Top Things To See and Do in Hanoi Vietnam

Hanoi Loan Kiem Lake

Top Things To Do In Hanoi

More than a capital city of Vietnam, Hanoi is also the culture and commercial hub that has attracted many tourists seasoned travelers from the far land. The outstanding feature of Hanoi is the harmonic blend of Western and Eastern culture.

Many activities around this magnificent city will intrigue you greatly. If you are still deciding on your checklist of what to do in Hanoi, the list below will offer you a satisfactory solution with the most selected activities to enjoy in Hanoi.

1. Walking around Hoan Kiem Lake

Hanoi Loan Kiem Lake

Hoan Kiem Lake is a famous lake in Hanoi City for tourists. Its name translates to ‘return the sword’, which originated from the legend of Ly Thai To emperor, whose quests were to defend the land against invasive northern foreigners.

Upon accomplishing the quests victoriously, the emperor returned his divine sword to a giant golden turtle, who vanished into the lake with the sword.

If you are seeking an opportunity to escape the noisy street from the overcrowded city, then you can lay back, relax your mind and enjoy a walk around this peaceful lake.

Situated at the center of the lake is Ngoc Son pagoda, one of the early Buddhist temples that still preserves the quintessence of Vietnamese architecture and faithful belief. It is the perfect location for your panoramic photo with the beautiful Hoan Kiem Lake in the background.

Nonetheless, during the weekend, the traffic is completely prohibited in the area’s vicinity. There are a lot of fun and engaging activities around the lake that you can take part in (band singing, group dancing, etc.)

2. Shopping at Old Quarter

The Old Quarter has been with the history of the country ever since forever, witnessing the ups and downs of the Vietnamese people.

Today, the Old Quarter displays the concentration of romantic French architectural design and the bustling life of the commercial vendors along its 36 particular streets.

Not just a popular historical tourist attraction for the history of the Hanoi City, the Old Quarter also has its charm in commercial aspects, where the tourists can find the marvelous traditional handicraft product at this location.

Thanks to the fact that each street is a specialization of one peculiar item or product type, it is very convenient and satisfying to stroll around the Old Quarter for your shopping desires.

Do not forget to check out your favorite souvenirs at Hang Ma street, along with other items that might surprise you. The Old Quarter has something for everyone.

3. Biking around West Lake

If you want to stretch out a couple of exercises while enjoying sightseeing at the same time, a biking tour around West Lake is an excellent activity to engage.

The West Lake is around 15 km in circumference, which lake’s banks are surrounded with a lot of commercial buildings, food vendors, luxury restaurants, and night bars.

There is a popular Tay Ho district for the expat, which might be fun for foreigners to check out and get mingling with other far land fellows.

If you are long for the entire long biking journey around the 15 km of the lake, an outdoor watch will be a handy companion for keeping track of navigation and other purposes. Make sure to engage with the locals around the lake so that you can get to know more about their daily life.

4. Visiting the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is the most iconic landmark of the country for both domestic and foreign visitors. If you just travel to Vietnam for the first time, do not forget to visit this magnificent monument.

Inside the commemorate marble mausoleum is the final resting place of Uncle Ho, the beloved father that has led the country to peace, independence, and unification.

You will have the perfect opportunity to listen to the history of Uncle Ho’s early life and how he went to France to study then returned to fight for the country against the invasive foreigners.

There is also a reconstructed model of Uncle Ho’s working place to visit inside the mausoleum. In this place, you can understand the simple life of Uncle Ho during his war campaign for independence.

Up until the last day of his life, he still preserves the love for a simple and quiet life while focusing on bringing the final independence to the people and the land.

5. Seeing Water Puppetry

Hanoi Water Puppets

If cultural apprehension is your calling, get a ticket to see the live theater of water puppet show. The traditional art type has its origin since the 11th century. During this time, the paddy fields often faced flooding season. After taking care of the agricultural work, the farmers usually stand in waist-deep water and entertain each other with the handicraft puppet.

In today’s water puppet theater, you can immerse in a spectacular atmosphere filled with Vietnamese traditional music in combination with modern lighting techniques. The heart of the show is the group of skilled artists who control the movement of the water puppet.

The puppet show usually focuses on folk stories and legends of the early emperor, ranging from a rice harvest season to the campaign of the emperor’s conquest. This is a unique way to know more about Vietnamese culture and custom under the impressive live performance of traditional art.

Opening Hours: Daily 15:00, 16:10, 17:20, 18:30 & 20:00

Address: 57B, Dinh Tien Hoang Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi

Price Range: VND 100,000

6. Visiting Ba Vi National Park

The Ba Vi National Park is about an hour drive by car, which will bring you away from the overcrowded city, into the most natural beauty of tropical forest landscape.

The evergreen scenery of the National Park is awe-inspiring with the enormous three-peaked mountain range. All three peaks have the height of more than 1000 km from the sea level. It is a perfect outdoor trekking tour for the adventure seekers. There is a pathway to reach the summit of all three peaks.

From the top of the views, you can enjoy the open horizon of the greenfield land, laying under a variety of tropical trees. Take as many pictures to your heart’s content.

7. Tasting the best of street food

Hanoi Vietnam Street Food

Via Flickr

It will be a massive mistake if you do try all the street food in Hanoi. They are the pride and the ideal cultural condense of the Vietnamese people.

In the morning, there is nothing better than a delicious and hot broth bowl of Pho. It is one of the most traditional rice noodle soup and also the most famous meal in the top ten world’s dishes.

The wonder does not stop there. There is a variety of other rice noodle meal you can try such as Bun Cha, Bun Nem, Bun Bo Hue, etc. Fun fact: Bun Cha is the most favorite meal of Barack Obama, the former president of U.S during his Vietnam visit in 2016.

At night time, the streets become crowded with people hanging out under the colorful lights. And there are a lot of street food vendors to serve the energy demand for nightlife activities. You can find all kind of dishes from full-meal course to small yet delicious dessert such as Che, a favorite after dinner meal by the locals.


With the checklist of must do things in Hanoi, you will have a spectacular time during your trip here. Do not hesitate to share your experience with friends and family. The city of Hanoi always welcomes you.

About The Author: 
Luna is a camping and hiking enthusiast from Phoenix, Arizona. She wants to share her experience to all adventure junkies in order for them to get better preparations before any trip.  You can visit her blog to find out more:

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