Hanoi is the hundred-year-old capital of Vietnam, located in the flat Northern region. Bustling as it can be, Hanoi will absolutely blow your mind with a mix of preserved architecture, traditional values, and modern urbanization. As a center of politics, culture, and economy, Hanoi attracts many residents and tourists from all over, creating a hassle and hurry lifestyle.
Meanwhile, the buildings and constructions in this city share classic and nostalgic architectural features - a vestige of the glamorous history and hundred-year-old culture. The interesting blending of heavy traffic on busy streets and the tranquility of cultural traces hidden in narrow alleyways should be the special charm that attracts tourists traveling to Hanoi.
Sword Lake in Hanoi at night
But don’t rush yourself packing right away and fly to Hanoi! To prepare for the best Hanoi excursions, there are a few things to know before coming to Hanoi that will help you truly appreciate this city in the most complete way.
Culture of Hanoi people
Traffic and Motorbike rules
One of the signatures of Hanoi culture is the hectic traffic. It seems to have no real flow and you might feel that all the vehicles are coming to you in every direction. If you couldn’t use the pedestrian bridge or crosswalks to cross the streets, the advice is to just walk at a steady speed and don’t heritage any steps! Sounds crazy but it actually works.
Along Thanh Nien Street crossing West Lake
Can you believe that more than 8,000 new motorbikes are registered every day in Vietnam? They are the most common transport in the country and are especially dense in the capital city. It would be an interesting experience if you explore Hanoi with a motorbike or a scooter, but don’t be too shocked if you see a family of four sharing a motorbike including their toddlers or drivers not wearing helmets. Make sure you drive slowly and watch out for any direction!
Street vendors everywhere (and some street food cautions)
Visiting any street in Hanoi, you will see people selling one thing or another on the sidewalks.
Some sell goods right from their bicycles, and some use yoke (a carrying pole) to bring their goods through every corner of Hanoi. It’s amazing to see sellers balancing their huge baskets filled with fruits or snacks, and still be able to go everywhere.
This sidewalk cuisine is popular for its various dishes with affordable prices but amazing taste, not to mention the fresh air and scenery of busy streets and natural landscapes that can’t be found in indoor restaurants.
Nevertheless, the food stalls are in the outdoor environment so try to choose clean street eateries to guarantee food safety.
Banh Mi Hanoi
Bargain when shopping
If you come from a country where haggling or bargaining is not a thing, get to know this kind of offer now because it’s expected that you bargain in markets in Hanoi! Learn some bargaining phrases and apply them with street vendors or when you spend your day trips in Dong Xuan market and the Old Quarter - it will be a fun thing to try during your journey in Hanoi!
Don’t drink tap water!
Many cities or countries provide drinkable tap water, but you can’t drink it in Vietnam. The water contains some chemicals to clarify raw water and also minerals, so brushing your teeth with tap water is also not advisable.
Tran Quoc Pagoda
Appropriate dressing is considerably important in Vietnam, as in many other areas in Asia. Though big cities like Hanoi are more open in dress code, particular places such as temples and pagodas require some rules so you should be considerate to show respect. Many temples may expect women to cover their shoulders and knees.
Apart from wearing proper clothes, when visiting religious sites in Hanoi like Tran Quoc Pagoda, Ngoc Son Temple, or Perfume pagoda, you should behave gently and admire the tranquility of Buddha statues.
World-class heritage (water puppet show)
This traditional entertainment was recognized by UNESCO as a phi vat the heritage due to the unique performing methods and the deep meaning behind each show. Many tourists hesitated to go see a puppet show, but after spending a night at Thang Long Puppet Theatre, most agree that watching a puppet show definitely worthen it!
Puppet show in Hanoi
This art form origins from the periods when rice paddy fields were flooded, and villagers entertain each other by standing deep in water and performing with the puppets. Drums, wooden bells, bamboo flutes, and many other Vietnamese traditional instruments combine to accompany the telling stories of Vietnamese legends and folk tales.
