Photo: Flag shop on the streets of Hanoi.

Things to see and do

Use the quick links below to jump to a particular section of our sights and activities coverage for Hanoi.


Tran Quoc Pagoda
Duong Thanh Nien, Hanoi

Tran Quoc Pagoda, the oldest pagoda in Hanoi, offers beautiful architecture, historic artifacts and a peaceful and serene ... Read more about Tran Quoc Pagoda .

Pho Linh Tay Ho Pagoda
Dang Thai Mai St, Tay Ho District, Hanoi

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 ... Read more about Pho Linh Tay Ho Pagoda .

Tay Ho Temple
End of Dang Thai Mai Street, Tay Ho District

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. Stories about the Mother Goddesses — to whom the temple is dedicated — and the golden buffalo calf enhance its appeal as a destination for ... Read more about Tay Ho Temple .

One Pillar Pagoda
Beside the Ho Chi Minh museum

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 by the goddess of mercy, Quan An, while seated on a lotus flower. Soon afterwards, the Emperor ... Read more about One Pillar Pagoda .

Temple of Literature
Quoc Tu Giang St, Hanoi
T: (04) 3845 2917

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 education previously held by Buddhism. At almost 1,000 years old, it's one of the few remaining ... Read more about Temple of Literature .

Ngoc Son Pagoda
Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi

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, and national hero Tran Hung Dao. It's a testament to how ancestor worship trumps Buddhism in the ... Read more about Ngoc Son Pagoda .

Bach Ma Temple
76 Hang Buom, Hanoi

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 good example of what small temples in Vietnam are all about. And finally, it's still very actively ... Read more about Bach Ma Temple .

Thay and Tay Phuong Pagodas

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 the body of a dragon jutting out from the sea. The largest hill is considered the head, and that's ... Read more about Thay and Tay Phuong Pagodas .

Top of page


Thang Long Royal Citadel
Hoang Dieu Street, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi

Thang Long Royal Citadel in Hanoi was opened to the public quite recently, but once you’ve been you’ll wonder why it was kept under wraps for so long. With attractive, shady gardens, imposing buildings, underground bunkers and numerous historic artifacts, it’s got something for everyone. And it’s ... Read more about Thang Long Royal Citadel .

War sights in Hanoi

While there are no battle sites, tunnels, bases or so on in or around Hanoi, for those with an interest in Vietnam’s modern wars there are still a few places worth ... Read more about War sights in Hanoi .

Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum
8 Hung Vuong (access via 5 Hgoc Ha St), Ba Dinh (on the very northwestern edge of Hoan Kiem district, but not too far from the centre)
T: (04) 3845 5128

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 display now for about four decades. Ho Chi Minh's body is kept in state in an impressively ... Read more about Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum .

Ho Chi Minh Memorial Complex

No figure looms larger over life in Vietnam than Ho Chi Minh, and the massive complex devoted to his memory in Hanoi is evidence of this. Allow plenty of time to explore all the individual sights located ... Read more about Ho Chi Minh Memorial Complex .

Presidential Palace and Ho Chi Minh's House on Stilts
North of Ho Chi Minh's mausoleum

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 and airy feel, or as the brochure reads, Uncle Ho's House on Stilts is a symbol of his simplicity and ... Read more about Presidential Palace and Ho Chi Minh's House on Stilts .

Ho Chi Minh Museum
19 Ngoc Ha, Ba Dinh, South of Ho Chi Minh's mausoleum
T: (04) 3846 3752

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 long-term. Both exhibitions are primarily black and white photos, interspersed with books, ... Read more about Ho Chi Minh Museum .

Vietnam Military History Museum
28A Dien Bien Phu St, Hanoi
T: (04) 3823 4264

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 interested in the American War, you may have to skip through some of the earlier exhibits, or risk being ... Read more about Vietnam Military History Museum .

Vietnam National Fine Arts Museum
66 Nguyen Thai Hoc St, Hanoi
T: (04) 3823 3084

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 bits and pieces, such as axe and spear heads and small figurative pieces, but they are impressively ... Read more about Vietnam National Fine Arts Museum .

