Hanoi Travel Guide

As the capital of Vietnam and one of the world’s most ancient capitals, Hanoi is the beating heart of Vietnam and a city steeped in history, culture and scooters.

While the motorbikes and traffic can take some time to adjust to, Hanoi and its inhabitants provide an effervescent, ebullient and enchanting experience for travelers of all ages and all tastes.

Whether you enjoy sightseeing, museum visiting or food and drink sampling, travel to Hanoi to discover a smorgasbord of historical, cultural and contemporary experiences and entertainment.

Top booked hotels in Hanoi

Intercontinental Hanoi Westlake
Intercontinental Hanoi Westlake

InterContinental Hanoi Westlake is a 5 star-hotel beautifully-located on the shores of the famous lake and offering room service from three restaurants plus a business center for working guests and a pool and spa.

Sheraton Hanoi Hotel
Sheraton Hanoi Hotel

With world-class service and luxury facilities, the 5-star Sheraton Hanoi Hotel features picturesque views of the West Lake, and is within a 10-minute drive of downtown Hanoi and the Hoan Kiem Lake.

Hanoi La Siesta Hotel Classic
Hanoi La Siesta Hotel Classic

With its imposing white exterior and warm Asian-inspired interior, Hanoi La Siesta is situated in the heart of the Old Quarter, easy reach of Hoan Kiem Lake providing a luxuriously quiet oasis within the busy maze of streets.

Hanoi Silk Path Hotel
Silk Path Hotel Hanoi

As one of the best 4-star hotels in Hanoi, Silk Path Hanoi Hotel offers elegant accommodation in the heart of Hanoi’s Old Quarter. The top-floor fitness centre offers panoramic views of Hoan Kiem Lake.

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Hanoi travel guide

What travelers say about Hanoi

“Hanoi pulsates to a backdrop of noise and movement; every street in the Old Quarter flowing with bikes and the infectious smiles and beckonings of street vendors”.

“We wanted to explore northern Vietnam and Hanoi was the perfect base for day trips to Halong bay, Ninh Binh and the beautiful Phat Diem Cathedral. At night we relaxed and dined around Hoàn Kiếm Lake”.

With our Hanoi travel guide below, you will unearth Hanoi's treasures and learn where to go in Hanoi, what to do in Hanoi and what to eat in Hanoi.

Reasons to go to Hanoi

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

Visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

Influenced by the Lenin’s Mausoleum in Moscow, this monument to Vietnam’s national hero, President Ho Chi Minh is the top tourist attraction in Hanoi and one of the main tourist attractions in all of Vietnam. While long queues are almost inevitable during peak periods of travel and with restricted opening times, do try to arrive by 6am to witness the flag ceremony conducted by marching Vietnamese soldiers resplendent in their crisp white uniforms.

Street vendor in Hanoi

Blend Old and New things

Hanoi is both the cultural and commercial centre of Vietnam with a blend of Chinese, French and contemporary inspired architecture. You will discover temples and monuments alongside white French villas with the Co Loa Citadel complex dating back to around 200 B.C. while tree-lined streets lined with cafes from the 19th century make Hanoi resemble a French metropolis. And it works. As a centre of commerce, shoppers can delight in the sport of haggling in traditional markets or indulge in the extravagant stores of international fashion brands.

Phở - Rice Noddle in Hanoi


Every visitor to Hanoi leaves with tales of their favourite street-food and about their discovery of humble looking but fabulous food serving restaurants. Every budget is catered for and even the simplest dishes of meat and vegetables are bursting with flavour.

Where to stay in Hanoi

Best cheap hotels in Hanoi

Anatole Hotel Hanoi
Anatole Hotel Hanoi

As one of the premier choices among luxury boutique hotels in Hanoi Old Quarter, Anatole Hotel Hanoi is just within a walking minute to legendary Hoan Kiem Lake, with impeccable service, plush amenities, and spacious accommodation. The property also features a restaurant, a 24-hour front desk and room service, along with free WiFi throughout the property.

