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6 Best Things To See And Do In Hanoi, Vietnam

Date Submitted: 11/08/2021 - 68,767 - view

Best things to see and do in Hanoi, Hanoi cultural tour for foreign visitors with InboundVietnam

Hanoi, Vietnam, is a fascinating blend of old and new, European and Asian, and chaos and order. I thought that after six trips to Asia, I would be ready for Hanoi, but I was wrong. It was completely different from Japan, Korea, China, and Hong Kong. At first, those differences were unsettling, but after a while, I grew to appreciate the unique features of this city.

Hanoi is home to eight million people, so visitors can expect crowds at every turn. Every street, shop, restaurant, and park is busy. If you’re visiting from a large city, this won’t feel unusual, but if, like me, you live in a quieter, suburban town, it will take time to get used to Hanoi.

The layers of history and merging of cultures are what make Hanoi so exciting to visit. The French Quarter’s elegant pastel-colored buildings contrast sharply with the plain, gray Communist-era institutions. In between are the bustling streets of the Old Quarter filled with motorcycles and lined with tiny restaurants and shops. It could take years to fully explore the city, but if you have just a few days, here are 6 experiences you don’t want to miss.

1. Walk Around Hoan Kiem Lake

6 Best Things To See And Do In Hanoi, Vietnam

Hoan Kiem Lake is more of an outdoor community center than a body of water. If possible, choose a hotel within walking distance of this lake so you can wake up early to stroll around the lake. You'll see women of all ages taking fitness classes while older men and women practice tai chi. There were dog walkers and old men gathered on benches. Along the way are outdoor cafes, snack bars and artists selling paintings.

But Hoan Kiem is more than just a gathering space — it’s also a place of legends. In 1428, it is believed that the Emperor Le Loi obtained a magical sword from the Dragon King to fight against Chinese oppressors. The sword came from Hoan Kiem Lake. After the successful battle against the Chinese invaders, Loi visited the lake. As he was boating through the water, an enormous golden turtle surfaced. The turtle explained that he was sent by his master, the Dragon King, to retrieve the sword from Loi. Loi returned the sword to the turtle, who swam back beneath the jade waters. Loi then named the area Hoan Kiem Lake, or “Lake of the Returned Sword,” to commemorate the spectacular event.

2. Explore The Museum Of Ethnology

 

6 Best Things To See And Do In Hanoi, Vietnam

6 Best Things To See And Do In Hanoi, Vietnam

To learn about Vietnam's rich history and indigenous people, spend a few hours exploring the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, home to 54 officially recognized Vietnamese ethnic groups.

I didn't get a chance to explore the exhibits inside, but instead focused on the museum's large outdoor area, which displays reproductions of the homes of several ethnic groups. number. Most of these houses are made of wood and bamboo, and many are on stilts. The upper parts of the house allow space for residents, while the lower floors are for livestock and livestock. If you're feeling brave, climb the ladders and pass through these houses to experience what life is like in them. This is a particularly good museum to go to if you’re traveling with the grandkids, since they are encouraged to touch and climb on everything outdoors.

3. Sip Egg Coffee At Giang Cafe

6 Best Things To See And Do In Hanoi, Vietnam

You simply cannot leave Hanoi without sipping an egg coffee, and the best place to do that is Giang Cafe. It's not a posh place and isn't easy to find in the crowded Old Town, but the hunt will be successful. The cafe's founder won't reveal the exact recipe, but ingredients include egg yolks, Vietnamese coffee, sweetened condensed milk, butter and cheese. It is believed that this coffee was created in the 1940s, when fresh milk was scarce.

My only regret about visiting Hanoi was not having more egg coffees — I only found time for one. As a lover of eggnog and eggnog lattes, this type of coffee beverage was right up my alley. You can order egg coffee cold, but I definitely recommend the hot version.

After you enjoy the egg coffee, don't stop there. Hanoi is full of great little coffee shops serving a variety of delicious coffee drinks. The most popular is the strong black coffee served with a small filter mounted on the rim of the cup. You can try this strong coffee served with sweetened condensed milk. And if you like to eat coconut, be sure to find a cafe that serves coconut coffee.

4. Shop And Eat In The Old Quarter

6 Best Things To See And Do In Hanoi, Vietnam

6 Best Things To See And Do In Hanoi, Vietnam

The best way to explore the Old Quarter is simply to walk through its streets and alleyways. For the last five centuries, this has been the home of artisans and tradesmen. In fact, the streets are named for 34 local guilds and the items they produced, like tin goods, baskets, wooden chests, and pipes. And in some cases, those are still the items you’ll find sold on these streets — along with a smattering of T-shirt shops and tour offices.

Interspersed with shops are cafes, restaurants, spas and hotels. This is clearly a popular place for tourists. But don't let that stop you from spending time exploring the Old Quarter. I chose to stay in this area and enjoy every minute of it. As for Hoan Kiem Lake, I recommend getting out early to experience the area before the sidewalks are packed with parked motorbikes.

A quick tip about crossing the streets in the Old Quarter: There are few stoplights here, and drivers don’t automatically stop for pedestrians like they do in some parts of the world. So when you need to cross a street, do so by walking confidently at a steady pace. Believe it or not, drivers will adjust their speed so as not to hit pedestrians, but they won’t necessarily stop. Whatever you do, don’t panic and run — this really confuses drivers.

5. Stroll Through The French Quarter

6 Best Things To See And Do In Hanoi, Vietnam

The French Quarter is quite different from the Old Quarter in its scale and layout. This is where the French ran the government when they occupied Vietnam. Instead of the narrow and cramped streets of the Old Quarter are large avenues lined with mature trees.

If you prefer luxury accommodations, this is where you’ll find them, along with internationally recognized shops and fancier restaurants. There’s more of a European feel in the French Quarter, which also includes the Hanoi Opera House and the National Museum of Vietnamese History.

6. Learn About Ho Chi Minh

6 Best Things To See And Do In Hanoi, Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh, the revolutionary leader and former president of Vietnam, is a great hero in Hanoi, and his mausoleum is a very popular attraction. However, it is also closed for several months each year, and as a result I did not have the chance to see it.

Inspired by the Lenin Mausoleum in Moscow, the large gray building is located in the center of Ba Dinh Square. Visitors are only allowed to glimpse Ho's preserved body. If you can visit, be sure to dress modestly.

After the mausoleum, most visitors take the opportunity to visit both the Presidential Palace and Ho’s house on stilts, since they are located in the same area. The Presidential Palace was originally built to house the French governor-general of Indochina. When Ho became president, he refused to live in the palace, and instead had a humble house on stilts built on the property.

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