National Museum of Vietnamese History
1 Trang Tien St, French Quarter, Hanoi
T: (04) 3825 3518

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 gives on to an impressive two-storey rotunda with exhibits all around and in many galleries to the ... Read more about National Museum of Vietnamese History .

Hoa Lo Prison (Hanoi Hilton)
1 Hoa Lu, (Hai Ba Trung Street)
T: (04) 3824 6358

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 located near the town centre. The Hanoi Hilton's original purpose was to function as the end of the ... Read more about Hoa Lo Prison (Hanoi Hilton) .

Vietnamese Revolution Museum
216 Tran Quang Khai St, French Quarter, Hanoi
T: (04) 3825 4151

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 history, it’s certainly worth a visit if you’re in the area. The rooms related to the war of resistance ... Read more about Vietnamese Revolution Museum .

Vietnam Museum of Ethnography
Nguyen Van Huyen St, Western Hanoi
T: (04) 3765 2193

While somewhat inconveniently located, this museum is absolutely worth making the effort to reach. If you're planning on going trekking to the north and northwest of Hanoi, this museum should be considered essential. 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 ... Read more about Vietnam Museum of Ethnography .

The Vietnamese Women's Museum
36 Ly Thuong Kiet Street, Hanoi
T: (04) 3825 9937

The Vietnamese Women’s Museum is one of the best museums in Hanoi and well worth a visit for anyone interested in women’s studies or simply the culture of Vietnam. It gives a broad insight into Vietnam’s population, including its 54 ethnic groups, addressed through the lens of women’s ... Read more about The Vietnamese Women's Museum .

The Ho Chi Minh Trail Museum
15km outside Hanoi

Located about 15km outside Hanoi, this is often a stop along the way to the Perfume Pagoda. The two-storey museum has seven galleries dedicated to the system of trails collectively known as the Ho Chi Minh Trail. The trail 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 ... Read more about The Ho Chi Minh Trail Museum .

Top of page

Public parks and zoos

Thong Nhat Park

Thong Nhat Park, a 15-minute ride from Hoan Kiem Lake, is a great spot to relax with a book or enjoy a stroll without having to avoid Hanoi’s motorbikes and street ... Read more about Thong Nhat Park .

Top of page

Interesting buildings

Ancient House at 87 Ma May St
87 Ma May St, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi

Dating back to the 19th century, this very special house is a stunning example of the type of architecture that prevailed throughout Hanoi before the concrete egg-carton style took over. 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 ... Read more about Ancient House at 87 Ma May St .

Top of page

Art galleries or venues

Mosaic wall
Dyke Road, Hanoi

In October 2010, Hanoi celebrated the 1,000-year anniversary of the foundation of the capital Thang Long by the emperor Ly Thai To. Many events took place throughout the year, but perhaps the longest lasting reminder of the event is a four-kilometre long ceramic mosaic mural wall which runs along the city’s dyke ... Read more about Mosaic wall .

54 Traditions Gallery
30 Hang Bun, Hanoi
T: (04) 3715 0194 / (04) 3715 1569

54 Traditions Gallery is housed in a nondescript building on Hang Bun Street, north of Old Quarter. Think Dr Who’s Tardis: from the front it looks just like the frosted-glass entrance to a small office — a local solicitor’s perhaps — but inside it opens up into a five-storey treasure trove, full of antiquities from the ethnic minorities of ... Read more about 54 Traditions Gallery .

Top of page


Dong Xuan night market

Dong Xuan night market runs along Hang Ngang and Dong Xuan streets, from the junction with Hang Bac right up to Dong Xuan market and is held, as the name might suggest, at ... Read more about Dong Xuan night market .

Dong Xuan market

If you like markets and haven’t been to any others in Vietnam yet, definitely check out Dong Xuan -- but for souvenir shopping, there are better places ... Read more about Dong Xuan market .

Chau Long Market
Between Chau Long/Tran Vu, Truc Bach

Chau Long Market is one of our favourite markets in Hanoi. Combine it with a trip around the Truc Bach area for a full taste of local city ... Read more about Chau Long Market .

Which is the best street food tour in Hanoi?

After four tours, approximately 13 kilometres of walking, three portions of banh cuon, a kilo of extra weight and enough sugar to dissolve a few dozen teeth, my food tour adventure in Hanoi is over. It's reinvigorated my love of street food and inspired me to try a few new places, but which was the ... Read more about Which is the best street food tour in Hanoi? .