Solaria Hanoi Hotel
Solaria Hanoi Hotel

With a nice location in Hanoi, Solaria Hanoi Hotel is just a 4-minute walk from St. Joseph Cathedral and Hoan Kiem Lake. All guest rooms at the hotel are equipped with a seating area. The property features a bar and a terrace, a restaurant, a 24-hour front desk and room service along with free WiFi throughout the property.

Golden Cyclo Hotel in Hanoi
San Premium Hotel

Whether you’re visiting Hanoi purely for pleasure, celebrating a family occasion or wedding anniversary, planning a business meeting or corporate event we got it covered all at San Premium Hotel. From its distinctive design & facilities to its effortless service and genuine hospitality, San Premium Hotel will be a favourite retreat for all travellers.

Le Beryl Hanoi Hotel
Le Beryl Hanoi Hotel

Le Beryl Hanoi Hotel is perfectly located for both business and leisure guests in Hanoi. Offering a variety of facilities and services the property provides all you need for a good night’s sleep. Besides, the hotel also has free Wi-Fi in all rooms 24-hour room service, 24-hour security convenience store daily housekeeping.

Hotel recommendations in Hanoi

Intercontinental Hanoi Westlake
Intercontinental Hanoi Westlake

InterContinental Hanoi Westlake is a 5 star-hotel beautifully-located on the shores of the famous lake and offering room service from three restaurants plus a business center for working guests and a pool and spa.

Hanoi Silk Path Hotel
Silk Path Hotel Hanoi

As one of the best 4-star hotels in Hanoi, Silk Path Hanoi Hotel offers elegant accommodation in the heart of Hanoi’s Old Quarter. The top-floor fitness centre offers panoramic views of Hoan Kiem Lake.

Rex Hanoi Hotel
Rex Hanoi Hotel

Rex Hanoi Hotel is a 4 star boutique luxury hotel with 68 rooms and pure Vietnamese style in harmony with the Western standard. With its convenient location, the property is just a 2 minute walk away from Hoan Kiem Lake, close to many city’s must-see destinations.

The Norble Swan Hotel & Spa Hotel in Hanoi
The Noble Swan Hotel & Spa

The Noble Swan Hotel & Spa is located in the heart of the Old Quarter, close to Hanoi’s main attractions. Whether it’s Hoan Kiem Lake, St. Joseph Cathedral or the night market, the hotel is truly your home away from home, both cozy and comfortable.

FAQs about hotels in Hanoi

What are the best areas to stay in Hanoi?

With the enchanting Hoan Kiem Lake nearby, many visitors to Hanoi base themselves in Hoan Kiem District where many of Hanoi’s premier hotels are located. Others prefer to base themselves north of the lake in Hanoi’s celebrated Old Quarter where there is accommodation for every budget.

What are the best 5-star hotels in Hanoi?

What are the best hotels near Hanoi airport (Noi Bai International Airport)?

Intercontinental Hanoi Westlake, Pan Pacific Hanoi, Sheraton Hanoi Hotel are some of the best hotels near Noi Bai International airports.


Top 5 things to do in Hanoi

Visit the Old Quarter

Streets in Hanoi Old Quarter

Stroll along the bustling tree-lined boulevards and twisting alleyways of Hanoi’s Old Quarter, shopping, eating and gazing at temples and monuments to Hanoi’s past. If Hanoi is the heart of Vietnam, then the Old Quarter is its pulsating centre serving as both Hanoi’s business hub as well as the main focus area for tourists.

Ngoc Son Temple

Hanoi Window

Around Hoan Kiem Lake you will see masters and practitioners of Tai chi practising their art, but for an even more peaceful experience, a visit to Ngoc Son Temple, where war heroes, scholars and the preserved corpse of a turtle are honoured is a must. Situated on an island at the north of the lake, it is accessed by crossing the vivid red bridge.