Narrow alleyways in the Old Quarter
Hanoi city features a really special street complex right in the center area named Old Quarter or “Hanoi 36 streets”. Each street was named after the goods mainly sold there, for example, Hang Non (Hat Street) is known for selling hats and non la and Hang Ma (Decorate Street) provides the largest number of decorations and pretties. The unique quarter represents the age-old culture of trading and now is the main area accommodating foreign tourists.
Yet Hanoi has much more than just an old quarter, traditional handicraft villages in Hanoi suburbs are also the proud traditions that local people preserve for centuries. Visit Van Phuc silk village - once the main silk village trading silks and clothes; and Bat Trang ceramic village - where you can enjoy cycling through the ceramic stores and making lovely ceramic artwork by yourself.
Train Street in Hanoi
You can also come to admire tons of historical sites right in the city center such as Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Hoan Kiem complex, and Museums,... Find out more attractions of Hanoi in our blog Hanoi tours.
Hanoi (Noi Bai) Airport
About 30 km from Hanoi center, Hanoi Airport is the second largest International Airport in Vietnam. This airport is 24/24 busy because it welcomes numerous domestic and international passengers to Hanoi, as well as travelers that depart Vietnam tours from Hanoi.
You can easily arrive in the center of Hanoi by private car from Vietnam Airport Car. The warm welcome, flexible seat-luggage options, and thoughtful services of this transport are what makes it popular among bus, taxi, and motorbike taxi.
Vietnam Airport Car
Then where can you depart from Hanoi Airport? We are here to recommend you some destinations that can easily depart from Hanoi Airport.
Halong Bay is the most common next-stop for visitors to travel after spending tours in Hanoi. The seaplane is awesome as you can admire the panoramic view of the bays and oceans from the windows of the plane. most travelers visit Halong Bay with a 2-day tour or overnight cruise. A vicinity attraction near Halong is Lan Ha Bay. You can also take the Lan Ha Bay tour from Hanoi with the same route from Hanoi Airport.
Hoian is also a world-wide famous ancient town that can transit by airway from Hanoi. Hanoi to Hoian tour is very popular, as you just have to spend 1 hour and a half on the airplane to reach the wonderland of lanterns. You can also visit the coastal city of Danang as it is only 30 km from Hoi An.
Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh is also a popular route at Noi Bai Airport. Though the distance is …, a 2-hour nap and you wake up in the most bustling city of Vietnam. It might take you more than one- or two-day tour to explore the whole city, so unpack your luggage and get ready to immerse yourself in the stunning of the non-sleep city.
It must be a big mistake if we don’t mention the irresistible culinary culture in Hanoi! With its huge population, both local residents and people from all over the country coming here to study and work, Hanoi has a diversity of food culture that nowhere in Vietnam can compare.
Have you ever heard that even Obama - the former president of the USA, once visited the capital of Vietnam, loved to sit casually in a food shop and deliciously enjoy a plate of Bun Cha? Hanoi Foods is basically it - not too luxurious or finicky in the way it shows. Instead, its inner subtlety and complication come from the cooking process.
Barack Obama enjoys Bun Cha in Hanoi
Hanoi local people take a real concern about choosing the best ingredients, and how to flavor the dishes in the most delicate and savory way. Some of the signature dishes that tourists should definitely try in Hanoi are Pho, Banh Mi, Bun Cha, Bun Oc and Com, Xoi Com, and Banh Com if you visit the city in Autumn.
Coming through large and narrow streets in this city, you will see tons of vendors selling all kinds of snacks, beverages, and breakfasts. Some people even say that the heart of Hanoi Food is in street food vendors, ranging from Vien Chien, Bo Bia, and Banh Duc to Vietnamese Coffee. Together with Egg coffee, the most interesting beverage that you have ever tried, Vietnamese Coffee tastes excellent at a much cheaper price than high-end coffee shops.
Banh Cuon Thit Nuong in Hanoi
Too many specialties and you don’t know which to start with? Check out some Hanoi food tours or street food tours in Hanoi to sample numerous Hanoi dishes and learn about the way to create them with enthusiastic and knowledgeable tour guides.
