What things to do in Hanoi for backpackers

What things to do in Hanoi for backpackers

What things to do in Hanoi for backpackers

Hanoi is not only famous for the old quarter and the historical monuments which existed throughout many feudal dynasties. There’s a lot of things to do in Hanoi if you travel on this city. It has the dynamic rhythm of a city developing from day to day. The cultural beauty combined with youthful and bustling features have created a Hanoi full of colors.

Best times to travel in Hanoi

Hanoi climate is divided into four seasons quite clear. Each season has its own beauty, so you can arrive here at any time of the year. From my travel experience, Hanoi’s most beautiful in the flower seasons. Especially autumn, flowers everywhere.

  • Flower Seasons: Hanoi is full of flowers all year round. Peach (January), hoa ban (February), lotus (summer), milk flowers (September – October), daisy (October – December)
  • Autumn-early winter: Hanoi stepped into the poetry in a romantic way. From the autumn to the east is the most beautiful time of this city. Climate less heat, light sunny, a bit cold, with the aroma of milk flowers spread all the streets.

To get immersive experiences when visiting the “capital of thousands of years of civilization”, then things to do in Hanoi below definitely offer to you the unforgettable memories.

Things to do in inner Hanoi

1. Visiting markets in early morning

What things to do in Hanoi for backpackers

Quang Ba Flower Market and the Long Bien wholesale market are two places that you should visit once when visiting Hanoi. The main products here are flowers and foodstuffs. The market is open almost overnight. Visiting these two markets, you not only to witness the trading activities of buyers and sellers but also you will meet many tourists, who want to find for themselves a different view on culture in the life of Hanoian.

2. Walking around Hoan Kiem Lake in the early morning

Triston Yeo, a well-known photographer, whom quite attached to Vietnam suggested take walking on Hoan Kiem Lake in the early morning is one of the greatest things to do in Hanoi. You will not only enjoy the beauty of nature but also seeing the daily habit of Hanoian, exercise, regardless of winter or summer.

What things to do in Hanoi for backpackers

3. Eating street food on sidewalk stalls

What things to do in Hanoi for backpackers

Hanoi is famous for images of the hawkers and sidewalk stalls. Tourists who travel to this city is surprised by the variety of foods that are sold here, from bowls of pho dishes to delicious snacks such as nem chua rán (deep fried fermented pork), pho mai que (pot stickers), sugarcane juice, and the dishes which established the reputation of this land as bánh cuốn  Thanh Tri (pancakes ) or bun cha (vermicelli and grilled chopped meat)… Visiting Hanoi at any time of the year, you can also choose for yourself delicious foods. You should find seasonal delicacies from the sidewalk stalls to get the full experience of Hanoi cuisine.

In the night, I especially like walking and eating any local foods from sidewalk stalls. In the cold and quiet night, tasting a hot bowl of mien ga (chicken and rice noodles) on a deserted road is an interesting feeling! This is one of the things to do in Hanoi or anywhere, to experience the difference between the quiet nights and bustle daytime.

4. Seeing Hanoi from above

When you travel to Hanoi, do not forget to seek an ideal position to see the city from above. This is not the new way but will bring the interesting feeling for you. Depending on the time or place you choose, you can observe the city in the daytime or evening. Try both times period to see the difference.

What things to do in Hanoi for backpackers

I have been sitting on the Ham Ca Map building (shark jaw building) in front of Hoan Kiem lake, drinking coffee and see the whole bustling sight beneath. In Hanoi, there’re many stylish cafes have the nice view, like position in the image above.

5. Walking around the old quarter

Old Quarter is always the most attractive place in this city. All streets interlaced quite complicated, not everyone easily found the way out when got stray into this “labyrinth”. Strolling around the bustled streets or visiting souvenir shops nestled in the alleys will be an enjoyable experience for any visitor who comes here. If your feet are tired, look for a cafe on the balcony of the ancient houses. Sitting there and watch the bustling life of Hanoi beneath the coffee cup.

What things to do in Hanoi for backpackers

Exploring the whole Hanoi old quarter is a nice experience for who loves going for walk just like me. You can see what interesting things in the old quarter.

Exploring Hanoi Old Quarter and enjoy the street coffee

6. Seeing the sunset in West Lake

What things to do in Hanoi for backpackers

Located in the northwest of Hanoi, West Lake is a famous place not only attracted tourist but also natives. Many people come to West Lake to drop into the vast peaceful space. Especially when the afternoon falling down, West Lake became fanciful in the golden sunlight stretching to the horizon. Eating Ho Tay shrimp cakes and enjoying the sunset sight in West Lake is one of the things to do in Hanoi that attracted many backpackers!

