Vietnam Tourism -Hanoi , is the capital of Vietnam and the country’s second largest city. Its population in 2009 was estimated at 2.6 million for urban districts, 6.5 million for the metropolitan jurisdiction. From 1010 until 1802, it was the most important political centre of Vietnam. It was eclipsed by Huế during the Nguyen dynasty as the capital of Vietnam, but Hanoi served as the capital of French Indochina from 1902 to 1954. From 1954 to 1976, it was the capital of North Vietnam.
The city is located on the right bank of the Red River. Hanoi is located at 1,760 km (1,090 mi) north of Ho Chi Minh City.
October 2010 officially marked 1000 years since the establishment of the city.
Thành phố Hà Nội
|— Municipality —|
(from left) top: Long Bien Bridge, river near Perfume Pagoda; middle: Turtle Tower, bottom: Temple of Literature, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Hanoi Opera House
Provincial location in Vietnam
|Coordinates: 21°2′0″N 105°51′00″ECoordinates: 21°2′0″N 105°51′00″E|
|Founded, Capital of the Đại Việt||1010|
|Capital of Vietnam||September 2, 1945|
|• Party’s Secretary (Bí thư Thành ủy)||Phạm Quang Nghị|
|• People’s Council’s President (Chủ tịch Hội đồng Nhân Dân)||Ngô Thị Doãn Thanh|
|• People’s Committee’s President (Chủ tịch Ủy ban Nhân Dân)||Nguyễn Thế Thảo|
|• Municipality||3,344.7 km2(1,291.4 sq mi)|
|• Urban||186.22 km2(71.90 sq mi)|
|• Rank||2nd in Vietnam|
|• Density||1,900/km2(5,000/sq mi)|
|Time zone||ICT (UTC+7)|
Turtle Tower in Hoan Kiem Lake, in central Hanoi
Emperor Lý Thái Tổ made Thăng Long (Hanoi) his capital in the 11th century
Hanoi has been inhabited since at least 3000 BC. One of the first known permanent settlements is the Co Loa citadel (Cổ Loa) founded around 200 BC.
Hanoi has had many names throughout history, all of them of Sino-Vietnamese origin. During the Chinese domination of Vietnam, it was known first as Long Biên, thenTống Bình (Chinese: 宋平, Sòngpíng, “Song Peace”) and Long Đỗ (Chinese: 龍肚, Lóngdù, “Dragonbelly”). In 866, it was turned into a citadel and named Đại La (Chinese: 大羅, Dàluó, “Big Net”).
In 1010, Ly Thai To, the first ruler of the Lý Dynasty, moved the capital of Đại Việt to the site of the Đại La Citadel. Claiming to have seen a dragon ascending the Red River, he renamed the site Thăng Long (昇龍, “Rising Dragon”) – a name still used poetically to this day. Thăng Long remained the capital of Đại Việt until 1397, when it was moved to Thanh Hóa, then known as Tây Đô (西都), the “Western Capital”. Thăng Long then became Đông Đô (東都), the “Eastern Capital.”
In 1408, the Chinese Ming Dynasty attacked and occupied Vietnam, changing Đông Đô’s name to “Eastern Gateway” (Chinese: 東關,Dōngguān), Đông Quan in Vietnamese. In 1428, the Vietnamese overthrew the Chinese under the leadership of Lê Lợi, who later founded the Lê Dynasty and renamed Đông Quan Đông Kinh (東京, “Eastern Capital”) or Tonkin. Right after the end of the Tây Sơn Dynasty, it was named Bắc Thành (北城, “Northern Citadel”).
In 1802, when the Nguyễn Dynasty was established and moved the capital to Huế, the old name Thăng Long was modified to becomeThăng Long (昇隆, “Ascending & Flourishing”). In 1831, the Nguyễn emperor Minh Mạng renamed it Hà Nội (河内, “Between Rivers” or “River Interior”). Hanoi was occupied by the French in 1873 and passed to them ten years later. As Hanoï, it became the capital ofFrench Indochina after 1887.
The city was occupied by the Japanese in 1940 and liberated in 1945, when it briefly became the seat of the Viet Minh government afterHo Chi Minh proclaimed the independence of Vietnam. However, the French returned and reoccupied the city in 1946. After nine years of fighting between the French and Viet Minh forces, Hanoi became the capital of an independent North Vietnam in 1954.
During the Vietnam War, Hanoi’s transportation facilities were disrupted by the bombing of bridges and railways. These were all, however, promptly repaired. Following the end of the war, Hanoi became the capital of a reunified Vietnam when North and South Vietnam were reunited on July 2, 1976.
The first western-style universities in Vietnam were founded in Hanoi, and today, it is the leading centre of scientific study and research in the country. Hanoi retains much of its older colonial charm, despite the battles that have raged over it; conflict had the side effect of making it largely oblivious to modern architecture, and as a result, few buildings in the city centre area are higher than five stories. The Old Quarter is second only to Hoi An for uninterrupted stretches of colonial and pre-colonial architecture, well-preserved on dense warrens of narrow, wonderfully atmospheric streets. It trades the commercial boom and sprawl of Ho Chi Minh City in the South for a more understated charm, worth enjoying for an extra day or two, and with countless transport options and travel agents, it makes a perfect base for exploration of the North.
On May 29, 2008, it was decided that Ha Tay Province, Vĩnh Phúc’s Mê Linh district and 4 communes of Lương Sơn District, Hoa Binhbe merged into the metropolitan area of Hanoi from August 1, 2008.Hanoi’s total area then increased to 334,470 hectares in 29 subdivisions with the new population being 6,232,940, effectively tripling its size. The Hanoi Capital Region (Vùng Thủ đô Hà Nội), a metropolitan area covering Hanoi and 6 surrounding provinces under its administration, will have an area of 13,436 square kilometers with a population of 15 million by 2020.