A roundup of Hanoi markets

Hanoi’s a city full of markets worth exploring. To begin with, food markets can be found all over town -- despite the growth of the supermarket, most shopping is still conducted at local wet markets and neighbourhood shops, so there are plenty to ... Read more about A roundup of Hanoi markets .

Long Bien Market

It’s not top of any must-do list in travel guides, but a visit to Hanoi’s chaotic Long Bien market is a fascinating exposure to the life of a large proportion of Hanoi residents. But you’ll need to get up early — very ... Read more about Long Bien Market .

Wet markets

Despite the growth of supermarkets, wet markets and street markets still play a pivotal role in the supply of groceries to Vietnamese households. Many people, primarily women, visit the market twice a day, working trips around school drop-offs and, for many, their paying ... Read more about Wet markets .

Top of page

Natural attractions

Hoan Kiem Lake

A visit to Hanoi would be incomplete without a wander around Hoan Kiem Lake, the centrepiece of the city. Whether early morning, an afternoon stroll or after dark, the lake is surrounded by activity and points of interest — not to mention, it’s really ... Read more about Hoan Kiem Lake .

Lotus flowers

When lotus flower season hits in June, the West Lake area becomes awash with the blooms, which hold particular significance in Vietnam, where they are considered one of four graceful plants, along with pine, bamboo and chrysanthemum. They are a symbol of purity, commitment, optimism for the future, beauty, majesty, grace, fertility, wealth, richness, knowledge, serenity… anything positive ... Read more about Lotus flowers .

West Lake

Also known as Ho Tay, or Lake of Mist, West Lake covers a sizeable part of northwest Hanoi. In its heyday, the lake was lined by royal palaces, now mostly 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 ... Read more about West Lake .

Top of page

General activities

Stay another day

Two or three days? Four or five? 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 ... Read more about Stay another day .

Lacquerware classes
No. 5, 9/2, Lane 9 Dang Thai Mai St, Tay Ho
T: 9880 82447

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 ... Read more about Lacquerware classes .

What to do with your kids in Hanoi

The busy streets and hectic traffic in Hanoi make it less than child-friendly, but don’t let that put you off: the city offers many activities that children will enjoy. Here’s a selection you might want to consider during a ... Read more about What to do with your kids in Hanoi .

Hanoi's skate ramp
27/52 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Hanoi
T: (01633) 166 170

Skateboarding is probably not the first thing you think of when you think of getting around in Hanoi: after all, where would there be room? But things are changing, and a few months ago a mini half-pipe was constructed at Hanoi Rock City. I spoke with 25-year old Englishman Sam Murdoch, one of the brains behind the initiative, to find out ... Read more about Hanoi's skate ramp .

Clips on Hanoi

Recently, Hanoi Grapevine alerted me to the YouTube launch and initial success of rap song and associated video Oi Gioi Oi. The tongue-in-cheek song and video by Hanoi Sessions features EP rapping about those things in Hanoi that make you say “Oi gioi oi” — an expression that can be used to express surprise, annoyance or delight (I will leave you to determine an appropriate comparison in ... Read more about Clips on Hanoi .

Weddings in Hanoi: The day itself

Apologies. It’s taken me longer to write part two of this blog than it usually takes a couple in Hanoi to get engaged. So let me get straight into it and recount my Hanoian wedding ... Read more about Weddings in Hanoi: The day itself .

Weddings in Hanoi: Before the day

If you’ve seen a tent being erected on the pavement in the middle of Hanoi and wondered what on earth is going on, it’s likely that there’s a wedding in the ... Read more about Weddings in Hanoi: Before the day .

Learning Vietnamese

Ask any foreigner in Hanoi, particularly one who’s already tried to learn the language, and you’ll be told how difficult it is to master. Well, not just to master: even to speak more than a few ... Read more about Learning Vietnamese .


For most people a holiday is a chance to escape from the gym — well, it certainly used to be for me — but for longer-term visitors who want to work off the bia hoi, or gym addicts, Hanoi offers a selection of gyms, both cheap and ... Read more about Gyms .

