Looking for things to do in Hanoi? The capital of Vietnam is a lively city that has a lot to offer its visitors.

Here you can stroll around at lively markets, visit historical sights, and eat delicious Vietnamese food. From Hanoi you can also go on excursions to other places that will give you unforgettable experiences.

Here are 12 things to do in Hanoi as a tourist:

Stroll around in Hanoi’s old quarter

If you are looking for some affordable shopping, then I’ve got the perfect place for you. The old quarters of Hanoi is filled with shops selling both clothing, shoes, and accessories.

Just be careful what you’re buying since many of the products are fake. Also, don’t be shy to bargain since the sellers often go down half the price. 

In addition to the shopping there’s also beautiful French-colonial architecture to check out and several cozy restaurants and cafes to visit.

hanoi old quarters

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Stop by the temple of literature

Temple of Literature is considered t0 be one of the most picturesque sights in the city. The temple was originally built to be a university in 1070 dedicated to Confucius who was a teacher, researcher, philosopher, and politician.

Today, this place is a great example of traditional Vietnamese architecture.

This attraction offers several interesting places that you can visit visit. There is the lake of literature, various pavilions and courtyards to have look at that once was used by the royalties of Vietnam.

If you’re interested in architecture and history then it’s a must to add this attraction to your bucket list of things to do in Hanoi. After all, the Temple of Literature is the first university in Vietnam.

things to do in Hanoi

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Go hiking in Sa Pa

If you are staying in Hanoi for a long time, then I can recommend going hiking in Sa Pa for 1-2 days. It’s no doubt one of the best things to do in Vietnam.

Sa Pa is located in the Lào Cai Province in northwestern Vietnam where they have amazing scenery with mountains, rice terraces, waterfalls, rivers and bamboo forests. You can go on a guided hike through the valley led by local people from the tribes who speak good English.

Hiking in Sa Pa and staying 2 days with a local family is one of the best things I’ve done during my travels. It’s an experience and adventure that I will never forget.

sa pa

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Visit the Lotte Tower Observation Deck

One of the best views in Hanoi can be found at the top of the Lotte Tower Observation Deck. In this building you can go up 65 floors where you have a panoramic view of the city.

Inside the building there’s also a hotel, several restaurants and a rooftop bar.

Lotte Tower Observation Deck

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Eat a sandwich at Banh Mi 25

The Vietnamese sandwich banh mi is a must to taste while you’re in Hanoi. It’s a sandwich with French bread and local Vietnamese ingredients.

A Banh Mi simply consists of a French baguette filled with meat or pate and topped with coriander, carrot, and chili.

Banh Mi 25 is one of the most popular places in Hanoi to eat this Vietnamese sandwich. I myself have eaten a few banh mi sandwiches at this place, and I must say that they’re delicious!


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Relax at the Hoan Kiem lake

Lake of the Restored Sword, also known as Hoan Kiem, is a lake located in the middle of central Hanoi. It’s a place that you will probably pass by a number of times during your stay in the city.

Here you can see a beautiful temple (Ngoc Son Temple), take a nice walk, or sit down at one of the park benches to people watch.

This is also a popular spot among the locals to do morning gymnastics, which is another fun thing to see in Hanoi.

Hoan Kiem lake

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Go see a Thang Long Water Puppet show

Don’t leave Hanoi without seeing a Thang Long Water Puppet show. It is a wonderful musical performance that tells you stories of historical legends and folk tales.

These performances are created by a group of talented people who control the dolls and a traditional Vietnamese orchestra.

It’s one of the best things to do in Hanoi with kids.

hanoi attractions

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Visit Hoa Lo Prison

Hoa Lo Prison was built by the French in 1896 to imprison Vietnamese resistance fighters.

In this old prison, you can learn about the tragic history and see items they used to execute the Vietnamese activists during the Vietnam War.

Hoa Lo Prison

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Go on a cruise in Halong Bay

One thing you shouldn’t miss during your trip in Hanoi is to go on a cruise in Halong Bay. This is no doubt one of the best things to do in Hanoi.

Halong Bay is a great place that offers beautiful scenery and fun activities.

A cruise in Halong Bay can look different depending on which company you book through and also depending on the budget you have. However, they usually offer the same types of activities including stops at caves, visits to various view points, and the opportunity to kayak in Halong Bay.

Halong Bay

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Stroll around at the night market

This market stretches from Hang Dao Street to Dong Xuan Market and is one of the most popular things to do in Hanoi at night. The night market offers a lively atmosphere, shopping, and delicious street food.

Here you find just about everything. You can shop for both clothes, sweets, toys, and even home decorations.

Even though you’re not looking for shopping or food, I can still recommend a visit. It’s a nice place for a stroll to enjoy the lively atmosphere.

things to do in Hanoi

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Satisfy your hunger with a bowl of pho

When you are in Vietnam it’s a must to eat the local dish pho. It’s a noodle soup made with a variety of ingredients, usually with beef or chicken and coriander. It’s a classic Vietnamese food to eat in the country.

Most restaurants around town have this dish on their menu, and I can recommend tasting it at the local restaurant Bun Bo Nam Bo in central Hanoi.

Address67 Hang Dieu

vietnamese Pho

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Drink an egg coffee at Café Giang

If you like to drink coffee then you must taste an egg coffee at Café Giang. It may sound a bit disgusting but it is actually pretty good.

Egg coffee is just as popular among the locals as tourists, but I would say that it’s not like a Vietnamese dessert than a cup of coffee. It’s very sweet, but delicious.

Café Giang is one of the most popular places in the city for egg coffee.

Address: 39 Nguyen Huu Huan

things to do in hanoi

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Things to do in Hanoi with kids

Hanoi might not be the best city in the world to go traveling with kids since it’s a hectic town with lots of traffic. When you’re out exploring the city it’s important to keep an eye on your children so they do not run out into the streets as mopeds drive back and forth in full speed.

Beyond that, it’s a fun city for kids to explore. There’s fun shows to see, markets to explore, beautiful places to visit, and museums to learn new things.

  • Go see a water puppet show
  • Stroll around at the markets
  • Visit the temple of literature
  • Eat local food
  • Take a cooking class
  • Visit the Museum of Ethnology

Things to do in Hanoi when it rains

If you’re in Hanoi when it’s bad weather, do not worry, there are plenty of things to do in Hanoi when it rains. You can visit interesting museums, go on various shows, spoil yourself at the spa, go shopping in malls, and much more.

  • Sit down at a café and drink an egg coffee
  • Visit Vietnam Fine Arts Museum
  • Go see a show at the Hanoi Opera House
  • Go see a water puppet show
  • Stroll around in shopping malls
  • Visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
  • Go to the spa 
  • Take a cooking class
things to do in Hanoi when it rains

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What are your favorite things to do in Hanoi? Leave a comment below!