Ho Tay/West Lake, Hanoi
Indochina Medical College in the early 20th century, today theHanoi Medical University
Hanoi University of Technologystudents wearing áo dài
Hanoi, as the capital of French Indochina, was home to the first Western-style universities in Indochina, including: Indochina Medical College (1902) – now Hanoi Medical University, Indochina University (1904) – now Hanoi National University, and École Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de L’Indochine (1925) – now Hanoi University of Fine Art.
After the Communist Party took control over Hanoi in 1954 with support from the Soviet Union, many new universities were built, among them, Hanoi University of Technology remains the largest technical university in Vietnam.
Hanoi is the largest centre of education in Vietnam. It is estimated that 62% of the scientists in the whole country are living and working in Hanoi.Admissions to undergraduate study are through entrance examinations, which are conducted annually and open for everyone (who has successfully completed his/her secondary education) in the country. The majority of universities in Hanoi are public, although in recent years a number of private universities have started their operation. Thăng Long University, founded in 1988, by some Vietnamese mathematics professors in Hanoi and France is the first private university in Vietnam.
Because many of Vietnam’s major universities are located in Hanoi, students from other provinces (especially in the northern part of the country) wishing to enter university often travel to Hanoi for the annual entrance examination. Such events often take place in June and July, during which a large number of students and their families converge on the city for several weeks around this intense examination period. In recent years, these entrance exams have been centrally coordinated by the Ministry of Education, but passing marks are decided independently by each university.
Although there are state owned kindergartens, there are also many private ventures that serve both local and international needs. Pre-tertiary (elementary and secondary) schools in Hanoi are generally state run although there are some independent schools. Education is equivalent to the K–12 system in the US, with elementary school between grades 1 and 5, middle school (or junior high) between grades 6 and 9, and high school from grades 10 to 12.
One Pillar Pagoda (Chùa Một Cột)
Main gate to the Temple of Literature
Hoan Kiem lake by night
The Old Quarter, near Hoan Kiem lake, has the original street layout and architecture of old Hanoi. At the beginning of the 20th century the city consisted of only about 36 streets, most of which are now part of the old quarter. Each street then had merchants and households specialized in a particular trade, such as silk traders, jewellery, etc. The street names nowadays still reflect these specializations, although few of them remain exclusively in their original commerce. The area is famous for its small artisans and merchants, including many silk shops. Local cuisine specialties as well as several clubs and bars can be found here also. A night market (near Đồng Xuân market) in the heart of the district opens for business every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evening with a variety of clothing, souvenirs and food.
Some others prominent places are: The Temple of Literature (Văn Miếu), site of the oldest university in Vietnam 1010; One Pillar Pagoda (Chùa Một Cột); Flag Tower of Hanoi (Cột cờ Hà Nội). In 2004, a massive part of the 900 year old Hanoi Citadel was discovered in central Hanoi, near the site of Ba Dinh Square.
Performance of the water puppet theatre Thăng Long
A variety of options for entertainment in Hanoi can be found throughout the city. Modern and traditional theaters, cinemas, karaoke bars, dance clubs, bowling alleys, and an abundance of opportunities for shopping provide leisure activity for both locals and tourists. Hanoi has been named as one of the top 10 cities for shopping in Asia by Smart Travel Asia. The number of art galleries exhibiting Vietnamese art has dramatically increased in recent years, including galleries such as “Nhat Huy” of Huynh Thong Nhat.
A popular traditional form of entertainment is water puppetry, which is shown for example at theThăng Long Water Puppet Theatre.
Bánh cuốn Thanh Tri dish
Hanoi has rich food traditions and many of Vietnam’s most famous dishes, such as phở, chả cá,bánh cuốn and cốm are thought to come from Hanoi. Perhaps most widely known is Phở, a simple rice noodle soup often eaten as a breakfast dish in the home or at streetside cafes, but also served in restaurants as a meal. Two varieties dominate the Hanoi scene: Phở Bò, containing beef, and Phở Gà, containing chicken.
Hanoi has been selected as one of the top 10 cities for food in the world by Shermans Travel.Vietnam’s national dish Phở has been also named as one of the Top5 streetfood in the world by globalpost.
Hanoi has a restaurant about the insect food, in Khuong Thuong village, Hanoi. The most special cuisines at his restaurant are those processed from ant-eggs, in the styles of Thai people or Muong and Tay ethnic people in Vietnam.
Hanoian girls wearing traditional costume Áo dài duringAPEC Summit 2006
Hanoi’s population is constantly growing (about 3.5% per year), a reflection of the fact that the city is both a major metropolitan area of Northern Vietnam, and also the country’s political centre. This population growth also puts a lot of pressure onto the infrastructure, some of which is antiquated and dates back from the early 20th century.
The number of Hanoians who settled down for more than three generations is likely to be very small as compared to the overall population of the city. Even in the Old Quarter, where commerce started hundreds years ago and was mostly a family business, many of the street-front stores nowadays are owned by merchants and retailers from other provinces. The original owner family may have either rented out the store and moved to live further inside the house, or just moved out of the neighbourhood altogether. The pace of change has especially escalated after the abandonment of central-planning economic policies, and relaxing of the district-based household registrar system.
Hanoi’s telephone numbers have been increased to 8 digits to cope with demand (October 2008). Subscribers telephone numbers have been changed in a haphazard way.
