What to see in Hanoi, Vietnam
In Hanoi, wake up to the zoom of motorbikes and a quaint urban city, bustling with rich local life. Hanoi, Vietnam is located near the South China Sea, and not far from Laos; it is an easy trip to travel from Singapore, too.
Here’s a list of the top attractions of Hanoi:
The Best Sights of Hanoi
An important attraction in Hanoi is One Pillar Pagoda, a historic Buddhist temple built in 1042, as well as the Temple of Literature that was built in 1070. For sure, Hanoi could be called “The land of Pagodas” because it is home to over 600 constructions of this type.
The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum located in the Da Dinh Square is the largest memorial in Vietnam. Visitors of Vietnam should be sure to visit and reflect at this place where many Vietnamese pay homage.
In 1945 President Ho declared independence here. When he passed, his body was brought to this place, and the mausoleum became a memorial of him. To this day, two guards stand in reverence at the doors of the Mausoleum, which you may visit during your stay.
Many do not know it, but there have been massive archealogical findings in Hanoi built by ancient dynasties. One of particular aura is the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, an archeological wonder from 1010, making it one of the oldest still-standing palaces. You may visit and see ancient artifacts, tools, tiles, and beautiful artwork and carvings. If you enjoy ancient attractions, this is a sight you must indulge in on your trip!
The Tran Quoc Pagoda is the oldest pagoda still standing in Hanoi. Completed in year 541, this amazing landmark, still serving as a Buddhist temple, is another one of Hanoi’s must-see attractions.
Another great attraction in Hanoi is the National Museum of Vietnamese History. This museum in Hanoi houses many ancient artifacts and Buddhist statuary, in a building that was formerly a French Consulate.
One specific dragon head from the 13th and 14th century on display is large and captivating, carved in wood like many other large carved artwork exhibits on display. It is one of the most unique attractions in Hanoi.
Another wonderful attraction to visit is the Temple of Literature, which is close to the Hanoi Citadel (UNESCO World Heritage acknowledged), the Military Museum, and the Hanoi Hilton. The Temple of Literature is renowned as a temple of Confucius, and is dedicated to sages and scholars. In its doors you can see many altars, as well as amazingly beautiful gardens and courtyards.
If you don’t mind driving outside the city, Halong Bay is a must-see attraction; enjoy a boat tour, or even for the more adventurous traveler-kayaking! Halong Bay is an amazingly beautiful rock formation jutting out from the sea, with the backdrop beautiful sprawling Vietnamese crops and landscaping.
Read our in depth review of Halong Bay here: Vietnam’s Majestic Halong Bay!
Photos of Hanoi
Where to stay
The most popular is the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi in the Hoan Kiem District. It has a very elegant look, with dark oak floors and well decorated parlor-feel. It has many rooms yet retains a cozy appeal. Also, several dining rooms-for any occasion. It seems to be the clear choice for many travelers.
However for those travelers shy of the high price, there are many other suitable, inexpensive accommodations. Such as: the Quoc Hoa Hotel, also in the Hoan Kiem District. For an awesomely affordable $52, you may stay in this quaint Bourbon-street reminiscent hotel (be sure to ask for a balcony room!) It doesn’t have a restaurant, but a small marble bar. Grab a drink and walk down the street for dinner!
Worthy Mention: Golden Land Hotel; it has also been recognized for being affordable and friendly.
Places to Eat
One of the most popular places to dine when visiting Hanoi is Quan An Ngon, “It’s Where the Locals Go.” A great place for a real taste of Vietnamese food; their Vietnamese cuisine is authentic, and quick, while beer is only 22,000 VND (approximately $1).
For a more upscale version of Vietnamese cuisine, make a reservation at Club de L’Oriental. In the Hoan Kiem District, this elegant restaurant sets prices at $8.25-$15 for Main courses; set menu $29 for lunch, from $35 for dinner.
Unlike most Vietnamese eateries that have been known to provide poor service, L’Oriental provides attention and clarity. For an eclectic and special evening, reserve a table in the wine cellar.
Interestingly enough, Indian food has become a star of the neighborhood cuisine because of the eatery, Namaste Hanoi.
- Hanoi is inexpensive, much like the rest of Vietnam, and you can barter for everything!
- Hanoi’s locals bring charm and authenticity to the city.
- It has the best of both worlds—new and old: temples, memorials, museums, and a bustling urban life.
- The language barrier can be very frustrating at times, while service may be poor and locals are not willing to translate.
- Vietnam has garnered the nickname “Wild West” of the tourism industry, with notoriety for bad deals. Therefore it is important to heed and seek advice, and also when booking tours or reservations with agencies make sure they have good reviews and a reputation.
- The tap water is bad; Do not drink the Water!