There are all the best experiences for you to have the best Hanoi city tour – the capital millennium civilization of Vietnam.

Whereas Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) is bustling with new development aimed at achieving total relevance in the global marketplace, Hanoi’s atmosphere speaks more of a reverence for the quiet wisdom that comes with time and much experience. Though the population of Hanoi is young and savvy—educated about the world through the Internet and foreign travel—many visitors to this dynamic and welcoming city comment on the city’s sense of age and solidity.

Hanoi’s modern architecture and conveniences are built around a core of ancient streets, foods, culture, and living habits in a harmonious blend that reveres the old while welcoming the new. Hanoi may be your favorite destination in Vietnam’s vibrant tapestry.

1. Hanoi’s Brief History

Hanoi, a truly ancient city, has been known by dozens of different names over the centuries. Minh Mang, the Nguyen emperor, bestowed the city’s current name in 1831 to denote its location nestled into a curve of the long and mighty Red River’s right bank, with the large West Lake bordering the city’s northern boundary. Hanoi, the capital city of the kingdoms that encompassed North Vietnam for nearly a millennium, is now the capital of a reunified Vietnam.

When the French invaded and colonized Vietnam in the 1830s, Hanoi became part of Indochina’s Tonkin region, and you can still see a strong French influence in the city’s French Quarter, with its stately French architecture, an abundance of cafes, and availability of Hanoi’s incredibly popular coffee and crusty baguettes.

When the French were forced to flee Vietnam during WWII, the Japanese occupied the country from December 1941 to 1942, until they were driven out by General Ho Chi Minh’s communist army, the Viet Minh. The French filled the void left by retreating Japanese forces until they were forced to leave again, with North Vietnam declaring independence in 1945.

The Battle of Hanoi, fought in 1946 between the Viet Minh and French occupiers, was the first of many battles in the First Indochina War, which ended in 1952. When North Vietnam won the Vietnam War (also known as the American War in Vietnam) in 1975, Hanoi became the capital of the country’s reunified northern and southern halves.


2. Best Time to Visit

Because it is located in northern Vietnam, Hanoi has four distinct seasons, with winters being quite chilly (temps can fall below 10 degrees Celsius, or 50 degrees Fahrenheit) and summers bringing plenty of heat (average temperature of 28 – 35 degrees Celsius, or 82 – 95 degrees Fahrenheit). All year, expect high humidity.

Most visitors prefer to visit Hanoi during the milder seasons: spring (March and April), early summer (July and August), and autumn (September to November) to do Hanoi city tour.

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3. Hanoi Attractions

3.1. Ho Chi Minh Museum

The Ho Chi Minh Museum is conveniently located near other major Hanoi attractions such as the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, One-Pillar Pagoda, Ba Dinh Square, and the War Memorial. It is also directly across the street from a charming local market. It’s a place you should not miss when you are in Hanoi city tour.

The museum itself honors and recounts the life of national hero Ho Chi Minh, who dedicated his life to assisting Vietnam in its fight for independence from foreign occupiers. The museum is jam-packed with artifacts and objects from General Ho’s personal collection, depicting Ho Chi Minh’s life in eight distinct time periods. Guided tours are available, and signs are written in Vietnamese, English, and French.

Ho Chi Minh Museum is located in the Ho Chi Minh complex at 19 Ngoc Ha, Ba Dinh.

Monday and Friday, 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.; Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., and 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m

Entrance fee: approximately 10,000 VND (about USD 0.50)


3.2. Vietnam Museum of Ethnology

This award-winning museum honors Southeast Asia’s diverse cultures and ethnicities, many of which are represented in Vietnam’s Hanoi population and surrounding area. Local communities help museum staff collect artifacts for display, construct and maintain architectural display structures, and provide exhibitions and performances.

The opportunity for visitors to learn about the fascinating diversity of Vietnam’s population is an excellent way to spend an afternoon or a day. At the same time, some exhibits change on a regular basis, permanent exhibits, such as a collection of beautifully colored Indonesian glass paintings, delight returning visitors.

The Vietnam Museum of Ethnology is located on Nguyen Van Huyen Road in the Cau Giay district.

Hours of operation: Tuesday through Sunday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Mondays and New Year’s Day are closed.

