As the convergence of the political, cultural, historical, and social-economic quintessence of Vietnam over a thousand years, Hanoi is known as one of the most attractive tourist destinations of that lovely country. When traveling to Vietnam, and Hanoi in particular, you will have the chance to visit some of Vietnam’s symbols as well as take part in many different useful and interesting activities.
Hanoi is actually over 1000 years old so the wealth of history here is mind-boggling: temples, ancient citadels, unique theatre, and stunning wilderness just outside the city all offer fun-filled days in Vietnam’s capital. Make sure to visit as many of these attractions in Hanoi as possible because they all offer entertainment, beauty, and education at different turns. Enjoy our list of top must-see places in Hanoi.
1. Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is one of the most popular destinations in Hanoi. It is the final resting place of Ho Chi Minh, the most iconic and popular leader of Vietnam, known to his people as ‘Uncle Ho’. For foreigners, this trip can be an extraordinary experience as it is not just an average attraction - it’s a part of a unique history and the respect to history.
Security is tight and visitors should dress with respect (no shorts, sleeveless shirts and miniskirts) and everyone has to deposit their bags and cameras before getting in. Visitors are not allowed to stop and hold the constant queue up as the place is constantly busy. Uncle Ho’s remains are sent yearly to Russia for maintenance therefore the mausoleum is closed usually from October onwards. It’s best to recheck with your hotel tour desk before visiting. Admission is free but donations are accepted.
Opening Hours: Tuesday - Thursday 07:30 - 10:30, Saturday & Sunday 07:30 - 11:00
Location: 8 Hung Vuong, Dien Bien, Ba Dinh, Hanoi.
2. Hoan Kiem Lake and Ngoc Son temple
Right on the center of Hanoi, Hoan Kiem Lake or ‘Lake of the Returned Sword’ attracts visitors and locals looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of this modern city. Peaceful and quiet, and green water, the lake surrounded by plenty of trees and shaded spots make visitors more comfortable and relaxing. Right on the lake, after walking across the flag-lined bright red Huc Bridge across to Jade Island, we are in Ngoc Son Temple, a great destination as its legend when it was built in commemoration of the 13th century military leader Tran Hung Dao who was renowned for his bravery in the battle against the Yuan Dynasty.
The lake and temple are probably the most famous places in Hanoi in which to relax and enjoy the beautiful view, to sit back and to watch the locals or simply think about what happened. Standing in the center on a small island of Hoan Kiem lake is ‘Turtle Tower’, which becomes Hanoi’s symbol as well as Vietnam’s with all Vietnamese people and tourists coming to our country.
Temple's Opening Hours: Daily 08:00 - 17:00
3. The Old Quarter
Under more than 1000 years of French colony, Vietnam was influenced dramatically by its culture, language, customs and especially architecture. And the most noticeable evidence is The Old Quarter where one of Hanoi’s most common sights is that of streets packed with bicycles or scooters and cars swarming around pedestrians like a school of fish. Visitors have no choice but to face the traffic in the local style but the experience of exploring the historical area is a must-do and truly well worth it. That can be a memorable experience in Vietnam. The Old Quarter with its old-styled narrow streets full of antique brick houses can amazingly resist the flow of time while still actively adapting to the dynamic atmosphere of Hanoi.
Hanoi at night
Location: Hanoi Old Quarter, Hoan Kiem District
4. The Temple of Literature
As the first university of Vietnam, the Temple of Literature is often cited as one of Hanoi’s most picturesque tourist destinations. When coming to the Temple of Literature, visitors will discover historic buildings from the Ly and Tran dynasties with thousands of first doctors’ graduate’s names engraved on a stone stele in Vietnam - the memorial to education and literature.
Opening Hours: Tuesday - Sunday 8:30 - 11:30 & 13:30 - 16:30
Address: 58 Quoc Tu Giam, Van Mieu, Dong Da, Hanoi
Price Range: 10,000 VND.
5. The Imperial Citadel of Thang Long
The Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, is an intriguing relic of Vietnam’s history and, signifying its historical and cultural importance, was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010. Also known as the Hanoi Citadel, many artifacts and items dating back to between the 6th and 20th centuries were excavated in 2004, including foundations of old palaces, ancient roads, ponds, and wells. On top of these discoveries, archaeologists also found bronze coins, ceramics, and pottery from China and many places in Asia, all of which demonstrate a close trading relationship in the area. Visitors should head for the display room that features interesting excavated items and mock-ups of the citadel itself.
The ancient site was the political centre of the country for 13 consecutive centuries and served as the capital of Vietnam for eight centuries. A notable attraction in the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long was the Hanoi Flag Tower, a renovated 40-metre-tall stone fortress offering expansive views of Ba Dinh Square and Hanoi City Centre.
This prominent site is also within a 15-minute walk from attractions such as Quan Thanh Temple, Vietnam
Opening Hours: Tuesday – Sunday 08:00 – 17:00
Location: 9 Hoang Dieu, Dien Bien, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi
Price Range: 30,000 VND.
6. One Pillar Pagoda
One pillar pagoda has a very interesting design, it is said to represent a lotus flower growing up out of water. This pagoda was built in 11th century by the emperor in gratitude for finally being blessed by a son. The shrine inside the pagoda is dedicated to the deity Quan Am of Vietnamese Buddhists.
