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Hanoi

Things to see and do

  • Tran Quoc Pagoda
    3 stars

    Tran Quoc Pagoda, the oldest pagoda in Hanoi, offers beautiful architecture, historic artifacts and a peaceful and serene environment. Built in the sixth century, during the reign of King Ly Nam De, the pagoda was first named Khai Quoc, which means "founding the country". Since then it has ... read more

  • Stay another day
    4 stars

    If you're wondering how many days to spend in Hanoi, err on the generous side as there are plenty of ways to fill your time. Here's our pick of some less common ways to spend that extra day. Did you know you can ice-skate here? A rink opened up in 2013 in the new Royal City shopping centre ... read more

  • Pho Linh Tay Ho Pagoda
    3.5 stars

    Pho Linh Tay Ho Pagoda in Hanoi's Tay Ho district is a fine example of a Vietnamese pagoda, with both traditional Buddhist symbolism and Tibetan statues and imagery. The first area you come to as you enter the pagoda is the newer part of the complex. Here you will see both statues and murals ... read more

  • Friends of Vietnam Heritage (FHV)
    3.5 stars

    If you're interested in seeking a really good understanding of the heritage and culture of Vietnam while in Hanoi, check out Friends of Vietnam Heritage (FHV), a non-profit group that holds interesting events and publishes books on intriguing topics. Run by locals and foreigners living in Hanoi, ... read more

  • Tay Ho Temple
    3.5 stars

    One of the most popular and important places of worship in Hanoi, Phu Tay Ho trumps even Tran Quoc Pagoda for its enviable lakeside position. Phu Tay Ho is on the northern bank of the same-named lake, a few kilometres along the lake road from Xuan Dieu Street. Whereas pagodas are for Buddhists, Phu ... read more

  • Motorbike trips
    4 stars

    Numerous shops in Hanoi offer not only bike rental and sales but also organised tours. While it's of course possible to replicate the trips they offer under your own steam, a guided tour provides companionship, security and most likely a better route than you'll find on your own. And of course, ... read more

  • Hanoi to Mai Chau by motorbike
    3.5 stars

    At 139 kilometres from Hanoi, Mai Chau is a popular two- or three-day trip from Hanoi. On our latest soujourn we went by motorbike. Was it worth it? Yes. Is it for everyone? No. Here's why. The first thing you should bear in mind if setting out on a motorbike trip anywhere outside of Hanoi is that ... read more

  • Bat Trang ceramic village
    3.5 stars

    Home to the pottery families of Hanoi, Bat Trang village is famously also referred to as "ceramic village". Located just 13 kilometres from Old Quarter, it’s an easy half-day excursion from the city and, as well as buying souvenirs, you can also try your hand at throwing a pot or painting your ... read more

  • Lacquerware classes
    3.5 stars

    Lacquer items -- paintings, photo albums, bowls, vases -- are a popular souvenir in Vietnam. Old Quarter in Hanoi is flooded with shops selling the same selection of items at the same -- negotiable -- prices. But why not make your own take-home piece of lacquerware? Here's how. We checked out ... read more

  • Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum
    3 stars

    After dedicating his life to the liberation of his country from foreign rule, and seeing it freed from French domination, Ho Chi Minh died before the next war -- the one with the United States -- was decided. Afterwards, with Soviet assistance, his body was preserved for posterity and has been on ... read more

  • Presidential Palace and Ho Chi Minh's House on Stilts
    3.5 stars

    Ho Chi Minh refused to move into the palace and commissioned the simple house to be built for his needs instead; he moved in in 1958 and lived there until his death just over a decade later -- that's the official story, anyway. Built of polished wood, Ho Chi Minh's modest bungalow has a light ... read more

  • One Pillar Pagoda
    2.5 stars

    Originally built in 1049 of wood, the pagoda was vandalised and burned by the French in 1954 as they retreated from Hanoi, only to be rebuilt the following year. The pagoda was built by Emperor Ly Thai To during the Ly Dynasty. Legend states that the Emperor had a dream that he was given a son ... read more

  • Ho Chi Minh Museum
    4.5 stars

    You'll pass through airport-style security to gain access, then go straight up the stairs to the first level of exhibits. On our last visit there were two ‘special’ exhibitions on, but we couldn’t see that they differed much from the usual display, and they looked like they were there for the ... read more