Entrance fee: 40,000 VND (approximately USD 1.76), with children under the age of six admitted free.

Visit the museum’s website for more information on special events, rental locations, and tour guide fees.

3.3. The Old Quarter (Hoan Kiem District)

The Old Quarter is both the city’s main tourist and commercial district. Every Hanoi city tour must visit this place.  The Old Quarter, which is distinct from the French Quarter (Ba Dinh District), is home to many wonderful Hanoi attractions, including colonial architecture, Buddhist temples and pagodas, and numerous places to shop and eat.

3.4. Hoan Kiem Lake and Ngoc Son Temple in Hanoi

Hoan Kiem Lake is nearby in the Old Quarter, a quiet and peaceful place to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, with the Ngoc Son temple standing guard on a small island in the middle of the lake. The temple was built on Jade Island to honor Tran Hung Dao, a 13th-century military leader who fought bravely against the Mongolian Yuan Dynasty. Visitors can reach the island via the Rising Sun Bridge, a brightly painted bridge designed in the traditional Vietnamese style. The temple is open from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily.

The name “Hoan Kiem Lake” translates as “lake of the returned sword.” According to legend, an emperor was given a magical sword in his efforts to defeat the Chinese Ming Dynasty, and the Golden Turtle God returned to the lake as a result of his use of the sword.

Visit Hoan Kiem Lake to people-watch in the shade, visit the island and temple, and try to spot one of the lake’s endangered soft-shell turtles. Come early in the morning to observe locals performing Tai Chi and yoga.

3.5. Water Puppet Theater

A recommended thing to do on the Hanoi city tour is to watch a water puppet theater. The world-renowned Thang Long Water Puppet Theater, located in the Old Quarter, continues a North Vietnamese tradition. After the rice paddies were planted and flooded, villagers used water puppetry to entertain themselves. Puppeteers manipulate the puppets with long rods over waist-deep water, creating a spectacle that originated in North Vietnam and has since spread throughout Vietnam and Southeast Asia.

The breathtaking productions are accompanied by an orchestra playing traditional instruments and incorporating authentic operatic songs. Book ahead of time to secure a front-row seat (tickets sell out quickly!) and enjoy a truly authentic Vietnamese experience.

Showtimes: 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.

57b Dinh Tien Hoang Street is located on the northeast shore of Hoan Kiem Lake.

Ticket prices begin at 247,830 VND (USD 11), with additional fees for filming the show

4. Traditional Hanoi Food

Every region of Vietnam produces exquisite dishes, but Hanoi stands out for the variety and delectability of its most popular dishes. North Vietnamese cuisine is simple and pure, with a preference for fresh flavors. People from all walks of life happily mingle at streetside restaurants, sitting on small stools and leaning over short tables to slurp pho or dig their chopsticks into something delectable. You’ll be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of tempting dishes available in Hanoi’s restaurants and food carts, but there are a few dishes that no visitor should miss in Hanoi city tour.

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4.1. Pho (Noodle Soup)

Pho, pronounced “fuh,” is a dish found throughout Vietnam with various variations, but it was invented in Hanoi. When compared to southern pho, Hanoi-style pho is kept much simpler, with fewer spices used to maintain a pure and clean flavor in this rich rice noodle soup. Hanoi pho is typically served with savory fried dough that is dipped into the broth to soak up the flavors. It typically contains either beef or chicken in a lovingly cooked broth with charred and roasted onions and ginger. Star anise, cinnamon, cardamom, fennel, and cloves flavor it. The fragrant broth is ladled over wide rice noodles.

Some restaurants serve pho with a plate of torn lettuce leaves, mint, cilantro, and slices of hot chili, but a true Hanoi pho will include the herbs in the soup.

One of the best places to find pho in Hanoi is the Old Quarter. Feel free to try different restaurants to compare flavors, or ask a local or your tour guide where he or she gets their pho.

4.2. Xoi Xeo

When you do a Hanoi city tour, this is a popular breakfast dish. It’s cheap and filling, which makes it popular among students and day laborers. Sticky rice, mung bean shavings, and fried shallots are simple ingredients that combine to create something truly magical. When you purchase it wrapped in a banana leaf, you are truly experiencing a Hanoian favorite.


