Explore Hanoi's Historical and Cultural Treasures

Hanoi has been through various dynasties, wars, and regimes, leaving behind a fascinating mix of architecture, traditions, and cultural influences. Here is what to do in Hanoi to gain a deeper understanding of the city’s historical and cultural treasures.

Visit the iconic Hoan Kiem Lake and Ngoc Son Temple

Ngoc Son Temple - what to do in hanoi

Ngoc Son Temple connected to the mainland by the red-painted The Huc Bridge

Hoan Kiem Lake is a beautiful expanse of water with greenery all around in the heart of Hanoi. It holds great significance to the city heritage. The Huc Bridge is a crucial component of the lake, leading to the Ngoc Son Temple, which was constructed in the 19th century and remains a marvel of architecture. As you explore the temple's elaborate antiquated patterns and hear its fascinating history, you will be entranced by the charming sights of the lake and temple, and captivated by the richness of Hanoi's lively culture.

Discover the rich history at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and Museum

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

Ho Chi Minh president is one of the most significant historical figures in Vietnamese people history. He was a persevering leader who played an instrumental role in the country's resilience transformation towards freedom. Today, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and Museum remain an integral part of the Ho Chi Minh Complex. The 2 constructions showcase an astonishing array of artifacts and exhibits, from ancient artifacts to contemporary art pieces, offering a vivid and fascinating glimpse into Vietnam's complex past. Visitors can immerse in the iconic figure of Ho Chi Minh, learning about his life, his legacy, and his remarkable contributions to Vietnam's journey to independence. 

Wander through the vibrant streets of Hanoi's Old Quarter

Hanoi Old Quarter

Roaming around streets of Hanoi's Old Quarter

The hustle and bustle of streets full of motorbikes, the aroma of sizzling street food, and the colorful boutique shophouse create an unforgettable roaming day. As you meander through the narrow alleyways, you will discover hidden gems like ancient temples and quaint coffee shops. Do not forget to sample some of the local specialties like pho and egg coffee, and take in the vibrant atmosphere of one of Asia's most charming and lively neighborhoods.

Indulge in Hanoi's Culinary Delights

Can not miss the culinary experience in a what to do in Hanoi checklist. Hanoi is the culinary capital of Vietnam. You can find authentic, traditional Vietnamese cuisine with a unique blend of flavors, and affordable prices.

Sample local street food at bustling markets and food stalls

Hanoi street food - what to do in hanoi

Hanoi street food is amazing

Hanoi is known for its bustling markets and food stalls that offer a tantalizing array of local street food. From savory pho noodle soup to crispy banh mi sandwiches and fragrant grilled meats, there is no shortage of delicious options to sample. As you wander through the bustling streets of Hanoi, the mouth-watering smells of frying meats and simmering broths will lead you to hole-in-the-wall food stalls, where you can savor delicacies that have been passed down through generations in the capital land. Along with satisfying your taste buds, immersing your senses in the native people's space on the streets and in the markets is also a fascinating and authentic cultural experience.

Embark on a food tour to savor the diverse flavors of Hanoi

Hanoi Beer Street - what to do in hanoi

Check in Hanoi Beer Street - Ta Hien

This is one thing about what to do in Hanoi that you should not miss. When participating in a Hanoi food tour, you can experience various dining locations ranging from the most famous eateries to the local food spots that have not been reviewed yet. Additionally, one will gain a deeper understanding not only about the food but also the context and stories behind each dish. Not to mention the opportunity to make new friends and have some fun along the way. Let us know if you need a local companion to help you embark on a Hanoi intriguing culinary journey. 

Try popular dishes like pho, banh mi, and egg coffee

Egg coffee in Hanoi

Egg coffee in Hanoi is placed in a small bowl of hot water to preserve the fresh aroma of the egg

Here are some iconic dishes that you should try when visiting Hanoi. Pho is a delicious soup made with rice noodles, tender beef or chicken, and fragrant herbs and spices. Banh mi, on the other hand, is a mouthwatering sandwich filled with savory meats, crisp vegetables, and tangy sauces. And if you are in need of a caffeine kick, then egg coffee is the perfect choice. Made with strong coffee, sweetened condensed milk, and egg yolks, this unique beverage is sure to satisfy your taste buds with its savory and creamy flavor.