Hanoi is divided into 10 inner districts, 1 town and 18 outer districts. ( Hà Đông has been transform to an inner district, and Sơn Tâyhas been degraded to a town)
|Departure taxAs of November 2006, international departure taxes should be included in the price of your ticket, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they will be – check with the airline to be absolutely sure. If not, the tax (sometimes called “passenger service charge”) is payable in U.S. dollars (US$14) or in dong.|
Most people arrive at the Noi Bai International Airport (HAN), 35 km (45-60 minutes) north of the city. The airport might seem relatively small considering Hanoi’s importance to the country, but this might benefit travelers by making the airport easy to navigate and no need to arrive hours in advance (the limited waiting space is one reason why non-travelers are discouraged from entering the airport) to make sure there is plenty of room for those actually using and working in the airport. Several airlines run flights from Noi Bai, including:
- Aeroflot (Moscow-Sheremetyevo)
- AirAsia ☎+60 3 2171 9222) – Many good offers fromBangkok or Kuala Lumpur.
- Asiana Airlines (Seoul-Incheon)
- Cebu Pacific (Manila)
- China Airlines (Taipei)
- China Southern Airlines (Beijing, Guangzhou)
- Dragon Air (Hong Kong)
- EVA Air (Taipei)
- Hong Kong Airlines (Hong Kong)
- Indochina Airlines 63 Ly Thuong Kiet St. – Tran Hung Đao Ward – Hoan Kiem District. ☎ +84 4 3941 1411,
- Japan Airlines (Kansai, Tokyo-Narita)
- JetStar Asia/Pacific Airlines ☎ +84 4 9550550 – Discount Vietnamese carrier (formerly Pacific Air) for domestic flights and low-cost flights to/from Singapore.
- Korean Air (Busan, Seoul-Incheon)
- Lao Airlines – Small airline with 4 flights a week to/from Luang Prabang, Vientiane, and Phnom Penh.
- Lot Polish Airlines (Warsaw)
- Malaysia Airlines ☎ +60 3 7843 3000) – Daily flights from Kuala Lumpur.
- PMTair (Phnom Penh, Siem Reap)
- Qatar Airways (Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi, Doha)
- Shanghai Airlines (Shanghai)
- Singapore Airlines ☎ +84 4 3826 8888) – Full-service airline with daily flights to/from Singapore.
- Thai Airways International – Two flights daily to/from Bangkok.
- Tiger Airways (Singapore) ☎ +84 4 94 54565)
- Uni Air (Kaohsiung)
- Vietnam Airlines – 25 Tràng Thi (corner of Quang Trung) ☎ +84 4 934 9660 fax: +84 4 934 9620, – The primary national carrier.
- Vladivostok Air (Vladivostok)
If departing from Noi Bai airport via Vietnam Airlines with no checked luggage, walk to the last airline check-in counter and to the right of it, there’s a sign showing check-in for passengers without checked luggage. Using this counter is a great time saver if it applies to your journey.
From the airport
- Taxis to central Hanoi can be hired at Noi Bai . There is a fixed price taxi stand right outside the exit, offering fares between US$10-16 into the city. It is slightly more expensive than the tout taxis, but you pre-pay for the trip, so no hassles about the fare. Other drivers may try to take you to a hotel of their choice to collect a commission, but if you are specific about your destination, they usually give in. As you leave the airport all sorts of US$ prices will be quoted by taxi agents, ranging from around US$15-$30. Be sure you have a clear price agreement with the driver before getting into the car as the price quoted by the agent may not be what the driver is expecting. If you have changed money into dong at the airport you can, of course, pay in local currency. The prevailing rate at the end of 2010 seemed to be around 350,000 dong. If you fly in late and don’t want the taxi haggling hassles consider pre-arranging a private transfer with your hotel or book online at [YourLocalBooking.com]
- If you already have a hotel booked, you might ask the hotel to dispatch a driver. The nicer hotels will do this and put the fare on your room bill.
- Public buses to the city centre from Noi Bai airport take about 1,5 hour. Bus #07 crosses the Thang Long bridge and goes to the Daewoo Hotel on the western part of Hanoi (almost an hour on foot to the historical centre of Hanoi). Bus #17 crosses the Chuong Duong bridge and goes close to the old quarter, to Long Bien (just a few blocks from Hoan Kiem Lake – the destination of most tourists). Prices are 4,000 dong and 5,000 dong, respectively. To catch buses 7 or 17, go to the 2nd floor of the terminal, proceed outside, and walk along the ramp to your left. The ramp, like a highway overpass, will take you to the other side of the road than if you had just exited on the 1st floor arrivals section. Buses 7 and 17 depart from right at the end of the ramp. However, baggage is not permitted aboard the buses, so you may need to wait a few minutes to try your luck several times or give the conductor a small bribe, i.e. paying for the baggage as well. Don’t listen to taxi drivers or shuttle bus operators that claim the stop for the public buses is a few kilometers away or that service has been terminated. Public buses operate from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m.
- Shuttle-buses from the airport to Hanoi stop at the Vietnam Airlines Office on 1 Quang Trung (a bit south of the old quarter but conveniently stocked with taxis and motorbike drivers, of course!). Tickets are sold in the building in front of which the minibuses park, or you can give the fare directly to the driver. The cost is US$2 or 40,000 dong for foreigners (insurance reason), and 35,000 dong for Vietnamese (which includes VN-Americans),which rate is indicated on the sticker fixed to the bus’s body. The driver will potentially give you trouble if you have additional bags, but if you push, you will get the same US$2 rate. They also try the ‘typhoon in Ha Long Bay’ scam whereby they take you to a street where you cannot see the hotel name and tell you that the Ha Long Bay guests are still in the hotel and they will take you to their other hotel for the same price. This place is a complete dive facing the highway. You should also beware the drivers trying to offer you a ride to your hotel for US$5, claiming the Old Quarter is 5km from the office – it is much cheaper to go to the Vietnam Airlines office and switch to a taxi (or walk, it’s 2km MAX to anywhere in the Old Quarter). The taxi will not cost more than the US$3 price differential and if it does, you should refuse to pay as the driver has cheated you somehow. The shuttle buses are also available to get to airport hourly.
