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Hanoi things to do: TOP activities to put on your bucket list right away

16/11/2022 1689 views

Hanoi things to do list can be endless since this city offers tourists numerous attractions and activities. Therefore, this article suggests some of the best things to do in Hanoi for your trip.

Hanoi things to do

There are various things to do in Hanoi city (Source: Collected)

Hanoi things to do are potentially the first thing that comes to your mind if you are planning a Hanoi travel itinerary. With a history of more than 1,000 years, this capital city is home to various historical and cultural sites. It also offers diverse exciting activities for tourists to experience.

1. Hanoi things to see: Visit renowned historical and cultural sites

Hanoi is known for its long-lasting history and rich culture. Visiting this city, it is impossible to miss out on these famous locations that embrace Hanoi’s historical and cultural values.

1.1. Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

Hanoi things to do

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is an important cultural and historical symbol of Hanoi (Source: Collected)

Visiting Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum has long been regarded as the first thing to do in Hanoi for newcomers. Coming here, you will get to know more about Ho Chi Minh’s life and his significance in Vietnamese history, as well as expand your understanding of Vietnam through many nearby relics.

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum represents the profound feelings of pride and devotion among Vietnamese people towards their leader. Every morning, there will be a flag raising ceremony for the people to show appreciation for their great leaders. Thanks to its significant cultural and historical values, the mausoleum attracts a large number of tourists coming to visit.

1.2. Temple of Literature

Hanoi things to do

The majestic Temple of Literature (Source: Collected)

Temple of Literature (Van Mieu Quoc Tu Giam) is the first university in Vietnam. This was where examinations took place to find talented people to help the king take care of the country. One of the key features of this site is the stone steles attached to the turtle figures. These steles are engraved with names of talented scholars in the feudal era for future generations to honor them.

Today, during the exam season every year, students from all over the country, especially those in Hanoi, flock to this historic site to pray for success in their studies. More interestingly, going to the temple during Tet holiday, you will get the chance to experience one of Vietnamese old traditions: calligraphy. On this occasion, calligraphy masters will gather and write meaningful calligraphy that is said to bring luck and happiness to the people.

If you want to experience this interesting cultural piece of Vietnam, make sure to add this site to your “Hanoi things to do” list.

1.3. Hoa Lo Prison

Hanoi things to do

Hoa Lo Prison gate (Source: Collected)

Located on Hoa Lo Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hoa Lo Prison has an area of nearly 12,000 square meters. It used to be where French colonialists detained political prisoners and was one of the top-security prisons in Indochina. Known as one of the most cruel prisons with terrifying punishments, Hoa Lo Prison is a symbol of the strong will of the prisoners and their sacrifices for the country. With vivid images and models, the prison will help tourists feel the spirit of the revolutionary soldiers and have a better understanding about an important period in Vietnam’s history.

1.4. The Imperial Citadel of Thang Long

Hanoi things to do

The Imperial Citadel of Thang Long has become the most important relic among historical sites around Hanoi, Vietnam (Source: Collected)

The Imperial Citadel of Thang Long is situated in an area of Dien Bien Ward and Quan Thanh Ward. As a well-known historical relic of Hanoi, this is a massive architectural work of which construction spanned through many different dynasties, starting from the Dinh – Tien Le Dynasty. The Citadel has existed for 13 centuries throughout the Ly, Tran, Le, Mac, and Nguyen Dynasties. Around here, tourists have a chance to discover various relics, including 18 Hoang Dieu Archaeological Site, Flag Tower of Hanoi, Kinh Thien Palace, etc.

1.5. One Pillar Pagoda

Hanoi things to do

One Pillar Pagoda is among the most visited Hanoi tourist attractions (Source: Collected)

One Pillar Pagoda consists of a pagoda and a huge pillar supporting it in the middle of a lake. Apart from being a spiritual site, the Pagoda is also a thousand-year cultural symbol and a historical relic of Hanoi. Spending time at this place has always been the top-listed things to do in Hanoi. Coming to One Pillar Pagoda, not only can tourists behold a remarkable architectural work from the feudal era, but you can also burn incense and pray for good luck for yourself and your loved ones.

1.6. Long Bien Bridge

Hanoi things to do

Long Bien Bridge – a historical witness of Hanoi (Source: Collected)

Long Bien Bridge is the first steel bridge across the Red River, built to serve the colonial exploitation of the French colonialists. It is known as a witness that has seen many important historical milestones of the capital city as well as the country.

The bridge has one railway and two roadways. At the beginning of the 20th century, Long Bien Bridge was the longest and most beautiful steel bridge in Indochina. At that time, it was also one of the largest bridges in the world. With its historical value and stunning beauty, Long Bien Bridge is definitely an unmissable attraction on your “Hanoi things to see” list.

1.7. Tran Quoc Pagoda

Hanoi things to do

Tran Quoc Pagoda is known as a sacred ‘gem’ in the heart of Hanoi (Source: Collected)

With a history dating back to 1,500 years ago, Tran Quoc Pagoda is the oldest pagoda in Hanoi. It is also rated as one of the most beautiful pagodas in the world. This is a complex of ancient towers, houses, and Buddha statues. Here, there is a statue of Shakyamuni Buddha made out of wood with glossy golden paint, which has been voted as the most beautiful Lying Buddha statue in Vietnam. With remarkable architecture, calming scenery, and significant cultural values, visiting Tran Quoc Pagoda is definitely one of the top things to do in Hanoi.