Immerse Yourself in Hanoi's Arts and Entertainment

The next thing about what to do in Hanoi is to enjoy its art scene. Hanoi is a cultural hub of Vietnam, with a rich history and vibrant arts and entertainment scene. Watching a live performance and exhibition can be a fantastic way to connect with Vietnamese culture, learn about the country's history, and have a glimpse into what's happening in Vietnam's art world.

Witness the captivating water puppetry at Thang Long Water Puppet Theater

water puppetry in hanoi - what to do in hanoi

Artists performing water puppetry introducing to the audience

With its roots dating back to the 11th century, this unique form of performance art brings history to life through intricate puppetry, live music, and traditional Vietnamese storytelling. You will be entranced as the puppets dance and glide across the water, telling mesmerizing tales of Vietnam's ancient traditions and way of life. The contents of the performances often revolve around folk customs and the daily life of Vietnamese people, such as plowing, planting, herding ducks, wrestling, boat racing, swimming, performing plays, etc.

Catch a cultural performance at the historic Hanoi Opera House

Hanoi Opera House

The auditorium of the Hanoi Opera House

Hanoi Opera House is an architectural gem, built in 1911 by French architects, serves as a tangible symbol of the cultural fusion that characterizes Hanoi's past and present. As you step into the grand auditorium, adorned with ornate chandeliers and delicate frescoes, you will be transported back to a time of elegance and sophistication. The Hanoi Opera House has played a crucial role as one of the most important cultural centers in the capital city, where various cultural activities and art performances take place regularly. This is where Vietnamese theater and stage art were born and celebrated, alongside the symphony, choir, opera, ballet, and other forms of traditional performing arts.

Explore the contemporary art scene in galleries and art cafes

silk art exhibition in Hanoi

A silk art exhibition in Hanoi

From quaint galleries tucked away in narrow alleyways to trendy art cafes that double as exhibition spaces, exploring Hanoi's art scene promises to be a fascinating and enriching experience. Beyond just the visual appeal, exploring Hanoi's contemporary art scene also offers a chance to engage with a community of artists and art enthusiasts. Be it through discussions, workshops, or simply sharing a cup of coffee, the passion and love for art weave together.

  • Top art galleries in Hanoi: Green Palm, Nguyen Art Gallery, DC Art Gallery, Vincom Center for Contemporary Art, Thang Long Art Gallery.

  • Top Hanoi art cafe: Loading T, Hanoi House Cafe, Manzi, Nha san Art Cafe, etc.

Discover Hidden Gems and Unique Experiences

To fully explore what to do in Hanoi, we must not overlook the lesser-known attractions and experiences that are not as commonly known. Hanoi is a city that values storefronts, as most of the roads you pass by are adorned with vibrant shops. However, it is also a city of countless small alleys crisscrossing like a maze, hiding behind closed doors the presence of human life and the small worlds of sophistication and allure.

Visit the atmospheric Train Street in the heart of the city

train street in hanoi

The small yet bustling and vibrant train street of Hanoi

This narrow railway of Hanoi is nestled between shops and houses, and trains pass through just inches away from the buildings. It is an exhilarating sight to see and a thrilling experience to witness. As you wander down the street, you will feel the excitement buzzing around you and the sound of the train approaching will send chills down your spine. The locals are accustomed to the trains' regular schedule, and they simply wait for them to pass before continuing with their daily activities.

Explore the bookstores and cozy cafes along Hanoi's Book Street

 Hanoi Book Street

A corner of Hanoi's Book Street

What can you do in Hanoi if you are a book and coffee lover? Visit Hanoi Book Street located at 19/12 Tran Hung Dao Street, Hoan Kiem District. As you stroll down the cozy alleyway, a tantalizing array of bookstores and cafes unfolds before you. The bookstores, with their towering shelves and eclectic collections, are a bibliophile's dream come true. From rare first editions to contemporary bestsellers, there is something for everyone here. But it is not just the books that make this street so special. The cafes, with their warm, inviting atmosphere and deliciously aromatic coffee, provide the perfect respite for weary readers.

