Hanoi, Vietnam is where the East meets the West, and the old meets the new. There is an intriguing character about this city that invites exploration. If you have this city on your destination list for 2022, here are the top things to do in Hanoi that you won't want to skip out on!
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Whether it's your first time in Hanoi or you're going back to discover hidden gems, this is THE guide on the best things to do during your next stop in Vietnam!
Hanoi, Vietnam's capital city, offers so much variety that you could spend three days or three weeks exploring. You will never run out of activities to do or attractions to see in Hanoi.
Are you ready to discover the best of this ancient city? It doesn't matter if you're planning a backpacking trip through Southeast Asia or a vacation in Vietnam, I made this list so you don't have to worry about figuring out what to do in Hanoi. By the time you finish this blog, you'll be itching to finish planning your trip!
Top 10 Things to Do in Hanoi, Vietnam
In this easy-to-navigate guide, you'll learn about ancient ruins and historical places that will make you feel like you've traveled back in time. You'll also find exciting activities that will let you immerse yourself in the local culture, while meeting lots of new friends. This list has a little bit of everything, so you're sure to find activities and destinations for your unique Hanoi itinerary.
10. Admire the view from the Lotte Tower Observation Deck
If you’re someone who likes to take in the city views, the Lotte Tower Observation Deck is the best place to go in Hanoi. Sightseeing from the observation deck is one of the most awe-inspiring things to do in Hanoi, especially if you want a glimpse of modern Vietnam from a single place.
The observation deck takes you 55 floors up, where you can get a 360-degree view of the city. The Skywalk is a must-try if you’re not scared of heights. This tourist attraction lets you walk over a glass floor, which feels as though you are suspended 55 floors up in the air.
The Lotte Tower Observation Deck also houses an interactive museum and a light festival. Although this is a very tourist-centric experience, it still feels very unique and is worth trying while you're staying in Hanoi.
9. Learn about Vietnamese history at Hoa Lo Prison
The Hoa Lo Prison is one of the most popular Hanoi tourist attractions. A visit to this prison facility can be unsettling for some. However, it is one of the best things to do in Hanoi if you’re into history.
This facility housed U.S. prisoners of war during the Vietnam War. During your visit, you’ll get to explore a gallery of the prison’s history until the 1950s. You’ll also hear gruesome details about what went on in the prison and see some grisly items on display.
The Hoa Lo Prison is the place to go if you want to learn about the Vietnamese struggle for independence!
8. Watch the water puppet show at Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre
A visit to Hanoi wouldn't be complete without seeing a water puppet show. Grab your tickets to watch a show at the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre, as it's the best place to go for this unique experience.
The water puppet show tells the story of a local legend. By coming to see this show, you also get to help in the preservation of an old art form. It is one of the most entertaining and special things to do in Hanoi.
7. Visit a rooftop bar for great drinks!
One of the best things to do in Hanoi at night is to visit one of the city's many rooftop bars. If you find the city chaotic by day, it becomes even more vibrant at night. Sitting on a rooftop bar while enjoying local beer is the best way to take it all in.
The rush of traffic in Hanoi can be overwhelming for many backpackers and foreigners. However, there is also a romantic vibe to it because this mesmerizing cityscape is what gives character to the city of Hanoi.
Aside from enjoying a local beer with Vietnamese food, you can enjoy live music in the background. It’s an experience to be had while in Hanoi!
6. Try out street food in Hanoi
It’s impossible to walk one block without seeing a street food stall in Hanoi. Delicious food is something that most tourists can’t resist. Don't resist the temptation to sample all the street food you can find—after all, they’re very affordable!
When going on a food tour of Hanoi’s street food, don’t just settle for traditional options like banh mi or fresh spring rolls. Let your senses guide you as you treat your palate to savory, sweet, and spicy flavors. If you see something that you haven’t tried before, go ahead and try it!
5. Enroll in a Vietnamese cooking class
Vietnam is best known for its cheap and delicious street food. While indulging in a food tour is one of the top things to do in Hanoi, you can take it to another level by taking a cooking class.
There are several cooking classes available for you to learn how to prepare authentic Vietnamese dishes. These classes will teach you about choosing the best ingredients to capture the essence of Vietnamese cooking. Now, you can impress your friends and family back home with delicious Vietnamese food that is reminiscent of this trip!
The best part of diving into Vietnamese cuisine is that it is affordable. Whether you decide on a food tour or a cooking class, you'll feel like it's money well spent and the memories will last for a lifetime.
4. Wander the 36 Streets of Hanoi
One of the best free things to do in Hanoi is to explore the 36 Old Streets. This part of the Vietnamese capital belongs to the Old Quarter. The 36 Streets are named after the specialized businesses that once dominated specific parts of the city.
Among the streets that you can explore in this part of Hanoi are Silk Street, Dried Fish Street, Blacksmith Street, and Herbal Medicine Street. Based on the names, you will have an idea of what types of trade the people engaged in during the ancient history of the city.
Did you know that many of these streets have been around for 1,000 years? Talk about an experience!
These streets have kept their original layout and you can find many of the workshops still intact. Exploring these streets feels like going back in time.
3. Tour the Imperial Citadel
As you have learned, there is no shortage of historic attractions in Hanoi and the Imperial Citadel of Thăng Long is one of the most prominent of these landmarks.
The Thăng Long Imperial Citadel, now an official UNESCO World Heritage Site, was the seat of military power during the Vietnam War. The building complex preserves over 1,000 years of history within its walls.
The Imperial Citadel is notable not only for its historical value but also for the archaeological treasures that were unearthed on its grounds. There were bunkers and ancient palaces that were discovered here. You can also find other artifacts such as military maps and ancient weaponry at the site.
You can visit this historic site solo, or join an inclusive tour that will stop by a number of the most famous landmarks!
2. Shop till you drop at Dong Xuan Market
If you’re always on the hunt for a bargain, Dong Xuan Market is the place to go in Hanoi. Shopping is one of the most underrated things to do in Hanoi, and this place is a goldmine of affordable items.
The Dong Xuan Market is the largest indoor market in the Old Quarter of Hanoi. You can find everything you can imagine here—from fresh produce to local crafts and laptops!
When you’re done filling up your shopping bag with bargain finds, head up to the second floor. The second floor has many food stalls that are sure to fill up your tummy after an exhausting day of haggling and shopping!
1. Explore Hanoi Ceramic Mosaic Mural
Did you know that the world’s largest ceramic mosaic wall is located in Hanoi? The mosaic wall was built from ceramic tesserae during Hanoi’s 1,000th anniversary.
The idea for the mosaic wall was inspired by local journalist Nguyen Thu Thuy, who wanted to transform the boring wall into a vibrant mosaic. Her work with the mosaic wall earned her the Hanoi Architecture Contest award.
The mosaic depicted the rich folk art and history of the city. Artists from all over the world contributed to the wall, which they started in 2007. The mosaic wall spans four kilometers in length and is a visual representation of Vietnam’s history.
Plan Your Hanoi Adventure with Pilot!
Curious about Hanoi yet? Once you’ve made up your mind about visiting Vietnam, you might want to learn more about Bali and Bangkok as well. Be sure to check out our other destination guides in Asia to help you plan the perfect adventure in 2022.
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