What to do on a rainy day

It’s rainy season in Vietnam, and though this usually just means a downpour late afternoon or overnight and shouldn’t be enough to disrupt schedules, sometimes it does set in and you’ll want something to do in miserable weather. So what to do in ... Read more about What to do on a rainy day .


Hotels with pools are certainly out of the budgetary reach of most visitors to Hanoi, and I definitely wouldn’t be jumping into the Red River or Hoan Kiem Lake, but fortunately a few public pools provide a reasonably priced alternative if you’re in need of a swim — quite possible now the weather has heated ... Read more about Swimming .

Do nothing and see the best of Hanoi

I am writing this from a chair barely inside the doorway of The Cart - a small coffee and sandwich place in a narrow alley not far from St Joseph's Cathedral. My laptop tells me I have a choice of six different WiFi options courtesy of the surrounding hotels. My coffee, on this occasion, is Italian but during warmer seasons I'd choose the more ubiquitous iced Vietnamese ... Read more about Do nothing and see the best of Hanoi .

One day in Hanoi

Hanoi is often, sadly, just somewhere visitors stop off for a night or two en route to Ha Long Bay, mountainous Sapa or a dash down the coast to Ho Chi Minh City. But for those who do want to take a look around, however fleeting, Hanoi can be a fascinating destination in its own right. So, if you just have one day in Hanoi, how do you make the most of ... Read more about One day in Hanoi .

Humanitarian Services for Children of Vietnam
T: (04) 3715 1263

Humanitarian Services for Children of Vietnam (HSCV) was founded in 2002 to help orphans, homeless children and other children living in poverty in Hanoi and surrounding areas through the provision of food, shelter, clothing, health and ... Read more about Humanitarian Services for Children of Vietnam .

Live music

Hanoi offers a growing array of places to enjoy a night out of live music. Here are some of our ... Read more about Live music .

Long Bien and Chuong Duong Bridges
Eastern Hanoi

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 governor-general Paul Doumer, who was responsible for setting up the French administration and ... Read more about Long Bien and Chuong Duong Bridges .

Top of page


St Joseph's Cathedral
40 Nha Chung, Hanoi

This Catholic cathedral was completed in 1887 by Monseigneur Pigneau de Behaine. It was closed in 1975 upon the reunification of Vietnam, and was not reopened until 1985. 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, ... Read more about St Joseph's Cathedral .

Top of page

Cooking classes

Cooking course round up

While many visitors to Vietnam elect to take a cookery course in Hoi An, where there are plenty of ad hoc, cheap alternatives, Hanoi also offers cooking school options worthy of consideration (aside from its great street food ... Read more about Cooking course round up .

Top of page

Hiking, walking tours and itineraries

Friends of Vietnam Heritage (FHV)
Hanoi City Library, 4th floor, 47 Ba Trieu St

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 ... Read more about Friends of Vietnam Heritage (FHV) .

Food on Foot
19B Hang Be Street, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
T: (04) 3990 1733/3994 2555

Food on Foot, operated by Vietnam Awesome Travel, offers great tours with plenty of ... Read more about Food on Foot .

Hanoi Street Food Tours

Continuing my exploration of street food tours in Hanoi, I booked onto an afternoon tour with Hanoi Street Food Tours, run by Mark Lowerson, of Sticky Rice fame, and Van Cong Tu, the “Vietnamese God“. Bring on three hours of snacking ... Read more about Hanoi Street Food Tours .

Urban Adventures
(0904) 193 308

The Hanoi Street Food by Night tour, offered by Urban Adventures, is perhaps better described as a walking tour of Old Quarter with some food stops thrown in -- not necessarily a bad ... Read more about Urban Adventures .

Hanoi Cooking Centre
44 Chau Long Street, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi
T: (04) 3715 0088 / 3715 3277

With street food being such a defining feature of Hanoi, it’s no surprise that a variety of tours here explore the world of the 10-inch plastic stool. We’ve checked out a few of the options, starting with Hanoi Cooking Centre ... Read more about Hanoi Cooking Centre .

Hanoi photography tour
T: (0121) 515 0522

What’s worth getting up for at 04:00 on a chilly Sunday morning in Hanoi? A sunrise photography tour of Long Bien market with Vietnam In Focus, that’s ... Read more about Hanoi photography tour .