Trains to Nanning, China depart from Gia Lam Station (GPS 21.05213,105.87939), about 5km north-east of Hanoi Station, although tickets can be purchased from Hanoi Station. A ticket for a soft sleeper compartment (4-berth compartment) costs 568,000 dong per person. Be cautious buying these tickets from hotels or travel agents in the Old Quarter, as they may quote prices substatially higher.
All other trains use the main Hanoi train station (Ga Hang Co, 120 Le Duan, ☎ +84 4 825 3949), for daily services from cities in the south including Hue and Nha Trang. The Reunification Express goes all the way toHo Chi Minh City, although there is very little ‘express’ about it.
There are also train services to the north-west (including Lao Cai, from which you reach Sapa. To board trains bound for these destinations, you have to enter the railway station compound through the “backdoor” at Tran Quy Cap station. Just tell your driver which destination your train is heading to. Be mindful of any “helpful” stranger who offers to carry your luggage – he probably has a sum more than the cost of the ticket in mind for the help.
Tickets for all destinations are sold in the main station, though there are two counter halls, north and south, serving the respective destinations.
Technically, there is a queuing system in place to buy tickets at Hanoi Station which involves obtaining a numbered docket and waiting to be called up to one of the ticket counters. In practice, the process is chaotic and many locals disregard the system altogether, often pushing their way to the counters to be served. If travelling to Nanning, China, it is advisable to ask a staff member where to go, as not all counters can sell these tickets.
Buy your tickets as early as possible, especially since sleeper-tickets can be sold out several days in advance. If you can’t get a ticket anymore, try a travel-agent who still might have stocks. You may also try your luck in the station just before boarding time, agents still holding tickets will be eager to sell as the departure draws near. Nevertheless, travel agencies in Hanoi are known for their bad business practices. Some of them will try to overcharge you up to 300%, so it is better go to the train station by yourself and find out about the prices before you agree on any deal.
Most of the “open-tour” bus itineraries either begin or end in Hanoi, with Hue the next (or previous) stop (12-14 hr, US$8-9), and from there to Hoi An, Nha Trang, Dalat, Mui Ne, Ho Chi Minh City, and other cities inVietnam, depending on the bus company. Most seem to stop at their office which could be right next to the old district / most backpacker hotels. Check when booking ticket.
Many of the same companies also sell tickets to Vientiane and Savannakhet in Laos (US$16-18). Do some research before you buy a ticket as rattle-trap scam buses abound on this route.
See Ho Chi Minh City to Shanghai overland if you’re interested in crossing over to China by bus or train.
Traffic in Hanoi
Taxis are the best way to travel long distances, but the cyclos, or pedicabs, are a cheap way to make shorter trips. Taxi fares are not always consistent, and the rates for each taxi company have not been standardized. For lone travellers, rides on the back of motorbikes (actually low-powered scooters) are popular too (known as xe om, literally meaning motorbike-hug).
Some meter taxi owners in Hanoi will attempt to negotiate a flat fee in advance rather than use the meter. If you have a fair idea of how far you’re going or how much you’re willing to pay, this is probably a good idea. If the driver refuses, turning around and walking away will almost certainly change his mind. Don’t sweat it, it’s all part of the expected negotiation protocol. It has also become common for the drivers of some of the less reputable taxi companies to “fix” their meters to run faster hence running up a high bill very fast! The recommendation is to only use the reputable and reliable taxi companies. These are Hanoi Taxi, ☎ +84 4 3853 5353), Taxi CP, ☎ +84 4 3826 2626), Mai Linh Taxi , ☎ +84 4 3861 6161). Another common scam by taxis is that the driver takes you for a “sightseeing” – and extends the tour to make more money. This is very hard to discover unless you know the city well, but if you catch your driver doing this (e.g. going around Hoan Kiem Lake twice), demand that he stop the taxi and leave the taxi without paying.
Be very careful with meter taxis in Hanoi. Some have central locking, and are known to lock passengers in, and demand large amounts of US dollars before letting them go. The driver may threaten to have you beaten up or arrested should you not give in to his demands, but if you kick up enough of a fuss, they will let you go.
Most taxi drivers speak limited English, so it’s a good practice to get your hotel to write the name and address of you destination in Vietnamese to show the taxi driver, and get your hotel’s business card in case you get lost.
Be vigilant when taking a taxi – driver jumps out at destination and dumps most of your bags out of the trunk. While you’re busy putting rucksack on he has taken off with your other bags.
Be vigilant also the meter which can run as far or even faster than a digital clock. A 10 min drive can rack up almost USD30 in downtown Hanoi alone! Do keep an eye on the meter during the journey. Fare flag drops starting at 12,000 dong. Best is to negotiate a flat fee before you board, and always haggle!
By motorbike driver
Motorbike drivers can be found on virtually every corner, especially in the Old Quarter. Expect to be offered a ride every half-block (or more). You should absolutely negotiate a fare in advance, and again, turn around and walk away if you don’t like their offer. There are far more drivers than tourists, and they know it – your fare could be the only one they get all day. You should also write down the negotiated fare (with all zeros) to avoid confusion. Even if you do speak Vietnamese, a driver might pretend that you said 50,000 dong instead of 15,000, In case of argument over fares after the ride, keep calm and repeat the original agreement (remember, you have the leverage). A typical 10 min fare should cost no more than 15,000-20,000 dong. Many drivers will accept US dollars as well. At the end of a ride, some will offer to hang around to drive you to your next destination – either be clear that you don’t want a return ride (and don’t go near him when you leave), or get a price in advance. Otherwise, you might be surprised when the driver tacks on several million dong for having waited.
