Often the stopover city for those wanting to see Halong Bay, Hanoi can easily get overlooked as a place of interest in itself. We share our top things to do in Hanoi, Vietnam. Don’t forget to check out this awesome Hanoi Food Guide for those that travel to try the local cuisine.

Halong Bay 

Take a day or overnight trip to Halong Bay, a natural wonder of the world with some fascinating caves and cliffs. Cruises offer various activities and itineraries – we loved our trip on Marguerite Junk. Various trips our available from one day trips to 1, 2 or even 3 night cruises to explore the Bay. The cruise we booked is available from Agoda.

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum 

Found in Ba Dinh Square, the Mausoleum is a popular attraction in Hanoi. Ho Chi Minh was an iconic and loved leader of Vietnam, making his resting place popular for both tourists and Vietnamese residents. Entrance is free for the Mausoleum but is only open from 8am to 11am.

A strict dress code is in place at the Mausoleum with no short skirts or tank tops allowed and bags are required to be put in a safe deposit before entering. Photos, talking and finger-pointing is also strictly prohibited whilst you are inside the Mausoleum.

The #sunset over #HalongBay is just stunning and such a romantic place to visit whilst in Vietnam

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Hoan Kiem Lake

Take a break from the city and head to Hoan Kiem Lake for some lovely views and some giant turtles. In the centre of the lake you will find Ngoc Son Temple, built in the 18th century whilst ‘Turtle Tower’ stands on the edge of the lake in memory of the legend surrounding the lake. The temple is open from 8am to 5pm and the lake can be found in Hanoi’s Old Quarter.

St. Joseph’s Cathedral

An impressive Roman Catholic Church found on Nha Chung Street is definitely worth a visit for those interesting in Neo-gothic architecture. Entrance is free and the church is open from 8am to 5pm.

Tran Quoc Pagoda

Found on Thanh Nien Road, next to West Lake, the Tran Quoc Pagoda is a tower of beauty standing alongside a tranquil backdrop of greenery. There is no entrance fee but visitors must dress appropriately and men must wear long trousers.

Short on time? Book yourself a private tour around the city with Viator.

What is your favourite thing to do in Hanoi?! Share your opinion in the comments below!

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Things to do in Hanoi
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Showing 29 comments
  • Nicky

    Thank you; definitely somewhere I’d like to visit, and your suggestions sound great! (happy travelling! :))

  • Lisa

    I loved visiting Ha long Bay when I was there, so I’ll go with this. I didn’t get to see Hoan Kiem Lake, so I’ll remember this for next time. Pinned this so I’ll remember!

  • Rachelle

    Katie! I’m so glad that you wrote this, because I’m planning on going to SEA for my birthday this next year and need all of the recommendations that I can get! I already pinned this so I can reference back when it comes time to actually nail out my itinerary. I’ll definitely need to check out that cruise in Ha Long Bay!

  • Aditi

    Out of all these, Hoan Kiem Lake was the most vibrant one. We went there over the weekend and saw it transform into a walking zone full of activities and fun things to do. We loved Vietnam. Cheers!!

  • Yukti

    Great list of top things to do in Hanoi. Sunset along Halong Bay is stunning and this would be my first choice. Watching giant turtles at Hoan Kiem lake must be a beautiful experience and also visiting the temple besides it.

  • James

    These sound like 5 wonderful things to do in Hanoi. I’d heard of Halong Bay but not the others. I’d love to check out Hoan Kiem Lake, does this lake reflect the scenery?

  • Shaily

    I’ve never heard of Halong Bay, but it looks like a beautiful place. Oh that sunset is so mesmerising with all those hues of orange. Quite a nice collection of the places to visit with helpful tips. I would definitely want to see the giant turtles, the Pagoda and the architecture of the Roman Catholic Church. Thanks for sharing this lovely post. 🙂

  • Ha

    Oh no I missed the Tran Quoc Pagoda on my trip to Hanoi. Hoan Kiem lake is definitely a great place to chill and hang out. On the weekend the area becomes a walking street, so it’s really nice!