4.3. Banh Mi

This popular street food is a French-Vietnamese fusion that has been around since the colonial era and has since spread around the world.

The French are responsible for the crusty sandwich rolls and pate (traditionally duck pate), which are staples of a good banh mi. Add some meat, cucumbers, fresh herbs, pepper, chili sauce, mayonnaise, daikon-and-carrot pickle (do Chua), and possibly a couple of fried eggs, and you’ve got yourself the world’s best sandwich.

4.4. Vietnamese Egg Coffee

Vietnam is the second-largest coffee exporter after Brazil, and the Hanoians enjoy their coffee smothered in a frothy concoction of honey, sweetened condensed milk, and egg yolk.

Before pouring into the coffee cup, the yolks and honey are whipped until frothy and thick. After carefully pouring in the coffee, a splash of sweetened condensed milk adds creaminess and flavor.

4.5. Banh Cuon

Another popular breakfast item, you don’t have to wait until the morning in your Hanoi city tour to try this Hanoi specialty. This crepe dish is inspired by the French, but instead of a wheat-based crepe, the Banh Cuon is made with a steamed rice-based crepe. After that, the crepe is filled with meat and mushrooms and served with a sauce made of fish sauce, lime juice, Vietnamese pork sausage, and fried onions. Banh Cuon is available at both food carts and sit-down restaurants, and it’s a delicious and inexpensive snack or meal. You can also request plain banh Cuon for a vegetarian option. Banh Cuon is very popular among locals, but few tourists are aware of it, so ask a Hanoian local where to get good banh Cuon.


4.6. Bun Thang

If pho is your grandmother’s special chicken noodle soup, bun thang is your gourmet chef brother’s fussy and precise noodle soup that must be made exactly right, with ingredients cut to the same size and placed in the correct order in the bowl (which size and which order is up to the cook, whose bun thang recipe has probably been handed down from previous generations). It’s mature and sophisticated, and the people of Hanoi adore it.

The term “bun” refers to the type of noodle used, which in this case is rice vermicelli. The vermicelli is placed in the bottom of a bowl, followed by the ingredients, before the broth is spooned on top. Meat, green onion and other herbs, thinly sliced scrambled egg, mushrooms, and hot chili slices are examples of possible ingredients.

4.7. Cha Ca La Vong

Because Hanoi is a landlocked city, freshwater fish like snakehead or catfish are used in this delicate and flavorful Hanoi specialty. Cha ca is so popular in Hanoi that it has its own street named after it.

When you order cha ca, you’ll receive a sizzling pan full of seasoned grilled fish filets to which you’ll add fresh dill, cilantro, and other herbs. After the greens have softened slightly in the pan, ladle the fish and greens into your bowl of noodles, top with shrimp paste to taste, and sprinkle with peanuts. Grab your chopsticks and try to get a little bit of everything in the bowl so your mouth explodes with the cha ca La Vong symphony of taste and texture.

5. Vegetarian Restaurants

Hanoi has a lot to offer non-meat eaters. Here are three vegetarian restaurant recommendations; however, with a little research and asking locals or a tour guide, you can easily get even more excellent recommendations in Hanoi city tour.

5.1. Bo De Quan

This small family-run vegan restaurant, located at 164 Au Co in the Tay Ho district, serves up extremely fresh and tasty dishes every day. The emphasis is on southern Vietnamese cooking traditions, so these truly authentic Vietnamese dishes will have a robust southern flavor. With a menu that focuses on traditional classics like spring rolls and delectable soup, you know you’re in for a treat. The banana soup is popular among both locals and visitors.

5.2. Duva

While Daluva is not a strictly vegetarian restaurant, the vegetarian options on the Middle Eastern menu are clearly labeled. Executive chef Shahar S. Lubin, an Israeli-American, creates a gastropub menu for those looking for a little taste of home (Philly cheesesteaks, burgers, fries) or something different from traditional Vietnamese cuisine. Choose your favorites from an all-day menu or stop in for a hearty breakfast or lunch. Serve your meal with a cold microbrew or cocktail.

Daluva can be found at 33 To Ngoc Van. To view the menu or order takeout, go to Daluva’s website.

