What to Do When Visiting Hanoi - The Capital of Vietnam

For almost a thousand year, Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, is considered as one of the main cultural center of the country. Hanoi is also the most important political center of Vietnam. This city gives you the sense of cultural combination for its long history, from being affected by Chinese culture for thousand years to its liberation from French and American colonial powers in the 20th century. 
 
It will be a shame if you do not see all of these attractions that on this list when visiting Hanoi. 

1. Walking Around Hoan Kiem Lake

Hoan Kiem Lake also called Lake of the Restored Sword. The name Lake of the Restored Sword is derived from a legend. Legend is that in the middle of 15th century, Heaven gave Emperor Ly Thai To (Le Loi) a magical sword which he used to drive the Chinese out or Vietnam. One day altered the war, while rowing boat outside, he came upon a giant golden tortoise swimming on the surface of the water. The creature grabbed the sword and disappeared into the depths of the lake. Since that time, the lake has been known as Ho Hoan Kiem (Lake of the Restored Sword) because the tortoise restored the sword to its divine owners. 

Now day, Hoan Kiem Lake is a wonderful social and cultural center for Hanoian. The lakeside is a favorite stop for couples taking their wedding photos and fitness buffs' morning exercise. The view around the lake offers an incredible opportunity to catch the local color and it is easy to walk to the Old Quarter afterward.
 
The Peaceful Appearance of Hoan Kiem Lake
The Peaceful Appearance of Hoan Kiem Lake

Hanoi tourists and locals head to Hoan Kiem Lake when seeking a place to get away from the noise of the city. Ngoc Son Temple, a pagoda sitting in the center on a small island, is surrounded by the lake peacefully and quietly. The island, on which the temple is built, is known as Jade Island and is approachable by the iconic Huc Bridge or Rising Sun Bridge is one of the most favorite attractions of domestic and foreign tourists whenever they come to the capital. 

A Hanoi day trip is organized to take you to contemplate the iconic locations in the city.  Please visit our website for more detail: https://www.fareastour.asia/vietnam-destinations/hanoi-capital-of-vietnam/hanoi-cultural-day-trip/

2. Visiting the Temple of Literature

The Temple of Literature is near Hoan Kiem lake and is only about 10 minutes away. In Ly Thanh Tong’s dynasty, it was constructed in 1070. It was first to honor Confucius and nowadays is to celebrate the doctorates and high rank scholars of Vietnam. 

This 1000-year-old temple was for education and site of the country's oldest university. Almost destroyed by war in the 20th century, the Temple has been given much work of restoration to bring its former glory back.
 
The Temple of Literature- the First University of Vietnam
The Temple of Literature- the First University of Vietnam

The Temple of Literature is a place of study rather than a religious landmark. There are five courtyards at the temple, two of them full of landscaped gardens, the third is home with a large pond which is known as the Well of Heavenly Clarity. The fourth courtyard is called the Sage Courtyard and features a statue of Confucius and a house of ceremonies. The last courtyard is Thai Hoc where a large drum and bell tower were placed. The decoration of the temple is based upon the birthplace of Confucius with a beautiful main entrance and a path running through the centre which was reserved only for the king.

It is laid out in a sequence of five courtyards from south to north, spanned by three pathways running through the Temple's length. The northernmost and last courtyard is the site of the former university for mandarins called Quoc Tu Giam, literally the "Temple of the King Who Distinguished Literature", established in 1076.

If you are interested in architecture, Temple of literature owns one of the most classic architecture styles for centuries in Vietnam, includes of wood and tiles. Hundred-year-old trees standing along the pass way are the witnesses to the ups and downs of history.

3. Shopping in Hanoi's Old Quarter

Hanoi's Old Quarter has a history which spreads 2,000 years and represents the eternal soul of the city. Located between the Lake of the Restored Sword, the Long Bien Bridge, a former city rampart, and a citadel wall, the Old Quarter started as a snake and alligator-infested swamp. It later evolved into a cluster of villages made up of houses on stilts, and was unified by Chinese administrators who built ramparts around their headquarters. The area was named "Dominated Annam" or "Protected South" by the Chinese.

The Old Quarter started to receive its reputation as a crafts area when the Vietnamese attained independence in the 11th century and King Ly Thai To had built his palace there. The collection of tiny workshop villages which situated in a group around the palace walls evolved into craft community. Skilled craftsmen moved to the Quarter and artisan medieval association were formed by craftsmen originating from the same village and bring similar services. Members of the association worked and lived together, creating a cooperative system for transporting merchandise to the designated streets in the business quarter.

The Old Quarter has a shape of triangle with streets named after the goods they sold. Visitors meet narrow sidewalks and persistent shopkeepers calling you to check out their stuff, including different products from Chinese knockoffs to lacquerware works to beautiful silk shirts or dresses.
 
