Q&A About Hanoi
The most ideal time to visit the capital is the months between November to February. This is due to the weather which is dry, cool and pleasant. Thus it is nice for long walks around Hoan Kiem Lake and the narrow alleyways of Old Town Quarter.
If you’d rather enjoy some warmer days, March, April, and October are good options as well. You’ll get plenty of sunshine, the temperature is around 25 degrees Celcius, with a bearable level of humidity. Yet, you may see prices go up a bit compared to the months of Novem – February, since these are popular months to visit Hanoi.
The city experiences heavy downpours from around June until the end of August, so it’s good if you can avoid travelling to Hanoi during this season. We are certain you prefer exploring more of the city without being caught in the rain.
The advisable time is at least 4-5 days. As soon as you touch the ground in Hanoi, you’ll see that anything less than 4 days will not be enough to discover the ‘soul’ of Vietnam’s capital. There are so many things to see, to visit and to learn in this city that you don’t have to worry about being bored.
Many travellers spend more than a week in Hanoi, and that is not even their first time visiting the city. They find the city and its life, its culture fascinating and some agree that it is the most interesting destination in Vietnam.
The answer is yes, you will not have any problem getting around places. You can reach your destination by different means of transport – on foot, bicycle, cyclo, scooter, taxi or bus.
If you wish to discover the old corners of the city, it’s best to walk around and see where it’s leading you too. The real soul of Hanoi lies in the small and old streets and lanes, it’s in the old food stalls, shops, and busy markets and in the way people go on about their life. Talk to some locals and you’ll find that the Hanoians are some of the most welcoming people in the country.
Try touring around on a cyclo is also a memorable experience. Cyclo was a popular way to travel in the city back in the day, asides from walking and riding on a bike. Today, you tend to find cyclos near Hoan Kiem Lake.
You can also travel by scooter. It’s actually the most local way to see the capital. It is easy to rent a scooter here, but you should only do so when you’re familiar with the traffic in Southeast Asian cities. It can be chaotic, yet in a very organized way. Make sure to always watch out for before crossing the road or turning onto another street if driving on your own!
For taxis, check beforehand and deal with the driver to get the right price. This is not common but a few of them may try to take advantage of tourists. Another way is to book a car using Grab, Bee or Gojek, these are common apps for the locals.
Buses are a very cheap way to travel around, with the ticket price starts from 5000 – 7,000 VND for one trip. Yet the buses in Hanoi and Vietnam, in general, may not be as comfortable as the buses in your home country. Be aware of this before you decide to hop on a bus.
Hanoi’s nightlife scene offers a multitude of interesting things to see and places to go well after sunset. You should first try ‘bia hoi’ (Vietnamese draft beer), complete the experience by enjoying your drink while sitting on a plastic stool. Head to Ta Hien street, it is among the best places to enjoy bia hoi. Then stroll around the area and treat yourself some tasty street food. Many shops open late and the dishes are mouthwatering!
Otherwise, there are plenty of lively bars and nightclubs set around Hoan Kiem Lake. Come inside and you will find great tunes and all sorts of booze and mingle with fun-loving locals.
Hanoi’s Old Quarter is an awesome place. Not only you get the chance to see bustling streets, but this is where you will be able to have the tastiest food in the city.
Here are some of the must-try dishes for you:
– Bun Cha (noodles with roasted pork)
– Cha Ca (Turmeric Fish with Dill)
– Bun Thang (Rice Vermicelli with chicken, egg, pork)
– Nem; Goi Cuon (spring rolls)
– Banh Cuon (rolled cake stuffed with ground meat)
– Banh Goi (fried dumplings)
But of course, this is only a shortened list of the most well-known food in the city. We recommend to go with your guts and you may find something from the local food that will become your favourite. However, take extra care of the food hygiene if you head to an unfamiliar food stall for the first time.
Travellers usually spend more than a week in Hanoi to combine visiting the capital and exploring its nearby destinations.
From Hanoi, look for day-trips to Ninh Binh, Duong Lam ancient village, or Bat Trang Pottery Village.
