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Hanoi Travel Guide

Being the heart and the capital of Vietnam, Hanoi is definitely a must-see destination for all tourists including both domestic and foreign tourists. To help the tourists have a comprehensive view of the city, Holidaytoindochina would like to share a list of Hanoi travel guides including the best time to visit, the way to get there, Hanoi’s transportation, the best attractions to see, the best things to do, and the best places to stay.

1. Overview of Hanoi:

This is a very important thing to know before you find out other things about Hanoi. About location, Hanoi locates in the North of Vietnam, very easy to check on the internet. Hanoi does not have mountains and beaches but has thousand years of civilization with many museums, temples, and pagodas so the main tour in Hanoi is Hanoi city tour full day. Come to Hanoi, you will have a chance to visit all highlights of Hanoi (read below); explore the daily life of Hanoian – the way they communicate, the food they eat, the vehicle they use, etc.; and enjoy many famous street food.

2. The best time to visit Hanoi

Hanoi is a beautiful city that you can visit all time of the year because Hanoi has its own beauty in each season: spring, summer, autumn and winter. We would like to clarify the beauty of each season then you can choose the best time to visit Hanoi for yourselves.

Hanoi travel guide

Spring season (February – April): the weather of Hanoi is very humid and wet with drizzles in Spring. The average temperature normally is 18 degree. So the weather is very suitable for the plants to grow and flowers to blossom. Especially, Spring is also the time for many traditional festivals including Tet holiday or The New Year Festival – the biggest and most important festival of Vietnamese. Therefore, Spring is considered as a good time to visit Hanoi.

Summer season (May - August): In summer, Hanoi is very hot with the average temperature of 30 - 37 degree (and has risen up in recent years).  July is the hottest month of the year with the temperature of 36 - 40 degree. Along with the heat is heavy rain, not all time but in a long time, may be all day. So many people don’t like to visit Hanoi as well as the North of Vietnam in summer. However, the day in summer is longer than winter so you will have more time to explore Hanoi like watch Tai Chi at the morning, take photos of the sunset on the West Lake, etc. In addition, tour services in Summer are also cheaper than the others because this is a low season. So if you want to avoid crowded tourists or if you are limited about your budget, Summer is a good time to visit Hanoi for you.

Autumn season (September – November):  It can be said that Fall is best time for tourists to visit Hanoi. The weather of Hanoi in Autumn is cool, warm and dry, not too hot as Summer and too cold as Winter with the average temperature of 25 degree. The scenery and atmosphere of Hanoi in Autumn is also beautiful and romantic, which became a popular topic for many famous song and poems. It’s so lucky if you can visit Hanoi in Autumn.

Winter (December – January):  The winter of Hanoi is very cold with the temperature of 10 - 18 degree, may be dropped to 3 – 5 degree. So if you visit Hanoi this time, you should bring enough warm clothes. Someone don’t like the winter of Hanoi because of the cold weather and less the sunshine. On the other hand, many people love Hanoi’s winter the most compared to the others. Hanoi’s winter is a season of many delicious street food like grilled corn, fried bread sticks, congee, boiled snails, grilled Vietnamese sausages, hot rice flour cake, etc., which can warm you up in a chilly day. It’s also a season of wedding that you can see many blooms and brides took photos for their wedding. In Vietnam, only the North has the winter, and the winter of Hanoi is the most beautiful, not too cold as Sapa or Ha Giang or other provinces in the North. Many Hanoians who live in other Vietnam provinces, even in other countries, feel that they deeply remember the chill of Hanoi in the winter than any season. Let’s come and visit Hanoi in Winter and you will understand why Hanoians remember it so deeply!

How to get Hanoi?

3. How to get Hanoi?

It’s very easy to come to Hanoi by flight, train, car as well as bus or motorbike.

By flight:

Hanoi has the Noi Bai International Airport, which is far about 35km north of the city so you can get Hanoi by flights easily and quickly.

