14 Best Things to Do in Hanoi, Vietnam

14 Best Things to Do in Hanoi, Vietnam

Discover 14 best things to do in Hanoi This post is also an itinerary for two days in Hanoi and includes information on finding cheap accommodation in Hanoi, directions in and around Hanoi, and lots of other useful information on how to survive travel in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam and is a very vibrant city.

It was quite a different welcoming being dropped off in Hanoi as compared to Sapa. I also got greeted by a couple of ladies, but instead of escorting me to my accommodation, they tried to rob me.

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14 best Things to Do in Hanoi, Vietnam

Ok, here it is. My list of 14 best things to do in Hanoi as well as my itinerary of two days in Hanoi.

2 Days in Hanoi, Vietnam. Day 1.
On the first of my two days in Hanoi I got a lot of stuff done. Parks, museums, puppet shows and lots of good street food.

1. Go to the Markets

The first thing on my list of top things to do in Hanoi is to look around the markets. There’s a few of them around and all sorts of stuff going on inside them.

best things to do in Hanoi, Vietnam

Market In Hanoi

2. Go to the Lake

In the middle of town is a massive lake which is nice for a walk around.

Best things to do in Hanoi, Vietnam. Lake

The lake in the city

3. Visit a Temple

There are loads of temples in Vietnam, so it wasn’t surprising that I just stumbled across one whilst walking around.

4. Go to the Hanoi Hilton

This was my favorite of my best things to do in Hanoi.

At about 0915 I got to the Hanoi Hilton (political prison, featured image). It was small but interesting. Not as good as Alcatraz in San Francisco, but I feel like the prisoners would have had it harder here. Entry was 20,000VND.

5. Go to Lenon Park

I continued south to Lenon Park. That was good. I like parks.

I then headed back to the hostel to check in. Then I got a kick ass ‘kebab’ from a corner street vendor for 25,000VND.

6. Go to Ha Trung st

Next I went to Ha Trung st to change money (best rates). Also a good place for custom leather goods, although I didn’t bargain and paid 70000vnd for something that I feel should have been 40000vnd.

*Before approaching a vendor where the price is ‘negotiable’, first think of the max amount you would pay for something. Then ask the price. Be firm on your price or just walk away.

8. Temple of Literature

Next I went to the Temple Of Literature. I didn’t think it was as good as the other things on this list of best things to do in Hanoi, but is worth a look if you have the time. It costs 20,000vnd.

Best things to do in Hanoi, Vietnam. Bunker

Bunkers. Possibly not from the Temple of Literature.. Maybe from the Citadel


8. Army Museum

Then the Army museum which I hadn’t planned on going to but am glad I did. It cost 40,000vnd to get in.

Army Museum

9. Catch a Water Puppet Show

That evening I went to see the Water Puppet Show. It cost 100,000vnd. It says a type 1 ticket is 60,000vnd, but maybe they are for locals or day shows or something like that. It was worth seeing but not fantastic. I liked it better than Beijing opera.

Water Puppet Theatre. Best things to do in Hanoi, Vietnam

Water Puppet Theatre

10. Eat Hanoi Food

On the way back to the hostel I tried Bahn … something. Sticky Rice we call it (it’s wrapped in bamboo leaf). 13,000vnd. Delicious and fresh. Earlier in the day I had also eaten Bang Gia for 20,000vnd. It was awesome. 72 Hang Bo. She has a sign with prices.

2 Days in Hanoi, Vietnam. Day 2.
On the second of my 2 days in Hanoi I spent a lot of time trying to find stuff.

11. Go to the Citadel

First off I went to the Citadel which I wasn’t planning on going to, but again, I’m glad I did. It cost 30000vnd. Well worth it. Learnt lots.

Best things to do in hanoi, Vietnam. Citadel Staircase

Staircase at the Citadel

12. Hani Temple

Hani Temple is on Hang Dong st. It was hard for me to find, and not better than any other temple.

Best things to do in Hanoi, Vietnam. Army Museum

A sculpture st the Army Museum

13. Snake Village

I was really looking forward to snake village, and perhaps even drinking some snake blood alcohol.

I spent a while trying to find a bus stop catering to the 11, 15 or 17. Eventually found a depot on the edge of the freeway near the bridges across the river.

I caught the 17 headed to Divoi Bai. Instructions I found on the net said to get off at the megamall just past Gia Lam station, then walk 500m down the right of the mall. I went way past it for about 30 minutes and ended up in semi rural Hanoi.

Walked around for a bit then caught the same bus back. I got off near Gia Lam but could not find a Mega Mall. There was a supermarket but you can’t go down the right side of it. I never found Snake Village (Le Mat), but it was a nice journey anyway.

Bus was 7000vnd per ride. Just get on and sit down. The guy will come to collect your money and can give change.

14. Eat Ice-cream

The last thing on my list of best things to do in Hanoi was to eat the recommended ice-cream.

When I got back to town I went to eat at Gao De as recommended on Wikitravel.org.

The menu looked good and cheap, but it was packed so didn’t eat there.

I went to Kem Trang (54 Trang Tian) and got some ice-cream. They have special flavors but only served one in soft serve form. 12000vnd. It was very good.

Other Useful Information About Hanoi, Vietnam

Here’s some other useful information about surviving travel in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Getting From Sapa To Hanoi

I caught the sleeper bus from Sapa. It arrives in Hanoi Old Quarter at around 0430. They wake you up with music. I couldn’t tell you exactly where it drops you, but if your accommodation is in Old Quarter, don’t pay more than 20 – 30000 for a moto. Beware two ladies offering a moto. They may try to rob you.

best things to do in Hanoi, Vietnam

Sleeper Bus From Sapa To Hanoi

Cheap Accommodation in Hanoi, Vietnam

If you need cheap accommodation in Hanoi, I stayed at the Hi Ancient Hostel.

I ended up getting a moto for 20 000 to the Hi Ancient hostel. It was about 0430 so the door was locked. They let me in but couldn’t check me into a room till noon. They let me sleep on the ‘couch’. Another Canadian girl was also there, but she had chosen to sleep on the couch because her bed had bed bugs. My bed was fine, and a good breakfast is included.

How to Cross the Road in Vietnam

Crossing the roads is how many people have described it on the internet. Walk steady and predictably. They anticipate where you are going and will manoeuvre around you. However, don’t follow this advice blindly. You still need to ‘help out’ sometimes. Follow the locals, make use of traffic lights. Obviously it is harder for cars to manoeuvre around you. Give way to bigger vehicles.

Next Stop… Hue, Vietnam
Hanoi was awesome and I did a lot of stuff. Getting to Hue was another bus ride. I had booked a ticket from the hostel for $20usd, which included a moto ride to where the bus picks you off from.

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Got anything to add to this list of best things to do in Hanoi? Let us know them (or anything else you want to say) in the comments 😀 .

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