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Plan Your Trip to Hanoi: Best of Hanoi Tourism

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Hanoi, Vietnam

Despite centuries of French and Chinese influence, Hanoi is a city that’s wholly (and proudly) Vietnamese. But its layered history is everywhere you look—from the Old Quarter with its French colonial buildings to the more than 600 temples and pagodas around the city. You can get right to the history of the city at sites like Hoa Lo Prison or the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. Take it all in by foot (or scooter), making time for detours at some of the city’s newer additions: independent art galleries, boutique shops, and trendy cafes. If you’re coming just for the food, you’re not alone. Banh mi and bun cha are obviously musts, but save room for other street food faves: crispy crepes, stir-fried eel, shrimp cakes, and a few frosty beers to wash it all down. For the best of what Hanoi has to offer, get even more recs below.

Travel Advice

Essential Hanoi

How to do Hanoi in 2 days

Coconut coffee, lakeside walks, and rich history
Read on

Traveler Guides

The restaurants that made me fall in love with Hanoi

It took two trips for me to fall in love with Hanoi. More than a decade after my first visit, I returned and found myself charmed by its seriously delicious food, from the chewy noodles to the delicate catfish to the crispy snake skin (yes, that’s really a thing). I’m pretty sure that these places will charm you as well.
Chawadee N, Bangkok, Thailand
  • Backstage - Capella Hanoi
    57
    In the French Quarter, this opera-themed restaurant dials the drama all the way up to a “fever dream” level. A proscenium arch frames the open kitchen, where an army of chefs specializes in turning out “Nouveau Northern Vietnamese” cuisine. That means the traditional dishes have been gussied up with premium ingredients like French Bresse chicken in the chicken salad, Ban pork in the skewers, and Sapa trout in the spring rolls.
  • Era Restaurant
    2,573
    A culinary institution in Hanoi’s Old Town, Era has been churning out faithful renditions of Vietnamese standards like noodle soup with beef and fried spring rolls with minced pork for years. Overseen by its charming owners, Era is the place for Vietnamese food lovers who want their meal without fad-following bells and whistles. One of the most popular selections is the Vietnamese barbecue, featuring grilled beef and pork served with a yummy tamarind sauce.
  • The Hung Ha Noi Snake Restaurant
    1,581
    If you consider yourself an adventurous eater, then you have to try snake. In Northern Vietnam, the slithery reptile isn’t just a delicacy, it’s considered a cure for everything from migraines to back pain. Among the most popular eateries specializing in snake is Hung Hanoi Snake, helmed by a charismatic owner named Hung Dragon. He will happily explain what goes into dishes like fried snake skin and snake egg soup.
  • Bun Cha Huong Lien
    945
    It’s hard to talk about street food in Hanoi without mentioning this low-key eatery, where celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain and President Barack Obama once famously shared a meal. Although the French Quarter restaurant might be too focused on that one dinner—the table where the two men ate is now enshrined behind plexiglass—its namesake dish, featuring grilled pork and rice noodles, still gets raves.
  • Pho Bat Dan
    325
    A standby since the 1960s, this shophouse specializes in pho, a noodle soup that has become almost synonymous with Vietnam. The freshly made noodles, still cooked using the original recipe, continue to attract long lines thanks to the bone marrow-enriched broth. Because of the crowds at lunch and dinner, it’s probably best to visit early in the morning or at another less busy time. Note: the “half-done” option is the tastier of the two.
  • Cha Ca Thang Long
    1,190
    It’s a brave eatery that serves only one dish, but Cha Ca Thang Long is known for having one of the best versions of a Northern Vietnamese specialty called cha ca. Its grilled catfish with turmeric, cooked tableside in a saucepan, and garnished with fresh dill. This restaurant has three locations on the same street, but the one at 6B Duong Thanh Street gets high praise.

Hanoi Travel Guide

Travelers' pro tips for experiencing Hanoi

Anh N

There are many things to see in Hanoi but you will definitely need at least 2 days. During the day, walk in the old quarter and see attractions in the city might kill your full day. The nightlife is at the night market. Try to enjoy the street food.

Michael

The locals are all very helpful, just ask.