Walking Through Hanoi Old Quarter and Buying Gifts
Walking Through Hanoi Old Quarter and Buying Gifts

Some streets have received its fame by their popular guidebooks. Hang Gai Street sells silk clothing ready-made and tailored, embroidery, and silver products. Hang Quat, the street that formerly sold silk and feather fans, now stuns the visitor by its brilliantly colored funeral and festival flags and religious objects and clothing. 

You can stay at any of some Old Quarter Hotels and backpacker hostels to find the area's shopping right at your feet when you wake up in the morning!

4. Visiting Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum

Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum is the final resting place of Ho Chi Minh, the most iconic and popular leader of Vietnam, known to his people as ‘Uncle Ho’. His body is kept here in a glass case at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in central Hanoi. Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is situated in Hung Vuong Street, Ba Dinh district. It was officially started building on September, 1973 and inaugurated on August 29th, 1975.
 
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in Hanoi
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum - the final resting place of Ho Chi Minh

Security is firmly and visitors should dress with respect (no shorts, sleeveless shirts and miniskirts) and everyone has to deposit their bags and cameras before getting in. Visitors are not allowed to stop and hold the constant queue up as the place is busy. 

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is a meaningful cultural work of Vietnam. For each Vietnamese citizen, visiting the Mausoleum is an emotional need to express the gratitude to the great leader of the country. After visiting Uncle Ho's final resting place, go next door to the Presidential Palace grounds and observe his living quarters. Ho Chi Minh's stilt house looks much the same as it did when he was still living there.

5. Joining Tour to Hoa Lo Prison - the "Hanoi Hilton"

The Hoa Lo Prison, known to American prisoners of war as the "Hanoi Hilton", was a prison used by the French colonists in Vietnam for political prisoners and later by North Vietnam for prisoners of war during the Vietnam War.

"Hoa Lo" literally means "stove". The name is given for a hell-hole of a prison built by the French in the 1880s and maintained till the end of the Vietnam War.

This was the place American POWs sardonically named "Hanoi Hilton" and this is where Sen. John McCain was confined when he was arrested. His flight suit can still be seen here to this day.
 
Taking Part in Tour to Hoa Lo Prison
Taking Part in Tour to Hoa Lo Prison

However, the architects preserved enough of the old prison to create the Hoa Lo Prison Museum. The majority of the exhibits here include a horrifying array of shackles, whips, and other instruments of torture, as well as tiny solitary confinement cells, which date from the French-colonial period. In August 1945, more than 100 prisoners escaped.

In the 1990s, most of Hoa Lo was destroyed, but its southern part was preserved for descendant. Visitors can now see fearful exhibits showing the sufferings of the Vietnamese prisoners.

Hanoi was heavily destroyed during the Vietnam War and locals recall their victory through museums like Hoa Lo and others like the Vietnam Museum of Revolution and the B-52 Victory Museum.

6. Exploring the Imperial Citadel

The 18 hectares that make up the Hanoi Imperial Citadel are all that remains of what used to be an even more substantial agglomeration of three forts erected by Emperor Ly Thai To in 1011.

In the 1800s, the French colonial masters decided to tear down most of the Citadel to make way for their structures. In 2010, the ruins of Imperial Citadel of Thang Long Vietnam were recognized as the World Cultural Heritage by UNESCO. Imperial Citadel of Thang Long thereby gradually becomes one of the most attractive tourist attractions in Hanoi alluring the great number of both domestic and international tourists.
 
Imperial Citadel of Thang Long- one of the world cultural heritages in Vietnam
Imperial Citadel of Thang Long - one of the world cultural heritages in Vietnam

The Forbidden City Wall and eight gates left over from the Nguyen Dynasty stand at the Citadel's perimeter, and after paying the VND 30,000 entrance fee (about $1.31), you can explore the rest at your leisure: the Flag Tower, the Kinh Thien Palace, and several others. Owning enormous values on the history and culture throughout the length of more than 1000 years, Center Sector of Thang Long Citadel deserves to be honored as world cultural heritage in Vietnam. Many unique cultural and artistic features formed at Thang Long has promoted Imperial Citadel of Thang Long to emerge as one of the Vietnam's largest cultural heritages retaining international stature.

7. Tasting Coffee

The Vietnamese took France's coffee culture and made it their own: reinventing the French press into a uniquely Vietnamese drip filter called “phin” and replacing cream with condensed milk. The resulting drink is hot, strong, and exceedingly sweet—the perfect fuel for a couple of hours' exploring around Hanoi's Old Quarter.

Hanoi's coffee shops range from open-air street side stalls to high-end air-conditioned establishments. To see both extremes mushed side-by-side in one place, head over to Hanoi's Trieu Viet Vuong, a tree-shaded lane packed with the most cafes per square meter in all of Vietnam.
 
