Hanoi – the hectic, crazy and often confusing capital city of Vietnam – is a popular city for many travellers across the world. If you can navigate the speeding scooters to cross the road, there’s so many amazing things to do in Hanoi.
From street food markets to cultural museums and scenic freshwater lakes, Hanoi has something for all tastes. You just have to dive in and make the most of this wild-but-wonderful city…
Best things to do in Hanoi
1. Wander around the Old Quarter
This lively area has narrow streets with Colonial architecture and is the perfect first jaunt in the city. Street vendors, cafes, clothes stores and all sorts characters can be seen here. Give yourself at least a few hours – taking iced coffee breaks! – and get your bearings for North and South by remembering Hoan Kiem lake is to the South.
2. Experience the famous Hanoi train street
Never heard of Hanoi’s famous Train Street? Twice a day in Vietnam’s capital city, a speeding train passes through a narrow street where people live, work and play. Local residents are playing checkers on the tracks one minute, and the next they’ve scooped up their belongings and moved to the very edge to let the train whizz past.
3. Eat local street food dishes
From aromatic pho (steaming noodle soup) to bun cha (noodles with fried pork), feasting on street food is one of the best things to do in Hanoi. The best bun cha is served at 34 Hang Than, just be sure to skip that overrated place that Barack Obama visited….
Wander around by yourself, or take a guided food tour.
Just be sure to finish it off with some cheap, local beer on Bia Hoi street.
4. Visit the Vietnamese Women’s Museum
This fascinating museum showcases the roles of women in Vietnamese society and culture. Learn all about Vietnamese women’s lives across the nation’s 54 ethnic community groups as you explore its collection of more than 25,000 objects.
From women in history, family lifestyle and fashion, this is a real highlight of Hanoi.
5. Go for a cycle around West Lake
West Lake (Tay Ho) is about 15-20 minutes from the Old Quarter and is a popular suburb for expats. The freshwater lake is the largest in the city and has pretty walkways all around it. Grab a refreshing ice tea off one of the local vendors and bike all around the lake for amazing views.
6. Walk across Long Biên Bridge…and stay for the night market
Long Biên Bridge is one of the best sights in the city – the bridge is designed by Gustave Eiffel (aka the Eiffel Tower) and crosses the red river with views of banana trees below.
Stick around until darkness falls (or y’know, just come back) for the night market near the start of the famous bridge which is a truly local experience.
7. See the skyline from a rooftop bar
The city is famous for its rooftop bars, with countless skyscrapers for a cool new cocktail lounge to perch on. Having a drink in one of Hanoi’s best sky-high watering holes is a smart way to escape the heat and the crowds.
Check out our top picks here.