Temple of Literature

Temple of Literature in Hanoi

Built in the 11th century and only ten minutes from Hoan Kiem Lake is the beautifully preserved Temple of Literature, dedicated to the Chinese philosopher Confucius and revered as Vietnam’s first university.

Hoa Lo Prison

Hoa Lo Prison in Hanoi

Nicknamed the Hanoi Hilton by US prisoners of war, Hoa Lo Prison was first established by French colonists before being taken over by the Vietnamese. The yellow walled Maison Centrale, an original guillotine, and the haunting stories of those imprisoned are all that remain of Hoa Lo Prison, but it is arguably one of Hanoi’s most captivating experiences.

Vietnam National Museum of History

Vietnam National Museum of History in Hanoi Vietnam

Housed over two floors of an old colonial building are the 7,000 artefacts of  the Vietnam National Museum of History that chart Vietnam’s history from prehistoric and neolithic periods and up until the 1945 Revolution.

Trip Inspiration


Streets in Hanoi Old Quarter
24 hours in Hanoi

With so much to see and do in Vietnam, Travala.com provides you with a guide to spending 24 hours in Hanoi. Read our recommendations and start planning your own trip today.

Water Puppetry in Hanoi
48 hours in Hanoi

With more time to spend in Hanoi, 48 hours allows you to explore the city at a slower pace and to experience more of what Hanoi has to offer.


Halong Bay
Hanoi - Halong Bay

To make the most of a tour of  the idyllic Halong Bay, book a two or three day tour that includes an overnight stay on a boat and/or Cat Ba Island.

Tam Coc Bich Dong - Ninh Binh
Hanoi - Ninh Binh

Situated only 90km south is the mesmerizing Ninh Binh. Accessible by train, bus or even bike for the more adventurous, it is a must see during any visit to Hanoi.

Hanoi - Sa Pa

When the daily hustle and bustle of Hanoi become too much, take a 200km trip northwest to the gorgeous town of Sa Pa. A former French hill station, it is now a top tourist destination.

Everything you need to know about Hanoi

Hanoi, located in northern Vietnam, has a slightly cooler, more temperate climate than the south with a relatively dry winter. You will need layers of clothing for the cold evenings in December and January with March and April arguably the best months to visit the city with comfortable temperatures and light breezes and rain.

Hanoi airport (Noi Bai International Airport) serves around 30 million passengers each year with Vietnam Airlines, Pacific Airlines, AirAsia, Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong Airlines, Thai Airways, Lao Airlines and Tiger Airways all bringing visitors from around the world. If visiting, make sure to apply for the Vietnam Visa. Full details can be found on our Vietnam Visa page.


If traveling to Hanoi from Ho Chi Minh City and not wanting to fly, the alternatives are the bus and the train. While it takes over thirty hours longer than the plane, the bus is only $10 less expensive and you will spend much of this time sitting in extremely congested traffic or bouncing along poorly maintained roads.


Possibly the best way to travel around Vietnam is by train. Although not much faster than the bus, the Reunification Express from  Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi is air conditioned and follows a much more scenic route. You can also save on the cost of a hotel room by taking the overnight train and booking a soft berth on one of the four berth cabins for $90. Open tickets can be bought for both the bus and the train and these allow you to make multiple stops.

Within Hanoi itself, other than walking, the main ways to get from A to B are by motorbike, taxi or cyclo. Agree the cost before you set off and do not be afraid to haggle. However, possibly do be afraid to ride pillion on one of the Xe om motorbike taxis. Translated it means hug vehicle and it involves you literally hugging the driver as you weave along your route. A cyclo ride for two is a more sedate (but slower) way to commute and will cost you about $5 per hour. Taxis are cheap at under $2 for a five kilometre journey.