Savoring the famous Egg Coffee in Hanoi
Savoring the Famous Egg Coffee in Hanoi
 
When you order coffee like a local, ask for hot, sweet, condensed-milky coffee by requesting "ca phe nau". If you like a cup of black coffee, ask for "ca phe den". You should not leave Hanoi without trying their famous egg coffee, "ca phe trung", where egg yolk and condensed milk are whipped together to make a sweet and airy head.

8. Seeing Hanoi's Four Sacred Temples

The Emperors of the ancient Thang Long capital decided the construction of four directional temples to prevent bad energy from flowing in by the rules of fengshui. Collectively, Bach Ma, Voi Phuc, Kim Lien and Quan Thanh temples are referred to as Thang Long Tu Tran (the four guardians). They built four sacred temples in the four wind directions of the city to protect Hanoi from bad spirits and influences which Quan Thach temple is the protector of the North.

Bach Ma Temple guards the east. This is the oldest of the four which was built in the 9th century, dedicated to a white horse that guided the site's construction. Voi Phuc Temple looks to the west, constructed in honor of a prince whose kneeling elephants helped him defeat invading Chinese forces.
 
Voi Phuc Temple Protecting the West of the Land
Voi Phuc Temple Protecting the West of the Land

Kim Lien Temple apparently protection the south although its northernmost location relative to the rest. The northern guardian Quan Thanh Temple, located on the shores of West Lake, is devoted to a god who helps drive off evil spirits and foreign invaders alike.

In gratefulness for the temples' collective protection, Hanoians organize the annual Thang Long Tu Tran Festival in the spring. Changed to the Gregorian calendar, the festival takes place from March 9thto May 1st, 2018, March 15thto April 20th, 2019, and March 2nd to April 8th, 2020. 

9.Taking in Sky-High Views at Lotte Center

You can take bird's eye perspective on Vietnam's capital from the view deck of the Lotte Center Hanoi. Completed in 2014, the Lotte Center is the city's second-tallest building, which the management capitalizes on with a 360-degree viewpoint from its very top floor.

Visiting the Lotte Observation Deck, the fun begins from the moment you step into the elevator, which is one of the fastest elevators in the country. When you have gotten enough of looking around the city, test your braveness at the Photo at Skywalk, where you can walk on a glass floor with a breathtaking view of the 65 stories between you and the pavement. There is a fixed camera on the ceiling of one of the skywalks, allowing visitors to capture photos of themselves looking down at the city below.
 
The Observation Deck on top of Lotte Tower
The Observation Deck on top of Lotte Tower 

The view deck is open from 8:30 a.m to 11:00 p.m. If you cannot get enough out of a single visit, you can book a room at the Lotte Hanoi in the same building and get similar views.

10. Watching a Traditional Performance at Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre

The abundance of water in Vietnam's rice fields inspires farmers to create a brilliant idea: Using disused but full of water at rice paddies to stage puppet shows. The water covers up the operating mechanism of the puppets, while the puppeteers control the puppets behind a curtain, attended by traditional musicians.
 
Watching Water Puppet Show

Watching Water Puppet Show at Thang Long Theatre

The water puppets act out stories from Vietnamese village life and national legend. Unlike its rice-paddy-bound forebears, the Hanoi theater uses enhanced with smoke effects and lighting. The traditional content of water puppet performance usually shows the daily life of Vietnamese farmers (cultivating, tending buffalo, catching fishes…), communal entertainment (swimming contest, dragon dancing…), historical legends or fairy tales (Le Loi returns precious sword…), with modest performance way have appealed audiences for centuries. 

What Hanoi lacks in rice paddies, it more than compensates with a grand water puppet theater near the Old Quarter. The Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre caters to tourists and nostalgic locals with four shows daily, all year-round water puppet performances. Over 150,000 visitors watch this traditional Vietnamese art form at Thang Long every year. 

11. Joining a Red River Cruise

The Red River has been at the heart of trade and warfare for all of Hanoi's millennium-long history. Today, tourists can embark on a trip down its length to see the capital from a different viewpoint, and head on out to some destinations just outside city area.
 
Hopping on a boat sailing on the Red River to explore the area
Hopping on a Boat Sailing on the Red River to Explore the Area

Gorgeous views of farmland pass by as you head east towards the Red River Delta and the sea. Along the way, you will visit few historic temples like Chu Dong Tu in Hung Yen province; and traditional manufacturing villages like Bat Trang, in the business of making high-quality ceramic for hundreds of years.

12. West Lake Shopping and Eating

Just a few years ago, Tay Ho was a sleepy block of fishing villages on the northern suburbs of Hanoi. It was hardly to find a tourist out here and neither did locals. Visiting Hoan Kiem Lake for Hanoi's history, but for culture and nightlife, head over to West Lake, the city's largest freshwater lake and nexus for the capital city's high -quality restaurants, bars, and exciting shopping area.
 
