Most trips to Vietnam , where you will surely be attracted by the incredible appeal of Halong Bay , include a visit to this busy city where the sound of car horns makes up your soundtrack.
After our recent trip, in which we also travel to Cambodia to visit the Temples of Angkor , as well as Laos and Bali , we will tell you what to see and do in Hanoi when you visit this historic city of Vietnam.
What to see and do in Hanoi
There are several options when visiting Hanoi .
Being a bit chaotic the city of Hanoi, if you do not want to rent a motorcycle we recommend visiting the city pointing to organized excursions that come to look for you at the hotel and after finishing you go back to it.
But if instead you prefer to get to know the city on your own, here we leave you all the information you need to know to move freely around the city.
When you are going to travel to Hanoi , you have to know that there are two very marked areas around which to make the most important visits.
The first zone is the one that forms the historical patrimony of the country, which extends next to the enormous lake Ho Tay .
They are a group of buildings around which is located both the Ho Chi Ming mausoleum and the Presidential Palace , where there is a war museum , as well as the house and gardens where the Vietnamese leader lived and took refuge from the bombings.
The other area is where the social life of the city, the old quarter and its surroundings have developed, where you can see French colonial buildings .
1 – Ho Chi Ming Mausoleum
The first thing to say is that the ideal is to hire a guided tour to see the mausoleum and all its surroundings.
So you can enjoy much more a visit like this, during which we are told the curiosities that marked the history of the place and that make up this complex.
The recent history of Hanoi is marked by the famous Vietnam War and the final liberation after the fight led by the aforementioned Ho Chi Ming .
So much was the importance of this person, that his death was reserved a very special place within the historic center.
The entrance to the mausoleum is free, but it is advisable to go very early because at 12 in the morning the doors are closed; as a result, huge queues form due to the devotion that you have throughout the country.
To enter the mausoleum where this embalmed Ho Chi Ming is passed in silence in rows of two people in silence and, of course, it is forbidden to take photos.
You can not stop when you enter the mausoleum, so it takes a lot longer to make the queue to enter than to see your mummified body .
2 – Hanoi Presidential Palace
The Royal Palace is a French colonial building that has been for many years the Royal residence of the successive empires that reigned in the area.
With its façade painted in a very striking yellow color, it is currently the place of reception of the authorities of other countries that visit the city.
This building is surrounded by the Botanical Garden where the residence of Ho Chi Ming was located for years .
To enter their gardens and visit the surroundings you have to pay an entrance fee; In fact it is the only place where they charge you to pay a visit.
3 – House of Ho Chi Ming
The Vietnamese leader did not want to live in the aforementioned Royal residence , which seemed too big for him, since he was single.
That is why he decided to live in the surrounding gardens, in a wooden house that can now be visited.
He also had a few more houses where to meet with the leaders who visited him.
Next to her and hidden inside a small hill. The bomb shelter was located , a room without which the story would probably have changed.
Given his personality, all his residence and stays in which he developed his life are really very austere.
4 – War Museum in Hanoi
To know the history of the Vietnam War , you should definitely visit this museum.
It is a huge building in which you can find different rooms with the most diverse objects, such as manuscripts, newspapers, helmets, bullets and all kinds of relics that you can imagine related to a war.
5 – Unique Pillar Pagoda
Before finishing your tour of the mausoleum area, you have to make a small visit to a very peculiar pagoda.
It is not common to visit a pagoda with only one pillar , but here we can do it.
It is a very small pagoda located on the top of a mini lake, really very curious.
6 – Old quarter of Hanoi
When we visit a city, what one always asks is: where is the old neighborhood?
It is usually the best way to know how a city was years ago and how it has been built and adapted over the years.
In this case, these chaotic streets are the nerve center of the economy and life of Hanoi, a great network of noisy streets swallowed by motorcycles and their endless beeps.
To understand the city you have to know some things about how these houses were built.
Most houses in Hanoi are occupied by entire families. They are narrow buildings of three heights, in which they use their ground floor to establish a trade.
Therefore, entire families live on top of their workplaces. This makes you enter a clothing store and at the door you find several people sitting on tiny chairs that are eating.
Undoubtedly, something very curious and characteristic of Hanoi .
Before the apparent chaos that you transmit their streets, in fact there is enough order. As they say, an orderly mess.
The more you walk through them, the more you realize that stores are distributed by trades; In fact, there is a street devoted to each job.
In any case, if you had to put a soundtrack to the city that reflected life in Hanoi , it would be the sound of the bikes of cars and motorcycles.
When driving a vehicle, instead of using the turn signals, use the horn to warn that they are going to make a maneuver, so you do not stop to hear beeps day and night.
