Going to Hanoi, Vietnam? In this installment of our Vietnam Travel Guide Series, we bring you the top 10 things to do in Hanoi.

Things to do in Hanoi

Hanoi, a city over 1000 years old is known for Halong Bay, its chaotic old quarters, traditional Vietnamese cuisines and its temples.

Check out our top 10 must do activities in Hanoi below.

1.    Take a relaxing cruise at Halong Bay

Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, Halong Bay should be at the top of your itinerary.  If you are hard-pressed for time, take a day trip to Halong Bay.  We will, however, recommend that you spend at least a night on a junk ship cruising around the bay, as the drive from Hanoi to Halong Bay will already take 3-4 hours one way.

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Those with more time to spare can consider a 2 night cruise which brings you further to Lan Ha Bay and Cat Ba Island where there are clearer waters and less ships cruising around.

3 Day 2 Night Cruise at Halong Bay with V’Spirit Cruises Review



2.    Enjoy a Relaxing Spa

The Spas in Hanoi, Vietnam are actually very good value for money. Cheaper than those in Thailand, Vietnamese spas offer a professional experience at an affordable price. Choose from a variety of Indian, Thai or Vietnamese body message, or have a foot message.  They are guaranteed to loosen those tight muscles and gear you for more intensive walking around Hanoi.


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For the best spa experience, head to SF Spa located at 30 Cửa Đông.

3.    Try Vietnamese Cuisine

Vietnamese cuisine have a life and spirit of their own.  Although Vietnamese fare is widely available in other countries, it is always best to check out the original version in its country of origin. Read up on our recommendations for the top cuisines to try in Hanoi and visit the Gourmet Corner Restaurant for a wonderful dining experience.


Read more:

Goumet Corner Restaurant Hanoi Review

4.    Watch a Water Puppet Show

If you have an hour to spare and would like to have a brief reprieve from the hot Hanoi summer, head to the Tranglong Water Puppet Theatre. Traditional puppet theatre uses a water stage for their puppets which glides on the water, while actors control the puppets discreetly behind a screen.

Read more:

Water Puppet Show at Thanglong Water Puppet Theatre

5.    Enjoy a Cyclo Ride through Hanoi

Cyclos are an interesting way to take in the city.   They may be a lot slower than the taxis and motorcycles whizzing around the city, but is an excellent way to explore and observe the city sights at a leisurely pace. Negotiate a price of about 100,000 VND per hour and have the exact change on hand.  Note that each cyclo can sit 2 passengers (as long as you fit into the seat), but do tip the driver afterwards for their extra effort in peddling an extra weight around.

Read more:

Hanoi 7 Days 6 Nights Trip Itinerary

6.    Stroll through the Old Quarters and Night Markets

What better way to while away the afternoon and evenings than browsing through the endless streets of the Old Quarters.  Watch the chaotic traffic at the veranda of the City View Café or test your haggling skills at the night markets of Hanoi.

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Test your haggling skills with our Tips for shopping in Old Quarters of Hanoi.

7.    Visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

Join the queue and file by the embalmed body of Vietnam’s revered leader Ho Chi Minh also fondly known as Uncle Ho in Vietnam.  Although the embalming was against the late leader’s wishes, large numbers of domestic and international tourists are attracted to pay their respects to him.  Expect long queues especially on weekends.

Note: Photography is not allowed in the building and wear appropriate clothing as a sign of respect.


8.    Visit the Temple of Literature

Have a look at Vietnam’s first university – now known as the Temple of Literature when you are in Hanoi.  Built to honour Confucius in the 11th century, the Temple of Literature no longer serves as a university, but yet continues to attract students to its premises to pray for good grades.


9.    Take a trip to Sapa

Located 350km away from Hanoi, Sapa is home to many ethnic minorities.  Be enchanted by the padi fields, waterfalls and mountain ranges.  Described as a off-the-beaten path destination in Vietnam, Sapa is connected to Hanoi by train and you could take an overnight train to save some accommodation cost.

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Take a relaxing 2 days 1 night trip to charming Sapa, known for its picturesque landscape and rich cultural diversity.

10.     Have a Great Day Shopping

Visitors to Hanoi will never leave empty handed after walking through the 36 streets of the Old Quarters.  For a great shopping experience, have a look at the top 10 things to buy in Hanoi.




Read more:

Top 10 Things to buy in Hanoi

Have you been to Hanoi? Do share with us any other must-do activities in Hanoi! 🙂

Join us next as we enjoy a cruise on Halong Bay.

First published 13 Jan 2014
Last updated 31 Dec 2018

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