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Top Activities in Hanoi

See all 4894 things to do in Hanoi

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What to Do in Hanoi: Must See Attractions

Hanoi Attractions

Nestled into Vietnam's northern corner, Hanoi is a jumping off point for many backpackers and holiday-seekers looking to explore the stunning bays and cliffs of Ha Long Bay and the terraced and misty mountains of Sapa to the west. But this capital city isn't just a hub for adventures elsewhere, it's a destination all its own. From historic landmarks that offer looks at the effects of French colonization and the Vietnam War to cultural sites that hint at the area's deep-rooted traditions that pull back centuries of old dynasties, there's plenty to check out inside the city limits. Whether you want to discover ancient architecture and heritage in the Old Quarter, indulge in a day of shopping at Vincom Times City Megamall or the silk street of Hang Gai Street, or simply stroll around the lakes and rivers that divide up the city's ever-growing grid of streets, there's no end to the things to do in Hanoi.

Areas & Neighborhoods in Hanoi

Hanoi's many districts are peppered with cultural landmarks and historic monuments. Take the time to seek them out between the skyscrapers, bustling markets, and green spaces that make up the modern city.

Old Quarter - Hanoi's Old Quarter is characterized by its original French colonial architecture and the nearby Hoan Kiem Lake. On weekends, the area comes alive with the intoxicating smell of street vendors serving up everything from barbecue to bowls of steaming noodles at Dong Xuan Market. Historic landmarks in the Old Quarter include the Confucian Temple of Literature and the One Pillar Pagoda, both built during the Ly Dynasty.

Tay Ho - The urban district of Tay Ho is a mix of modern and ancient Hanoi. Wrapped around the large West Lake, or Ho Tay, the district is dotted with cultural sites like the 6th-century Tran Quoc Pagoda and Quan Thanh Temple, one of Vietnam's Four Sacred Temples. Tay Ho is also a retreat from the rest of the city, with scenic botanical gardens and a paved path that winds around the lake.

Imperial Citadel of Thang Long - A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long was the former residence of Vietnamese royalty. The complex dates back to the Ly Dynasty and served as the political center of the country through the Nguyen Dynasty, the last ruling family of Vietnam. See the formidable Hanoi Flag Tower and artifacts dating from the 6th to the 20th centuries.

What to See in Hanoi

French colonial architecture dominates much of Hanoi, with wide, tree-lined boulevards like Phan Dinh Phung street flanked by mansions and villas. See elegant examples of the architectural style at the Hanoi Opera House, Presidential Palace, or beautiful Saint Joseph's Cathedral. Hanoi is also home to a number of museums, including the National Museum of Vietnamese History and Vietnam Military History Museum. And, don't forget to take in a water puppet show, where skilled artists present traditional Vietnamese folk stories using water puppetry, found at the aptly named Thang Long Water Puppet Theater.

Sightseeing in Hanoi

The list of places to explore and activities to try in Hanoi is endless, with the city offering both modern and historic experiences. Hanoi food is a must-do during your stay, with the city offering rare cuisine like snake dishes, insect-inspired menus, and local bia hoi (fresh beer), along with the city's signature dish, bun cha (vermicelli noodles with barbecue pork and fresh herbs). Night owls can check out the scene at Bia Hoi Junction, where locals gather to drink the Vietnamese beer at cozy bars that spill out onto the street, and shopaholics can browse the name brands at Dong Xuan Market, the largest indoor market in the city where you can find everything from produce to electronics and handcrafted goods. Get some exercise in with a stroll around Hoan Kiem Lake, where you can soak in local culture and discover a piece of history at the 18th-century Ngoc Son Temple, or consider getting out of the city for a day. Plenty of operators offer service to reach Halong Bay and its incredible collection of picture-perfect beaches surrounded by soaring limestone karsts. Need to cool down? A trip to mountain-toppin Sapa is an ideal place to beat the heat while exploring remote villages on stunning trekking trips.

Free Things to Do in Hanoi

A break in Hanoi doesn't have to cost a lot. You won't even need your wallet if you check out:

Historical Military Museum - No matter your age, this place will inspire your imagination and capture your attention.

Nhat Tan Bridge - If you like modern-style design and architecture, add this attraction to your schedule.

Hang Dau Water Tower - If you're thinking of exploring the region's history through its landmarks, jot this one down on your travel schedule.

Ba Dinh Square - This is a thriving place where you can soak up the vibe and feel the rhythm of the local way of life.

Huu Tiep Lake and the Downed B-52 - Find a spot to sit and enjoy the tranquility that goes hand in hand with being near the water.

Embassy of China - Plan a visit and learn about the significance of this place to the community.

One Pillar Pagoda - Toss a bit of spirituality into your escape by stopping by this sacred place.

Lenin Park - Revitalize your body, mind and soul by spending time with Mother Nature.

Explore The Neighborhoods of Hanoi

Hoan Kiem

The historic center of Hanoi, this maze of streets offers the city’s most traditional food, best souvenir shopping and lively nighttime entertainment.

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Old Quarter

A noteworthy feature of Old Quarter is its panoramic lake views. While you're in town, be sure to stop and check out Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre and Hoan Kiem Lake.

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Ba Dinh

The ample dining options and fantastic lake views are top of the list for many visitors to Ba Dinh. A stop by Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum or Ho Chi Minh Museum might round out your trip.

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Hai Ba Trung

Hai Ba Trung is noteworthy for its restaurants, and you can make a stop at top attractions like Vincom Center and Van Ho Exhibition Center.

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Dong Da

You'll enjoy the bars and lake views in Dong Da. You might want to make time for a stop at Temple of Literature or Hanoi CIty Social Insurance Dong Da District.

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Thanh Xuan

You'll enjoy the museums and shopping in Thanh Xuan. You might want to make time for a stop at Vincom Mega Mall Royal City or Vietnam People's Air Force Museum.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What to do in Hanoi on a sunny day?

What to do in Hanoi on a rainy day?

What should I not miss in Hanoi?

If you want to see the best of this destination, add these attractions to your itinerary:

  • Hoan Kiem Lake
  • Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre
  • Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
  • Temple of Literature

Are there cheap things to do in Hanoi?

What can you do in Hanoi for free?

You could store your money in the hotel safe for the day, because these top attractions won't cost you a penny:

  • Hoan Kiem Lake
  • Dong Xuan Market
  • St. Joseph's Cathedral
  • Lotte Center Hanoi