Explore Hanoi's French Quarter

If you need a break from the chaos of Old Quarter, wander down to Hanoi’s French Quarter, where wide open streets, majestic buildings and high-end hotels, restaurants and shops ... Read more about Explore Hanoi's French Quarter .

Walking tour of 1930s architecture in Hanoi

I recently attended a talk at The Bookworm entitled “Stories houses tell” and given by Linda Mazur, a Canadian who has been living in Hanoi since 1998. Not only are the stories fascinating in themselves, but the buildings she focuses on — built during the 1930s — are worth a look for anyone interested in architecture or history, and the area she speaks most about is a very pleasant place ... Read more about Walking tour of 1930s architecture in Hanoi .

A walk around Hanoi's Truc Bach lake

Truc Bach Lake lies about three kilometres to the northwest of Hoan Kiem Lake and is easily reachable on foot or by cyclo. It has plenty going on around its banks and no shortage of places to stop for a coffee, beer or lunch, so is worth a wander if you’ve ... Read more about A walk around Hanoi's Truc Bach lake .

HanoiKids: City tours the fun way
T: (0166) 503 4898

HanoiKids was set up in 2006 and is a student-run organisation offering free city tours in Hanoi. The programme provides students with the opportunity to practise their English and provides visitors with a great value guide to Hanoi. The organisation says it hopes to bring to travellers insights into Vietnamese culture, tradition and ... Read more about HanoiKids: City tours the fun way .

Street food tours in Hanoi

As well as being a tasty and cheap dining option, eating street food provides a great opportunity for people watching and an insight into local life. If you want to take this one step further, it’s worth considering a street food tour: not only will it take you to eateries and markets you might otherwise shy away from, but the commentary is interesting and you will gain a view of local life in ... Read more about Street food tours in Hanoi .

Hanoi on a splurge

We’ve covered Hanoi on a tight budget, but what if you’ve got a few extra dong to rub together during your visit to the Vietnamese capital? If you want to mix some luxury in with your Hanoi exploring, here are some ... Read more about Hanoi on a splurge .

Two days on a budget in Hanoi

Most people travelling through Hanoi give the city a couple of days before heading to Halong Bay, Sapa or down to the centre and south of the country. Here are our suggestions for what to do on a tight budget if you have just two days here and want to make the most of ... Read more about Two days on a budget in Hanoi .

Four days in Hanoi

We've written about how we'd spend two days on a budget in Hanoi, but what about if you have a little longer? Linger for four days to see a bit more of Vietnam's capital, and here's what we'd suggest you ... Read more about Four days in Hanoi .

Top of page


Buying a secondhand motorbike

If you are planning a long roadtrip, or one that doesn’t start and end in Hanoi, it’s likely to be more economical to buy a motorbike rather than rent. Here’s a rundown of where to buy a secondhand bike in Hanoi. Do remember that if you don’t have a local license, your travel insurance may be invalid — do check ahead of your trip. Here’s a rundown of where to buy a secondhand bike in ... Read more about Buying a secondhand motorbike .

Propaganda posters

During the Vietnam War, propaganda posters were painted to help rally the troops and to raise spirits; the printing of them continued for about a decade after the end of the war. The visuals reflected the different styles and skills of the artists who painted them, but consistent themes were bold images, powerful messages and strong use of colour. They are increasingly recognised as works of ... Read more about Propaganda posters .

Tan My Design
61 Hang Gai, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
T: (04) 3938 1154

Although Tan My Design stocks some of the same traditional items, as its parent Tan My Embroidery, it’s predominantly a showcase for stylish, modern designer items and makes for a unique and calming shopping experience amid the mayhem of the streets of ... Read more about Tan My Design .

Buying Western-sized clothes

Your favourite T-shirt turned pink at the laundromat in Hue or you lost your shorts somewhere between Ko Samui and Bangkok. Here's where to get replacements -- though bear in mind the city isn’t the best place for Westerners to add to their off-the-rack ... Read more about Buying Western-sized clothes .

Where to buy classy Hanoi souvenirs

While the standard Hanoi souvenirs available all over Old Quarter offer plenty of options for take home pressies for pals, if you want something more special, or just want to avoid the haggling and trooping around, Hanoi also offers some good little shopping ... Read more about Where to buy classy Hanoi souvenirs .