Hanoi by Night
If you just spend a day trip in Hanoi, you will miss the magical side of Hanoi by Night - as it will take you 2, or 3 days in Hanoi or even more to admire the whole scenery of the city after the sunset.
Not a non-sleep city like Ho Chi Minh destination which is still brightly lit and crowded after midnight, the night scene in Hanoi is distinctive in its own way. Hanoi by Night is purely sparkling with street lamps and colorful lights from boards and signs of restaurants and cafes. As there are so many national attractions gathering here, the equipped light in each place is taken care of in detail, creating a stunning beauty that can only be seen when it gets dark.
Enjoying a beer in an ancient town
On your trips to Hanoi, spend your night sightseeing in the city. You can wander through the Old Quarter, the Train Street admiring bunches of lanterns and street art. A really outstanding building of the Hanoi Opera House is right around Hoan Kiem Lake, so you can buy some tickers to learn about a really special performance style of Hanoi.
Take your chance if you can visit Hanoi around the time of the Mid-Autumn festival. The street is full of children’s songs and red lanterns, especially on Hang Ma Street where they sell all the traditional decorations for this huge night festival.
Flower market in Hanoi
With all the attractions of history, culture, and cuisine, you must be confused about where to start, and how to build the best itinerary on your journey in Hanoi. To help you with that issue, we suggest some kinds of Hanoi tour tagging with the necessary information. Hope you can spend your trips in Hanoi Vietnam smoothly and comfortably!
If you have only one day in Hanoi and intend to spend your time in Vietnam to see other destinations such as Halong, Danang, Sapa, or Mai Chau, a city tour or full-day tour around the city of Hanoi is a great choice.
You can travel to the most highlighted tourist attractions in Hanoi such as Old Quarter, Ho Guom, and Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum to have a gaze of a busy urban area but well-preserved ancient constructions.
Enjoy a cup of egg coffee when taking a waking tour
With two or more days in Hanoi, you will get to see the night world and the sunrise on West Lake. Multi-day tours in Hanoi with a private tour guide will give you a chance to explore both the stunning beauty of famous attractions and the distinctive streets hidden in the narrow alleyways.
You can spend a day in the center of Hanoi, and the other day exploring all the highlight cuisine sprinkled in different districts, and maybe another day to learn about traditions in the suburbs with handicraft villages. It is your choice to explore Hanoi either way!
How about vehicles to spend the tours? There are actually quite a lot of options for you. If you are spending on travel packages in Vietnam, an interesting way to look at the city off the beaten track is a bicycle tour in Hanoi. Cycling around the narrow alleyways of Old Quarters and around the Ho Guom, you will see a real Hanoi with locals setting up their food shops while slipping through heavy traffic.
This is a great way to get to know friendly local people and hear the stories behind the historical constructions in the city.
Want to have a more relaxing trip in Hanoi but still get to see the hidden gems of the old capital? Try Hanoi cyclo tours. A cyclist will take you slowly through the attractions of Hanoi and share the meanings of the temples, the name of Hoan Kiem lake and so on (If they know some English, of course).
Hanoi cyclo tour
Another way is to take a Hanoi motorcycle tour. A motorbike is a scary experience to many, so visiting Hanoi in this way will totally turn you into a local! Easily get into the hidden streets, drive through markets and slowly go along the roads full of trees, you will be amazed by the feeling that the city is passing by in front of your eyes.
That’s why many local people (who actually live here long enough to explore it all) still spend their spare time going around Hanoi on their motorbikes. Vespa is a common choice of scooter, so check out some Vespa tours or scooter tours to explore the city in the most “local” way!
There are some more extraordinary ways to spend your days in Hanoi like jeep tours or buffalo tours, especially if you love its epic but glorious history. Get on a Hanoi jeep tour to hop on and off any historical attractions. A warning that people may stare at you - because the jeep is super cool and impressive!