Keep your wallet out of arms reach of the drivers when you pay, less honest motorbike drivers are not adverse to grabbing your wallet and helping themselves to any notes they like the look of before jumping on their bike and speeding off.
Negotiate first or avoid using the cyclos services, they can demand 200,000 dong (US$12) for a short ride of less than 100 m (330 ft). At the end of the journey, a few men will come over to translate, and they will pretend to help and later insist that you pay the demanded amount.
Motorcycles can be rented for around US$5-6 a day, and can be arranged by most hotels. This is good for making lots of trips around the city for individuals or duos, but be careful: Hanoi traffic is very difficult place to sharpen motorbike skills. Park on the sidewalk with other bikes, and be sure to lock the front wheel. Locals will help arrange the bikes near their stores. Many shops that have bike attendants will give you a ticket in exchange for parking your bike. This may or may not come with a fee (typically ranging from 2,000-5,000 dong). The ticket will either have your license plate number written on it, or the ticket itself will be numbered, with that number subsequently chalked somewhere on your bike. In such cases (where you’ve been given a ticket), the attendants may ask that you NOT lock the steering column or front wheel of your bike so that they can rearrange the bikes as customers come and go.
Scam free, cheap but a bit difficult to comprehend at first, the buses in Hanoi are relatively fast and surprisingly comfortable. Pick up a map with printed bus lines at the Trang Tien street (the book street by the Opera house) and spend a few minutes to identify the over 60 bus lines, find your bus stop, wait for the bus, pay 3,000 dong and off you go. If you are unfamiliar with the city, make sure to inform the conductor where you want to get off.
List bus routes: English, Vietnamese
Bus maps: English, Vietnamese
Hanoi’s traffic is chaotic, with seemingly perpetual traffic jams, and a large number of almost suicidal motorcyclists and pedestrians. As such, driving yourself around is not recommended, and you should leave your transportation needs in the hands of professionals.
The city will be serviced by Metro sometime around 2015. Construction began in 2010.
- Vietnamese Women’s Museum – Bảo Tàng Phụ nữ Việt Nam, 36 Ly Thuong Kiet Street, Hoan Kiem District (Located in central Hanoi, 1 km South of Hoan Kiem Lake), ☎ +84 04 38259938([email protected]@org.vn, fax: 84 04 38259129). Tu-Su 8.00AM-4.30PM. This often overlooked museum has recently benefited from an extensive renovation of its permanent exhibitions. The modernised interior is well laid out with information in Vietnamese, English and French, and contains a huge amount of information on the fearsome female heroines of Vietnamese history. There are also exhibitions on the rituals and traditions surrounding women in family, as well as a beautifully presented collection of intricate hand-made ethnic costumes. A particular highlight are the regularly updated special exhibitions on a diverse range of subjects, from contemporary issues such as single mothers and street vendors to traditional medicine and Mother Goddess worship. English language tours are available on request. 30,000 dong.
- Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. 8AM to 11AM. Closed Mon & Fri. Last entrance 10:15. The city down south may have his name, but only Hanoi has the man himself, entombed in distinctly Lenin-esque fashion – against his wishes, but that’s how it goes. No talking, revealing clothing (shorts should be knee length and no exposed shoulders), or other signs of disrespect allowed while viewing; photos are allowed only from outside, in the grand Ba Dinh Square. Purses are allowed into the tomb, but expect them to be searched by several bored soldiers along the way. Left luggage is handled in a complicated scheme: there is an office near the street for large bags, with separate windows for Vietnamese and foreigners, and a further office for cameras, which will be transported to a third office right outside the exit of the mausoleum. Items checked in at the first office, however, will stay there. Note that the mausoleum is closed for a couple months around the end of the year, when the body is taken abroad for maintenance. Free.
Ho Chi Minh Museum
- Ho Chi Minh Museum, 19 Ngoc Ha St, Ba Dinh, ☎ +84 4 846-3572 ([email protected]). 8AM-11:30AM, 2PM-4PM, closed M and F afternoons. This gleaming white museum and its gloriously ham-handed iconography are the perfect chaser to the solemnity of the mausoleum. The building, completed in 1990, is intended to evoke a white lotus. Some photos and old letters are on display on the second floor, but the main exhibition space is on the third floor. It includes cars crashing through walls to represent the chaos of post-war American capitalism, soldiers charging around with electric plugs, a cave hideout re-imagined as the inside of Ho Chi Minh’s brain, and several other postmodern confections integrated with the main story of the man’s life and his country’s struggle. One of the more informative museums in Vietnam, and perhaps one of the oddest in the world. Guides are available in English, French, Chinese and Russian, but don’t bother; the displays are labeled in English and French, and it’s hard to imagine the guides doing much other than belaboring the point. 25,000 dong.
- Ho Chi Minh’s Vestige In The Presidential Palace Area, No.1 Bach Thao, Ba Dinh, ☎ +84 4 0804 4529. Summer 7:30AM-11AM, 2PM-4PM. Winter 8AM-11AM, 1:30PM-4PM, closed M F afternoons. The exit from the mausoleum takes you right into the grounds of the, uh, vestige, where Ho Chi Minh lived and worked from 1954 until his death in 1969. The nicely landscaped complex includes two of Ho Chi Minh’s houses, kept shiny and “as he left them” by the authorities, as well as a garage with two of Ho’s “used cars” and a carp-filled pond. The Presidential Palace is also nearby, but it’s not always open to visitors. Pamphlets are available in English, Chinese, French, and Korean. Guided tours are usually available if you wait. Paying is not enforced unless you are one of the unlucky few to be outed from the crowd. 25,000 dong.