Where to find Western goodies

If you're looking for the kinds of treats you'll easily find in the West but not so easily come across while on the road in Southeast Asia, here's where to head in ... Read more about Where to find Western goodies .

The Bookworm
44 Chau Long, Hanoi
T: (04) 3715 3711

The Bookworm is the self-proclaimed “best little book cafe in Southeast Asia” and while some may argue, I see no reason to dispute the fact. The cool, tidy interior — though not spacious — is a pleasant spot for browsing and the choice of more than 10,000 new and used English-language books and friendly staff ensure you won’t go away empty ... Read more about The Bookworm .

Buying paintings

Copying is rife across Vietnam, and art is no exception. Hanoi’s Old Quarter is littered with art shops selling life-size copies of a wide range of artists’ work: from Van Gogh to Da Vinci to Klimt. ... Read more about Buying paintings .

Top of page

Day trips

Hanoi to Mai Chau by motorbike

At 139 kilometres from Hanoi, Mai Chau is a popular two- or three-day trip from Hanoi. Having squeezed onto over-crowded, under air-conditioned buses on previous trips, on our latest soujourn we decided to jump on motorbikes and cruise there at our own pace, wind in our hair, sun on our backs and all that. Was it worth it? Yes. Is it for everyone? No. Here’s ... Read more about Hanoi to Mai Chau by motorbike .

Bat Trang ceramic village
Xom 3, Bat Trang, Gia Lam district
T: (04) 3874 0671

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 own mug or Disney ... Read more about Bat Trang ceramic village .

Dau pagoda and Horn village

Dau pagoda, considered Vietnam’s oldest, is located 24 kilometres south of the centre of Hanoi, in Bac Ninh province, and takes about one hour to reach by ... Read more about Dau pagoda and Horn village .

A bike excursion to Bridegroom Field

Although the sprawl of Hanoi makes it time-consuming to reach the countryside proper, a short jaunt to the banks of the Red River will have you feeling like you’ve left the city behind. The best way to explore is by bicycle, so ask at your hotel about hiring a bike for the day, pack your camera and a bottle of water and off you ... Read more about A bike excursion to Bridegroom Field .

Motorcycling around Ha Giang

Motorcycling from Ha Giang offers arguably the best scenery in Vietnam or even Southeast Asia, and provides the opportunity to explore a stunning region as yet relatively untouched by ... Read more about Motorcycling around Ha Giang .

Hanoi's villages: Cu Da, or Vermicelli Village

After my enjoyable visit to Bamboo Village (Bang So) I was really looking forward to the trip to Vermicelli Village (Cu Da); I love food and am always keen to learn more about it. I was not disappointed, as not only was it fascinating to see and hear about the production of vermicelli but I found Cu Da to be an interesting and friendly ... Read more about Hanoi's villages: Cu Da, or Vermicelli Village .

Hanoi's villages: Bang So (Bamboo village)

In the past, villagers in Vietnam tended to specialise in making particular items to meet their needs, sharing their skills with neighbours and relatives. This led to individual villages becoming known for a particular handicraft. As people moved to the cities they gravitated towards others with the same trade and hence we have areas such as Hanoi’s Old Quarter, where different streets ... Read more about Hanoi's villages: Bang So (Bamboo village) .

Son Tinh campsite
Son Tinh, Dong Mo Island, Son Tay

Son Tinh campsite, 40km from Hanoi’s centre (but still technically in Hanoi), provides a peaceful retreat from the capital’s maddening crowds. It had received favourable reviews — especially from families — since its opening earlier this year so we took a trip out to check it ... Read more about Son Tinh campsite .

An overnight trip to Tam Dao

While not a must-visit destination, if you’re not in a rush and are keen to explore less touristy spots in Vietnam, Tam Dao hill station is worth an overnight from Hanoi, especially to escape the capital’s summer heat. Here’s some advice on how to spend your time ... Read more about An overnight trip to Tam Dao .

Exploring Bac Kan province

You don’t always have to stick to the tourist trail in Vietnam; simply striking out somewhere for the hell of it can be richly rewarding. Bac Kan province is little visited by tourists, although its main point of interest, Ba Be Lake, attracts those looking for natural beauty outside of Ha Long ... Read more about Exploring Bac Kan province .

