With 360-degree views over Hanoi from 65 storeys up, the Lotte Centre Observation Deck is where you'll get a real sense of how huge the city has become.
If you're staying in the Old Quarter, it can be easy to imagine the whole city might comprise quaint, photogenic shophouses, with life spilling out into the streets. But Hanoi is a modern, sprawling, huge city, and seeing it from the 253-metre high deck allows you to get a real sense of its size.
The glitzy entrance and ticket purchase is smoothly run, though don't be alarmed when the lights snap off after the lift doors close. It's all part of the drama, with a video playing on the roof as you ascend to the top—similar to the New York's Rockefeller Centre experience. If you're wary of lifts, be assured that the ride is probably far quicker than you'd expect.
At the top, a magnificent view of the city awaits. You'll see how the Old Quarter is but a speck within larger Hanoi, which stretches in every direction. There are telescopes, seats, various coffee shops and food outlets and some gimmicky photo-taking opportunities. Displays allow you to orientate yourself and point out where various landmarks are situated across the view. Two "Skywalks" also offer you a chance to walk out into the, well, sky. Glass floors jut into the air so you can (with shoes removed) look directly down to the city below. It's a bit scary if you're not good with heights, but makes for great photos.
When we checked the deck out on a miserable March day only a handful of other people were at the top. Though views were somewhat obscured by the haze, it was still worth the ride. Admission is cheaper during evenings, but you'll obviously see much more during the day.
We only later learned that there is a rooftop bar on the 67th storey. We guess it makes sense for the deck people to not encourage you to head there for a drink instead, but you could certainly put your admission price towards a drink and head up there for free. The entrance is via the Lotte Hotel lobby, not the clearly marked Observation Deck entrance on the ground floor.
It takes about 20 minutes by taxi from Old Quarter to get here, or 15 minutes by motorbike. We'd tie in a visit with a few hours at the Museum of Ethnology followed by a stop at tucked away and charming Cuoi Ngoi for a yoghurt coffee (no food).
Address: 54 Lieu Giai, Ba Dinh, Hanoi
T: (0980 724 3922;
Coordinates (for GPS): 105º48'43.73" E, 21º1'56.19" N
See position in Apple or Google Maps: Apple Maps | Google Maps
Admission: Day/night: 230,000/130,000 dong. Night is from 17:30 during winter, 18:30 during summer.
Samantha Brown is a reformed news reporter. She now edits most of the stuff you read on Travelfish.org, except for when you find a typo, and then that's something she wasn't allowed to look at.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.
Our top 10 other sights and activities in and around Hanoi