- One-Pillar Pagoda, (Tucked away between the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and Museum). Travellers find the One-Pillar Pagoda either charming and lovely or utterly pointless, depending on how many tour groups are crammed into the small grounds at the time of their visit. Free.
- Fine Arts Museum – Bảo Tàng Mỹ Thuật, 66 Nguyen Thai Hoc St. Tuesday to Sun from 9:15am to 5pm. Only party-approved art is shown here and there is no information in English and only little in Vietnamese. But it is an interesting museum at any rate, with pieces such as the wonderful pictures of soldiers on boats depicted on prehistoric bronze drums, Buddhist art, and revolutionary art of the 20th century wars. Also some interesting silk paintings. 20,000 dong.
- Army Museum – Bảo Tàng Quân Đội, Dien Bien Phu St. 8AM-11:30AM, 1:00PM-4:30PM, closed on Monday and Friday. Vietnam’s military history extends back some two millennia, and this museum covers it on four buildings with interesting pieces. Item descriptions on museum exhibits are in Vietnamese, French and English. On display outside are the ubiquitous MiG-21 jet fighter, T-54 tank and many bombs and articles captured on Indochina and Vietnam wars. closed monday and friday. 30,000 dong, additional 20,000 dong to take pictures (rarely enforced).
- Air Force Museum – Bảo Tàng Không Quân, Truong Chinh St (SW of the city centre). There’s a decent outdoor collection of a UH-1 helicopter, Soviet-built MiG fighters, a huge Mi-6 helicopter, and other aircraft; unfortunately they’ve been exposed to the elements for some time and local kids climb over them.
National Museum of Vietnamese History
- National Museum of Vietnamese History -Bảo tàng Lịch sử Việt Nam, 1 Trang Tien St. 8AM-11:30AM, 1:30PM-4:30PM. This is a collection from Vietnamese history from about 1,000 years back until 1945. Many antiques and the such. 15,000 dong, students 8,000 dong and under 15, 2,000 dong. 15,000 dong for a camera/30,000 dong for a video.
- Museum of the Vietnamese Revolution -Bảo tàng Cách mạng Việt Nam, 25 Tong Dan St (and 216 Tran Quang Khai St, . Tu-Su 8AM-11:45AM, 1:30PM-4:15PM. This museum gives a very informed and detailed account of the Vietnamese struggle against first the French (starting in 1858 — on the first floor), then against the Americans (on the ground floor – ending on 30 April 1975). It is housed in a colonial French building which was completed in 1932. The building, designed by the architect Ernest Hébrard is considered as a successful blend between the colonial French architecture and traditional Vietnamese architecture, called Indochina architecture. He created double-walls and balconies for a natural ventilation system and protection from sunshine. 10,000 dong.
- Museum of Ethnology – Bao Tang Dan Toc Hoc Vietnam, Nguyen Van Huyen St, Cau Giay district(Bus 14 from Hoan Kiem Lake – ask the conductor when to stop, and take a 500 m walk towards the museum (backtrack a little from the bus stop, and when you see a large street perpendicular to the street that you dropped off, take that street and walk down the street until you see the Museum of Ethnology to your left). Bus 38 goes from right outside the Temple of Literature to the street the museum is on.), .Tu-Su 8:30AM-5:30PM. covers mainly the culture and ritual practices of the various ethnic groups in the whole of Vietnam – one of the key attractions of the museum is the open-air exhibition, which has houses of some ethnic groups, which even comes with inhabitants in costumes. The museum features actual explanations of the exhibits in Vietnamese, French and English. The Museum of Ethnology houses the excellent chocolate and baguette cafe, which has excellent fare at a reasonable price – an excellent pit-stop after the museum visit. 25,000 dong for foreigners.
- Hanoi Museum – Bảo tàng Hà Nội, Pham Hung St, Cau Giay district.
Temple of Literature
- Temple of Literature – Văn Miếu, Quoc Tu Giam St(south of the Mausoleum). The Temple of Literature was founded in 1070 and established as the country’s first university six years later. The courtyard features numerous stone tablets, each mounted on the back of a tortoise, with the names of graduates. 20,000 dong (as of March 2012).
- Ngoc Son Temple. Extends out into the lake, with small but attractive grounds, displays on Vietnamese history and, more memorably, displays on the giant turtles, including a mummified specimen. 20,000 dong.
- Bach Ma Temple, 76 Hang Buom St, Hoan Kiem district.Time: the 12th to the 13th day of the second lunar month. Objects of worship: Bach Ma God (the symbol of God of sun), Long Do God (the god defends the east), confer a title of “Thang Long Capital of Nation royal tutelary god”. Xuan Nguu presenting rite.
Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi
- Hoan Kiem Lake. A pleasant park in the centre of town, within easy walking distance from anywhere in the Old Quarter. It’s the locals’ favorite leisure spot, and a great place to watch people practicing tai chi in the morning or to sit and read in the afternoon. Hoan Kiem means “returned sword”, and the name comes from a legend in which King Le Loi was given a magical sword by the gods, which he used to drive out the invading Chinese. Later, while boating on the lake, he encountered a giant turtle, which grabbed the sword and carried it down to its depths, returning it to the gods from whom it had come. (You can see a version of the legend at the Water Puppet Theater – see below.) Rumor has it the giant turtles still inhabit the lake.
