Hanoi is one of the brightest highlights of a trip to Vietnam. The historic city is full of charm and life, with a bustling atmosphere and a big range of things to do. Hanoi is full of cultural highlights and you will also enjoy exploring the history of Vietnam through its buildings and temples.
Hanoi is also the ideal place to enjoy a tasty Vietnamese meal, some drinks in a lively bar, or a coffee soaking up the atmosphere and people-watching in this busy place.
Here are some of the Vietnam highlights we think you’ll love in Hanoi:
1) Hanoi Night Market
Every major city in Vietnam has its own night market, and this is one of the most impressive in the country in terms of a number of stalls and atmosphere. The market is open on weekend evenings and stretches through many streets in the city. You’ll find a wide range of goods available here from decorations, jewelry, toys, food and drink, clothes, and electronics. It’s also a good place to go even when you don’t want to buy anything, to take in the atmosphere, enjoy a drink or a meal, and spend some time enjoying Hanoi at nighttime. There are many food stalls for snacks and meals, offering traditional and western dishes at good prices.
2) Bat Trang Ceramic Village
This small village is around 13km to the southeast of the center of Hanoi and it is famous for its pottery products. Here you will find the traditional pottery items all worked by hand, too high standards, and you can find souvenirs to take home or buy goods for the house. It also makes for an interesting day out as you can try your hand at making pottery, and see the work as it is carried out.
3) Hanoi Old Quarter
The Old Quarter is close to Hoan Kiem Lake and here you will find the old layout of the streets and original historic architecture, giving you a glimpse into the past of Hanoi. In the old days, the city of Hanoi was limited to these streets, where merchants, stores, and households existed side by side. There are many examples of buildings that specialized in the jewelry business and the silk trade. You’ll find modern artisans and businesses operating here today and it is a good place to shop for silk goods as well as pottery and souvenirs. There is a night market, as well as many bars and clubs for when you want to go out at night.
4) Hoan Kiem Lake (Lake of the Restored Sword)
This lake is right in the middle of the city of Hanoi and at the heart of cultural activities in the city. Hoan Kiem Lake is a scenic place for photos, and for sitting and soaking up the atmosphere of the historic city.
5) Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
This large building is a memorial to the leader of Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh, and it is the place where he made the Declaration of Independence in 1945 when the Democratic Republic of Vietnam was established.
6) The Water Puppet Theater
Puppets dancing on water is an ancient tradition dating back to the 11th century in the Red River Delta villages. The water puppet theatre tradition in Hanoi is carried on at the popular theatre in the center of the city. The puppets seem to be dancing on the water as they tell folktales and historic legends.
7) Vietnam Museum of Ethnology
This museum, which focuses on the 54 different ethnic groups in the country, is situated around 8km from the center of the city. The museum is a widely renowned modern museum and was built in 1997. The architecture is impressive, as well as the displays within the building.
8) Temple of Literature
The most famous and renowned temple of Confucius is found in the city of Hanoi in Vietnam. It was also used as the first university in Vietnam. It is a famous building that appears on the back of Vietnamese banknotes.
9) West Lake
This is the biggest lake in Hanoi – Ho Tay is located in the northwest of Hanoi and is the site of many legends and myths. It is also an ideal place to relax and walk when you are visiting the hectic city of Hanoi.
10) Hoa Lo Prison
This is the prison that was known as the “Hanoi Hilton” when used by colonists for political prisoners, and then by Vietnamese for prisoners of war in the Vietnam War. It is an important historic location.
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Photo credits: Nam-ho Park at Flickr