Located in the northern part of Vietnam, Hanoi is a city that seamlessly blends the old with the new. From the narrow alleys of the Old Quarter to the modern skyscrapers that dot the city skyline, Hanoi is a city of contrasts that has something for everyone. It's a city that's steeped in history, yet still manages to be at the forefront of modernity. It's a city that's both chaotic and serene, with bustling markets and tranquil lakes that provide a peaceful respite from the noise.
Whether you're a history buff, a foodie, or just looking for a unique travel experience, Hanoi has something to offer. From the ancient temples and pagodas that dot the city to the delicious street food that's available on every corner, Hanoi is a city that's sure to leave a lasting impression. So, pack your bags and get ready to explore all that this fascinating city has to offer.
Is Hanoi, Vietnam Safe To Visit?
Hanoi is generally considered a safe city to visit, even for solo travelers. Violent crime is rare, and most of the safety concerns revolve around petty crimes, such as pickpocketing and scams targeting tourists. During my visit, I had a man grab my sandal off my foot to “fix it” and then wouldn’t return it until I paid him, even though I hadn’t asked for it to be fixed. As with any city, being cautious and aware of your surroundings is important, especially in crowded areas such as markets and public transport.
Solo travelers should also exercise caution when walking alone at night and avoid carrying large amounts of cash or valuable items with them. Download the app Grab to make finding transport in the city quick and easy. Overall though, by taking basic safety precautions and being aware of your surroundings, solo travelers can have a safe and enjoyable experience in Hanoi.
When Is The Best Time To Visit Hanoi?
The rainy season in Hanoi typically runs from May to September, with July and August being the wettest months. While the rain can be heavy and persistent, it doesn't usually last all day, and there are still plenty of activities and attractions to enjoy during this time. The rain can also bring relief from the heat and humidity, making it a good time to visit for those who prefer milder temperatures. Some of the best months to visit Hanoi is from September to November when the weather is mild and pleasant with little rainfall. Another great time to visit is during the spring months of March to April when the city is in full bloom with cherry blossoms and other flowers.
What Are The Best Things To Do In Hanoi, Vietnam?
From the ancient temples and markets of the Old Quarter to the modern attractions of the city center, there's something for everyone in Hanoi. Let’s dive into the exciting and unique experiences that this city has to offer.
Drink Egg Coffee
Egg coffee is a unique and delicious drink that originated in Hanoi in the 1940s. It's made by whisking egg yolks with sweetened condensed milk, sugar, and coffee, creating a rich, frothy, and sweet mixture that's topped with a layer of coffee foam. The drink has a creamy texture and a unique flavor that's both sweet and slightly bitter. Two of the best places to try egg coffee in Hanoi are Giang Cafe and Cafe Dinh, both of which have been serving the drink for decades and have perfected their own versions of the recipe.
Wander Down The Train Street
Hanoi's train street is a narrow alleyway in the heart of the city where visitors can witness the thrill of trains passing through just inches away from buildings and people. To visit Hanoi's train street, visitors can take a taxi or motorbike to the intersection of Le Duan and Kham Tien streets, then walk down the narrow alley to the viewing spots. It's recommended to arrive at least 10-15 minutes before the scheduled train times (which can be found online) to secure a good spot. However, be careful when walking along the tracks. The train will not stop for you to get out of the way.
Relax At Hoan Kiem Lake
Hoan Kiem Lake, located in the heart of Hanoi, is a must-visit destination for tourists. Surrounded by scenic walking paths, historical monuments, and charming cafes, the lake offers a peaceful respite from the bustling city. Visitors can also catch a glimpse of the elusive giant turtles that call the lake home, adding an extra element of excitement to their visit.
Stop By Ngoc Son Temple
While at Hoan Kiem Lake, tourists should also visit the Ngoc Son Temple, a beautiful and historic temple located on a small island in the lake. Visitors can explore the temple's intricate architecture, ornate decorations, and learn about its fascinating history as a site of cultural and religious significance in Hanoi.