  • Temple of Literature
    3.5 stars

    This is the site of Vietnam's first national university. The 'temple' moniker attests to how inextricably linked learning and religion were back in the year 1070 when it was built by Emperor Ly Thanh Tong. This was actually a temple dedicated to the cult of Confucius, who broke the monopoly over ... read more

  • St Joseph's Cathedral
    3 stars

    The neo-gothic style of the cathedral looks somewhat out of place in the busy streets of Hanoi, although it's built in what's considered to be the French quarter of the city. The church itself has a striking presence, with its two large square towers, and can be visited any day of the week, ... read more

  • Vietnam Military History Museum
    4 stars

    The museum is arranged in a series of galleries that start with the period of Chinese colonisation, through to the French period, and then on to the American War and more recent skirmishes. There is a lot to see, so pace yourself, or decide what's really of interest to you. If you're mainly ... read more

  • Vietnam National Fine Arts Museum
    3 stars

    The main building is a large, three-storey colonial-style building -- a work of art in itself -- which contains the permanent exhibits, arranged chronologically from bottom to top. As you enter, the first room contains some archaeological finds that are up to 10,000 years old. Many are just old ... read more

  • Hoan Kiem Lake
    4 stars

    The tortoise presented him with a magical sword with which he could strike down all foes. The tortoise made Le Loi promise to return the sword upon the defeat of the Chinese. True to his word, after defeating the invaders from the north, Le Loi came back to the lake, and the tortoise emerged from ... read more

  • Cinemateque
    3.5 stars

    Located just a few minutes' walk south of Hoan Kiem Lake near the Old Quarter, this small, independent theatre shows a diverse range of films ranging from 1940s classics to the latest Cannes Festival winners to offbeat Vietnamese documentaries. They don't show the latest big name films so head to ... read more

  • Live music
    3 stars

    Hanoi offers a growing array of places to enjoy a night out of live music. Here are some of our picks. Hanoi Rock City is up there as one of the best venues in town. The offerings are varied, from international rock bands to acoustic sessions, and if you're travelling with your banjo and fancy ... read more

  • Ngoc Son Pagoda
    3.5 stars

    The site has been used as a temple since ancient times, but most of the current structures were built during the 19th century. It offers an eclectic variety of forefathers for Vietnamese to pay homage to, such as Confucian and Taoist notables, as well as Van Xuong, the spirit of the intellectuals, ... read more

  • National Museum of Vietnamese History
    4 stars

    The building was also home to the Ecole Francaise d'Extreme Orient (EFEO), during which time it became a museum to exhibit EFEO finds. Over time the building deteriorated, and it was not until the early 1930s, following a seven-year renovation, that what you can see now was realised. The entrance ... read more

  • West Lake
    2.5 stars

    In its heyday, the lake was lined by royal palaces, which are now mostly gone and replaced by high-end housing and luxury hotels. If you have the time, it's a pleasant enough walk to the lake from the Old Quarter. Take Phan Ding Phung Street to see some of Hanoi's swishest villas, and while ... read more

  • Hoa Lo Prison (Hanoi Hilton)
    4 stars

    The French simply called it Maison Centrale, and apparently razed one of the local outlying craft villages when they picked out the site for this, the largest of the French Indochinese prisons. Construction was completed in 1896, and the city has grown around it to such an extent that it is now ... read more

  • Vietnamese Revolution Museum
    3 stars

    The museum follows three main strands: the struggle for independence (1858-1945), the war of resistance (1945-1975) and Vietnam on the road to recovery (1975 to present). While a bit tatty around the edges and uninspiring in layout, if you have any interest in this period of Vietnam’s ... read more

  • Ancient House at 87 Ma May St
    4 stars

    If you plan on visiting Hoi An, or have already done so, you'll recognise this as a trader house in very much the same style of building you'll find in the historic quarter of that well-preserved city. This is one of the few intact remains of an old-style home open to the public in Hanoi. ... read more

  • Long Bien and Chuong Duong Bridges
    3 stars

    Long Bien Bridge is a massive iron structure built by the French in the late 1800s and designed by Gustav Eiffel, the engineer best known for his eponymous landmark in Paris. The bridge has suffered at the hands of war and neglect over the years. It was once known as Doumer Bridge, after the French ... read more

