- The capital city of Vietnam
- Became the capital in 1010 (in the Ly Dynasty)
- Located in the northern region of Vietnam
- Size: 3359 km²
Q&A About Hanoi
When is the best time to visit Hanoi?
The most ideal time to visit the capital is the months between November to February. This is due to the weather which is dry, cool and pleasant. Thus it is nice for long walks around Hoan Kiem Lake and the narrow alleyways of Old Town Quarter.
If you’d rather enjoy some warmer days, March, April, and October are good options as well. You’ll get plenty of sunshine, the temperature is around 25 degrees Celcius, with a bearable level of humidity. Yet, you may see prices go up a bit compared to the months of Novem – February, since these are popular months to visit Hanoi.
The city experiences heavy downpours from around June until the end of August, so it’s good if you can avoid travelling to Hanoi during this season. We are certain you prefer exploring more of the city without being caught in the rain.
How many days should I spend in Hanoi?
The advisable time is at least 4-5 days. As soon as you touch the ground in Hanoi, you’ll see that anything less than 4 days will not be enough to discover the ‘soul’ of Vietnam’s capital. There are so many things to see, to visit and to learn in this city that you don’t have to worry about being bored.
Many travellers spend more than a week in Hanoi, and that is not even their first time visiting the city. They find the city and its life, its culture fascinating and some agree that it is the most interesting destination in Vietnam.
Is it easy to get around the city?
The answer is yes, you will not have any problem getting around places. You can reach your destination by different means of transport – on foot, bicycle, cyclo, scooter, taxi or bus.
If you wish to discover the old corners of the city, it’s best to walk around and see where it’s leading you too. The real soul of Hanoi lies in the small and old streets and lanes, it’s in the old food stalls, shops, and busy markets and in the way people go on about their life. Talk to some locals and you’ll find that the Hanoians are some of the most welcoming people in the country.
Try touring around on a cyclo is also a memorable experience. Cyclo was a popular way to travel in the city back in the day, asides from walking and riding on a bike. Today, you tend to find cyclos near Hoan Kiem Lake.
You can also travel by scooter. It’s actually the most local way to see the capital. It is easy to rent a scooter here, but you should only do so when you’re familiar with the traffic in Southeast Asian cities. It can be chaotic, yet in a very organized way. Make sure to always watch out for before crossing the road or turning onto another street if driving on your own!
For taxis, check beforehand and deal with the driver to get the right price. This is not common but a few of them may try to take advantage of tourists. Another way is to book a car using Grab, Bee or Gojek, these are common apps for the locals.
Buses are a very cheap way to travel around, with the ticket price starts from 5000 – 7,000 VND for one trip. Yet the buses in Hanoi and Vietnam, in general, may not be as comfortable as the buses in your home country. Be aware of this before you decide to hop on a bus.
How is the nightlife in Hanoi?
Hanoi’s nightlife scene offers a multitude of interesting things to see and places to go well after sunset. You should first try ‘bia hoi’ (Vietnamese draft beer), complete the experience by enjoying your drink while sitting on a plastic stool. Head to Ta Hien street, it is among the best places to enjoy bia hoi. Then stroll around the area and treat yourself some tasty street food. Many shops open late and the dishes are mouthwatering!
Otherwise, there are plenty of lively bars and nightclubs set around Hoan Kiem Lake. Come inside and you will find great tunes and all sorts of booze and mingle with fun-loving locals.
What are the must-try dishes in Hanoi?
Hanoi’s Old Quarter is an awesome place. Not only you get the chance to see bustling streets, but this is where you will be able to have the tastiest food in the city.
Here are some of the must-try dishes for you:
– Bun Cha (noodles with roasted pork)
– Cha Ca (Turmeric Fish with Dill)
– Bun Thang (Rice Vermicelli with chicken, egg, pork)
– Nem; Goi Cuon (spring rolls)
– Banh Cuon (rolled cake stuffed with ground meat)
– Banh Goi (fried dumplings)
But of course, this is only a shortened list of the most well-known food in the city. We recommend to go with your guts and you may find something from the local food that will become your favourite. However, take extra care of the food hygiene if you head to an unfamiliar food stall for the first time.
What are the best places to see near Hanoi?
Travellers usually spend more than a week in Hanoi to combine visiting the capital and exploring its nearby destinations.
From Hanoi, look for day-trips to Ninh Binh, Duong Lam ancient village, or Bat Trang Pottery Village.
For longer trips, there are Halong Bay, Sapa, Ha Giang, Mai Chau, and Cao Bang. These destinations are all loved for their unrivaled scenery and you will surely have a great time exploring the landscape of the northern region. They are also home to the ethnic tribal groups, whose culture and traditions will certainly amaze you.
* Ha Giang and Cao Bang are on the lesser-known path, in case you prefer less of the crowds and more of nature, don’t miss out on these two spots!
