Things to do in Hanoi, Vietnam

From having good food to checking out some historical places, there are lots of things to do in Hanoi, Vietnam. However, with limited time and specific interest, I managed to do only some of them which I am listing below. You can also book guided tours such as this one to visit more places with insights from locals.

Visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

Located at Ba Dinh Square, the mausoleum serves as the resting place of the famous Vietnamese leader, Ho Chi Minh. The local Vietnamese people also refer to him as Bác Hồ or Uncle Ho. It is free to enter but has limited opening times.

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

Visit the Ho Chi Minh Museum

Next to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, you can find the Ho Chi Minh museum. If you have no idea or have limited knowledge about him, this place is a good start to know more. Tickets cost 40,000 VND (1.5 EUR / 2 USD) for adults.

Ho Chi Minh Museum

Checkout the train street

This is one of the things that Hanoi is famous for. In midst of the maddening traffic and life right next to tracks, you can see the train pass at certain times of the day. There can be guards refusing you to venture across the post. Apart from negotiating, going to the cafes or food places along the tracks can be another option to relax alongside the tracks.

Hanoi train street

Visit the B52 Museum

For all the people boasting of knowledge related to wars and military equipments, this place can be another decent short visit. You can find the wreckage of the B52 aircraft that was shot down by the Vietnamese folks. The museum is free and the wreckages are all placed outside. You will witness the mammoth structure here.

B52 Museum

Old Propaganda Posters Shop

This shop was located right next to my hotel. You can find different kinds of posters, stickers and postcards related to propaganda in Vietnam from different points of their historical timeline.

Old Propaganda Posters Shop

Dine at the Old Quarter

The old quarter in Hanoi is a bustling world in itself. Motorcycles speeding past you, diners occupying bulk of the roads, many people screaming, laughing, talking and running around, this place has a lovely vibe. You will either love it or hate it; I loved it. This was my favorite part of Vietnam. My hotel was here. Staying in this area and seeing how this place burts into life once the sun sets in is magical.

Old Quarter

Rent a motorcycle

While public transport is cheap and so are taxis despite getting scammed, renting a motorcycle in Vietnam is a different experience in itself. I hail from Chennai, a big metropolitan city of India with unruly traffic but Hanoi was a whole new world. However, thanks to my driving skills from India, I survived Hanoi. Getting a motorcycle in Hanoi is easy. I was not even asked for any driving license or ID proof and had to pay only 6 USD for the entire day. May be this is because I rented from the folks at my hotel and they already had my ID proof. The motorcycle comes with the tank partially filled and hence the onus is on you to keep track of fuel and refill it. Please check your motorcycle for brakes before you rent them and ask the provider for a helmet; it is usually free. The rent was around 6 USD per day.

Rent a motorcycle

Get a Non La Hat

Get yourself this cool hat. You can bargain them for as cheap as 1 or 2 USD. Some group tours, like mine when I went to Ninh Binh, gave me one for free.

Non La Hat

Wear Ao Dai

Ao Dai is a traditional Vietnamese dress. It is for both men and women. I did not try this out personally but I saw many of them wearing it; especially during the new Lunar year’s eve.

Ao Dai

Go souvenir shopping

I regret having just a backpack during my entire trip. The souvenirs in Vietnam are amazing; it has something for more or less everyone. With my limited space, I managed to get the following: chopsticks made out of coconut trees, regular Vietnamese coffee, coconut coffee, beautiful postcards, fridge magnets and Pho soup mix. You can find many other things like paintings made out of egg shells, Buddhas, different kinds of wine (be careful about the wine with snakes in it; you may have trouble with customs and security in your destination country), sauces, pastes, posters, books on politics and history of Vietnam, Ao Dai and a lot more.

Laughing Buddha

Try Vietnamese food

From Pho to Banh Mi to Bun Cha to noodles to curry rice, try as many dishes you can when in Vietnam. In addition, you can also try their beers. I personally liked Saigon beer more than the Hanoi one. Vietnam is also famous for their different kinds of coffee; especially the ones with coconut and egg. Additionally, you can go for a street food tour or a cooking class as well. I am passionate about food and love cooking and hence I just requested localites to share some recipes or record them cook; they gladly obliged.

Vietnamese Glass Noodles

Author

Ankur Sinha

Playing with data constantly, traveling when I have money and time, cooking to relieve from stress, blogging when I have something to write about.