If this is your first visit to Hanoi, you might be overwhelmed with sources of information: places to stay, food to eat, and things to do. Even if you go on a tour, you still have one or two free days to discover this city on your own. Aware of your concerns, we have collected in “Hanoi from A to Z” everything you need to know about the capital of Vietnam. You will find, in this guide, main attractions, etiquettes, common Vietnamese phrases, and even the skill to cross crowded streets. It’s very simple and easy to look up any time you want.
A – Art Museum
It is an old 3-floor colonial building, in which beautiful Vietnamese paintings, sculptures, and lacquers in different historical periods are well displayed. That gives more attention to individual artists.
Opening Hours: daily from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm.
Address: 66 Nguyen Thai Hoc Street, Ba Dinh.
B – Bun Cha
Bun Cha is served with grilled pork, fresh herbs, noodle, and a dipping sauce. Its taste can lure even the pickiest eaters. It’s a favorite Vietnamese dish of President Obama as well.
Anthony Bourdain and the President of the United States shared a table at Bun Cha Huong Lien.
– Bun Cha Dac Kim: 1 Hang Manh Street, Hoan Kiem.
– Bun Cha Huong Lien: 24 Le Van Huu Street, Hai Ba Trung. This place is where Anthony Bourdain and the President of the United States shared a table.
C – Cam on!
Means “Thank you!” in Vietnamese.
D – Dress conservatively
The same rule as in other Southeast Asia countries: you should leave your tank tops, shorts, and mini-skirts at the hotel when you visit temples and pagoda.
Tran Quoc Pagoda
E – Eye contact
Young Hanoi women often avoid eye contact in talking with whom are not the same sex. In their culture, looking into men’s eyes usually means an expression of deep passion.
F – Friendly local
You may see Hanoians are more reserved than their neighbors in Bangkok, but when you smile to them and start a conversation, they become very friendly and willing to help. Some people are even more enthusiastic than Thai people.
G – Giảng coffee
Humbly hidden in a small lane on a street of Hanoi, this shop is well-known for its Egg Coffee which is invented by Nguyen Giang in 1946 when he was working as a bartender for the 5-star Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi Hotel. A perfect hit of egg, sweetened condensed milk, and coffee that makes you want to come back every day you are in the city.
Egg coffee – a special drink of Giang Coffee
Opening Hours: daily from 7:00 am to 10:00 pm.
Address: 39 Nguyen Huu Huan Street. Hoan Kiem.
H – Hoan Kiem Lake
A beautiful lake and a historical site right in the heart of Hanoi, Hoan Kiem lake connects the Ngoc Son Temple on Jade Island by an iconic wooden red-painted The Huc Bridge.
Hoan Kiem Lake (source: Chung Lê Văn, flickr.com)
I – Imperial Citadel
An intriguing relic of Vietnam’s history and culture. It was built in the 11th century and had been the center of political power for 13 centuries without interruption. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010.
Opening Hours: from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, Tuesday to Sunday.
Address: 19C Hoang Dieu Street, Ba Dinh.
J – Jazz Club
There are some nice jazz clubs, but Binh Minh Jazz in the French Quarter is a lovely place to spend a night. From 9 pm, the club hosts live music performances by some of the finest jazz musicians in the city.
Jazz artist Quyen Van Minh – owner of Binh Minh Jazz (Photo: spencerscomet)
Opening Hours: daily from 5:00 pm to 12:00 am.
Address: 1 Trang Tien Street, Hoan Kiem.
K – KOTO Restaurant
KOTO is a cozy cafe-bar-restaurant serving brilliant Vietnamese dishes. It was started as a not-for-profit project providing career training and guidance to disadvantaged children and teens. Great location as well, just opposites the Temple of Literature.
Opening Hours: daily from 7:00 am to 10:00 pm.
Address: 59 Van Mieu Street, Dong Da.
L – La Siesta Spa
One of the best spa centers in Hanoi for relaxing and rejuvenating. It offers 5-star service and treatment at an affordable price (from $30US for 60-minute body massage).
Opening Hours: daily from 9:00 am to 10:00 pm.
Address: 94 Ma May Street, Hoan Kiem.
M – Museum of Ethnology
The museum provides a deep look into the Vietnamese ethnic minority culture. It displays a lot of valued exhibits indoor and outdoor. It also offers puppet performances from 10:00 to 16:00 every day.
Opening Hours: Tuesday to Sunday, from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm.
Address: Nguyen Van Huyen Street, Cau Giay.