For international flights, you can consider lists of the Airlines below:

  • Aeroflot (Hanoi - Moscow-Sheremetyevo)
  • Asiana Airlines (Hanoi - Seoul)
  • Cebu Pacific (Hanoi - Manila)
  • China Airlines (Hanoi  -Taipei)
  • China Southern Airlines (Hanoi - Beijing, Guangzhou)
  • Dragon Air (Hanoi - Hong Kong)
  • EVA Air (Hanoi - Taipei)
  • Hong Kong Airlines (Hanoi - Hong Kong)
  • Japan Airlines (Hanoi - Kansai, Tokyo-Narita)
  • Korean Air (Hanoi - Busan)
  • Lao Airlines (4 flights a week, Hanoi - Luang Prabang, Vientiane, and Phnom Penh.
  • Lot Polish Airlines (Hanoi - Warsaw)
  • Malaysia Airlines (Hanoi - Kuala Lumpur)
  • Qatar Airways (Hanoi - Bangkok - Suvarnabhumi, Doha)
  • Shanghai Airlines (Hanoi - Shanghai)
  • SilkAir (Hanoi - Singapore)
  • Singapore Airlines (Hanoi - Singapore)
  • Thai Airways International (Hanoi - Bangkok.
  • Uni Air (Hanoi - Kaohsiung)
  • Vietnam Airlines
  • JetStar Pacific
  • Vietjet Air

You can search the information of these above airlines to check your flights exactly.

For domestic flights, Vietnam Airline and Jetstar and Vietjet are 3 main Airlines. Although Vietnam Airline is the most expensive but the most reputable, rarely be postponed, lost luggage or stolen luggage. You can check the itinerary and the cost of your flights of these airlines on their official website on the internet: Vietnam Airline (www.vietnamairlines.com) and Jetstar (www.jetstar.com) and Vietjet (www.vietjetair.com)

From Hanoi Airport, you can get Hanoi city by taxi (15 – 25 USD), or shuttle bus (40,000 VND, approximately $2). If you booked your hotel in Hanoi already, you can ask them to dispatch a driver.  If you want to transfer by a private car, please contact us at info@holidaytoindochina.com .

By Train:

It’s also very convenient to get Hanoi by trains. Although the duration of trains is longer than flights, many tourists want to transfer by trains because of many reasons. The cost is cheaper while you can watch the beauty of many villages in rural along the railway. You can buy the train ticket from ticket agencies or buy online by yourselves. Please note that, you should buy your ticket as soon as possible to avoid fully-booked tickets and get a cheap price.

By Bus:

Bus is also a cheap option to get Hanoi. Mai Linh bus and Hoang Long bus are two main buses you can consider if you want to choose this option.

However, buses are suitable for a short distance only, for example, from Halong Bay to Hanoi, or From Sapa to Hanoi, or from Ninh Binh to Hanoi, etc. For long distances such as Hoi An, Danang, Ho Chi Minh, Nha Trang, Phu Quoc, etc., most tourists prefer traveling by flights – faster, safer and more convenient.

Cyclo in Hanoi

4. Transportation around Hanoi:

Around Hanoi, you can travel by buses, taxis, motorbikes, cycles, or cyclo. Cyclo is a good option to explore Hanoi Old Quarter (40,000 – 50,000 VND/ hour) while taxi is rarely used by the tourists. Therefore, we will give you some travel tips to travel Hanoi by buses, motorbikes and cycles.

By Bus:

Bus is the most popular mean of transportation to travel around Hanoi for those who are travelling on a budget and want to experience fully Hanoi’s lifestyle and Hanoi’s culture.

Bus ticket price: The price of a bus ticket is not expensive and it is written clearly as the small line with red letters along the window of the bus. The bus ticket is the same to everyone,  both locals and foreigners.

We would like to list some main buses to get Hanoi’s famous attractions below:

  • Hanoi Buses to Ho Chi Minh Complex: Bus No. 09, No. 22, No. 33, No. 45, No. 50
  • Hanoi Buses to Temple of Literature: Bus No. 02 and No. 22 (from Ha Dong district), No. 09 (From Cau Giay District), No.33, No. 50, No. 23, No. 32 and No. 38
  • Hanoi Buses to Tran Quoc Pagoda or West Lake: Bus No. 33 and No. 50
  • Hanoi Buses to Hoan Kiem Lake (Hanoi Old Quarter): Bus No. 08, No. 09, No. 14, No. 31, No. 36
  • Hanoi Buses to Vietnam Museum of Ethnology: Bus No. 07, No. 12, No. 22, No. 37, No. 39, No. 62
  • Hanoi Buses to Hoa Lo Prison:  Bus No. 02, No. 09, No. 11, No. 40, No. 34

To be well-prepared, we recommend you should buy the bus routes map to get detailed information about the bus numbers, the bus stops and the full route. Or search on the internet before you go.