  • Vietnam Museum of Ethnography
    4.5 stars

    The displays, labelled in English throughout, are both comprehensive and fascinating, covering all the main minority groups you're likely to come across on a trek. Plentiful audiovisual displays are offered along with more typical museum fare. The best part of the museum, however, is found ... read more

  • The Vietnamese Women's Museum
    2.5 stars

    Spread over five floors, it houses permanent and temporary displays related to the lives of women in Vietnam. Sections are devoted to subjects such as marriage, birth and women’s role in the wars and are full of quality displays, including a life size display of a matrimonial bed, minus the ... read more

  • Thanh Long Water Puppet Theatre (Nha Hat Mua Roi Thang Long)
    3.5 stars

    Thanh Long Water Puppet Theatre may not be a traditional puppet theatre but the show is authentic and it's well located in Hanoi's Old Quarter for an enjoyable afternoon or evening excursion. Water puppetry is an ancient art, documented as far back as the establishment of Thang Long (Hanoi) as the ... read more

  • Bach Ma Temple
    3.5 stars

    First, it's very conveniently located, on the corner of Hang Buom and Hang Giay, in the heart of the Old Quarter. Chances are you'll find yourself passing by anyway as you go for a stroll, so you might as well stop in for a peek. Second, it's a beautiful, well-maintained temple that serves as a ... read more

  • Hanoi Opera House
    3.5 stars

    While Western operas are occasionally mounted here, there are also performances by visiting classical orchestras, and a whole gamut of entertainments, such as puppet shows, ballets and nights of traditional Vietnamese song and drama. Unfortunately the website doesn’t work too well and ... read more

  • Botanical Gardens
    3.5 stars

    They're well landscaped, featuring ample foliage to soothe tired eyes and some cages with exotic birds and monkeys that we wish weren't there, but this is Vietnam, and every park has to have a monkey cage. Long opening hours mean you can find a time to beat the heat in the summer, and you can't ... read more

  • Thu Le Park and Zoo
    3 stars

    It's more park than zoo, with beautiful grounds edging a lake. The animal displays are strong in the monkey department, but the chained-up elephants looked pretty miserable. It's the place to be for a wander around and to sample some snacks from the vendors. A number of amusement park rides ... read more

  • Around Hanoi
    4 stars

    Traffic is heavy and getting heavier. And while the farms and rice fields are still there, they are being progressively encircled by a less attractive, if more profitable, industrial landscape. If you're looking to escape the city quickly and breathe some fresh air in the national parks and tour ... read more

  • Thay and Tay Phuong Pagodas
    4 stars

    The first of the two, Chua Thay or 'Master's Pagoda', is about 19km from Hanoi. Just head southwest out of Hanoi on Duong Lang-Hoa Lac, take a right turn, go under the new flyover, and it's about 2km to the village. The surrounding area features 16 hills jutting up from the farmland, likened to ... read more

  • Co Loa Citadel
    3.5 stars

    The ancient, spiral-shaped citadel dates back to the third century BC, with a few of the ancient ramparts remaining but hard to spot among the more recent construction. There's a reflecting pond with a statue of King An Duong Vuong shooting a bow and arrow. The weapon had magical powers and he was ... read more

  • Ba Vi National Park
    3.5 stars

    The main attraction at the park is the mountain itself, which rises to more than 1,200m above sea level. There's a very good road leading 12km up to the summit. You can hike or cycle it if you like, but the rest of us mere mortals should take a car or motorbike. The road is narrow and twisty, but ... read more

  • Ho Guom Plaza
    3.5 stars

    The plaza affords great views of Hoan Kiem Lake and the extremely busy (and loosely organised) road junction immediately below. With the exception of Aldo Shoe Shop on the ground floor, the plaza is occupied by a mix of generally lacklustre dining and drinking options that are really only worth ... read more

  • The Ho Chi Minh Trail Museum
    4 stars

    It which stretched from northern Vietnam along the Laos border at a latitude parallel to Vinh along the coast (which was the main port for supplies destined for the trail) down to Saigon in the south. The trail featured clandestine spurs that slipped into neighbouring Laos and Cambodia, which ... read more

  • Perfume Pagoda
    3.5 stars

    Junkets for foreigners start at 08:00 and get back after dark. The Vietnamese start off at 04:00, get to the pagoda by 08:00, and make a day-long visit out of the pilgrimage or do an overnight. Many make the trip out of faith, but clearly for others, religion is an excuse to get away from the ... read more


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