Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Hanoi

Hanoi, the beautiful cultural capital of Vietnam, has many things to see and do. A few days in the city doesn’t do justice, but luckily, most attractions are located within walking distance of one another. You can easily map out an itinerary for yourself and enjoy a day of wandering around, taking in the contrasting beauty between the old and new. Make sure to visit as many of these attractions as possible to fully enhance your experience in Hanoi.

1. Hoan Kiem Lake
Known as the lake of the returned (or restored) sword, this lake marks the historical center of ancient Hanoi. The name comes from a legend in which Emperor Le Loi was given a magical sword by the gods, which he used to drive out the invading Chinese. Later, while boating on the lake, he encountered a giant turtle, which grabbed the sword and carried it down to its depths.
Every morning at around 6am local residents practice traditional t’ai chi on the shore. The lake also houses Jade Island, home of the eighteenth century Temple of the Jade Mountain. The island is reachable via the red-painted and picturesque Morning Sunlight Bridge.


2. Hanoi's Old Quarter
The old quarter is a mesh of the old and the new, as antique narrow streets snake between old brick buildings, covered in modern motorbikes and street vendors. This region of Hanoi is a mix of French Colonial architecture and ancient temples, and sits along the shore of Hoan Kiem Lake. It is the center of many attractions in Hanoi, from temples to the water puppet show to its street market. As the quarter was designed around the market, you will find that the streets here are all named for the kind of products that were once sold along its sidewalks, from wood to silver to paper.


3. Ba Dinh Square
Nowadays, Ba Dinh Square is one of the few green and unoccupied areas of urban Ha Noi. Many important events such as parades and commemoration of veterans take place at the square. Interestingly, despite its solemnity during the day, during the night time, the square is a popular gathering place for the local: families who want a walk, elderly who want to exercise and friends who want to hang out. A visit to Ba Dinh Square can be combined as a day or half-day trip to Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Ho Chi Minh Museum and One-pillar Pagoda.

4. Ha Noi Opera House
Standing in the heart of Hanoi, the opera house was located in a beautiful intersection downtown, where five main city roads lead to. The building was completed in 1911 after 10 years of construction, by two French architects, Broyer and V. Harley, resembling the Opéra Garnier de Paris.
Hanoi Opera House is not only a historical, artistic building but also a home to classical art lovers. In this article, everything you need when visiting the place is provided and recommended by locals. Let us show you around!


5St. Joseph's Cathedral (Nha tho lon Hanoi)
St. Joseph's Cathedral (Vietnamese: Nhà thờ Lớn Hà Nội) is a church on Nha Chung Street in the Hoàn Kiếm District of Hanoi, Vietnam. Its a late 19th-century Gothic Revival church that serves as the cathedral of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hanoi to nearly 4 million Catholics in the country. The cathedral was named after Joseph, the patron saint of Vietnam and Indochina.
Construction began in 1886, was one of the first structures built by the French colonial government in Indochina when it opened in December 1886. It is the oldest church in Hanoi.

6. Tran Quoc Pagoda
This is one of the oldest pagodas in Vietnam on the eastern shore of West Lake .The current structures are very impressive and date back to 1842. The pagoda is just off the road that divides West Lake and Truc Bach Lake. Tran Quoc Pagoda is the foremost symbol of Buddhism in the country. The landmark is beautiful offering good ambience and nice photos.


7. Temple of Literature
This is one of the temples of Confucius, and home of the nation’s first university. Originally built in 1070, the temple is meant to honor all scholars. Today, calligraphists will come and write good will wishes in Han characters during the Asian New Year at the steps of the temple, to give as gifts. The temple was built to replicate Confucius’ birthplace, with five courtyards and various temples and other buildings throughout the expansive grounds. Of special note are the Stelae of Doctors, a series of over 100 carved blue stone turtles, which honor the names of all who pass the royal exams.


8. Uncle Ho's Stilt House
Uncle Ho’s stilt house is a traditional house supported by wooden stilts. Take a look into the interior of the stilt house, there is a ground floor where Uncle Ho used to welcome visitors. There is a wooden table with many small wooden and bamboo chairs around. Moreover, there is also a rattan chair that he used to sit, read and have a rest. The furnishings of the house are also humble with typewriter, books, some newspapers of his day, and an electric fan in his room and a wooden bed, electric clock, an antique telephone and a radio in his bedroom.


9. Vietnam Museum of ethenology
Like many colonial regions that were united by European rule, the country of Vietnam is actually a coagulation of 54 different officially recognized ethnic groups. The Museum of Ethnology strives to give a better understanding of each one, and does so quite elegantly. It is widely believed to be the best of all the modern museums in Vietnam. Displays include a combination of art, everyday objects, and historic artifacts to better tell the story of each unique culture.
10. One Pillar Pagoda
If Buddhists were to build a treehouse, it would likely look a lot like this. This eleventh century temple was built by the emperor in gratitude for finally being blessed by a son. The temple was meant to look like a lotus flower blossoming from a single pillar in the pond, similar to the one seen in the prophetic dream of a child that this emperor had received. Inside, there is a small shrine to the Bodhisattva of Mercy. The current structure is a rebuild, as the French had the first destroyed after their retreat from the country.


