It’s a city packed with history, culture and a real modern buzz. It’s where we start our Vietnam and Cambodia tour before heading out to Halong Bay. If you arrive a day early, check out our guide on how to spend a day in Hanoi!
Old Quarter for Coffee
History, food, tourism, partying, shopping, and more: Hanoi’s Old Quarter is the city’s beating heart. We spend a good amount of time exploring it on our first tour day. Even if you’re not looking to wander around, it also just makes for a great place to grab breakfast.
Vietnam’s coffee culture is everywhere in the city and sipping a cup of it is the perfect start to the day. There are plenty of cafes to choose from, a couple we’d recommend for breakfast would be City View Café and Hanoi House Café. One more thing – make sure you try some Vietnamese egg coffee!
Hanoi is layered with history, whether that be the recent decades of communist rule, French colonialism, or the emperors of the nation’s past. Vietnam’s religious history can be seen in the (often stunningly beautiful) temples throughout Hanoi.
If you don’t want to stray from the Old Quarter then Bach Ma temple makes for a good choice. Widely considered to be the oldest temple in the city, it has had layers of reconstruction and adjustment over its years of being there. The original statue that defined it – ‘the white horse’ – can still be found there and you can learn about the temple’s past.
If you take a 30 minute walk from the Old Quarter, the Temple of Literature is probably our favourite. Built in 1070 AD, the temple complex honours the Chinese philosopher Confucius. Not only has this been a temple but also home to many scholars and was the site of Vietnam’s first university. Take a stroll around the temple’s courtyards when you visit and learn about its history and evolution in purpose.
Street Food Lunch
From Bánh mì to Pho – it’s likely you’ll have heard of a few of Vietnam’s classic dishes. While stopping in at a restaurant is always nice, getting street food is essential for travelling foodies. You’ll find street food carts all over the city so it’s useful if you’re travelling between places at lunchtime. If you’re looking to find a good spot, we’d recommend heading over to Trung Yen Alley. It’s a hidden gem with some of the best stalls in the city! If you’re not sure about what to eat in Hanoi, check out our guide to Vietnamese food.
Just like temples, Hanoi has plenty of excellent museums. While visiting museums isn’t always what every traveller wants to do, we really must recommend them. The Vietnamese Women’s Museum and the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology are both well worth a visit. If you only want to visit one then we’d say the National Museum of Vietnamese History. The building itself is an impressive piece of colonial architecture dating back to 1925. What you’ll find inside ranges from millennia old relics right up to displays on gaining independence from French colonial rule.
Lotte Observation Deck
If you don’t fancy a museum, or just want to jam-pack your day. Head over to the Lotte Observation Deck. Lying at the top of the city’s Lotte Centre you can get stunning views of the city. If you’re okay with heights, take a walk along its glass floors for the full experience!
Long Bien Bridge
This bridge is both one of impressive architecture and also symbolic significance in Vietnam’s history. It was designed at the turn of the 20th century by architect Gustave Eiffel (most famous for designing the Eiffel Tower!) and was once the longest in Asia. During the war with the USA, the bridge was bombarded with bombs but the people of Hanoi relentlessly continued to repair it. The fact it is still standing there today is seen as a triumph by the Vietnamese people.
Time for dinner
Next to Long Bien bridge you’ll find a great range of places to eat. It’s lying on the edge of the Old Quarter so you’ll find yourself walking past restaurants all the time. For veggies and those with dietary requirements, head a little further back into the Old Quarter to the Hanoi Social Club. It’s got high quality food that’s very affordable, plus you’ll often find live music being played there!
Ready for a night out? As you may have picked up, the Old Quarter is the best place to be and you’ll have no trouble finding bars! However, if you’re a fan of DJs and looking for something a little more hipster then consider getting a 15 minute taxi up to Savage nightclub.