- Ho Tay – West Lake, (northwest of the city). mostly a residential hub of the well-to-do. Hotel Intercontinental and Hanoi Sheraton are on this lakefront. The shores are occupied by numerous fishermen
- Lenin Statue & Park, (Dien Bien Phu St, across from the Army Museum). One can always feel the diversity and liveliness of Hanoi there. In the morning, there are low-energy aerobics class for the elders and aerobic class for younger in the morning. During the day, one can enjoy the tranquility in the park since everybody is either at work or in school. In the afternoon, it becomes a playground for children and students as well as for soccer teams and badminton players.
- Ly Thai To Statue & Park. The park faces Hoan Kiem lake with a beautiful view of the busy Hang Bai street and the serenity of the willows on the bank of the lake. Many Hanoians view this mini-park as their favourite place because it is a symbol of the integration of modernity and tradition. One would surely encounter a group of youths who is practicing hip-hop and break dance while at the same time, meeting a three-generation family enjoying a walk in the park.
Money changers are usually in most guest houses and banks, and they give bad rates. Don’t exchange money from the black market people on the streets. The best place to exchange money is at Ha Trung road and Hang Bac where they give real good rates. Just walk into the gold shops or jewellery shops and ask them if they change money and ask to show their rates. Ask up to nearly 5 or more shops to see which shop gives the best rates. Best rates are at Ha Trung which is 4 to 5 mins walk from hoan kiem lake.
ATMs are everywhere and cash is king here. There is a transaction limit (2,000,000 dong). For a higher transaction limit (4,000,000 dong) try the ANZ and Techcombank. The Techcombank SE of the Hoa Lo Prison allows transactions of at least 7 mil (didn’t try more than this, so try starting as high as possible, maybe 20 mil?). The Citi bank machine in the shopping plaza on Xuan Dieu will dispense 6 mil. Many places will accept USD as well.
Check exchange rates daily. Jewellery shops will consistently offer a better rate than banks or hotels.
- Hang Da. A 6-story building to house the market is currently under construction; all the kiosks are now located in the neighboring area, either on Phung Hung (second-hand clothing), Duong Thanh or Ly Nam De streets. They offer everything that one can think of, from pets, groceries, prepared food to fabric materials.
- Cho Hom (the equivalent meaning in English would be Noon Market but the translation is not close), Pho Hue. They offer everything here. What it is famous for is the fabric market on the second floor. There are many kiosks selling different types of fabrics ranging from cheap, affordable to very good quality with a high price. However, please bear in mind that when shopping, take your time. Never rush into buying anything. Sellers often give a very high price that you can bargain down to half or one-third of the original price.
- Dong Xuan. Famous for being the market for wholesalers. They have from school supplies, stuffed animals to clothing. It is quite an experience to spend some time in the market observing the sellers and buyers.
- Night Market. Usually opens from 7PM, this unique market gathers on a walking street in the old quarter. Has anything from pirated DVD to traditional ornaments. Prices are negotiable but watch out for the “foreigner pricing” which is fairly common.
- Bookworm Hanoi, 44 Chau Long (Hanoi Cooking Center), ☎ 043 715 3711, 0912561800. New and used books.
Since the mid 90s, Vietnamese cuisine has grown in quality and variation, and is now very diverse and most delicious. Most famous remains ‘Pho Ga’ (chicken noodle soup) or ‘Pho Bo'(Beef noodle soup). There are various dishes including chicken, beef, fish and seafood, and there are hundreds, if not thousands, of restaurants nowadays in Hanoi catering to everyone’s taste.
In Hanoi, there are hundreds of street restaurants in small kiosks on the sidewalk, with plastic tables and chairs on the pavement. Eating at these restaurants is a great way to experience the local food and culture. It is worth mentioning that food quality, freshness, and hygiene can vary greatly. A bowl of noodle soup goes for 20,000 dong (Jan 2011) and market food stalls offer fruit portions, sausages, donuts, and other eats for 10,000 to 20,000 dong (Jan 2011). Be sure to get your change as a few vendors seem to ‘forget’ to return it to you, and learn a little Vietnamese because vendors often will not speak any or much English.
The rule of thumb is if the price is expensive, hygiene quality may or may not be OK, but if the price is cheap, definitely hygiene quality is compromised. There seemed to be no regular food Health Department inspector working regularly in the city.
For groceries, there is a large supermarket east of Hoan Kiem Lake (Finimart, 27A Ly Thai To, at Tran Nguyen Han).
Next to Beijing, Hanoi is probably the second in the running to the world’s exotic food paradise.
The suburb of Le Mat (aka the Snake Village) has numerous restaurants specializing in cobra foodstuffs. Live cobras are stored on the premises much the same way one would find live lobsters at a Western seafood restaurant. If one orders cobra blood wine from the menu, the waiter will take a live cobra, kill it on the spot, drain the blood into a shot glass of rice wine, and top it off with the cobra’s still beating heart for you to gulp down! Not for the faint hearted (excuse the pun). Le Mat is about ten minutes across the river from downtown, take bus 10, 15 or 17 and get off at the large “mega-mall” just beyond Gia Lam station, and walk 500 metres down the road at the right of the mall. Cobras are not cheap at around 400,000-1,000,000 dong (USD$50-) but it gets turned into a dozen unique dishes, enough to share between three or four people.
A local delicacy in the Hanoi area is dog meat (thịt chó), which is especially popular in the winter. There are a number of restaurants in the Tay Ho district. Another exotic regional taste is ca cuong, an extract from thebelostomatid, or giant water bug. Just a few drops are added to noodles for the unique aroma.
Be sure to check out the boiled duck fetus eggs sold by peddlers almost everywhere priced at 5,000 dong. This delightful experience consists of the vendor cracking the egg in front of you, and peeling the shell and dropping the contents in a plastic micro bowl, then garnished with juliened ginger, basil leaf, and sprinkled with chili sauce. You can see the severed head and beak of your chick that fell off if you are lucky enough to have your first bite from a different spot – Bon Appetit!
