Hanoi is the second largest city in Vietnam, behind Ho Chi Minh and has a lot to offer. Here are 5 things to do in Hanoi, which cover culture, history, an exhilarating experience and coffee. Lots of coffee.
Hoan Kiem Lake & Ngoc Son Temple in Hanoi
Visiting the lake and temple in Hanoi is a great excuse to get away from the busy city for a while. Ngoc Son Temple is a beautiful pagoda sitting on a small island in the middle of the lake. Located on the outskirts of the Hanoi Old Quarter, it offers a sense of tranquility and some fresh air.
The pollution in Hanoi is quite aggressive, meaning the air is thick and it can prove difficult to breathe at times. Many people, tourists and locals alike wear masks to cover their faces as they stroll the streets of Hanoi. I am asthmatic so may have experienced it more harshly than many people would.
Visiting the lake is a very peaceful and quiet place, despite the masses of tourists, with plenty of trees and flowers for you to enjoy a picnic.
The Ngoc Son Temple opens at 08.00AM everyday and closes at 17.00PM. If you can, head to the lake as early as possible and you can witness the locals doing their morning Yoga and Tai Chi classes.
Hanoi Old Quarter
Hanoi Old Quarter is known as the cities main tourist attraction and for good reason. The old quarter is a lively place to be both during the day and on a night. When the sun is up, there are locals bustling around the streets on their scooters, bicycles, and many vendors selling local delicacies. There are pagodas, lakes, places to shop and a variety of restaurants. On a night, there are plenty of hidden bars down the numerous side streets which you can sit and enjoy cheap drinks in.
Within the Old Quarter lie many of Hanoi’s major attractions; Hoan Kiem Lake, the National Museum of Vietnamese History, Bach Ma Temple and the Hanoi Opera House.
Hanoi Train Track
The Hanoi Train Track is quite possibly the best thing to do in Hanoi. In fact, I enjoyed this experience so much that I have decided to write an entire blog post solely on the matter. Stay tuned for more information!
5 Things to Do in Hanoi
Hanoi Coffee Shops
If you are a fan of coffee, you’ll love your time in Hanoi city. The french introduced coffee to Vietnam in the late 19th century, but they have put their own twist on it and created something delicious. There are plenty of coffee shops in Hanoi that offer 100’s of different flavours, hot or iced for you to try.
TIP! Order a local ‘egg-coffee’. It is a Vietnamese delicacy which sounds bizarre, but tastes great. Beaten egg whites are poured over a shot of espresso, creating a sweet mousse-like cup of coffee. Egg coffee is a must try in Vietnam for all coffee lovers!
Coffee shops to visit:
The Note Coffee
This little cafe is the cutest place in Hanoi. Its name reflects its concept.
You buy a coffee and take a sticky note to write on and put it on their wall. It is a great way to leave a little part of yourself in the beautiful city of Hanoi! Check out their website to see some photos of how cool this place is! The Note Coffee
Trung Nguyen Legend Cafe
This coffee shop has amazing coffee. T actually went back 30 minutes later to get another one it was that good! Pay these guys a visit, they won’t disappoint!
Hoa Lo Prison, Hanoi
The Hoa Lo Prison, otherwise known as the ‘Hanoi Hilton’ is the prison which American Soldiers kept Vietnamese captive during the American War. The prison is open to the public with a small entrance fee of 20,000 VND ($1.18AUD).
Inside the prison are many images displaying the use of the prison. There are statues replicating Vietnamese prisoners, sitting in the positions in which they were kept for months.
The prison was built to hold 450 prisoners, but at one point there were over 2000 people living inside, including women and children. Many prisoners began to die with an outbreak of an infectious disease spreading among the prison.
The prison is a very dark, and eerie place but it shows the reality of what happened. It is worth paying a visit so you can truly understand the impact that the American War had on the country you are visiting!
To take advantage of Hanoi City you should consider staying here for a few days. 2/3 nights will do it! 🙂