Hanoi Jeep Tours
Then what about the buffalo tour? Have you ever gotten on a buffalo? This kind of tour is inspired by the traditional cultivation in rural areas. If you travel to an old village around Hanoi, try buffalo tours to have unique photos and a memorable experience.
If you travel in families or even larger group, try Hop on and off-bus tours or river cruises. Exploring the city on a hop-on and off bus, you will get to see every corner of the city center from above. Not just the attractions, watching the traffic slowly flow below is a really interesting experience for even local people.
Hanoi means “city covered by the river” in Vietnamese, that is because the Red River flows around the city. You can take a cruise tour on this river to see the city in a really distinctive way. Usually, the cruise will provide the necessary services and luxury cruises even have pools and other entertainment to make your trips in Hanoi even more unforgettable.
Visit Mai Son Centrale
For those who travel to Hanoi on business, don’t worry because you can still choose to quickly get to know the city with a half-day city tour.
This kind of tour will show you some highlights of the city, of course depending on your preference - whether you choose to explore the historical side, the architecture of the city, or the signature cuisine in Hanoi.
Hanoi and vicinity tours
As the capital of the country, Hanoi connects most of the cities and provinces in Vietnam. With plenty of transportation ranging from airports, bus stations, and train stations, departing Vietnam tours from Hanoi are very convenient and flexible.
For day trips from Hanoi, you can choose the bus, train, or private car service to get to famous tourist attractions like Ninh Binh city and Halong bay,... A recommended way from us is to take the train and private car, as buses can be crowded and take much traveling time.
You can choose train travel for a vintage vibe and scenic landscape or a private car for convenient services and the fastest traveling time. Contact Vietnam Airport Car for booking private car services with many options in seat number, car model, and luggage capacity. One-day tours departing from Hanoi are varied and flexible for travelers depending on their preferences.
How about departing on a day tour from the current capital to the ancient one of Vietnam? Hoa Lu, Ninh Binh - the ancient capital back in the 1000s - owns a tourism complex that includes majestic caves, systems of temples and pagodas, and the vast rice padding fields lying on the banks of the river.
Joining a unique and fascinating rowing boat trip in Tam Coc or Trang An to explore the breathtaking scenery of limestone mountains covered in lush green forests - you will have the most exciting Ninh Binh day trip from Hanoi.
Hang Mua's viewpoint in Ninh Binh
Halong Bay is common for visitors as the next waypoint to travel after tours in Hanoi. You can choose one day tour to go forth and back in a day, or several days in Halong will help you to explore all the attractions in this UNESCO Natural Heritage. With a Halong bay day trip from Hanoi, you get to cruise through the turquoise waters and imposing rock formations, before soaking in the beauty of Sung Sot Cave - a grotto that will make you amazed, just like the Vietnamese meaning of its name!
Many travelers, on the other hand, visit Halong Bay on 2-day tours or 3-day tours. Whether you travel in tour packages or overnight cruises, there are numerous activities that will fulfill your vacation in this land such as playing multiple games in Sun World or visiting nearby Lan Ha Bay.
Halong Bay cruise
Sapa, Lao Cai is more than 300 km from Hanoi, so a multi-day tour is the best option to explore this mountainous Southern part. On a Sapa tour from Hanoi, what waits for you is the Fansipan Peak, the ancient architecture of the cathedral, and the mountainous cuisine with unique tastes and fresh ingredients.
Ban Gioc waterfall
This waterfall is quite far from Hanoi, but it is worth it as the beauty is breathtaking and the location is still off the beaten track. Ban Gioc waterfall is in Quay Son River, forming the bottle between Vietnam and China. That means the falls are half in Vietnam and China, how unique is that! If you stand close enough, you can literally shake hands with Chinese tourists.
Ban Gioc waterfall
There are many other tours to Vietnam’s significant tourist attractions that can be departed from Hanoi. Ha Giang loop tour, Hoi a tour from Hanoi, and Ho Chi Minh tour are some tours can many tourists recommend after their vacation in Vietnam.
Hope the information helps and provides you with everything you need to know before visiting Hanoi.
Good preparation will make the journey smooth and interesting!