5.3. Zenith Yoga

Do you want to learn some yoga before lunch? Zenith Yoga is a yoga studio as well as a vegetarian fusion food café, so you can do your sun salutations before diving into a delectable mushroom sandwich or ultra-fresh salad. Finish with a cool and refreshing fresh smoothie, and then order another one to go.

Zenith Yoga can be found at 247 Au Co in the Tay Ho district. See what’s on the menu at Zenith Yoga’s ZCafe.

6. Popular Tours

Guided tours allow you to discover parts of a city that you might not have discovered otherwise. If you’re new to Hanoi, we recommend taking one of these quality tours to see the sights and learn interesting facts from knowledgeable tour guides. Click for a list of tours other than those listed below.

6.1. Hanoi City Tour

This day tour is ideal for seeing all of the city’s most popular attractions, including lunch at a local restaurant serving Vietnamese cuisine. With stops at the Ho Chi Minh Complex and all of its sites, Tran Quoc Pagoda, the Old Quarter, the Temple of Literature, and others, you’ll get your money’s worth and a sense of Hanoi’s long history and rich culture.

Tour operators will pick you up and drop you off at your hotel. Tours begin at 8:30 a.m. and end at 3 p.m.

6.2. Perfum Pagoda (Huong Pagoda)

Huong Pagoda is a collection of temples and shrines near Huong Son Mountain (Perfume Mountain), approximately 70 kilometers (43 miles) from Hanoi. Perfume Pagoda, built in the late 1600s, has long been a place of reflection, worship, and beauty for Buddhist monks and civilians alike.

The day trip includes hotel pickup, a two-hour bus ride to Ben Duc harbor, and a one-hour boat ride over crystal waters to the pagoda. You’ll spend the day exploring the main pagoda after taking a cable car to the top of the mountain, eating lunch, and visiting another large pagoda nearby. After returning to Hanoi, you will be dropped off at your hotel. Tour guides who speak English are available, as are guides who speak other languages.

6.3. Tam Coc Easy Cycling Tour

Cycling through the Vietnamese countryside is a great way to get some fresh air while getting up close and personal with the scenery. This day trip takes you back to the 10th century in Ninh Binh Province to Hoa Lu, the former citadel of Dai Viet City, as well as to the “Halong Bay Inland” (Tam Coc) site.

Pickup from your hotel at 8 a.m., transportation to Hoa Lu, bicycles for the trip to picturesque Tam Coc, a boat tour through caves in limestone karsts, and transportation back to your hotel are all included in the tour. The tour price includes lunch in Tam Coc as well as all entrance fees.

6.4. Halong Bay

Hanoi is a popular starting point for trips to Halong Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Tonkin Gulf’s Halong Bay is a magical wonderland of foliage-topped limestone karsts jutting from the bay’s blue-green waters. A one-day cruise will take you out on the water among the karsts, complete with an onboard lunch of local seafood and a visit to one of the karst’s unique caves. The tour also includes transportation from your Hanoi hotel to Halong Bay City and the docks, as well as all service and government fees.

7. How to get to Hanoi?

Distance from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon): 1,619 km (1006 miles)

  • By air: about 2 hours
  • By train: about 34 hours

Distance from Hanoi to Hai Phong: 121 km (75 miles)

  • By train: about 2 hours and 15 minutes

Distance from Hanoi to Lao Cai: 252 km (157 miles)

  • By car: about 2 hours, 34 minutes

Distance from Hanoi to Halong Bay City: 164 km (102 miles)

  • By car or bus: about 3 to 3.5 hours

Distance from Hanoi to Da Nang: 627 km (390 miles)

  • By air: 1 hour, 18 minutes
  • By car: about 5.5 hours
  • By train: about 14 hours, 12 minutes

Distance from Hanoi to Nha Trang: 1,292 km (803 miles)

  • By air: 1 hour, 45 minutes
  • By train: about 23 hours

8. Conclusion


Ancient Hanoi is the ideal combination of old and new. Visitors will enjoy exploring the city’s most important museums, pagodas, and cultural sites, which are located in each district. The incredible variety of street food and restaurants serving everything from traditional North Vietnamese dishes to comforting foods from home ensures that your taste buds are constantly tickled. For many, Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital city, is the ideal vacation destination—plenty there’s to see, the food is delicious, and the people are friendly.

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