  • Cat

    My husband and I have been talking about visiting Hanoi when we go to Vietnam! I didn’t know that you can go on overnight cruise in Halong Bay. I will have to look into that!

  • Katherine

    Great ideas for Hanoi! I hope when I go back again I have time to do Halong Bay, your photo is amazing of there!

  • Aditi

    There is so much to do at Hanoi, especially when it comes to street food and exploring the old quarter charm. We managed to head to Halong Bay too. However, Hoan Kiem Lake took us by surprise over the weekend when it gets shut for traffic and transforms into a walking zone with so many activities lined up. Cheers!!

  • Utsa Chatterjee

    Loved reading your blog! Great pictures and Vietnam is definitely on my list sometime soon! This should be helpful.

  • PossesstheWorld

    We are planning a trip to Hanoi in December and will be sure to include a few of the activities, thanks for the tips.

  • Ella

    Ahh you post brings back so many memories of my trip to Vietnam! Such a wonderful destination with rich history and landscape that will make you heart skip a beat. Halon Bay is what I loved the most! Nothing compares to the beauty that this place has to offer. Thanks for sharing!

  • Marvi

    Great to know that there are a lot of sites to see in Hanoi aside from the Halong Bay.. 🙂 The tranquil beauty of the Tran Quoc Pagoda and a glimpse of those giant turtles at the Hoan Kiem Lake is definitely going to my bucketlist.. Thank you for this, Katie! 🙂

  • The Wildest Tales

    My top 1 would be – just walk around the streets and try different type of street food. Hanoi is definitely my fave Asian city, it’s buzzing!! We also did 3 days in Halong Bay and I think this is the only right thing to do to get the most of it as you can see more isolated parts of the bay. Great post Katie!

  • Karthik Rao

    Halong bay is one of the places that I’m looking forward to visit. This is a very useful guide. Thanks!

  • Markus

    Hi Katie,

    I have never been to Vietnam, but it seems to be so that I should put it to our bucket list. Your post is really detailed and I am quite interest to see the country by myself.

    Best regards


  • Alexander Popkov

    Good suggestions for Hanoi. Sunsets at shoreside is something you can look on forever.

  • Anushka

    Vietnam will be put next destination in South East Asia and your guide is perfect for us when we will be planning our trip there. Picture of Sunset at Halong bay looks so beautiful

  • Jen

    Looks perfect for my incoming trip to hanoi next month. Will definitely try everything on the list. Halong Bay is one of the places in my bucket list to tick off.

  • Medha Verma

    Thanks for shortlisting the top 5 things to do and I love that the post was easy to read and short, not too detailed and descriptive 🙂 It gives a nice overview of what all is there to do in Hanoi. Do you think 2 days would be enough?

    • Katie

      I would recommend a one night boat cruise on the Halong Bay which will take the whole two days – maybe you can go for the cruise and then two nights in the city to see as much as possible? 🙂

  • Sam

    oh my favourite thing in Hanoi was to find a walk up cafe and have as many egg coffees as wouldnt make me sick! highly reccomended hahah

  • Alice Lawren

    It was great to find your blog; nice pictures & helpful tips! This is really useful. Hope that you will provide us with the more interesting articles about this beautiful country. Thank you so much!!

    • Katie

      Thank you for your lovely comment!

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  • Hanoi, Vietnam - 5 things you have to eat in Old Quarter

    […] Now you have your bellies full, here are some things to keep you busy in Hanoi. […]

  • […] Bay is a unique and amazing place to visit whilst staying in Hanoi. We spent 1 night, 2 days on the Marguerite Junk – a luxury boat that sails along Halong Bay and offers various activities along the […]

  • […] Bay is a unique and amazing place to visit whilst staying in Hanoi. We spent 1 night, 2 days on the Marguerite Junk – a luxury boat that sails along Halong Bay and offers various activities along the […]

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