For longer trips, there are Halong Bay, Sapa, Ha Giang, Mai Chau, and Cao Bang. These destinations are all loved for their unrivaled scenery and you will surely have a great time exploring the landscape of the northern region. They are also home to the ethnic tribal groups, whose culture and traditions will certainly amaze you.
* Ha Giang and Cao Bang are on the lesser-known path, in case you prefer less of the crowds and more of nature, don’t miss out on these two spots!
Embracing the history of more than 1000 years, Hanoi is a wonderful place to learn about the most important eras of Vietnam.
– The first place you must see is the Imperial Citadel Thang Long. It was the centre of ancient Hanoi and served as the political centre for eight centuries.
– Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum – this is where the country’s greatest leader Ho Chi Minh was laid to rest. For the locals, this is a sacred place and a part of the living history.
– Hoan Kiem Lake – It is one of the most iconic places in Hanoi. Hoan Kiem Lake has a legendary tale. Around the lake, you will also find Ngoc Son Temple and The Huc Bridge.
– Temple of Literature – The temple was originally built to be a centre of learning dedicated to the Chinese sage and scholar Confucius, and it’s also known as the first university of Vietnam.
– Hoa Lo Prison – Once called the ‘Hell on Earth’, a visit to this site will let you understand what wars caused the country in the past, and the strong will of the Vietnamese to gain back their freedom from the colonizers.
– Hanoi’s Old Quarter – You will see endless packs of scooters, motorbikes, bicycles and cars weave around traders selling fruit and souvenirs and narrow shop houses sell delicious Vietnamese food. This is the real soul of Hanoi!
– Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre – This place is known as the original and the best theatre in town to enjoy the performance of this ancient art form.
Make sure you have all your passport and important travel documents with you, cash, light clothes (for spring, summer and autumn), hats, sunglasses, sun protection, camera and necessary medicines.
In case your holiday is in winter, pack some more warm clothes and a winter coat with you. The temperature may go as low as 10 – 15 Celcius degrees.
Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are the top cities for shopping in Vietnam. The malls and markets in the city have everything you need and look for.
Head to Lotte Center Hanoi, Trang Tien Plaza and Vincom Mega Mall Royal City for international-renowned brands as well as a good mix of dining outlets, entertainment centres, and beauty services.
On the other hand, wandering into the local markets with hundreds of stalls is something you must try out! They have almost everything here, from fresh produce, quality textiles, to household supplies. Learn and practice your haggling skills in Dong Xuan Market, Hanoi Weekend Night Market, or Cho Hom Market. Don’t be shy and think of this as a fun and memorable experience from your time in Vietnam!
Generally speaking, you should have no problem travelling on your own in the city. Ask if you are lost, the people are friendly and ready to help. It is unlikely that you will have issues while wandering the street in the evening. But like when you are in any other city in the world, don’t stay out too late if you are alone! It’s best to take extra care for your safety.
Bucket List For Hanoi
Visit Hanoi's famous attractions
Discover the Old Quarter of Hanoi
Eat Pho/Banh Mi, local dishes and drink egg coffee
Watch a show at Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre
Have a sip of Vietnamese bia hoi on the street
Fun Facts About Hanoi
13 Interesting Hanoi Facts You Probably Didn’t Know!
- The Long Bien Bridge of Hanoi was designed by Alexandre Gustav Eiffel, creator of the Eiffel Tower and Statue of Liberty
- Narrow Houses to avoid Property Tax
- Dog Meat is Very Common
- The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is in Hanoi
- Hoan Kiem Lake is named after a unique 15th Century Legend
- Water Puppetry, a unique art form of Vietnam, originated from Northern Vietnam
- Hanoi means City of Lakes
- Hanoi is the hub of Vietnamese food
- Hanoi Traffic is an experience in itself
- The Temple of Literature in Hanoi is on the VND 100,000 note
- Hanoi has the World’s Largest Mosaic Mural
- Beer is as cheap as VND 5,000 (USD 0.21, EUR 0.18, INR 16) in Hanoi
- Hanoi is abundant with French Colonial Architecture