What to do in Hanoi – 10 Wonderful Tips

10 tips what to do in Hanoi - this witch travels - accessible travel for all - girls at road crossing in Hanoi golden hour

So you’ve booked your visit to Vietnam, Hanoi is on your list, but you’re stuck wondering what to do in Hanoi during your time there. Like any city there is much to do and see. But here are some of the experiences that I had that made me fall in love with this unmissable city.

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links on my blog are affiliate links. And at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through the link. I have experienced all of the companies that I link to, and recommend them because they are the websites that I myself choose to use, and trust. Please do not spend any money on these sites unless they meet your needs and specifications.  

Drink Egg Coffee.

Egg Coffee may sound weird, I know but believe me, it is tasty. It was invented in 1946 by the owner of Cafe Giang, due to a shortage of milk in the country. Now owned by his son, they still make the best cup in Vietnam. Cafe Giang is not far from most places in the Old Quarter, it is down a little alley with a small sign above it, but once you find it you’ll be back again before you know it.

We did find a place in Ho Chi Minh that did it, we missed it that much, that was called Cafe Hanoi. While it was tasty, I was longing to be back in Hanoi itself.

Train Street, Hanoi- What to do in Hanoi - 10 Wonderful Tips - Thiswitchtravels.co.uk

Visit Train Street

This one’s for the thrill-seekers. If you can time it right you can find yourself stood at the side of the train tracks with houses and businesses running alongside, and the train skimming past you. The train comes twice a day, and we kept missing it! Even so, if you’ve less of a deathwish why not add sit having a beer practically on the tracks to your what to do in Hanoi itinerary? It’s a strange place to sit and watch while life goes on around you, it is definitely one of the more surreal beverages I’ve ever had, and totally worth doing.

Old Quarter Night Market

Running on one of the main roads through Hanoi’s Old Quarter from 7 pm every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It has something for everyone. You can find clothes, accessories, food and more. The atmosphere is fantastic and you can pick up some bargains!

We ended up eating at one of the restaurant shacks at the end of the market on our first night in Vietnam, and we soon realised that the meal cost us about 3 times what even our most expensive meals in Vietnam cost. So just make sure you shop about and know the currency first.

Eat

I know eating and drinking aren’t really a what to do in Hanoi, and more of a life necessity. But where to do these things is definitely worth a mention, and what to try!. Do your research to find the good food places in the city, ask about and check trip advisor. You will likely walk past some of the best places without even knowing it. There are so many dishes to try and so many places to try them.

Some of our favourites included the Bun Cha in Hoangs, Bun Bo in Bun Bo Nam Bo (at our tourguide from Ha Long Bay’s recommendation, and he wasn’t wrong!) and Bahn Mi from MK Banh Mi, in the ground floor of the MK Hotels.

Drink

Beer in Vietnam is as cheap as the soft drinks, if you get the local beer! Half the time, we found ourselves drinking beer because it was cheaper than getting a can of coke. In Hanoi you’ll likely be supping Hanoi Beer. Original name, I know.

It is rumored that you can et a beer for as little as 20p on ‘Beer Street’ otherwise known as Ta Hien. Be warned, it isn’t for the faint of heart. Our first hotel was near by the street so we cut through a couple of times, on the way back my arm was grabbed and pulled by a Vietnamese guy wanting us to go in a bar. With Matt walking ahead of me he didn’t realise until I’d wriggled free from the guy’s vice grip. We opted to pay more to sit in more ambient, less grabby places. And when I say more, about 30p more. For us, it was a no brainer.

Temple on Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi - What to do in Hanoi - 10 Wonderful Tips - Thiswitchtravels.co.uk

See Temples

As with every country in the world, temples of worship are strewn everywhere and always worth a visit. If you are in the Old Quarter, take a stroll to Hoan Kiem lake and cross the bridge to the temple there. You have to pay for entry and it was busy as hell, but to walk the bridge and the initial entrance is free.

But our favourite was the Temple of Literature. The waitress that we spoke to in Hoangs told us of it. It was house to the first University, in 1020, and even features on the 100,000 Dong note. It is a truly beautiful place and can take up a couple hours of your time. University students to this day flock to the temple for their graduation ceremonies. I couldn’t imagine a better place to graduate, feeling like you’re making history.

Shop

Vietnam is home to many clothing factories that produce many of the clothes that you wear, including some of the biggest name sporting brands today. It comes as no surprise then that the streets and markets are lined with imitations.

When I worked as a merchandiser, the supplier was allowed to have a 10% discrepancy for quality control purposes. So if you ordered 1000 units, you may receive anywhere from 900 to 1100. Now, don’t take my word on this, it is only a theory. But if you could skim 10 out of every 100 garments ordered, without anyone asking why, and you’ve already been paid to produce them, and you can get paid for them again… I’m not saying this happens, I’m not saying it doesn’t, but some of those clothes and shoes are incredibly good quality and cheap!

Plan a Trip

Ok so this is not strictly a what to do IN Hanoi, but more of a thing to do FROM Hanoi. Hanoi is a great hub to do day, or overnight trips from, and most of the time these include (or at least for a small fee) transport to and from your hotel.

We opted for a 2-night stay on the Lan Ha Legend Cruise, and couldn’t have been happier in our decision (and choice of boat!) But as we were waiting in our hotel lobby for pick up, there was another traveller going on a day trip to Da Lat, and we met others who did some to Ha Giang. You can book as we did, in advance, or put your fate in the hands of tour agencies scattered over the city.

Ha Long Bay trip from Hanoi- What to do in Hanoi - 10 Wonderful Tips - Thiswitchtravels.co.uk

Go to Prison

A trip to Vietnam is not complete without a glimpse into their turbulent history. The prison is a must on our what to do in Hanoi list, and is definitely worth a visit. It was originally where the French housed the Vietnamese during their occupancy of the country. It was later used by the Vietnamese to house American prisoners of war. There is a lot to learn and albeit biased from the Vietnamese side of events, I felt like it was a crucial part of understanding the people who reside there.

Speak to the Locals

The majority of people that we came in contact with, in Hanoi were really nice. As is everywhere you’ll meet one or two people who aren’t so great, so keep your wits about you, but don’t let them sour your experience! Many people, especially those that are younger, love to practice their English by talking with you and telling you about their wonderful country. You never know what you’ll learn, you might even add to our suggestions of what to do in Hanoi!

So, now you’ve seen what to do in Hanoi, I’d love to know what you plan on doing?

What to do in Hanoi - 10 Wonderful Tips 2

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links on my blog are affiliate links. And at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through the link. I have experienced all of the companies that I link to, and recommend them because they are the websites that I myself choose to use, and trust. Please do not spend any money on these sites unless they meet your needs and specifications.  

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