Its ideal riverside location has made Hanoi a coveted city since imperial times, attracting Chinese invaders and French colonisers. This rich historical background made the charming capital city of Vietnam what it is today – a lovely city teeming with cultural gems and well-preserved heritage buildings, with traces of influences of Sino-Vietnamese and French elements.
This is truly a place where East meets West in perfect harmony.
Top Must Do’s
Ha Long Bay
Located three hours away from Hanoi is a bay of exceptional geological beauty that would have fit perfectly in an oriental painting. It is easy to imagine that this is where mystical creatures come to play, as Ha Long Bay means “Bay of Descending Dragon”. Enjoy this UNESCO World Heritage Site with a cruise on a traditional junk ship to discover hidden beaches and lagoons.
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
Why visit a Mausoleum? Because this is one of the most iconic landmarks of the city formerly known as Saigon! Ho Chi Minh (that’s his name) has his body eternally enshrined and his memory forever preserved under glass in the cold central hall of the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. Beware as there are strict rules on dress code and behaviour, so mind your p’s and q’s here.
One Pillar Pagoda
The current One Pillar Pagoda is a replica (built late 1950’s) to replace the original one destroyed by the French Union during the First Indochina War, but its beauty, tranquillity and well-wishes behind the one pillar structure remain. The great Emperor Ly Thai Tong erected this marvel in 1048 as a result of a good dream that brought his kingdom good omen.
Think it’s too much for just a dream? Not when you look upon the pagoda standing on a pond like a lotus stem, pure and unattached to worldly desires.
Hoan Kiem Lake
People-watchers rejoice! The scenic Hoan Kiem Lake is considered the centre of Hanoi’s public life and also the place where the iconic Huc Bridge and Turtle Tower are. Visit the lake in the morning to see locals young and old go about their activities, from Tai Chi to aerobics.
If you’re lucky, you might also encounter a turtle or two, as the lake is full of them (there HAS to be a reason why it was named Turtle Tower in the first place, right?).
Nothing beats the feeling of eating your hot bowl of noodle soup while sitting on a small plastic chair on a sidewalk, oblivious to the many stares of passers-by.
This is street food — Vietnamese style! Aside from the famous Saigon-style pho bo (beef noodle soup) and pho ga (chicken noodle soup), there are other delicious food to try like bun (rice noodle), xoi (sticky rice), banh cuon (rice noodle roll) and many more. Bring a bib if needed!
Quick facts about Hanoi
|Bus Number 7||Cau Giay Bus Station||Approximately 30 mins||Approximately VND 8000|
|Bus Number 17||Long Bien Bus Station||Approximately 50 mins||Approximately VND 8000|
|Airport Minibus||Hanoi downtown||Approximately 45 mins||Approximately VND 35,000 (Vietnamese) or 40,000 (foreigner)|
|Taxi||Hanoi downtown||Approximately 45 mins||Approximately VND 330,000|
|Currency||Vietnamese Dong (VND)|
|Time zone||UTC +7|
|Telephone code||+84 4|
|Religion||Indigenous religions, Buddhism, Christianity|
NOV – APR
Northeast Monsoon – Cool and dry
17°C to 23°C, Pleasant weather, ideal time to visit Hanoi
MAY – OCT
Southwest Monsoon – Warm and rainy
25°C to 31°C, Prepare for rains and typhoons. Hold on tight to your designer hats!
Need a visa to visit Vietnam? Check out Vietnam Visa On Arrival official website.