Jeep tour
46 Gia Ngu Street, Hanoi
T: (0918) 763 515

As well as bike tours, Cuong’s Motorbike Adventures offers a range of tours by US Army Jeep to destinations within and outside Hanoi such as Mai Chau and Duong Lam village. While slightly on the pricey side, they are an unusual and fun option if you want to set your own agenda for a tour of Hanoi or are keen to explore further ... Read more about Jeep tour .

Motorbike trips

There has been a motorbike-supply eruption in Hanoi in recent years, with numerous operators offering not only bike rental and sales but also organised tours. Here's the ... Read more about Motorbike trips .

Co Loa Citadel
16km outside Hanoi

This is the easiest of the Hanoi daytrips, about 16km outside the city. The main draw here is that it's one of the oldest structures still extant from Vietnamese history (though Cham and Sa Huynh culture is much older). 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 ... Read more about Co Loa Citadel .

Ba Vi National Park

If you're planning to visit only one national park in Vietnam, other parks, like Bach Ma near Hue, should be higher up on your list than Ba Vi. Nevertheless, it's a beautiful park and if you just want a quiet getaway for a day or so, it's a fine choice. 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 ... Read more about Ba Vi National Park .

No pic at the moment -- Sorry!

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 grind, and the trip is also popular for young, courting couples. The site is popular year round, but ... Read more about Perfume Pagoda .

Top of page

Performing arts

Water Puppets, Thanh Long Theatre
57B Dinh Tien Hoang St (Near Hoan Kiem Lake)
T: (04) 3825 5450, 3936 4335, 3936 4334

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 ... Read more about Water Puppets, Thanh Long Theatre .

Top of page


22A Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
T: (04) 3936 2648

If you want to catch a film while in Hanoi, be it as a break from roaming the streets or drinking coffee and bia hoi, or because a must-see blockbuster has just been launched, a few large cinema complexes are located around the city, such as Megastar at Vincom Tower. While these places offer comfortable seating, the usual cinema snacks and drinks, and decent screens and sound systems, they have ... Read more about Cinemateque .

Cinema in Hanoi

If it’s too hot, too cold or too wet to explore Hanoi, or you just want to keep up to date with the most recent movies, here’s a wrap on places to go to catch a ... Read more about Cinema in Hanoi .

Movies, shopping and a massage at Vincom

Soon after we moved to Hanoi, the film Avatar was released. We were keen to see it and heard about the Megastar Cinema in Hai Ba Trung district, south of Hoan Kiem. Without high expectations we headed along to Vincom Towers — home to a shopping centre, spa, apartments, eateries and the ... Read more about Movies, shopping and a massage at Vincom .

Top of page

Hanoi: 36 Streets

Hang Quat

Hang Quat is one of the most colourful streets in Old Quarter. Quat means fans, which were of course traditionally made on this street, be they from bamboo, paper or palm ... Read more about Hang Quat .

Hang Giay

Hang Giay is right in the centre of Old Quarter, running from Luong Ngoc Quyen to Hang Chieu. Giay means shoes — though with different tones, it means paper -- but nowadays there are very few shoes on sale along its ... Read more about Hang Giay .

Hang Buom and Ma May

While the streets around the edges of Old Quarter tend to be oriented towards local life, Hang Buom smoothly makes the transition into ... Read more about Hang Buom and Ma May .

Hang Vai and Lan Ong

Hang Vai, which runs off Phung Hung, was traditionally Hanoi’s main textiles street. Nowadays its main attractions are twofold: a pleasant vibe, with few tourists and little traffic, but plenty of on-street action such as sugar cane juice spots, pho restaurants, tea stands and street vendors; secondly, it’s home to bamboo shops, which sit at the junction with Thuoc ... Read more about Hang Vai and Lan Ong .

Hang Bac and Hang Bo

One Hanoi street remaining true to its name and of interest to tourists is Hang Bac. Bac means silver and the street is still lined with silver shops, although some have expanded their wares to include jade bangles and the like. ... Read more about Hang Bac and Hang Bo .