Get lost in the maze-like alleys of the city and find hidden art

what to do in hanoi

The amazing appearance of the artwork on an old walls of Hanoi

As you lose yourself in the city's labyrinthine alleyways, the frantic pace of the surrounding city fades away, and you are transported to another world entirely. The intricate artwork adorning alleyways, hewn from concrete and metal, is a testimony to the depth of the city's culture and the creative minds of its inhabitants. This experience is an opportunity to see beyond the tourist attractions, to explore a hidden side of the city that is often overlooked in favor of the more well-known landmarks. It is an adventure that will leave you with a sense of awe and wonder, and a newfound appreciation for the cultural richness of this ancient city.

Venture Beyond Hanoi: Day Trips and Excursions

Hanoi downtown is filled with unique options to discover. However, for those seeking to escape the city's chaotic energy, the outskirts of Hanoi or nearby cities offer breathtaking day trips and excursions that are waiting to be explored. Towards the end of this list featuring what to do in Hanoi, we have some excellent suggestions located outside of the bustling city center for you.

Take a cruise through the breathtaking landscapes of Halong Bay

visit halong bay from hanoi

Travel from Hanoi to Halong only takes you 2 hours by long-distance bus to see a different view of the wonder bay

As you step onto your boat, the pristine blue waters of Halong Bay beckon you with its enchanting beauty. Magnificent limestone cliffs tower over the ocean, while a gentle breeze blows through your hair, carrying the refreshing aroma of salty sea air. The crew onboard is dedicated to providing you with a remarkable experience, offering delectable traditional dishes and introducing you to the abundant cultures and histories of the region.

Explore the ancient temples and natural wonders of Ninh Binh

what to do in hanoi

Bich Dong temple is situated at the foot of a limestone mountain, amidst a lotus pond

Ninh Binh is a region steeped in history, where centuries-old temples are nestled amidst breathtaking natural landscapes. From Hanoi, the journey to Ninh Binh is a revelation, as one travels through verdant rice paddies and quaint villages. Upon arrival, you can pay homage to the former capital of Vietnam and marvel at the intricate carvings and architecture on display, ride on a boat along the tranquil rivers and lush greenery of Tam Coc, explore the picturesque Trang An grottoes and the breathtaking Bai Dinh pagoda complex, etc.

Visit the traditional craft villages of Bat Trang and Van Phuc

Bat Trang ceramic village hanoi

Making and decorating handmade Bat Trang ceramic wares

Wondering what to do in Hanoi suburb while still having interesting and authentic local experiences, you might want to consider visiting these famous villages. Located on the outskirts of the city, Bat Trang and Van Phuc are two ancient villages where the centuries-old craft traditions have been preserved through generations. The skilled artisans of Bat Trang pottery village deftly shape clay into beautiful vases, bowls, and plates, using only their hands and a pottery wheel, just as their ancestors did. It is a mesmerizing process to watch, seeing how raw materials are transformed into exquisite creations that visitors can take home as a souvenir. 

Besides, Van Phuc village is famous for its woven silk. Visitors can watch as silk threads are woven into beautiful fabrics. The artisans here have mastered the art of dying silk to create brilliant colors, which are then transformed into stunning traditional clothing and scarves. Both villages offer a unique glimpse into the rich cultural heritage of Hanoi. The traditional crafts of Bat Trang and Van Phuc have survived the test of time, and continue to thrive due to the dedication of the skilled artisans. A visit to these villages is a journey back in time, offering an unforgettable experience.

In summary, the above blog provides a wealth of information on what to do in Hanoi. We hope that you can explore Hanoi with your own love and appreciation, and then share your experiences with us - New Asia Tours. As locals, we are eager to listen to the diverse viewpoints and insights of foreign friends about our ancient capital and your stories here. Come and discover the endless charm of Vietnam, where the past meets the modern, and tradition fuses with innovation.