What are the best places to visit to learn about Hanoi’s history?
Embracing the history of more than 1000 years, Hanoi is a wonderful place to learn about the most important eras of Vietnam.
– The first place you must see is the Imperial Citadel Thang Long. It was the centre of ancient Hanoi and served as the political centre for eight centuries.
– Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum – this is where the country’s greatest leader Ho Chi Minh was laid to rest. For the locals, this is a sacred place and a part of the living history.
– Hoan Kiem Lake – It is one of the most iconic places in Hanoi. Hoan Kiem Lake has a legendary tale. Around the lake, you will also find Ngoc Son Temple and The Huc Bridge.
– Temple of Literature – The temple was originally built to be a centre of learning dedicated to the Chinese sage and scholar Confucius, and it’s also known as the first university of Vietnam.
– Hoa Lo Prison – Once called the ‘Hell on Earth’, a visit to this site will let you understand what wars caused the country in the past, and the strong will of the Vietnamese to gain back their freedom from the colonizers.
– Hanoi’s Old Quarter – You will see endless packs of scooters, motorbikes, bicycles and cars weave around traders selling fruit and souvenirs and narrow shop houses sell delicious Vietnamese food. This is the real soul of Hanoi!
– Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre – This place is known as the original and the best theatre in town to enjoy a performance of this ancient art form.
How should I pack for my stay in Hanoi?
Make sure you have all your passport and important travel documents with you, cash, light clothes (for summer), hats, sunglasses, sun protection, camera and necessary medicines.
In case your holiday is in winter, pack some more warm clothes and a winter coat with you.
Where should I go for shopping?
Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are the top cities for shopping in Vietnam. The malls and markets in the city have everything you need and look for.
Head to Lotte Center Hanoi, Trang Tien Plaza and Vincom Mega Mall Royal City for international-renowned brands as well as a good mix of dining outlets, entertainment centres, and beauty services.
On the other hand, wandering into the local markets with hundreds of stalls is something you must try out! They have almost everything here, from fresh produce, quality textiles, to household supplies. Learn and practice your haggling skills in Dong Xuan Market, Hanoi Weekend Night Market, or Cho Hom Market. Don’t be shy and think of this as a fun and memorable experience from your time in Vietnam!
Is Hanoi safe for female and solo travellers?
Generally speaking, you should have no problem travelling on your own in the city. Ask if you are lost, the people are friendly and ready to help. It is unlikely that you will have issues while wandering the street in the evening. But like when you are in any other city in the world, don’t stay out too late if you are alone! It’s best to take extra care for your safety.
Bucket List For Hanoi
Visit Hanoi’s famous attractions
There is an abundance of places that any tourists simply can’t miss in Hanoi. The city has long been Vietnam’s capital, and its stories are always so intriguing even with locals. Visiting the ancient and famous landmarks of Hanoi is the best way to start exploring this wonderful city, and you will soon fall in love with it.
Don’t miss the Thang Long Imperial Citadel, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Hoan Kiem Lake, Hoa Lo Prison, the Old Quarter, Hanoi’s museums and other interesting places.
Discover the Old Quarter of Hanoi
This is considered the most authentic and interesting area of Hanoi. Everything about the city is presented here!
You will see people go on about their life, busy local markets, crowded streets and lanes, hundreds of scooters, … It may seem chaotic at first, but you will gradually feel the vibrance of life in these small things, and that is what makes people attracted to this city.
Eat Pho/Banh Mi, local dishes and drink egg coffee
Hanoi is the food hub of Vietnam, that is undeniable! The dishes here are the real deal, and no Vietnamese food you’ve had back home can compare to the food made by local hawkers here. You can find Pho and Banh Mi on almost any streets in Hanoi, as well as other delicious dishes. And of course, Hanoi specialty, the renowned Egg Coffee! The sweet and creamy meringue-like egg foam adds a unique flavour to the rich coffee taste.
Watch a show at Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre
Water puppet originates from northern Vietnam, dates back as far as the 11th century. And Thang Long Theatre is the best place to enjoy a performance of this unique art form. The puppets are controlled by puppeteers hiding behind a bamboo screen. Most of these acts recount Vietnamese folk tales with topics including the celebration of the rice harvest depicted in a humorous fashion.
Have a sip of Vietnamese bia hoi on the street
Want to get to know the locals? Then here’s the quickest way. Grab a plastic stool and order a glass of bia hoi (Vietnamese draft beer). Come to Ta Hien Street, which is just a short distance from Hoan Kiem Lake, it is otherwise known as the Beer Street of Hanoi. People come here in the evening for some good chat time with friends, and with a glass of fresh beer on the side. A glass sets you back for only 5,000-7,000 VND (~0.3 $USD), making it the world’s cheapest beer. So make sure you don’t miss out on this fun experience.
Fun Facts About Hanoi
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