Hang Ma and Hang Chieu

Coming through the arch of Hanoi’s Old City Gate, the road straight ahead is Hang Chieu. A dozen or so shops have stayed reasonably true to the street’s original wares — Vietnamese grass tatami ... Read more about Hang Ma and Hang Chieu .

Ngo Gach

In London, Brick Lane is famous for its Indian food; in Hanoi, it used to sell bricks. Ngo (lane) Gach (brick) is a small road that runs between Hang Giay and Hang Duong and is one of those streets very easy to miss, but a shame not to ... Read more about Ngo Gach .

Hang Dieu

Hang Dieu comprises a strange melee of stores. Running north from the six-way junction at Duong Thanh until it turns into Hang Ga, it sold cigarettes in the 19th century and, more recently, leather shoes and sandals.No sign of a Mars ... Read more about Hang Dieu .

Hang Manh

Manh are roller blinds made of thin strips of bamboo and the traditional wares of this street. Now they’re in short supply, although still available at a couple of places, and vinyl flooring seems to have taken over as the household item of ... Read more about Hang Manh .

Hang Be and Gia Ngu

Some Hanoi streets have completely given themselves over to tourism -- and Hang Be is one such example, though that's not to say it isn't worth a ... Read more about Hang Be and Gia Ngu .

Ta Hien

Try as I might, I can’t find out what “Ta Hien”, one of Hanoi‘s 36 streets, originally sold, although according to a friend’s father, it sold food when he was young and during his parents’ generation — whether that was the original wares sold here or not, I’m not sure. Perhaps this lack of information is because it’s now best known for bia hoi corner and the bars that line its ... Read more about Ta Hien .

Au Trieu

Despite not being one of Hanoi's so-called 36 streets, Au Trieu is still worth browsing to enjoy a classic experience of shopping and ... Read more about Au Trieu .

Top of page

Boat trips

Two or three days in Ha Long Bay?

When planning your trip to Vietnam, it can be a challenge to fit everything in, and one of the questions you may well ask yourself is how long to spend in Ha Long Bay. While this is a personal choice, here’s our ... Read more about Two or three days in Ha Long Bay? .

Booking a Ha Long Bay cruise

With more than 400 boats to choose from, selecting a Ha Long Bay tour is tricky enough to start with. Throw in the third party travel agents and hotel tour desks – who can quote whatever they want for a cruise – and it’s a minefield. Here are some tips to get the best for your ... Read more about Booking a Ha Long Bay cruise .

Top of page

Festivals and events

What happens in Hanoi over Tet

Yes, Vietnam pretty much closes down for a few days at least during Tet, and yes, travel is difficult, but it’s really not the end of the world if you find yourself in Hanoi during this holiday. Hotels are open, tourist restaurants and bars remain open and tours still ... Read more about What happens in Hanoi over Tet .

Top of page

Massages and spas

Where can I get a good massage in Hanoi?

Massages in Hanoi range from the very cheap and cheerful $5 foot massage through to the high-end luxury spas, where you’ll pay nearly $100 for just an hour of pampering. The choice can be overwhelming but here’s a selection of places we think are worth checking ... Read more about Where can I get a good massage in Hanoi? .

Waxing and manicures

When you’ve had enough of attempting to shave your legs while balancing on the toilet seat in your wet-room shower, it’s time for a wax. Fortunately, reasonably priced, good quality waxing is available in ... Read more about Waxing and manicures .

Top of page

Historic attractions

Metropole's old shelter re-discovered

A few months ago, workers renovating the Bamboo Bar at Hanoi’s historic Sofitel Legend Metropole Hotel hit a snag: they struck the roof of a long-buried air raid shelter that had all but been forgotten. After excavating more than two metres of earth and reinforced concrete, the workers jack-hammered through a 278mm-thick ceiling: below was around 40 square metres of flooded corridors and rooms ... Read more about Metropole's old shelter re-discovered .

Top of page

Like what you see? Then you’ll love our newsletter

The Travelfish newsletter is sent out every Monday and is jammed full of free advice for travel in Southeast Asia. You can see past issues here.

Where to next?

Where are you planning on heading to after Hanoi? Here are some spots commonly visited from here, or click here to see a full destination list for Vietnam.

Top of page