Kirsty S

If you’re planning a trip to Hanoi that will be mainly outdoors, keep the climate in mind. Summer is hot and humid. The best time for outdoor activities is in spring and autumn.

George Kalofonos

Hanoi is the capital city of Vietnam and a very different experience to that which you'll find in Ho Chi Minh City. This northern, and most cosmopolitan, city...is an excellent base to explore Hanoi's interesting and traditional countryside, or for a trip to Halong Bay.

BeckAndGunny

Hanoi is a city on the move. Literally. The speed of life in this capital can make your head spin. From the cramped streets to the multitudes of scooters flashing past, you'll feel the heartbeat of Hanoi every minute of every day you're there.

Mik W

Hanoi is the best of all kinds of crazy. From the colorful whirlwind of the center to old colonial architecture to bars that mix locals, expats, travelers, and, of course, to the relics of Ho Chi Minh and the Vietnamese war, this city is a one-stop-shop for an ever enchanting and historically important region.

What is the best way to get there?

flying

The main international airport is Noi Bai Airport which is located in the Soc San District of Hanoi. This district is approximately thirty miles from downtown Hanoi. Upon arrival, visitors can either take a taxi or have the hotel transport pick them up to take them to their hotel destination.

Do I need a visa?

If you’re visiting Hanoi from overseas, visit the Vietnamese Immigration Department website to see if you need a visa.

When is the best time to visit?

Autumn and Spring: In autumn (around September to November) and Spring (in March and April), Hanoi’s weather is at its best. In winter, Hanoi is quite cold with temperatures falling below 10ºC (50ºF). In summer, things get hotter, with temperatures averaging around 28-35ºC (82º-95ºF). Hanoi has high humidity year-round. Check out this comprehensive tip sheet with what to expect.

Get around

private car

Visitors often opt to rent a private car (and driver) when arriving at the airport in Hanoi. This is considered to be an efficient and inexpensive form of transportation. Car rental companies assign drivers as guides to assist visitors in getting around the area. This is a standard procedure and a common way for visitors to get in and out of the city after arriving in Hanoi. Having a private car hire and driver is a good way to become acquainted with Hanoi and the surrounding area.

motorcycle hire

For those interested in motorcycle hire, it's important to note that traffic patterns and driving styles are much different than what foreigners are used to in their home countries. If you are planning to pilot your own vehicle, be warned that all of Vietnam is a "motorbike society,” and as such motorbike driving follows Vietnamese patterns that visitors are not used to. It could be considered alien, random, chaotic, or insane to the western visitor. Even drivers in big trucks and buses drive as if they were sitting on top of a small nimble motorbike. You may want to seriously reconsider driving your own vehicle, at least until you have a good understanding of the local rules.

walking

Visitors should also know that, upon getting into downtown Hanoi, it is relatively easy to get around on foot. Visitors should feel free to save their money for tours and walk around instead of renting a car or motorbike.

More tips on getting around Hanoi here.

On the ground

What is the time zone?

Indochina Time

What are the voltage/plug types?

220 V / 50 Hz, plug type A

What is the local currency?

The Vietnamese dong

Are ATMs readily accessible?

Yes. It is also relatively easy to get around in Vietnam with US dollars, though the smallest denomination accepted is the dollar bill, so you may end up paying more than you need to.

Are credit cards widely accepted?

Yes in major hotels, department stores, and upscale restaurants. It’s always good to have cash on hand.

How much do I tip?

Tipping is not part of the culture in Vietnam, and you are not required to tip anywhere. There will be a service charge for more upscale restaurants. People more accustomed to receiving tips are tour guides and in Western-style hotels.

Get more tipping tips here.

Are there local customs I should know?

Be polite

Vietnamese people have long been famed for their grace, politeness, generosity, and hospitality. Locals are so friendly that you can rest assured they will make every possible effort to make your trip as enjoyable as possible.

Dress well

Generally speaking, Vietnamese people are careful in their dress, especially in public areas. In order to avoid this culturally sensitive matter, foreign travelers are strongly advised to put on a proper dress when they are out.

Frequently Asked Questions about Hanoi



Hanoi is known for some of its popular attractions, which include:


If you're a more budget-conscious traveler, then you may want to consider traveling to Hanoi between September and November, when hotel prices are generally the lowest. Peak hotel prices generally start between March and May.