! 

  5. Thanks for the tips. I will certainly try one of those strange smoothies 🙂

  6. I've been to the mausoleum, such a weird place! I have an experience to add: drinking an egg coffee at Giang's. It sounds weird, but tastes like liquid tiramisu. Delicious!

    • Elena Nemets

      My husband tried it! And also coffee with condensed milk! I don’t drink coffee at all, so this experience is not for me 🙂

  7. We'll be in Hanoi for Christmas, any tips?

  8. I have seen pics of the train tracks before. So bizarre. Looks like such an interesting place to visit.

  9. Awesome tips for what to do in Hanoi!  I can't wait to go explore this city again.  What was your favorite place to eat?

    • Elena Nemets

      I am bad with remembering the names, but one time we have tried a posh restaurant at the hotel of a hotel, and bun cha there was just amazing!

  10. I would love to visit Hanoi too! And I will take notes from this post. Thanks for sharing! It's a great story. ❤️

  11. I absolutely loved Hanoi but was really sorry I missed the village with the railway track.  Such a wonderful place full of so many experiences, colour and great people.  Loved the food of course too.

    • Elena Nemets

      This is not even a village, it is a city street!!! It took us some effort to find it actually, but it was worth it!

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