Skip Town And Visit Ha Long Bay
Embarking on a trip to Ha Long Bay from Hanoi is an epic adventure for the intrepid traveler. Go kayaking through hidden lagoons, hike to secluded viewpoints, and explore local floating villages. Ha Long Bay is a natural wonder, with towering limestone cliffs, hidden caves, and crystal clear waters, providing an awe-inspiring backdrop for your adventure. Be prepared for an unforgettable experience, filled with exploration, stunning vistas, and moments of pure serenity amidst the rugged wilderness of Vietnam.
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See The Body Of Ho Chi Minh In The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
Ho Chi Minh is an important figure in Vietnamese history, having played a crucial role in the country's independence from French colonial rule and the establishment of the Communist government. Visit his preserved body in the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum to learn more about his legacy. The mausoleum is located in a beautiful park-like setting and visiting it is a solemn and memorable experience that's not to be missed while in Hanoi.
Go Shopping In Dong Xuan Market
Dong Xuan Market is a large and historic indoor market in the Old Quarter of Hanoi, offering a diverse range of goods including clothing, accessories, souvenirs, electronics, and street food, making it a must-visit destination for visitors.
Feed Your Inner Foodie At A Night Market
Hanoi is famous for its night markets, which offer a unique and exciting shopping experience after dark. Among the many night markets in the city, the best one is arguably the Hanoi Weekend Night Market in the Old Quarter, which stretches over several streets and offers a wide range of goods at affordable prices.
While there, try Bun Cha, a grilled pork noodle dish that's a favorite among locals. It consists of marinated pork that's grilled over charcoal, served with vermicelli rice noodles, fresh herbs, and a dipping sauce made from fish sauce, vinegar, sugar, and chili. The combination of smoky and savory flavors with the freshness of the herbs and the tangy sweetness of the dipping sauce creates a unique and mouthwatering taste experience.
See A Water Puppet Show
A water puppet show is a unique and traditional form of Vietnamese entertainment that involves puppets performing on water. The puppets are controlled by puppeteers who stand behind a screen and manipulate them using long bamboo poles.
One of the best places to see a water puppet show in Hanoi is at the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre, which has been showcasing the art form since 1969 and is located in the heart of the city's Old Quarter. The theatre offers multiple shows each day, featuring a variety of performances that showcase Vietnam's cultural heritage.
Tour The Hoa Lo Prison Museum
The Hoa Lo Prison Museum is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in Vietnam's history and the Vietnam War. The prison, which was built by the French in the late 19th century, was used to house political prisoners of war, including American servicemen like John McCain during the war.
✈️ Pro Tip: Vietnam, like these 10 Most Affordable Places To Travel, is a perfect spot to explore for the budget backpacker.
Explore The Hanoi Opera House
The Hanoi Opera House is a stunning example of French colonial architecture in the heart of Hanoi. Built in 1911, the building has served as a cultural hub for the city for over a century, hosting opera, ballet, classical music, and other performances. A visit to the Hanoi Opera House offers a unique opportunity to admire the building's beauty and experience the city's rich cultural heritage through its performing arts.
Learn More About Vietnam At The National Museum Of Vietnamese History
A visit to The National Museum Of Vietnamese History is a fascinating journey through Vietnam's past, showcasing the country's cultural and historical evolution through the centuries. The museum's exhibits range from ancient archaeological artifacts to colonial-era objects and modern historical events, offering a comprehensive look at Vietnam's rich heritage.
Hanoi is a city of contrasts, where ancient traditions blend seamlessly with modern innovation. From exploring ancient temples and museums to sampling delicious street food and enjoying water puppet shows, there is no shortage of things to do and see in this vibrant and dynamic city. A trip to Hanoi is an opportunity to experience Vietnam's rich history and culture, and create unforgettable memories that will last a lifetime. Bon voyage!