Top 5 things to do in Hanoi

Top 5 things to do in Hanoi

1. Wander around the Old Quarter

The Old Quarter’s 2,000-year-old streets are a web of shopping opportunities and cheap eateries. There’s a lot of fascinating Old World architecture that highlights the influence the French had on the area (Vietnam was annexed by France and under French control for the better part of a century). You can take a free walking tour, grab a Bia Hoi beer along Ta Hien Street (also known as “Beer Street”), and visit the lively weekend night markets. There are tons of small restaurants here where you can grab a cheap meal too. It’s where most travelers spend the majority of their time in the city.

2. Admire the Temple of Literature

Built in 1070 and originally dedicated to Confucius, the Van Mieu temple is one of the oldest structures in the country. Under French occupation, it was briefly a barracks and shooting range. It was also briefly a quarantine area for people with cholera and was slated to become a hospital until the locals protested. Today, you can wander the five courtyards which feature ponds, statues, and idyllic gardens. Each courtyard has something new to see and there are often cultural events held here that are open to the public. The temple is also featured on the 100,000 VND bill. Admission is 30,000 VND.

3. Shop at Dong Xuan Market

Hanoi’s oldest market is located in the Old Quarter. The market is a bit of a Hanoi institution and probably the best place for low-cost shopping in the city. Clothing, accessories, food, souvenirs — you can find it all here. The market is open from 6am-6pm daily. At night, the streets leading to the market are filled with vendors as well.

4. Explore Ha Long Bay

More than 3,000 islands sit within the emerald green waters of Ha Long Bay, a UNESCO Site and one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations. Cat Ba Island has great for hiking and many tourists find themselves taking one of the cave tours. Tours here usually last 3-5 days and can include sleeping on a boat or staying at some of the islands around the bay, as well as cave tours and kayaking. Cheap tours start around 1,100,000 VND while a mid-range tour costs around 4,600,000 VND. just remember that you get what you pay for and the cheaper boats might be a bit run down.

5. See the Ho Chi Minh Museum & Mausoleum

Born in 1890, Ho Chi Minh (often referred to as Uncle Ho) was the founder of Vietnam’s modern communist state (he led the Viet Minh independence movement from 1941). He became the country’s first president in 1945 and died during the Vietnam War in 1969 from heart failure (over 250,000 people attended his funeral). He lies here in a grey concrete mausoleum not far from the museum dedicated to his life and the house he used to live in. You’re able to walk through and see his embalmed body when it is not being repaired in Moscow. Admission is 10,000 VND.