Visiting the Westlake for shopping and entertainment
Visiting the Westlake for Shopping and Entertainment 

At the lake's southernmost point, seafood restaurants, lining in the lake shore along Duong Thuy Khue, offer cheap seafood overlooking the waters. Visitors who want to spend a little more cash can go north towards the Tay Ho expat area, passing by the Xuan Dieu strip of luxury hotels, shops and restaurants selling Hanoi traditional food.

You can visit the West Lake on Saturday mornings and finding the Tay Ho weekend market selling locally-crafted artisanal products like small-batch perfume and honey.

On Saturday mornings, locals browse the Tay Ho weekend market, located on 67 To Ngoc Van Alley, for small-batch products such as honey hand-pressed by tribes in the northern province of Ha Giang and essential oils from natural perfumer Dame Clemence. There is even a neighborhood mix of jasmine and coriander called Les Nuits de Tay Ho.

If you are watching your calorie intake and your spending, take a walk or a bike ride around the lake instead to enjoy the view and stop by temples like the Tran Quoc Pagoda along the way. You can check out our biking tour around Hanoi by following this link: https://www.fareastour.asia/vietnam-destinations/hanoi-capital-of-vietnam/hanoi-sighseeing-by-a-bike-tour/

13. Bargaining at Dong Xuan Market

Not even an all-consuming fire in 1994 could dampen Dong Xuan Market's drive to sell, sell, sell. In 1889, this imposing building north of the Old Quarter was founded and even more than a century after its founding, it still maintains its place as Hanoi's biggest indoor market.

Dong Xuan uses up the whole city block. It is large and really does sell pretty much everything, though it is actually not a tourist market. If you are looking for buying gifts to take home for your family or friends then you are better off looking around Hang Gai and Hang Hom. A few stores do sell the tourist stuff such as silk cushion covers, chopsticks, so it will not be a wasted trip if that are what you are after, but do not go expecting a wealth of options.
 
Shopping in Dong Xuan Market
Shopping in Dong Xuan Market

The ground floor offers little to the foreign tourist except for atmosphere: the shops here cater mainly to locals, selling meat, vegetables, and seafood to haggling homemakers. The upper floor offers wholesale-price dry goods, including handicrafts and other souvenirs for tourists. The food hall lets you chow down on hearty local fare for mere pennies a meal.

If the pickings feel a little slim, wait for the Hanoi Weekend Night Market that breaks out around Dong Xuan from Friday to Sunday nights: Its goods range from China-made knockoffs to beautiful handicrafts from the handicraft villages beyond Hanoi's city limits.

14. Exploring Bat Trang Pottery Village and Dong Ho Painting Village

Bat Trang Pottery Village is located in the south east of Ha Noi, passing Chuong Duong Bridge turns right and go about 10km along the dike of Red River. Located in an area rich in clay, the village has advantage of ingredients to create fine ceramics. 

Bat Trang ceramics are produced for daily household use (bow, cup, plates, pot, bottle…), worshipping, or decoration purposes. Nowadays, the pottery artists bring into ceramics many innovations in production techniques, and creativity in products’ features, hence many new products have been born, and even daily household items may have the beauty like decoration ones.
 
Exploring Bat Trang Ceramic Village Near City's Center
Exploring Bat Trang Ceramic Village Near City's Center

Visiting Bat Trang, tourists can take a walk or join a buffalo tour for sightseeing and shopping.

Another attraction you should not miss is Dong Ho village, which is also known as Mai village, a very small with no more than 200 households. Their main income comes from painting. Dong Ho paintings are lively description of the beauty of the countryside and traditional customs and festivals.

Click here for more detail : https://www.fareastour.asia/vietnam-destinations/hanoi-capital-of-vietnam/tour-to-bat-trang-and-dong-ho-village/

To sum up, Hanoi is the political center of Vietnam and the famous attraction with many historical locations and cultural destination for tourists who are into Asia custom. When visiting Hanoi, you cannot miss those locations that listed above. Exploring deeply the history of this city, you may be surprised of how this city can turn itself from being destroyed though the war to a developing area trying to break out to impress the world. 

It is hard to finish the whole schedule in only one day, so we are here to help you organize your private tour in your style. Contact us by clicking on the chatting box on the right, leaving your name and email. Our hotline number is (+84) 917 620 980. Follow us on https://www.fareastour.asia/ for more information about tour to Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailands and Myanmar.
When to travel to Hanoi?
Hanoi is characterized by four distinct seasons of the Northern weather: wet spring, green, summer to high sunlight, autumn to cool golden sunshine, winter to the cold skin. The period from September, October or March, April will be the best time to travel to Hanoi.

 

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