Vietnam Travel Guide: Best Things to Do in Hanoi

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Though home to well-preserved colonial structures, historic pagodas, and distinctive museums, bustling Hanoi cofounds first-time travelers with modern skyscrapers and vibrant streets filled with moving motorbikes from early in the morning until late at night. To explore the best things in Hanoi, this list will help you get started right away and fully appreciate everything that Vietnam's most historic city has to offer.

1. City tour in Hanoi

First-time visitors to Hanoi should first start with a half-day or full-day city tour, in which you’ll learn about the city’s rich culture, history, and architecture, while no need to worry about navigating the busy streets. The tour often includes highlighted attractions, such as the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Temple of Literature, Museum of Ethnology, Hoa Lo Prison, and Hoan Kiem Lake.

2. Enjoy Magic Water Puppet Show

Undoubtedly one of the most authentic experiences in Hanoi is the ancient art of the water puppet show. You may take in this distinctive Vietnamese puppetry heritage at a number of venues, but the Thang Long Puppet Theater is the original and widely recognized as the greatest theater in the city. You’ll watch lively dolls dance and glide gracefully across the water stage, controlled by expert puppeteers hiding behind a screen.

3. Traditional Cyclo Trip around Hanoi Old Quarter

Hanoi Old Quarter is the most popular site in the city and is the first attack on the senses. Along narrow lanes dotted with French colonial houses, people on buzzing motorbikes maneuver around in a uniquely chaotic order. An excellent approach to see the area is taking a cyclo trip. Drivers will take you through bustling streets of the Old Quarter and around the iconic Hoan Kiem Lake, where you can observe the local culture and daily life up close.

4. Shopping

Shopping is a fun thing to do when in Hanoi and a highly recommended attraction is Dong Xuan Market. It’s a bustling hub of local people coming to trade a wide range of goods such as clothing, souvenirs, accessories, and food. Grab the great chance to learn bargaining skills and seek some great deals. Another location for shopping fans is the Old Quarter with a lot of boutique stores and ancient shops.

5. Foodie Tour

Hanoi is a paradise for food lovers with a long menu of street food and local dishes centering in the Old Quarter. You can explore yourself, but it’s more convenient to join a foodie tour. A guide who knows the area best will take you to local spots and corner food stalls. Having someone explain what you eat when tasting new things is absolutely much safer. It’s also a nice opportunity to discover more about the local culture and life.

6. Cooking Class

Another fascinating experience for foodies to Hanoi is to participate in a cooking class. Rather than simply eating out, this activity offers tourists a wonderful chance to learn about Vietnamese cuisine, from local ingredients to regional cooking techniques. Most classes will begin with a market tour to buy fresh vegetables, then participants learn local recipes and cook under the guidance of skilled chefs.

There are a lot more things to do when visiting the capital city of Hanoi. If you are interested in one specific activity and want to add it on your Vietnam Tour, feel free to contact our travel consultants for a detailed program. Safe travels!

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