7. Getting around the city by bus

In addition to the tram and pedicabs, the bus is the ideal medium that you should try once when traveling in Hanoi. Not only the cheap prices, but buses also have the plentiful routes, passing through most of the famous tourist sites of Hanoi.

What things to do in Hanoi for backpackers

When traveling in Hanoi, besides walking, the buses are the primary transports of mine. I had collected bus tickets as souvenir items for the trips. Whenever seeing it, the memories of those trips appeared before my eyes.

8. Visiting One Pillar Pagoda

What things to do in Hanoi for backpackers

Hanoi is the largest Buddhist center in Vietnam, there’s a lot of ancient pagodas here, but the most famous one is still the One Pillar Pagoda. This is an ancient pagoda in a unique architectural style built in the 11th century. It’s only a small worshiping room built on a stone pole between the lotus pond. The special architecture of this pagoda originated from King Ly Thai Tong’s dream. Besides the unique architecture, One Pillar Pagoda is a place where has the most historical, religious, artistic and technical values in Hanoi.

9. Imperial Citadel of Thang Long

Hanoi is the capital of many feudal dynasties, the most obvious proof is Imperial Citadel of Thang Long. This is a large complex of relics over 140 hectares, built through many dynasties.
 What things to do in Hanoi for backpackersOver time and wars, many rest relics are being restored, aim to maintain the ancient palaces and preserve the important historical relics.

10. Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam

Built in the 11th century, Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam consists of two main works. One is the Temple of Literature (Van Mieu), the place of worship of sages, the saint of Confucianism. The second is Quoc Tu Giam, considered as the first university of Vietnam. Initial, it’s only for the children of kings and nobles, then extended to the ordinary people who intelligent and good in learning.

What things to do in Hanoi for backpackers

Today, many students arrived Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam to pray for good luck in studies, work, especially before the exam, wish to be high grades.

11. Walking on Long Bien Bridge

What things to do in Hanoi for backpackers

Not only a bridge over the Hong River, but Long Bien Bridge is also a historical witness of Hanoi, as a place where attracts many visitors visit when they travel this city. This bridge was built by the French in 1898 with 3 lanes, the middle is the train tracks. It owned the ancient look and impressive architecture. Long Bien Bridge has appeared in many works of some artists over the world.

12. Walking on streets in the nights

As I said above, walking on streets in the nights is one of the things to do in Hanoi if you want to get the full understanding of this city. As a vibrant and busy city daytime, but Hanoi’s night scene is quite the opposite. The blocks of houses striking colors of souvenir shops in daytime suddenly all replaced by silence when night falls. The commercial zones full of hustle and bustle also become quietness in the night. You can go along the streets, go there where quite bustles on daytime, to enjoy another space of Hanoi in nights.

What things to do in Hanoi for backpackers

13. Ta Hien Beer Street

Things to do in Hanoi are definitely must visit Ta Hien Beer Street. It is almost similar to Bui Vien Street in Saigon. Here is a place where Hanoians and many backpackers, tourists often gather. Arriving Ta Hien Beer Street, having a bit beer, experience the atmosphere of Hanoi at night, the life of young people.

What things to do in Hanoi for backpackers


Here, stalls just a few stools and small tables arranged along the sidewalk on two sides of the road. Just a glass of beer or lemon tea, some snacks, it’s enough for a night full of joy.

Attractions in Hanoi suburban

1. Duong Lam ancient village

Do you want to seek the ancient space between Hanoi? Let’s come to Duong Lam ancient village. This is one of the rare ancient villages where are still keeping architecture features and routine of the ancients.

What things to do in Hanoi for backpackers

Sightseeing Duong Lam, you have chances to see images of Vietnam villages in the feudal period. The village gates, banyan tree, water wells, village halls which only seen in the history channels on TV or the internet. Wandering on the alleys, touching in the rough stone walls, eat a folk meal, or biking and breathe the fresh air and nostalgic in the countryside. What’s a peaceful atmosphere!

2. Bat Trang pottery village

It’s one of the most famous pottery villages of Vietnam. In the industrial age now, Bat Trang still retains the image of its traditional features. One day in Bat Trang, you can try making pottery, cute handmade items like a professional potter.

What things to do in Hanoi for backpackers

In addition, you can take a photo at the Bat Trang pottery market, visit the pottery workshops. Here, you will have chances see the specific stages of the process of making a vase, a bowl or anything. You will get surprised and admire the skillful hands of the craftsmen. Only a lump of clay, they quickly turned it into cups, plates, or flower pot very beautiful…

3. Viet Phu Thanh Chuong

What things to do in Hanoi for backpackers

If you love the ancient, nostalgic space, then perhaps you will be eager to take a trip to Viet Phu Thanh Chuong. Designed to simulate an ancient village of North Vietnam, the work will give you an overview of traditional architecture – cultures of Vietnamese. You’ll find village gates, wells, communal yard, and especially the characteristic houses of Northern Vietnam.