By Motorbike:

Motorbike is also a good way to explore the real life of Hanoi. It’s affordable and easy to find a motorbike to rent with the price of $5 a day. They often keep your passport as a deposit. If your hotel is holding on it, you can ask your hotel to help you rent the motorbike.  Please make sure that you learned carefully the rules of using motorbikes in Vietnam before you practice.

By cycle:

You also can travel Hanoi by bike but we recommend you should not travel by this way in Hanoi center because of many reasons. Hanoi is not like Hoi An where you can bike everywhere and every time. It’s very crowd while the road is small and you have to pay more attention to avoid motorbikes as well as cars. You will not have time to watch anything. Cycle is only suitable to visit some attractions far from Hanoi Center such as Dong Ho village, Bat Trang Pottery village, But Thap Pagoda, etc.

Besides, walking around Hanoi Old Quarter to enjoy street food, to shop, to take photos is also a great idea.  

5. Attractions in Hanoi

Hoan Kiem Lake

Being known as a mirror-like green lake, a beautiful basket of flowers in the heart of the city, Hoan Kiem Lake, also known as Sword Lake, is the symbol of Hanoi and the leading natural landscape that cannot be missed during your Vietnam holiday. In association with a long history, Hoan Kiem Lake witnessed thousand years of civilization of the capital. Furthermore, next to Hoan Kiem Lake, there are impressive buildings and precious heritage of the city: Pen Tower, Nghien Temple, The Huc Bridge leading to Dac Nguyet and Ngoc Son Temple.

hanoi city tour

Previously, Hoan Kiem Lake used to be named Luc Thuy Lake due to its green water all year round. In the 15th century, it was recalled Hoan Kiem Lake because of the legend which describes how Golden Torture God gave Emperor Le Loi a magic sword which helped him defeat the invaders. But then the sword had to be returned to its owner after the nation’s independence was reclaimed. Hoan Kiem Lake is without a doubt an indispensable part of Hanoi, the heart of the city in particular and Vietnam in general.

Getting up early to witness Vietnamese people practice Tai Chi is one of the most exciting things. In the early morning and afternoon, the banks of Ho Hoan Kiem are full of mostly elderly people working out. Don’t forget to walk around the lake which might take you about 30 minutes, feel the atmosphere there and watch the daily life of Hanoians to fulfill your time in this wonderful city.

Ngoc Son Temple

There are a lot of magnificent historical artifacts around Hoan Kiem Lake, in which the most sacred and stunning one would have to be Ngoc Son Temple. It is one of the best highlights in any Hanoi City tour which should not be missed.

The temple was built to worship General Tran Hung Dao, The Physician La To and The Scholar Van Xuong. There are many stories behind the symbols written on several gates which the temple consists of. You definitely would like to hear about them from our experienced tour guide who will give you in-depth knowledge about culture and history.

One Pillar Pagoda

Hanoi is the center of the Buddhist religion and for this reason the inner city has many centuries-old temples which still remain theirs majesty. The most famous and iconic one is One Pillar Pagoda which was specially designed to represent a lotus blossoming out of the lake of sorrow.

In the past, One Pillar Pagoda used to suffer from so many devastations due to colonial invasions. The structure of One Pillar Pagoda you see nowadays was rebuilt by the new authority, which can be only considered the replica of the original one. The pagoda is located right next to Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, in the center of the capital. It is believed that if you pray at One Pillar Pagoda, it can bring you health, well-being and prosperity.

