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Vietnam travel: 14 things to do in Hanoi

Put Hanoi on your list if you're interested in Vietnamese culture, history, and cuisine. To help you plan your trip, here are 14 things you can do there.

Hanoi city in Vietnam is a busy and bustling city tourists will enjoy
Hanoi city in Vietnam. (Photo: Gettyimages)

Hanoi is Vietnam's capital and second-largest city (after Ho Chi Minh City), located in the northern part of the country. The city has over a thousand years of history and is known for its beautiful architecture, vibrant culture, and delicious cuisine.

As Vietnam's political and cultural centre, there are many museums, art galleries, and theatres to visit in Hanoi. Some top attractions in Hanoi include the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, the Temple of Literature, the Old Quarter, and the Hoan Kiem Lake. Visitors to Hanoi can also experience the city's bustling markets, street food vendors, and traditional music performances.

Put Hanoi on your list if you're interested in Vietnamese culture, history, and cuisine. To help you plan your trip, here are 14 things you can do in Hanoi.

Related:
Ho Chi Minh City travel guide: Things to do in 72 hours
Vietnam travel: 9 things to do in Sapa

1. Visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. (Photo: Getty)
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. (Photo: Gettyimages)

The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is the final resting place of the Vietnamese leader, Ho Chi Minh, who played a significant role in the country's struggle for independence. And yes, it's located in Hanoi.

1 day tour from S$7.70

2. Explore the Old Quarter

View of train passing through a narrow street of the Hanoi Old Quarter with tourists flanking the train tracks
View of train passing through a narrow street of the Hanoi Old Quarter. (Photo: Gettyimags)

The Old Quarter is famous for its narrow streets, traditional architecture, and bustling markets. It is a great place to experience the local culture and try Vietnamese street food.

Old Quarter Food Tour from S$22.70

3. Take a day trip to the ancient capital Hoa Lu

Gate to the ancient capital city of Hoa Lu, Vietnam
Gate of the ancient capital city of Hoa Lu, Vietnam. (Photo: Gettyimages)

Hoa Lu was the capital of Vietnam during the Dinh and Le dynasties in the 10th and 11th centuries. Located in Ninh Binh province, it is known for its ancient temples, pagodas, and royal palaces.

Day trip to Hao Lu, Tam Coc from S$35.95

4. Stroll around Hoan Kiem Lake

Hoan Kiem lake during sunset
Hoan Kiem lake in sunset. (Photo: Gettyimages)

A picturesque lake in the heart of the city, Hoan Kiem Lake is surrounded by lush greenery and temples. It is perfect for a peaceful walk or a relaxing boat ride.

Hanoi in a Day tour from S$36.59

5. Learn about Vietnamese history at the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology

Vietnam Museum of Ethnology. (Photo: Getty)
Vietnam Museum of Ethnology. (Photo: Getty)

The Vietnam Museum of Ethnology has an impressive collection of artefacts and exhibits that showcase the country's diverse ethnic groups and traditions.

Get tix to the tour with museum included here

6. Enjoy a water puppet show

Puppets dancing on the water at the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre. (Photo: Getty)
Puppets dancing on the water at the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre. (Photo: Getty)

This traditional form of entertainment is unique to Vietnam, involving puppets performing on water. You can catch a show at Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre.

Get tix to the puppet show here from S$6.85

7. Visit the Temple of Literature

Khue Van Cac (Stelae of Doctors) in Temple of Literature (Van Mieu) at night. (Photo: Getty)
Khue Van Cac (Stelae of Doctors) in Temple of Literature (Van Mieu) at night. (Photo: Getty)

The Temple of Literature was built in the 11th century and is dedicated to Confucius. This ancient temple is a beautiful and peaceful place to learn about Vietnamese culture and history.

Get tickets to tour from S$34.95

8. Check out Tran Quoc Pagoda

Tran Quoc Pagoda. (Photo: Getty)
Tran Quoc Pagoda. (Photo: Getty)

Tran Quoc Pagoda is a historic Buddhist temple on a small West Lake island. Founded during the 6th century and considered the oldest pagoda in Hanoi, it is known for its beautiful architecture, serene atmosphere, and charming views of the lake.

Half day city tour tickets here from S$38.15

9. Shop at Dong Xuan Market

Dong Xuan Market. (Photo: Getty)
Dong Xuan Market. (Photo: Getty)

The largest indoor market in Hanoi, Dong Xuan Market has a wide range of goods, including clothing, electronics, and local produce.

10. Visit Hoa Lo Prison

Diorama at Hoa Lo Prison. (Photo: Getty)
Diorama at Hoa Lo Prison. (Photo: Getty)

Hoa Lo Prison, also known as the “Hanoi Hilton”, was built by the French in the late 19th century and was used to hold Vietnamese political prisoners. During the Vietnam War, it also held American prisoners of war.

Day tour from S$36.59

11. Take in the best views at Hanoi Sky Lotte Observation Deck

Aerial view of central Hanoi city from Lotte tower observation deck, Hanoi, Vietnam. (Photo: Getty)
Aerial view of central Hanoi city from Lotte tower observation deck, Hanoi, Vietnam. (Photo: Getty)

Hanoi Sky Lotte Observation Deck offers panoramic views of the city and its surroundings, including the Red River and historic landmarks like the Hanoi Opera House and Hoan Kiem Lake.

Hanoi Sky Lotte Observation Deck

12. Take a day trip to Ha Long Bay

Aerial picturesque scenery with luxury cruises in Ha Long Bay. (Photo: Getty)
Aerial picturesque scenery with luxury cruises in Ha Long Bay. (Photo: Getty)

This stunning UNESCO World Heritage Site is just a few hours' drive from Hanoi and features thousands of limestone islands and islets rising from the turquoise waters of the Gulf of Tonkin.

Full day car rental with driver from S$103.55

13. Admire the views from Long Bien Bridge

Unique architecture of Long Bien bridge, Hanoi, Vietnam. (Photo: Getty)
Unique architecture of Long Bien bridge, Hanoi, Vietnam. (Photo: Getty)

Long Bien Bridge is a historic railway and roadway bridge spanning the Red River in Hanoi. It was built by the French in the early 20th century and played a significant role in the Vietnam War.

Private Motorbike tour from S$33.29

14. Visit the Perfume Pagoda, the biggest pagoda complex in Vietnam

Gateway to the perfume pagoda. (Photo: Getty)
Gateway to the perfume pagoda. (Photo: Getty)

Perfume Pagoda is a group of temples built into the Huong Tich Mountain and is accessible by boat and cable car. It is a significant pilgrimage site for Vietnamese Buddhists and offers amazing views of the surrounding natural beauty.

Day tour at S$41

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