Meta: Hanoi offers so many great things to enjoy and explore, but in here, we will sort them down and give you the top 10 things to do in Hanoi.


Hanoi is a young city with full of energy and on the right track to developing more and more. Despite Western and Chinese influences, Hanoi still keeps some original aspects of itself. To compare with other capitals or cities in Asia, Hanoi doesn’t have the best technology, a well-organized infrastructure or some great ancient buildings and structures to look at. But many travelers, who come to Hanoi one time, always strongly recommend this city and give it a higher rank than many bigger cities in the area. In 2016, based on the Trip Advisor forum, Hanoi was named to be the 8th place in the top of the most popular destination in the world.

Hanoi is over 1000 years old so there is deep history inside the city with many temples, pagodas and ancient houses. Moreover, Hanoian also makes the city become livelier and creates its own unique taste in many angles, from the traffic, the communication to the cuisine and customs. In this list, I would like to show you not only place to visit, food to try but also some unique things you can only do in Hanoi. Here are our top 10 things to do in Hanoi for you to check on your list.

1.    Visit the Temple of Literatures

Among many sightseeing in Hanoi, I prefer the Temple of Literatures the most. It’s unique, packaged a whole lot of history inside and meaningful to people in Hanoi. You can research to know more stories about this place. Many people consider this temple is the first university in Hanoi but it is still debating. The architect is traditional and beautiful with many buildings to visit.

(source: Photo by Daniel Mennerich on / CC BY-NC-ND)

In there, the best thing to do is capturing the board stone yard to learn about why so many students in Vietnam want to touch it. And the best activity is asking for a calligraphy word or phrases. You will find many calligraphers sitting around and ready to deliver to you a very nice calligraphy. You can ask for a Chinese/Vietnamese word or even Latin-letter phrase or word.

2.    Watch the flag ceremony in front of Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

(source: Photo by Andrea Schaffer on / CC BY)

When you travel aboard, I believe it’s always great to know more about local life and customs. And this is a very important and meaningful act in Hanoi. Every morning, at 6:00 AM, the Vietnamese Army will change the shift, raise the flag and sing our national song. You have to know that the quarter, where the ceremony happening is open and full of work-out people in the morning. But when the ceremony prepares to start, everyone will stop doing anything, stand still and wait for the flag to rise while singing Vietnamese national song. This is really different from the chaos you see in the Old Quarter and I’m sure you will be impressive.

3.    Walk around Hoan Kiem Lake

Hoan Kiem Lake is really popular to all foreigner travelers to Vietnam and this is also the center of Hanoi. Many important events or activities happen around this lake and you will see the most of Hanoian in this area.

(source: Photo by innlai on / CC BY)

Especially in the weekend, when the streets around the lake are shut down only for walking, the lake will be a busy area for both locals and foreigners to come and enjoy. This is a good place to learn about local people and you are very welcome.

4.    Wander in the Old Quarter

Next, to the lake, we cannot miss the Old Quarter. There is not much thing to say about this area since it is the central place for all travelers who come to Vietnam. Everything in here is optimized for foreigner travelers and you can find pretty anything you need when living in Hanoi for a couple days in there.

(Source: Photo by JD_Rocks on / CC BY-NC-ND)

This area is always busy and probably never sleeps. For the first time visiting Hanoi, I still recommend you to stay here before staying in a remote area.

5.    Shopping for fresh food at the local market

(source: Photo by Claire Backhouse on / CC BY-ND)

Vietnam is a real food paradise and this is undeniable. To create such an excellent dish, the chef will require the freshest and best ingredients and you can find nowhere better than a local market in Vietnam. Of course, you cannot find a high-end ingredient or rare one around these street markets. In exchange, fresh meat and seafood are plenty and easy to buy. You can choose any part of the pig, chicken, and cow that you want and the vendor will cut it to you. All seafood is alive and still moving when you take them home.

(To be continue…)