The Temple of Literature

The Temple of Literature, also known as Van Mieu Quoc Tu Giam, is one of the most special historical – cultural sites in Vietnam. This is the very first university in the country where our traditional fondness for learning is honored and preserved, and the value of distinctive features of Vietnam’s civilization is strongly expressed. With a rich historical and cultural depth, The Temple of Literature is one intricate destination which is not to be missed in any Vietnam tour package.

temple of literature

When coming to Hanoi, foreign visitors consider this site the very first stop-over with an interest in discovering a beauty spot of architectural and historical values including literature and philosophy which were based on Confucian. The Temple of Literature was established under Ly Thanh Tong Dynasty in 1070 in an honor to dedicate the philosopher Confucius. 6 years later, Ly Nhan Tong took over the temple and continued to build and consolidate Van Mieu Quoc Tu Giam as the first university in Vietnam.

The temple is a shining little gem in the heart of the city which offers fascinating and in-depth look back to thousand years of our great history. Tourists can come here to get out of the hectic life and chaos that surround, to immerse yourself in the tranquility and the dignity of this wonderful cultural – historical heritage.

The admission fee for the Temple of Literature is 30,000 VND. The opening hour is from 8:30 to 11:30 in the morning and from 13:30 to 16:30 in the afternoon, except for Monday and national holidays.

Ba Dinh Square - Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Complex

When traveling to Hanoi, tourists cannot skip the political center of Vietnam including the Parliament, the Presidential Palace, the historical Ba Dinh Square where the one and only President Ho Chi Minh read the Declaration of Independence, giving birth to the Democratic Republic of Vietnam 71 years ago, on 2 September, 1945 and Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum where preserves his corpse. Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is open 5 days a week, on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. Visitors must comply with regulations such as strictly dress code, not bringing bags and cameras inside and keeping order in the Mausoleum.

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is the eternal resting place of Vietnam’s great leader. It was officially constructed on 2 September 1973, in the former location of the stage at Ba Dinh square and inaugurated on 29 August 1975. Vietnamese people and foreign tourists come here to honor, to admire and give attitude towards the greatest national hero: President Ho Chi Minh who played the most important role in leading Vietnam to independence and reunification.

In the large garden behind the Presidential Palace - the former home of the Governor General of Indochina, there is a narrow gravel road leading to a small house which is called Uncle Ho’s stilt house. There is hibiscus fence surrounding this place where Ho Chi Minh lived and worked from May 17, 1958 until He passed away.

Ho Chi Minh Museum was built according to the aspirations of the Vietnamese people to show eternal gratitude and remembering the great President Ho Chi Minh. The museum began construction on 31 August 1985 and was officially inaugurated on 19 May 1990, right on the day to commemorate 100th birthday of Uncle Ho. It is the storage of more than one hundred thousand objects, documents and documentaries of Uncle Ho’s daily life and revolutionary work.

Hanoi Opera House

Hanoi Opera House is the smaller version of Opéra Garnier in Paris, which is located on Trang Tien Street, near Hoan Kiem Lake. This cultural attraction was built in 1902 and inaugurated in 1911. With incredible architecture, modern interior, superb decoration & setting, and historical significance, Hanoi Opera House is a perfect place to hold major cultural activities, symphonies and classical music shows. It has been renovated, upgraded with the aim to expand international exchanges, preserve and promote Vietnamese historical and cultural values. In fact, Hanoi Opera House is always on the list of top things to see when traveling to Hanoi.

Hanoi Cathedral

Hanoi Cathedral, also known as St. Joseph's Cathedral, is the cathedral of Hanoi Archdiocese, as well as one of the very first Western structures to be built in the city. The church was designed based on the architecture style of medieval Europe Gothic, which was popular in the 12th century and the Renaissance in Europe. Hanoi Cathedral was made in the form of Notre Dame Cathedral with broad and curved arches. The main construction material of the church is terracotta tiles and walls plastered with paper mulch. With airy and pleasant view, this amazing destination attracts not only many young Hanoians but also foreign tourists. In the morning, drink a special cup of sidewalk café in the chilling weather of Hanoi’s autumn. In the evening, don’t forget to gather your friends and enjoy a lemon tea party. It would be so much fun.

