Vietnam Travel Guide: 8 Must-visit Places in Hanoi

Vietnam Travel Guide | Explore Hanoi like a local

Vietnam is an ideal destination that offers a new vibrant culture, rich history, beautiful landscapes, and warm hospitality, and Hanoi is the heart of this country. From ancient temples and colonial landmarks to bustling markets and serene lakes, Hanoi brings indescribable feelings before the interference between tradition and modernity. Let’s embark on a journey through the heart and soul of this captivating city by following this Vietnam travel guide and visiting these eight must-see places in Hanoi. At the end of this blog, you will have an overview of Hanoi and detailed information on each destination.  

Hanoi Old Quarter 

Founded in the early 11th century and located in the East of Thang Long Citadel, Hanoi Old Quarter still remains ancient houses, bustling trading activities, and authentic Vietnamese culture through many generations living there. Hanoi Old Quarter is in the heart of this city, consisting of streets that sell particular types of goods and the best Hanoi cuisines you have not ever known. Endless of scooters, motorbikes, bicycles, and cars zigzag around traders bring to life what many people imagine Hanoi is. You can rent a bike or explore this area on foot, go through some streets, and taste local foods in narrow alleys. 

A busy corner at Hanoi Old Quarter

Hoan Kiem Lake 

Hoan Kiem Lake lies near Hanoi Old Quarter and was called by the tale of the King returning the sword to the Turtle God (Hoan means to return, Kiem means sword). Hoan Kiem Lake offers serene scenery with emerald green water and drooping trees, making it a perfect area for locals to exercise and go for a morning walk. This is also a popular destination for travelers who want to see The Turtle Tower or The Huc Bridge, see the turtle template at Ngoc Son Temple, or simply jog and enjoy the calm view of dawn or sunset. Especially, this place at night gathers many young people’s activities such as singing, dancing, doing magic tricks, playing ethnic musical instruments, painting, and more.  

Hoàn Kiếm Lake

Temple of Literature 

Originally built in the 11th century, the Temple of Literature is the first university in Vietnam dedicated to Confucius, scholars, sages, and royals of that period. The building is extremely well preserved and is a superb example of traditional-style Vietnamese architecture. Visiting the Temple of Literature, you will find ancient structures from the Ly and Tran dynasties in a renowned spot where hundreds of physicians have graduated in what has now become a tribute to education and literature. This place is also visited by students who pray for good results before their important exams. 

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum & Museum 

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in Ba Dinh Square is one of the most visited attractions in Hanoi. It is the final resting place of Ho Chi Minh, the most iconic and popular leader of Vietnam. His body is preserved here in a glass case at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in central Hanoi. Many Vietnamese people visit here at least once in their lives as a means of showing their respect for the President’s contribution to the country during its most difficult era. As a foreigner, it can be an extraordinary experience to gain a thorough understanding of Vietnamese attitudes regarding Vietnam’s national hero. 

The Ho Chi Minh Museum chronicles President Ho Chi Minh’s life, career, and impact on the people of Vietnam and across the world. Through photographs and artifacts, you may learn about the Vietnamese people’s policies and fights under Ho Chi Minh’s leadership, as well as how international political events shaped the Vietnamese revolution’s philosophy. 

One Pillar Pagoda 

The pagoda was first named Dien Huu Pagoda which means “long happiness and prosperity”, and is famous for its unique one-pillar architecture. This cultural and historical symbol for a thousand year civilization in Hanoi was designed to resemble a blossom lotus emerging from the water’s surface. The lotus flower is known as the symbol of Buddhism, purity, serenity, commitment and optimism for the future. The local people often come here to pray for happiness, success and luck. 

Long Bien Bridge 

Long Bien Bridge, built by the French during their colonial reign in 1903, has seen various key events in Vietnam’s history. Long Bien Bridge now stands as a historical testimony as well as a monument of French architecture beside modern high-rise skyscrapers. Visiting Long Bien Bridge provides you a glimpse into the past, a connection with the present, and a chance to appreciate the beauty of Hanoi’s urban and natural landscapes. You may also take beautiful shots of the sunset from Long Bien Bridge!

Thang Long Water Puppet Theater

Experiencing the traditional water puppet performance at the authentic theater in Hanoi is one of the best things for those who want to explore Vietnamese culture. The wooden puppets will be performed vividly on the water, combined with traditional operatic songs using drums, wooden bells, horns, bamboo flutes and cymbals. Each performance often depicts traditional Vietnamese legends, historical events, and rural life. Through the art of puppetry, you’ll witness tales of folklore, mythology, and everyday experiences, providing insights into Vietnamese culture and traditions.

Ta Hien Street 

Located in Hanoi Old Quarter, compared to its peaceful scene in the morning, Ta Hien Street comes alive in the evening, especially during weekends. This is the best place for travelers who want to immerse themselves in the dynamic nightlife with many bars and pubs line the street. Especially, many establishments along Tạ Hiện Street have outdoor seating, allowing you to enjoy the vibrant street atmosphere while sipping a drink or enjoying a meal. It’s a perfect spot for people-watching, making new friends and enjoying yourself in the bustling energy of Hanoi.

Tạ Hiện Walking Street

Follow this Vietnam travel guide and explore these eight must-see places in Hanoi, you’ll uncover the soul of the capital of Vietnam and the stories that have shaped its identity throughout the ages. Moreover, to make your Vietnam trip easier and more comfortable, having access to the local language in advance will help you easily communicate with locals as well as better understand the story of Vietnamese history and culture at these above remarkable destinations. Take a 20-hour survival Vietnamese lessons with Vietnamese Language Studies (VLS) and explore Vietnam like a local.


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