7 – Dong Xuan Market
If before we talked about the soundtrack of the city, now we are going to tell you where to find the most characteristic smells.
The Dong Xuan market is undoubtedly the largest in the city and there is nothing you can not find in it.
And if you do not find it in there, it will be safe in some of the surrounding streets.
Walking through its streets is to see all types of foods, spices, preserves, dry, dehydrated foods and fruits imaginable.
Especially for the most daring. It is a place that you should not miss.
8 – Temple of Literature of Hanoi
This temple of knowledge was the first university in Vietnam , which was originally built only for kings and prominent people of society.
It is a set of magnificently preserved buildings and temples. Its origin is around the beginning of the eleventh century, and was built in honor of Confucius .
Currently you can visit the entire complex with its temples, where some of the most outstanding students of the time were trained in subjects such as medicine.
In fact, turtle sculptures can be found at the entrance to the enclosure, one for each student cum laude graduated there during the more than 700 years that the university was operational.
9 – Hoan Kiem Lake in the center of Hanoi
Right in the heart of Hanoi , between the old town and the French Quarter, is this great lake.
It is the ideal place to walk and get away from the huge bustle of the crowded streets of the city.
Also when you walk around the lake you can see the different group activities carried out by the inhabitants of Hanoi, which come together to stretch or practice some sport.
Undoubtedly, one of the most curious pictures of Asia.
10 – Tran Quoc Pen Hanoi Pagoda
Perhaps the most beautiful pagoda in Hanoi is Tran Quoc Pen .
It is located on the northern edge of the city next to the huge Ho Tay lake .
It is a pagoda several meters high that most tourists are unaware of and that deserves a lot to know
11 – French Colonial Quarter of Hanoi
Many years ago most of the territory of Southeast Asia was dominated by the French armies.
This is reflected in many aspects of the country’s culture, including architecture, with remodeled and very careful white buildings.
In addition, in the old colonial district are concentrated some of the most expensive hotels in the city, around the spectacular building of the Opera .
12 – The longest mosaic in the world
As a last curiosity, along the Red River and for more than 6 kilometers you can see a very special mosaic.
It is the largest ceramic mosaic in the world recognized with a Guinness record .
In this gigantic mural, all kinds of scenes about the daily and historical life of Vietnam are represented, as well as references to other countries of the world.
13 – Train that goes through the center of the city
Perhaps one of the curiosities of Hanoi is the old train line that continues in operation that crosses the city between narrow streets.
Along the path left by the roads, have been building all kinds of buildings such as shops or houses whose entry is through the tracks.
It is the classic photo that all travelers look for.
14 – Eating in the streets of the old town of Hanoi
Without a doubt, it is an authentic experience to leave the hotel and enter the old town to look for dinner.
All the streets are full of small family restaurants where you do not see a single sign with signs in a language other than Vietnamese.
It is very worthwhile to integrate into the culture by eating in the same restaurants where local citizens eat, even with their same habits as chopsticks, or sitting in the mini chairs that fill the terraces.
When choosing, it is difficult to advise because you usually choose food by sight. A little rice and several dishes to mix and accompany among those that most attract your attention.
I would repeat that experience again and again, we must reserve some dinners in those streets as an almost obligatory visit.
TIPS to eat in the streets of Hanoi
We know from experience that if you eat in these countries in places with a lot of people you do not usually have poisoning problems.
Despite the poor conservation conditions, food rotation is usually constant, so the food is fresh.
Eye, another thing is the drink, we do not recommend drinking drinks already open or with ice, high risk.
And to get your bearings on the price, for us, each dinner of two people used to cost us about four euros each, very cheap.
Other visits from Hanoi
Hanoi is perhaps the most important city in Vietnam but there are many options to visit areas within walking distance that are essential to get to know this magical country.
15 – Visit to Halong Bay
If you are thinking of traveling to Vietnam, you have certainly signed up for this visit.
It is undoubtedly a wonder of nature, it is so impressive that it is common to go through it in silence listening only to the sound of the engine and the sea.
This bay transmits tranquility and relaxation while you admire these amazing rock formations.
16 – Visit to Tam Coc in the city of Ninh Binh
When we think of Vietnam, images of nature and huge fields of rice fields often come to mind and this is precisely what you will see when visiting Tam Coc.
This region has certain similarities with Halong Bay since the steep landscapes crossed by the river are quite similar.
There are several excursions to which you can take a look at the Ngo Don g River in traditional boats .
17 – Excursion to Mai Chau
But if you want to know a part of the country that is authentic and unknown, you can take a trip to visit Mai Chau.
It is a population of Thai origin in what can be considered a deep rural part of Vietnam. There are several pagodas and ethnic groups that inhabit this area each one with its different nuances given the origin of the populations