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.
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.
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.
Tran Quoc Pagoda is the oldest of its kind in Hanoi, dating back to the 6th century. The Buddhist shrine can be found on the edge of West Lake, surrounded by lush greenery. The pagoda stands at 15 metres tall with 11 elevens inside. It is surrounded by a burning house, carved statues and a museum of historic relics. Each carved state have unique facial features, daring back to 1639.
The Pagoda is free to enter all year long and opens at 7.30am every day. Remember to dress appropriately in this place of worship, avoiding short skirts and vest tops.
One day in Hanoi?
If you only have one day in Hanoi, you can actually see a lot in the city!
Start your day off by heading to the Tran Quoc Pagoda for 7.30/8am whilst enjoying the nearby West Lake.
A short walk from the Pagoda is a cafe called Paris Baguette, which is a great place to get brunch and a coffee before catching a Grab to Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. However, it is worth noting that the Mausoleum is only open in the morning (until 10.30am) – so, if you aim to be in the Pagoda for only an hour or so, you can still get to the Mausoleum in the morning but, if you think you maybe a little longer, visit the Mausoleum first.
Next, head down to the Old Quarter. There are lots of restaurants in this area but, if you are getting a Grab, get dropped off at St Joseph’s Cathedral. This Cathedral is stunning and is surrounded by very nice restaurants and cute boutique stores. We loved visiting the art stores, picking up some posters and magnets and some hand crafted pieces too.
Spend the afternoon wandering the streets of Old Quarter; visiting the Ngoc Son temple on the Hoan Kiem Lake and trying some of the local food in the area.
Have an awesome time in Hanoi! Make sure you visit one of the best restaurants in Hanoi to try some fantastic local dishes.
What is your favourite thing to do in Hanoi?! Share your opinion in the comments below!
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