Turtle Tower pagoda in the center of Hoan Kiem Lake. Photo by Aaron Joel Santos
Sample the street food
For an authentic taste of Hanoi, look to the street kitchens of the Old Quarter. Steaming pots of its star anise-infused Phở broth simmer on every corner; while every day, the scent of bún chả fills the air as barbecued pork sizzles over hot coals.
Stroll the Old Quarter
Hanoi’s Old Quarter serves up a sensory overload. Wisps of incense drift out onto streets from ancient temples, while the clang of blacksmiths’ hammers mingles with mobile fruit sellers’ call. Jump in a cyclo and tour this intoxicating maze.
Explore Hanoi's cafe culture
Fast-paced on the surface, the true rhythm of Hanoi life is far from hurried and is reflected well in its leisurely coffee hours. Alongside traditional coffee houses, an ever-growing band of unique cafes serve new brews in cool caffeine dens.
Check out the art scene
Hanoi is Vietnam’s art capital. The elegant Fine Arts Museum houses the country’s foremost collection, such as ancient Cham artifacts and impressionist pieces. For something more contemporary, head for Manzi or the Vietnam Art Gallery.
Join the locals at Hoan Kiem Lake
Hoàn Kiếm Lake rests in the heart of Hanoi. Every morning it comes alive with walkers, aerobics classes, and even a laughing yoga group; and bursts back into activity at sunset, thronged with locals taking in the evening air.
Hanoi is most inviting from April to June, but the capital is particularly beautiful in May when trees suddenly come into bloom. September and October are also excellent months to visit as temperatures cool and the sky clears.
Vietnam’s capital is served by Noi Bai international airport, 45km from the city centre. The Reunification Express line has trains to many major destinations including Lào Cai (Sapa) and Đồng Hới (Phong Nha.) There are many options for getting around Hanoi, including taxis, buses, and motorbikes. Grab, and a few other ride-hailing apps offer on-demand services for getting around. Hanoi’s bus network has an extensive network around the city and low-cost fare. Finally, the classic cyclo can be hired to take you around the Old Quarter on a sightseeing tour.