N – Nightlife
When the dark falls down, Hanoi comes to alive in a different way. Give yourself a twist with a signature cocktail at some of the city’s best bars, or drink a cup of beer at the Bia Hoi Conjunction which is widely regarded as the quintessential nightlife spot, you will see how enchanting the city is.
Hanoi Bia Hoi Conjunction by night
Mad Botanist: 45 Ly Quoc Su Street, Hoan Kiem District. Open daily from 4 pm until midnight.
The Alchemist Cocktail Bar: 2nd flr., 19 Nguyễn Quang Bích Street, Hà Nội. Open daily from 4 pm to midnight.
Bia Hoi Conjunction: at the corner of Ta Hien and Luong Ngoc Quyen streets.
O – Old Quarter
Known as the most glamorous attraction of the city, Old Quarter is filled with narrow streets, outdoor markets, bars, boutique hotels, and small shops.
Ta Hien Street
P – Pho
Elsewhere to taste the best bow of Pho than Hanoi, where gathers best Pho restaurants more than any other city in Vietnam? Pho is the most famous and delicious dish of this country, consisting of broth, rice noodles, chopped herbs, and beef.
– Pho Bat Dan: 49 Bat Dan Street, Hoan Kiem.
– Pho 10 Ly Quoc Su: 10 Ly Quoc Su Street, Hoan Kiem.
– Pho Thin: 13 Lo Duc Street, Hai Ba Trung.
Q – Quan Thanh Temple
Dated back to the 11th century, Quan Thanh is one of the four sacred temples of Hanoi. Its main attraction is a black bronze statue which is 13.0 ft in height, and 3,600 kilos in weight – a masterpiece of Vietnamese bronze casting and sculpture. Local people often rub the statue’s feet to wish luck.
Opening Hours: daily from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm.
Address: Thanh Nien Street. Ba Dinh District.
R – Railway Street
Also known as Train Street, where people live and work along the track which is literally steps from their front door. There are local markets and small shops opening just 1 meter from the railroad. Children play and run on the track and get out temporarily when a train passes through twice a day.
Location: Between Le Duan and Kham Thien Street.
S – Smile
People in Hanoi are very hospitable. Go with a Smile! You will never know what a smile can do in this city: They will smile back to you, they will see you as their friend, and they will ready to help whenever you need (we all know that we always have some questions when we are in a strange city.)
T – Traffic
Traffic is a big problem of Hanoi. Millions of motorbikes are on the streets every day, honking without any reason. Be confident, walk slowly across the street, and don’t step back. With excellent driving skills, by somehow, the drivers will avoid you.
A lot of motorbikes on the streets of Hanoi (source: Andrea Schaffer, flickr.com)
U – Unique
is what Hanoi really is. This city attracts visitors by its ever-bustling streets, lovely small shops, unique coffee culture, mouthwatering dishes, and boutique restaurants that you can find every corner.
V – Van Mieu
Or you can call it Temple of Literature. The first university of Vietnam was built in 1070 under the dynasty of Emperor Ly Thanh Tong. Its ancient architecture and precious relics have been well preserved through thousand years.
Opening Hours: daily from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm.
Address: Van Mieu Street, Dong Da District.
W – Water Puppet Show
A traditional performance of puppet dancing on the water. It’s dated back to the 11th century in ancient villages of Northern Vietnam. Nowadays, you can watch it at the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre.
Opening Hours: Daily 15:00, 16:10, 17:20, 18:30 & 20:00
Address: 57B Dinh Tien Hoang Street, Hoan Kiem District.
X – Xin Chao!
Mean “Hello” in Vietnamese. Say it with a smile, you’re welcome everywhere in Hanoi.
Y – Yellow
Although the French colonial period came to an end a long time ago, much of the French arts and deco style are still imprinted in the architecture of this city. You can find here and there elegant French colonial houses and buildings. They are all painted in yellow.
The iconic Hanoi Opera House
The most stunning colonial architectures:
– Hanoi Opera House: 1 Trang Tien Street, Hoan Kiem District.
– National Museum of Vietnamese History: 214 Tran Quang Khai Street, Hoan Kiem District.
– Presidential Palace: 2 Hung Vuong Street, Ba Dinh District.
Z – Zaika Indian Restaurant
A nice place for fans of Indian food in Hanoi. Your palate will be satisfied with their authentic Indian curries.
Opening Hours: Daily from 11:00 am to 10:00 pm
Address: 13 Hang Dieu Street, Hoan Kiem District.
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