Shopping in Hanoi is renowned for its slender shops and traditional marketplaces dedicated to specific trades and areas of business. However, modern Hanoi has a growing number of stylish boutique stores and expansive shopping malls providing an impressive range of international brands in addition to an array of food and entertainment. 

For quality silk and intricate silver goods, take a walk around Hanoi’s Old Quarter, where Silk Street, Bamboo Street and Silver Street host business catering to their respective trades.  As a visitor, you are encouraged to haggle over prices, but please do be mindful not to ridicule or embarrass the shopkeepers. In Hanoi and indeed throughout Vietnam, respect and reputation are hugely important.

From traditional Vietnamese music at Thang Long Ca Tru Theatre and Vietnam’s take on Chinese Opera at the Vietnam National Tuong Theatre to jazz and rock performances at Binh Minh Jazz Club and the Hanoi Rock City respectively there is something for everyone. The latter is not quite in Hanoi, but with musicians from multiple genres and international acts,  it is worth the trip.

For children of all ages and the inner child in all of us, the mastery of the Municipal Water Puppet Theatre is a must see experience. With its origins stemming from flood stricken agricultural villages seeking ways to entertain themselves, it has now become a quintessential Vietnamese cultural experience.

While you can spend your days captivated by its centuries old architecture and visiting Hanoi’s temples, museums, shops and theatres, Hanoi has plenty to offer at night, even if it does mostly involve eating and/or drinking


While it is a home for expats and foreign embassy residences, the area of West Lake is a popular night time destination for food and party lovers with high-end restaurants and, if you are lucky, a night-time view of Hanoi’s oldest temple, the 15 metre tall Tran Quoc Pagoda.


When visiting a new city, the draw of a rooftop bar and view over the city is compelling and the Sofitel Hanoi’s Summit Lounge is arguably the city’s most impressive. With a view of two lakes intersected by the charming and picturesque Thanh Nien street, it is the perfect vantage point to enjoy the sunset and  a cool evening cocktail or two.


And, if you haven’t done enough shopping during the day, the Hanoi Night Market comes alive every weekend. Stock up on souvenirs, cheap and often replica fashion and feast on some of the best street food to be found. Here, at Travala.com, we are quite partial to pork skewers.

Fed and watered, you might still be soaking in the charm of Hanoi late into the night and if you do manage to stay out, you totally should end your night at the Quang Ba Flower Market which comes alive in the very hours of the morning providing a sensory overload before bed.

One thing that all visitors to Hanoi agree on is the quality of the food with every restaurant, street vendor and home making their personal (and best) rendition of the classic Hanoi Pho noodle soup.

Another traditional dish is Bún chả. Consisting of a grilled pork broth, white rice noodles, herbs and sides of green leaf vegetable and dipping sauce, it is a staple of Vietnamese cuisine.

Post feed, coffee lovers are in for a treat. Vietnam is now one of the world’s largest coffee producers and in Hanoi you must experience the Vietnamese Egg Coffee. On paper, this concoction of coffee, condensed milk and egg might raise some eyebrows, but somehow it manages to be a visual and gustatory delight.

FAQs about Hanoi

How many days should I spend in Hanoi?

Here, at Travala.com, we recommend at least two days to fully explore Hanoi This is enough time to see most of Hanoi’s major sights  while a long weekend will enable you to use Hanoi as a base to explore the surrounding area.

When is the best time to visit Hanoi?

March and April are arguably the best months to visit the city with comfortable temperatures and light breezes and rain.

What is the best street food in Hanoi?

A visit to Hanoi is not complete without sampling some of the amazing street food on offer. Choose from Pho noodle soup, Bún chả, a sumptuous dish of grilled pork broth, white rice noodles, herbs and sides of green leaf vegetable and, some grilled pork or seafood skewers.

How is Hanoi nightlife?

Whether you love the hustle and bustle of Hanoi’s night markets or prefer a more subdued experience in a lakeside restaurant, your evenings in Hanoi will be filled with delights.

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