Hanoi Old Quarter

Hanoi Old Quarter used to be considered the ancient Venice of Vietnam, and still remains its unique features until today. Hanoi Old Quarter is often called the 36 Streets which located in the heart of Hanoi, belongs to Hoan Kiem district and covers an area of 100 hectares. Formerly, it was destination where many specialized craftsman guilds gather. Each street was named after a commodity: Sugar Street, Salt Street, Jam Street, etc. In the old quarter of Hanoi, together with traditional houses are cultural, historical, religious sites and cuisine restaurants. One of the greatest things about Hanoi Old Quarter is that it still retains the architectural appearance of both Vietnam and Asia which constitutes a unique architectural ensemble with built-up houses and crowded streets.

hanoi old quarter

These old towns are very attractive places for tourists to explore. Many “tube” houses in this area have narrow width and extend to the rear. You can walk along the alleys between these buildings or simply visit one of the shops on Hang Gai Street to see their typical measurements with 3 meters wide by 60 meters long.

Nowadays, Hanoi is facing complicated and tremendous volatility of the adaption to social development, which replace some houses and streets with modern buildings. Nevertheless, Hanoi Old Quarter still remains its own charm that could never be faded. It has become one of the most stunning features of the city which inspire a lot of painters, writers, designers and rhymesters.

6. Things to do in Hanoi

Hanoi City Tour with local expert

If you come to Hanoi for the first time, you should definitely go and discover all the wonderful highlights this city gets to offer. And there is nothing better than doing a Hanoi city tour with our local expert to explore top Hanoi attractions, to learn more about its unique history & culture. You will have a chance to visit all of the destinations which were mentioned above and absolutely get a delightful insight to the daily life of Hanoians. We also cannot fail to mention water puppet show – one of the most stunning highlights in any Hanoi City Tour.

Highlights: visiting Ho Chi Minh Complex, One Pillar Pagoda, Temple of Literature, Hoan Kiem Lake, Ngoc Son Temple, cyclo, water puppet show.

Detailed itinerary: please click here.

Hanoi Street Food Tour

Discovering street food is one of the most interesting parts whenever you travel somewhere new. Not only is street food amazingly tasteful, cheap, and fresh, but it is also the greatest way to get a deeper understanding about local culture and daily life. Seriously you cannot even expect more from it. Many tourists have already admitted that Hanoi is without a doubt the most authentic street food city in the whole world. Don’t buy into it? Go feel it yourself.  

Highlights: enjoying Banh Trung – sticky rice cake, Banh Ran - sticky rice pancake, Banh Cuon – rolled sticky rice cake, Xoi thit/trung/gio – Sticky rice with pork/egg/Vietnamese sausage, Bun Dau Mam Tom - Fried Tofu served with Vermicelli and Shrimp Sauce, Bun Cha - Hanoi Style Vermicelli with Grilled Pork, Bia Hoi – Draught beer, Trung Vit Lon - Fertilized duck eggs, Banh Chuoi/Khoai/Ngo – Banana/Yam/Corn deep-fried cakes, Ca Phe - Vietnamese coffee, Hoa qua dam - Mix fruits.

Detailed itinerary:  please click here.

Hanoi Surroundings Tour

Taking a tour outside Hanoi to its surroundings is a great idea if you would like to get out of this bustling city for one day or two. Immerse yourself in the wonderful nature with rice paddies, villages, rivers and have lunch in a local farmer’s house. It is guaranteed that you are going to have a completely brand new experience. Here are our suggested Hanoi surrounding tours for you to consider:

hanoi surroundings tour

7. Best hotels to stay in Hanoi

Hanoi offers many choices of accommodation for visitors, from the most luxury hotels to the budget ones with different styles which can meet any requirement. The majority of best hotels in Hanoi are located in the heart of the city making it much more convenient to get around for sightseeing, shopping or dining out.

5-star Hotels:

  • Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi - www.sofitel-legend.com/hanoi/en/
  • Melia Hanoi Hotel - www.melia.com/en/hotels/vietnam/hanoi/melia-hanoi/index.html
  • Hotel de l’Opera Hanoi - www.hoteldelopera.com/

4-star Hotels:

  • Silk Path Hotel - www.silkpathhotel.com/
  • Golden Silk Hotel - www.goldensilkhotel.com/
  • Mövenpick Hotel Hanoi - www.movenpick.com/en/asia/vietnam/hanoi/hotel-hanoi/overview/

3-star Hotels:

  • Boss Legend Hotel - www.bosslegendhotel.com/
  • May De Ville Hotel - www.maydeville.vn/
  • Medallion Hotel - www.medallionhanoi.com/

 

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