The current structure is a rebuild (several times actually), because the first was destroyed by the French troops after their retreat.
Like Thang Long, one pillar pagoda is a peculiar sight of Vietnam. If you come to Ha Noi, you can’t miss this place.
Opening Hours: 08:00 - 17:00
Location: in the park behind the museum near Ba Dinh Square at Ong Ich Kiem Street in the Ba Dinh District.
Entrance fee: Free
7. Water Puppet Theatre
This unique traditional art style of Vietnam has been known all around the world, it is first evolved in rural areas in 11th century, most of the shows recount Vietnamese folk tales and legends with topics including the celebration of the rice harvest depicted in a humorous fashion.
Thang Long water puppet theatre is one of the most popular destinations of tourists so the show tickets are sold out quite fast if you choose this place in your list, you should reserve seats as soon as you arrive in town, there is an additional fee in case you use the camera. You can sit and enjoy a meal while discovering this ancient dramatic art.
Opening Hours: Daily 15:00, 16:10, 17:20, 18:30 & 20:00
Address: 57B, Dinh Tien Hoang Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
Tel: +84 43 824 9494
Ticket: from VND 100,000/ pax.
8. Vietnam Museum of Ethnology
Vietnam Museum of ethnology provides visitors with insights about 54 different ethnic groups of Vietnam in order to preserve cultural heritage and promote socio-cultural diversity within the country.
The museum is full of information about traditional Vietnamese ways of life (written in Vietnamese, English and French), from religious events to the symbolic rituals of all the Vietnamese ethnic groups, so that tourists can capture the beauty of the diversity of culture.
The exhibition hall features everyday objects representing each group, a research center, library and auditorium while the outdoor displays area exhibits a variety of Vietnamese homes as full-scale replicas, with great attention paid to the varying architectural styles set within the authentic and tranquil gardens.
Opening Hours: From 08:30 - 17:30, closed on Mondays
Location: Nguyen Van Huyen Street, Cau Giay, Hanoi.
ADMISSION - 40,000VND/person
- Vietnamese students: 15,000VND/student (valid student card required);
- Pupils (age 6 - age 18): 10,000VND/pupil;
- Beneficiaries of preferential policies on cultural enjoyment (elder people, severe disabilities etc.): 50% of ticket price;
- Minority ethnic people: 50% of ticket price (valid identity card required).
- Children under 6 years old;
- Special severe disabilities;
- ICOM members (valid membership card required);
- Friends of the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology (valid card required);
- Journalists (valid journalist card required);
9. Dong Xuan Market
Dong Xuan market is a market located in the center Hoan Kiem district of Hanoi. Originally built by the French administration in 1889. This market offers a wide range of goods, you can find almost anything at this place, from food like meat, vegetables, flowers, pets, clothing to electronics and household appliances. The food hall lets you chow down on hearty local fare for mere pennies a meal. If you’re looking for souvenirs, the second floor has many things like t-shirts, fabrics, handicrafts,..etc.. sold at wholesale prices!
Not only that, there are many more shops surrounding Dong Xuan market, which sell Dong Ho drawings, Bat Trang ceramics, Binh Da embroideries and laces, and sand paintings. I believe these products would preserve good memories of Ha Noi for you.
Opening Hours: Daily 06:00 - 19:00
Address: Dong Xuan Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi.
10. Hoa Lo Prison Museum
Built by the French colonial government in the late 19th century, Hoa Lo Prison Museum was originally used to harbor Vietnamese revolutionaries and any dissidents of the French rule. For many foreign visitors though, it's better known as the prison where American POWs were held during the Vietnam War.
This is quite a creepy place that can inflict feelings of sorrow, and disgust. The prison's displays focus on the sufferings of Vietnamese revolutionaries who were confined (and sometimes executed) here when the French were the masters of Vietnam in the early part of the 20th century. Nevertheless, the Hoa Lo Prison is still worth a visit, if only to experience the colonial experience or catch a glimpse of how terrifying war can be.
Address: 1 Hoa Lo, Tran Hung Đao, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
Opening Hours: Every day from 8:00 -17:00
Phone: 024 3934 2253
Ticket: 30.000VND/Adult (Discount 50% for Student with the car)
Other sight-seeing places
Besides plentiful cultural relics, temples or pagodas, Hanoi also impresses tourists by many other scenes of fresh, green and peaceful beauty standing around all the city’s lakes and under high green trees with large shadows on sunny days such as West Lake, Truc Bach, Bay Mau Lake, or churches.
Hanoi culture tours
Many culture tours like farming or cooking tours are often available on villages on the suburb of Hanoi, at all duration and price levels from different travel agencies. Hanoi is a mix of busy modern life and sustainable values preserved for generations. So these tours tend to be more favorable in both domestic visitors and foreigners when they have a chance to be closer to traditional values, foods, green farms and customs of Vietnam as well as share peaceful moments with friends or family.
Hanoi culture tours with farmers
It is also a precise opportunity for Vietnamese to introduce our local life, local market, traditional dishes, and enhance our image around the world – friendly, hospitable and imbued with national identity.
A lot of interesting and meaningful places that visitors can do in Hanoi, let’s consider carefully to make your trip to that lovely city really a great and comfortable experience.
Another modern Hanoi will amaze you as well.