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What to See and Do in Hanoi, Vietnam’s Capital City

by Jarone Ashkenazi

Nov 20, 2023

© Serban Enache | Dreamstime.com

Destinations / Asia

Known for its centuries-old French colonial architecture, Hanoi is more than just a capital city. Boasting tantalizing Vietnamese cuisine and a rich culture with Southeast Asian, Chinese and French influences, Hanoi is located in northern Vietnam. It is a perfect base when visiting places in Vietnam like Halong Bay and Sapa, but Hanoi is also a city where you need a few days to fully absorb the culture, food, history and nightlife. If you only have one day to spend in Hanoi and you want to see the sites and temples and sample the street food, book your city tour with Hanoi Explore Travel.


This full-day, 12-hour tour allows participants to truly experience the real Hanoi with locals and explore attractions such as Hoan Kiem Lake, Tran Quoc Pagoda, Hanoi Old Quarter, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, One Pillar Pagoda, Temple of Literature, Hoa Lo Prison and Tran Quoc Pagoda, as well as learn more about the unique architecture, history and unique dishes in Hanoi. It is important to note it is suggested to dress modestly by covering shoulders to knees when visiting historical sites.


Starting at the center of Hanoi Old Quarter, which includes attractions such as the Opera House, Dong Xuan Market and Bach Ma Temple, your guide picks you up to head to your first stop, Tran Quoc Pagoda. Located on Golden Fish Island in West Lake, Tran Quoc Pagoda is the oldest pagoda (an Asian tiered tower) in Hanoi, built in the sixth century. After touring the temple, head out to Ho Chi Minh Complex, which includes top sites such as Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum, Ba Dinh Square, Presidential Palace, Ho Chi Minh’s Stilt House, Ho Chi Minh Museum and One Pillar Pagoda.


Next, visit Bat Trang Ceramic Village, where guests can explore the daily life of the locals and learn about the process of making perfect crafts. After a delectable lunch with the opportunity to try up to eight dishes of delicious Vietnamese cuisine, you’re off to the Temple of Literature — the first university in Vietnam in the feudal system. As one of Hanoi’s most important cultural sites, it was built in 1070 during the Ly dynasty to honor Confucius.


You can then head to the quiet and peaceful Hoan Kiem Lake, which houses Ngoc Son Temple at the center. Built to commemorate the 13th-century military leader Tran Hung Dao, who defeated Mongolian invaders, this temple has been the pride of Hanoian for hundreds of years.


At the end of the day, it’s suggested to visit a water puppet show, as well as grab a bike and cycle around Hanoi’s Old Quarter to fully absorb the heartbeat of the city.


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