• My Hanoi with Nga

Nga Pham is a young artist originally from Hanoi. She rides her motorbike every day around Hanoi’s busy and charming streets, and finds inspiration in the capital’s blend of old and new experiences. Here Nga tells us where to go to see the artsy side of Hanoi, and how to find the best views and secret spots around town, just like a local.

What are your favourite ‘secret' spots in Hanoi? 

I have several favourite ‘secret’ spots. One is inside the office building at 5 Dien Bien Phu St. Travellers, especially those who are looking for a place to do some work, can use the elevator and go up to the 9th floor, where there’s a friendly coworking space. From there, check out the fire escape staircase to see a splendid view below! 

Hanoi cafe

When is the best month or time to visit Hanoi and why? 

Autumn is the most beautiful time of year to many people living in Hanoi. Autumn starts around late September and lasts until the end of November. During this season, the weather is cool, dry, and breezy. Travellers can chill around picturesque lakes, enjoy street food, or ramble through restless night markets without breaking a sweat. 

What are the people like in Hanoi?

People living here love going to coffee shops and pagodas. They usually spend a lot of time catching up with friends, working, reading books, or taking pictures at coffee shops. Besides coffee shops, pagoda are another hot spot in Hanoi, especially during special occasions. People go to pagodas to pray for good health and good fortune for their families and themselves.   

things to do in Hanoi

What makes the capital different from other places in Vietnam? 

I think Hanoi’s architecture is very interesting. Hanoi has a lot of buildings and public gardens that were built during French colonisation of Vietnam. These old buildings and public spaces give an ancient and graceful feeling. At the same time, Hanoi has a growing number of state-of-the-art constructions, which are sleek and shiny. When I ride around, it feels like I am living in two concurrent worlds. 

If you had to describe Hanoi in three adjectives, what would they be and why?

Hanoi is beautiful, diverse, and hustling. These are fundamental traits of Hanoi which travellers can easily notice after a short time visiting this city.

What is a lesser-known dish that you wish more people knew about? 

Definitely steamed rice rolls or bánh cuốn. Such a delicious dish for a small amount of money.

Hanoi Vietnam

Where do you recommend travellers go to experience nature here?

There is this place that I go to very often which is Hanoi Botanical Garden. The garden was built over 100 years ago and it’s home to many beautiful and scarce plants.

If travellers want to learn more about Hanoi’s history, where should they go?

There are a lot of places travellers can go to explore Hanoi’s history, such as the Temple of Literature, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Tran Quoc Pagoda, and Imperial Citadel of Thang Long. If you’re interested in exploring the spiritual life of Hanoi’s residents from the old times until now, I recommend Tran Quoc Pagoda, Huong Pagoda or Quan Thanh Temple.

Where is your favourite coffee shop and what do you like about it?

There are so many coffee shops in Hanoi that I am in love with. Normally I go to the ones overlooking West Lake such as Cup of Tea, Le Chat Cafe, and Voila Cafe. If travellers want to go somewhere that has a nice view and good coffee, I recommend Hanoi Roastery at 149 Nguyen Dinh Thi St.

Where do you take family or friends when they come to Hanoi?

If my friends are into art, then the Vietnam National Fine Arts Museum is a must! Several local galleries located in Hanoi’s Old Quarter are also ideal destinations for my artsy friends. 

places to visit in Hanoi

Where should travellers go to see the best views of Hanoi? 

Hanoi has many beautiful rooftop bars. One of the most popular ones is Top of Hanoi, perched at the rooftop of Lotte Hotel Hanoi on the 65th floor. From here, it’s easy to spot beautifully lit bridges over the meandering Hong River, surrounded by buildings of all kinds and small lakes that scatter here and there.

Continue your journey through #MyVietnam with insightful local interviews, videos and travel tips here.