2. Hanoi things to do: Explore the French-style buildings

One of the unique things to do in Hanoi is to explore the French-style buildings immersed in this city’s distinctive scenery, which is a combination that you will not find anywhere else.

2.1. Hanoi Opera House

Hanoi things to do

Hanoi Opera House is situated at a prime location in Hanoi downtown (Source: Collected)

Hanoi Opera House was built to host classical art shows like opera, ballet, and drama. Its construction started in 1901 and was completed 10 years later. The Opera House has 3 sections, including the front hall, mirror chamber, and performance hall, which are all decorated with graceful French-style classical chandeliers. Here, visitors can take a tour around and watch the art shows. These experiences are surely worth adding to your Hanoi bucket list.

2.2. St. Joseph’s Cathedral

Hanoi things to do

St. Joseph’s Cathedral’s design follows a French Gothic style (Source: Collected)

Visiting St. Joseph’s Cathedral, the venue where many activities of Hanoi parishes are hosted, should also be included in tourists’ list of “Hanoi things to do”. The site has been a magnet to both locals and visitors thanks to its religious significance and remarkable architectural and historical features.

Besides the French Gothic style, you can also spot some Vietnamese features in St. Joseph’s Cathedral. Traditional red tiles and baked clay bricks are some typical Vietnamese imprints that are present in the cathedral’s architecture.

2.3. Presidential Palace

Hanoi things to do

The Presidential Palace in Hanoi is a national relic of Vietnam (Source: Collected)

Constructed in 1906, the Presidential Palace is a beautiful French-style building that was intended to be President Ho Chi Minh’s official residence. However, he chose to live in a nearby traditional stilt house instead, as he believed that it would be inappropriate to stay in such a luxury building while his people were homeless and starving.

Since political meetings are still held at the Presidential Palace, tourists are not allowed to enter the main building. You can still visit nearby relic sites, especially the stilt house where President Ho used to live. There are also gardens, grass fields, fish ponds, and walking paths, all of which create a solemn and peaceful scenery.

3. Other fantastic things to do in Hanoi Vietnam

Besides visiting these historical attractions, there are numerous other activities that can be listed in the “coolest things to do in Hanoi” list!

3.1. Admire the peaceful beauty of Hoan Kiem Lake

Hanoi things to do

Hoan Kiem Lake scenery can bring a fresh breeze to your mind (Source: Collected)

Hoan Kiem Lake is considered to be one of the most iconic lakes in Vietnam. The peaceful beauty of this lake is thanks to its calm water and pleasant scenery. During weekends, when the streets around Hoan Kiem Lake become a pedestrian-only zone, the area will be a little crowded. Yet, it still retains the soothing atmosphere for visitors. Visiting Hoan Kiem Lake is also one of the best things to do in Hanoi at night, thanks to its alluring beauty.

3.2. Take a tour around Hanoi Old Quarter

Hanoi things to do

Hanoi Old Quarter represent Hanoi’s rich cultural heritage (Source: Collected)

Near Hoan Kiem Lake, there is a must-visit destination in the capital of Vietnam – Hanoi Old Quarter. With a history of 1,000 years, Hanoi Old Quarter attracts a large number of visitors every year. It is not only the heart of Hanoi but also a place that reflects both the ancient and modern beauty of this capital city. When the night comes, it becomes the most lively area of the city with many fancy restaurants, street food vendors, and street performances.

Here, you can meet and talk with the locals and participate in their social activities. Therefore, If you are planning for a list of adventurous things to do in Hanoi, the Old Quarter is an ideal place to get those experiences.

3.3. Enjoy the shows at Thang Long Water Puppet Theater

Hanoi things to do

Hanoi water puppet shows will definitely fascinate you and your kids (Source: Collected)

If you are traveling with kids, watching a show at Thang Long Water Puppet Theater is one of the best things to do in Hanoi with your family. The show tells Vietnamese history through art, or more specifically, through puppets that are controlled by the artists diving under the water. There are puppet shows every day at 3.30 PM, 5 PM, 6.30 PM, 8 PM and 9.15 PM. On Sunday, the theater offers one extra show at 9.30 AM.

3.4. Explore Dong Xuan Market and try tasty foods

Hanoi things to do

Various food choices at Dong Xuan Market (Source: Collected)

Dong Xuan Market is one of the oldest traditional markets in Hanoi. Here, tourists can find a variety of Hanoi local dishes, as well as specialties from all across Vietnam. All the food here is served at a really reasonable price. The market also offers many local items, from sandals to “non la”, a traditional Vietnamese hat. Tourists can literally buy anything they need during a Hanoi trip at Dong Xuan Market. Therefore, visiting the market should be included in your “Hanoi things to do” list so that you will not miss out on this fascinating local shopping experience.

3.5. Have fun at VinKE & Vinpearl Aquarium Times City

Hanoi things to do

The unmissable experiences at VinKE & Vinpearl Aquarium Times City

Another destination for fun things to do in Hanoi is the VinKE & Vinpearl Aquarium Times City.

Vinpearl Aquarium is one the most modern aquariums in Vietnam, which offers more than 30,000 freshwater and saltwater marine specimens for you to discover. VinKE, on the other hand, is an amazing educational playground, where kids can take part in many job simulation games and explore their future career interests.


Book tickets of VinKE & Vinpearl Aquarium here


As a tourism hotspot, Hanoi can definitely offer countless activities for tourists to try. With all the things to do in Hanoi listed above, hopefully you will have a memorable time in this city. Plan your upcoming trip now to see the best of Hanoi!


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