Hanoi Travel Guide
Hanoi has the ability to offer a superb introduction to Vietnam travel. The narrow and bustling streets of the Old Quarter are a clear sign of Vietnam’s can do attitude. The streets are filled with businesses that are trading in all types of goods, from locally grown coffee to flip-flops, while the streets are filled with swarms of buzzing motorbikes.
It is great for the food fanatic with the Vietnamese food seen as one of the most appetizing in Asia. The street food scene is extremely popular and a great way to try the local dishes and a common sight near Hoa Kiem Lake and in the Old Quarter. Seafood in Hanoi is legendary, while banh mi (baguettes filled with fresh leaves, chilli and cold cuts) is a great combination of fresh bread and Asian flavours, and influenced by the country’s French colonial past.
• Visit the city’s ancient temples
• Walk through the beautiful park of Hoan Kiem Lake which is located in the centre of town
• Explore the museums in Hanoi include the Army Museum, the Fine Arts Museum, the Ho Chi Minh Museum, and Vietnamese Women’s Museum
• Watch traditional performances of art at the Golden Bell Show theatre
• Join a Vietnamese culinary school to learn how to make some of the most popular dishes
Beyond its local attractions, Hanoi is also a great base for those planning a trip to Sapa, Halong Bay, or other destinations in the north of the country. A trekking adventure in the northern mountains is certain to appeal to the travellers that want to get a break from urban Vietnam.
Hanoi is a great destination that can easily be explored year-round. Even the rainfall that takes place during the rainy, hot summer season (May-October) only lasts a few hours which help to refresh the city. The most rainfall takes place from June-August. The Vietnam private holidays can get more exhausting in the lead up to the rainy season when the humidity level sees a dramatic increase. The winter season can have a persistent drizzle and cool temperature, so it helps to pack the extra layers and waterproofs.
How to get there
There are plenty of airports that provide a direct or connected flight to Hanoi including Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Frankfurt and London.
For the traveller in search of the cheapest flights to this city it can benefit to avoid special occasions or holidays, such as Tet holiday, New Year, Christmas and school holidays. On arriving at Noi Bai International Airport, the onward journey to Hanoi (approx 35 km) is easily completed by public transport such as bus or using a metered taxi.
There is a regular train service to Hanoi with the major station (Ga Hang Co) located in the southwest of the city. It is part of the north-south railway line that runs through Vietnam.
Journey times are in the region of 2 hours 30 minutes from Haiphong, 9 hours from Lao Cai, 13 hours from Hue, and 29 to 42 hours from Ho Chi Minh City (varies with the type of train and number of stops).
A cheap method to get around Hanoi on the Vietnam holiday packages is the public transport system. Hanoi has nearly 70 bus routes throughout the city, but finding the right stops and buses can be quite confusing for the first time travellers to the city.
Taxis are likely to be the easiest and best way to travel in Hanoi. Taxis are everywhere and simple to flag down on the street, or a hotel, restaurant or bar will help with summoning a taxi. It benefits to use the metered taxis to avoid any disagreements over the cost of a fare.
Hiring a car in Hanoi is only possible with a driver and available through tour operators like Indochinavalue.com.
Also, for shorter trips in the city, there is the option to hire a bicycle for a day-trip or longer. A useful place for bike hire is in the Old Quarter on Hang Bac Street. The quality of the bicycle can vary, so make sure to hire one in a decent condition that also comes with a helmet.
Where to stay
The choice of guesthouse and hotels in Hanoi is quite impressive. From the buzzing hostels and international-style palaces to colonial villas, the tourist is certain to have no difficulty in finding somewhere to rest up for the night at an affordable price.
Located in the French Quarter, the Hilton Hanoi Opera is a quite beautiful colonial-style hotel with well-kept and spacious rooms that are given a local Vietnamese style. Plus, the hotel has an attached open-air bar that has become a popular nightspot.
The InterContinental Hanoi Westlake is a fine 5-star hotel that is certain to appeal to the tourist in search of the most luxurious experience. It has great spa facilities, swimming pool, restaurant, and large and spacious rooms. The on-site restaurant offers a varied menu with a choice of French, Italian and Vietnamese cuisine. Many of the rooms have a view of the Hanoi skyline or lake.
A stay at the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi makes it possible to relax in an old and historic hotel. It is a very luxurious option in the city and includes a gym, swimming pool, several bars and restaurants (menus in Italian, French and Vietnamese). Many of the rooms in the original parts of the hotel have kept their features, while other rooms can have a style that is classic French.
Eat and drink
The local food choices in Hanoi are a great combination of French, Chinese and Vietnamese traditions that vary with the different regions. The food served is always seasonal and fresh with plenty of fruits, vegetables, fish is plentiful and noodles and rice provide a great base.
Some of Vietnam’s most popular dishes like broth pho originate in Hanoi. The streets are filled with traditional street food stalls as well as plenty of high end restaurants in the city hotels.
A visit to the La Badiane makes it possible to enjoy the international cuisine and is well located in Hanoi’s busy Old Quarter. The menu is rich in Mediterranean-style food that has received an Asian twist. A great place to sit is in the outside courtyard, while a great dish to try is the fish curry with a coconut and saffron-tinged sauce.
The Indochine is a local favourite with a great menu of traditional Vietnamese dishes and accompanied with traditional music. This low-key restaurant is based in an old French villa that is well located in a quiet side street.
Hanoi is a great place for buying the gifts and souvenirs on the Vietnam tour packages for friends and family at home with lacquerware, hand-embroidered tablecloths, silk paintings, hand-painted greeting cards and colourful woven bags popular items.
A great area for the tourist to go shopping is the Old Quarter with its many streets packed with small shops with great choices including Hang Bong and Hang Gai. Clothing is a great buy in the area with custom-made clothes made by one of the skilled tailors. Other areas to consider include the shops by Hoan Kiem Lake.
Also, Hanoi has the Dong Xuan Market, which is a quite impressive retail centre with the ability to offer virtually everything imaginable.
Please read more: Things should try when visit Hanoi
Things to see and do
The Old Quarter
One of the most interesting tourist attractions is Hanoi’s Old Quarter with its maze of narrow streets that are filled with traditional stores selling all kinds of products. Most of the shops have items like traditional medicine, silk clothes, homeware and mobile phones. It is well worth taking a relaxing walk through the 36 narrow streets, which also include plenty of hotels, boutique shops and bars to stop and rest up, while watch the incessant throng of mopeds pass by.
Ho Chi Minh Museum
The Ho Chi Minh Museum was designed by Soviet architects and dedicated to the achievements and life of the revolutionary leader, and shows the struggles that relate to the liberation of Vietnam.
Vietnam Military History Museum
A visit to the Vietnam Military History Museum on the Vietnam family vacation can be very interesting and filled with military memorabilia. At the entrance to the museum is a variety of war machines, such as a wrecked B-52, a Huey helicopter, tanks, and old planes. The inside of the museum includes information and photographs that relate to the difficult fight for independence, as well as a variety of details on the different wars throughout the years.
Tran Quoc Pagoda
One of the oldest pagodas in the country is the Tran Quoc Pagoda which often has locals involved in making offerings, praying solemnly or other simple ceremonies. It is well-located in an area with a striking tiered tower, a tranquil garden, and on an islet on the West Lake. This is a great place to visit to get a little solace from the busy nature of the city.