Eating in Hanoi

1. Pho Ha Noi (Noodle Soup)

Although pho is a popular dish in Vietnam, however, the most delicious pho only in Hanoi, where it was born. So, eating pho is one of the things to do in Hanoi. It’s great to enjoy a bowl of hot pho, aromatic on a cold morning!

What things to do in Hanoi for backpackers

Noodle fibers are thin, soft, beef sliced thin dipped in boiling water, add some chili, lemons. The bowl of pho is delicious depends on the way of cooking in each pho restaurant. You can visit the famous pho restaurants in Hanoi such as Suong in Dinh Liet, Ly Quoc Su at Nha Chung Street, Pho Bat Dan, Pho Thin …

Places to eat:

Pho Thin – 13 Lo Duc (famous for greasy soup)
Pho Bat Dan – 49 Bat Dan Street, Hoan Kiem District
Pho Son – 24B Lane Trung Yen, Hang Bac, Hoang Kiem District
Pho Hoi street, Hang Trong street – 01 Hang Trong, Hoan Kiem District

2. Bun Cha (vermicelli and grilled chopped meat)

What things to do in Hanoi for backpackers

Bún chả included with grilled chopped pork, served with a bowl of fish sauce and sour papaya, eaten with noodles and raw vegetables. This is the dish US President Brack Obama used to dinner when coming to Vietnam on 23/5/2016, at Huong Lien bun cha (Le Van Huu street, Hai Ba Trung). A bowl of delicious bun cha includes 4 factors: sour, spicy, salty and sweet of the bowl of sauce and the fresh taste of vegetables. This dish is priced about 2$.

Places to eat:

Alley 74 Hang Quat, Hoan Kiem District
Bun Huong Lien – 24 Le Van Huu
Bun Canh Restaurant 41 Cua Dong Street, Hoan Kiem District

3. Bun thang (chicken vermicelli soup)

What things to do in Hanoi for backpackers

Bun thang is a quite sophisticated noodle with all kinds of raw materials such as eggs, chicken, lean pork paste, mushrooms …All are chopped into threads, mixed with sauce. This dish is a great choice to warm your stomach after sightseeing in the old quarter.

Places to eat:

Ba Duc Restaurant – 48 Cau Go Street, Hoan Kiem District
Bun Thang Bun Bung – 32 Cau Go, Hoan Kiem District

4. Bun dau mam tom (vermicelli served with tofu and shrimp paste)

Besides pho, bun dau mam tom is definitely the famous dish of Hanoi that anyone traveling here all must eat. A portion of bun dau mam tom includes many ordinary materials, but when combined together, it becomes an attractive dish. A standard portion must include boiled meat, cha com (pork pies with green rice), nem chua rán (deep fried fermented pork).

What things to do in Hanoi for backpackers

Places to eat:

Bun Dau Mam Tom Trung Luong – 49 Phat Loc, Hoan Kiem District
08 Ma May Street, Hoan Kiem District
Bun Dau Long Nuong Hoa Rau – 27 Alley 16 Hoang Cau, Dong Da District
Bun Dau Hang Khay , Trang Tien Ward, Hoan Kiem District

5. Cháo sườn (pork rib porridge)

Cháo sườn is a snack dish for the afternoon, it’s particularly attractive in the cold days. A cháo sườn bowl with smooth porridge, ribs, minced meat, ruốc (salted shredded meat), served with hot youtiao is too delicious for words.

Places to eat:

Chao Suon Hang Bo – 32 Hang Bo Street, Hoan Kiem District
Chao Suon Co La – 2A Ly Quoc Su, Hoan Kiem District
Chao Suon Doi Can – Doi Can Street, Ba Dinh District

Other things to do in Hanoi

  • Before conducting a purchase, or using services, you should ask for prices first to avoid being charge high prices.
  • Hanoi streets are quite messy with many lanes, traffic is also crowded. It’s best to having a map to avoid getting lost.
  • Read reviews from who used to traveling Hanoi carefully to decide where to eating or shopping. Maybe because of cultural differences, you will not be satisfied with the service attitude but the quality of food is very good.
  • Some specialties of Hanoi can be bought as gifts such as Com Lang Vong, salted dry apricot, green rice flake cake…

Thank you for watching and listening things to do in Hanoi from my story. If you have any questions, please leave a comment below. Also, do not forget to help me share this article if you feel useful by clicking the icons right below the post!

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Hi, I am Ventori, own this blog. This blog is my travel stories I experienced throughout Vietnam. This also places to share useful tips and guides for you. Enjoy your visit!

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