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1. Ride motorbike to watch West Lake's sunset
Ride a motorbike ewill help you explore around the biggest lake in Hanoi. It will be a lot of fun to drive around relaxingly, enjoy the fresh air, stop to take some fantastic, unique, special, colorful sunset pictures, and go across the red river through the oldest bridge in Hanoi with French architecture, and visit the oldest pagoda in Hanoi.

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2. Travel around 36 Ancient streets by cyclo
As a matter of fact, almost all cyclo drivers are able to speak English and always helpful as well as friendly towards their customers, especially international visitors. Also, they are the experts in driving you to explore corners and valleys of the Hanoi Old Quarter and also knowledgeable about Vietnamese culture and tradition in general and Hanoi’s customs in particular. You can take advantage of this opportunity to ask them about Vietnamese culture, food and people. Then, for sure, you can gain a lot of things that you do not know before. Spend your day with a cyclo trip, you can have a chance to wander around 36 old streets of Hanoi Old Quarter, enjoy some scrumptious street foods and learn about Vietnamese people’s etiquette.

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3. Drink beer at Ta Hien Beer Street
Ta Hien is a small street lying in famous Old Quarter of Hanoi, near Hoan Kiem Lake. The street just stretch 200 meters, but it is one of the most crowded streets in Old Quarter particularly and in Hanoi generally. Ta Hien has the most specific features of both old Hanoi and modern Hanoi. It is named “international crossroad”, drawing many foreign visitors and also Hanoi people. Summer in Hanoi is quite hot and dam. And that is the reason why people choose cool beer as a preferable drinking. In the afternoon, hundreds foreign travelers and Vietnamese people gather in this small street and enjoy a cup of iced beer after a hard-working day. They just sit on a small-sized plastic chair, hold their beer mug, order some snack foods and chat with their friends. Other foreigners would like to sit in corner of the street and watch the daily life as well as the very charming clutter of Hanoi.


4. Taste Obama Bun Cha
Located on Le Van Huu street, Bun cha Huong Lien, also known as Bun cha Obama, is a popular restaurant for tourists in Hanoi.
The family-run restaurant has been crowded with local and foreign diners after former US President Barack Obama and the late American celebrity chef, Anthony Bourdain, visited it in May 2016. After the visit, the restaurant was called Bun cha Obama. Before being grilled over charcoal, the pork belly is marinated with fish sauce, sugar, onion and pepper for hours. The grilled pork must be neither too raw nor too well-done to ensure the softness and sweetness of the meat. The grilled pork is served with rice noodles and a dipping sweet-sour sauce made from garlic, chili, sugar, vinegar and fish sauce. The dipping sauce is another secret behind the savory taste of bun cha.


5. Take pictures in Long Bien Bridge

Once you visit Hanoi, try once for a walk on Long Bien Bridge. You will sense a peaceful space, a bit old and majestic scenes that are very different from the bustling life that you see in the centre of Hanoi. For more than a century, Long Bien bridge across the Hong River is not only a witness to the great history of Hanoi people, but also a quaint corner that is familiar among the bustling center of Hanoi. So, as a great replacement for the old railway selfie spot, Long Bien has started to welcome more and more visitors both in the country and from foreign countries and become a much more popular destination for youngsters than it used to be.


6. Watch Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre

Hanoi is famous for water puppet shows, and several theaters perform daily. The most famous water puppet theater is Thang Long Theater, next to Hoan Kiem Lake. The Thang Long Theatre hosts five water puppet shows every day, often selling every seat in the theatre. Here, puppets dance and slide on a water-filled stage, operated by a team of professional puppet operators. At the Thang Long Theatre, most of the shows are about the legendary turtles and Hoan Kiem Lake in Vietnam. As mentioned above, the Thang Long Theatre five times a day, seven days a week. Don't miss this slightly quirky entry on the activity list in Hanoi.


7. Ho Chi Minh's Stilt House
During his time as the President of North Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh decided not to settle in the Presidential Palace, but in a modest stilt house behind. The house is called the Ho Chi Minh’s Residence or Ho Chi Minh Stilt House. Ho Chi Minh Stilt House is not just an architecture of unique design but also a historical monument – one that recorded the later life and bore painful witness to the last moment of Ho Chi Minh. This place is a meaningful presence to Vietnamese people, a place where their beloved leader lived and died. Visiting the Stilt House, international tourist can see the respected attitude of domestic visitors – how they paid honor to the man who had lived here.


8. Shopping at the Hanoi night maret
Visit the Hanoi Night Market even if you don’t want to shop. It’s an excellent place to immerse yourself in the lively night-time atmosphere of Hanoi, meet people, snap some pictures and enjoy some delicious street-side snacks. Of course, you might be tempted to buy other things, too.


9. Visit Imperial Citadel of Thang Long
Thang Long Royal Citadel is closely associated with the history of Hanoi. Over a thousand years old, this site is one of the priceless historical and cultural values ​​of Vietnam. On August 1, 2010, the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long-Hanoi was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The site reflects important cultural changes which have shaped the culture of the Red River Delta for over a thousand years.


10. Learn authentic Vietnamese cuisine
Hanoi is renowned for its rich history and centuries-old architecture, attracting thousands of tourists every year. One of the best things to do in Vietnam’s capital city is to participate in a cooking class where you will learn about valuable ingredients and techniques involved in Vietnamese cuisine. There’s no better way to become well-versed with local recipes than to make them yourself.