Look to the Old Quarter for atmospheric street stalls and reasonably priced Western and local fare.
- Quan Bia Minh (Minh’s), 7a Dinh Liet (100 m north of the lake), ☎ +84 4 3934 5323. 7:30AM-11:30PM.Popular restaurant with lovely casual upstairs terrace, Minh speaks English well and keeps her staff attentive. Variety of western, vegetarian and Vietnamese food, all reasonably priced.
- Bun Cha, 1 Hang Manh, 67 Duong Thanh (corner Hang Non and Hang Manh, Old Quarter(or near Hang Da market)), ☎ 01697776666. 8am-7pm. some rate this as one of the best examples of Bun Cha in Hanoi, and therefore Vietnam (apparently in the south, Bun Cha is specifically advertised as Hanoi-style). For about 80,000 dong each, you’ll get a bowl full of tiny pork-mince rissoles that have been char grilled over an open flame, and a massive plate of pork rice paper rolls that have been fried in oil, twice. With this you also get a phenomenal dipping sauce (fish sauce, made from sugar, garlic, peppers usually), a massive plate of greens and herbs, more bun (rice noodle) than you can handle, and a bottle of local beer. It’s full of locals and not so many tourists, so you can be assured the experience is authentic. Great food but expect rude service.
- Cafe 69, 69 Ma May St (opposite Friendly Hotel). Good place to eat Western food in the heart of the Old Quarter, although some travelers find it expensive and the food inferior quality.
- Com Binh Dan, (Hang Bo, several side streets in Old Quarter). often only open during lunch hours (11AM-2PM). these are an excellent way to get an inexpensive, home-cooked Vietnamese meal. The best ones have loyal followings of workers who eat there every day. rice with two or three toppings (which you select from several dishes): 15,000-30,000 dong.
- Com Chay Nang Tam Vegetarian Restaurant, 79A Pho Tran Hung Dao (a few streets south of the lake). Open for lunch and dinner. This excellent restaurant is your best vegetarian option in town and will please both vegetarians and non-vegetarians with its wide range of innovative dishes, which include fake meat dishes. Restaurant is comfortable with good ambiance, and dishes are value-priced. Well worth the short walk out of the old town. Set dinner with a selection of four dishes, soup, and rice: 50,000+ dong.
- Com Chay Au Lac, 277 Ngo Van Chuong (Take Le Duan south, past train tracks, turn into alley after #114). Open every day, 7am-8:30pm. Typical local vegetarian restaurant like you’ll find everywhere in Vietnam except Hanoi, located a little off the beaten track in an atmospheric alleyway. 30,000 dong.
- DAC KIM, 67 Duong Thanh, Hoan Kiem, ☎ 01697776666. 8AM-7PM. Try BBQ pork (slice) in soup with vermicelli and lots of vegetables. They serve spring rolls too.
- Hebe Cafe, 33, Luong Van Can St (inside Hanoi Youth Hotel – near the Hoan Kiem lake, in the centre of Old Quarter). Cheap local and Western food. breakfasts: US$1; pizza: US$2; hot pot: US$8.
- Huy Café & Pizza Inn, 32 Dinh Liet St. large Italian dinner combo (garlic bread, soup/salad, pizza/pasta, drink): 65,000 dong.
- Joma Bakery Café (Joma), 22 Ly Quoc Su, & 54 To Ngoc Van (near the Cathedral, & west lake).7AM-9PM. Fair-trade certified, organic coffee prepared by some of the best baristas in town. Add to your smooth cappuccino a sweet-smelling cinnamon bun or a much-loved bagel egger. Everything here is homemade and fresh. Excellent breakfast menu and lunch/dinner options, as well as a mouth-watering array of cakes, cookies, pies and other treats. Locations also in Laos, Vientiane and Luang Prabang.20,000-80,000 dong.
- Kem Tràng Tiền, 54 Phố Tràng Tiền. Popular spot for ice cream on a hot day. Beware of motorbikes when entering the establishment, since it is sort of a drive-thru/drive-in ice cream shop. Make sure to try the local cóm or đậu xanh flavors. Also to note that the hygine in the area may be a bit dubious since many toss away their eaten ice cream sticks Ice cream bars 5,000-8,000 dong. Cones are a bit more expensive.
- Quan an Ngon aka Delicious, 18 Phan Boi Chau street. Wide range of choices with regards to dishes from everywhere in Vietnam at very reasonable prices. They have limited seating and a large amount of customers so waiting time to be seated would be certain. Fortunately, they have a large seating area so customers do not have to wait long. They serve both lunch and dinner. Their restaurant is decorated culturally and traditionally.
- Papa Joe’s Coffee, 112 Cau Go, ☎ +84 4 926-2544. 8AM-11PM. Despite the name, this is actually a real restaurant, with pasta, soup, salads, sandwiches, and pretty good burgers (vegetarian included); pizzas, to be honest, leave a lot to be desired, though. Drinks and desserts are also on hand. The best reason to eat here, though, is the small balcony with a view over the frantic traffic square and the shores of the Hoan Kiem Lake below. 45,000-65,000 dong.
- Pho, on the corner of Nha Chung and Chan Cam. All of the soups and sides include beef (bo) so this isn’t for vegetarians. Large bowl of pho: 12,000 dong; Coke or beer: 3,000 dong.
- Pho Tu Lun (Au Trieu), 10 Ly Quoc Su. Many pho varieties 15,000-30,000 dong.
- The Cart Au Trieu, 18 Au Trieu, Hoan Kiem (Au Trieu is the street to the right of St Joseph’s Cathedral but The Cart is entered via the backdoor so go down the alleyway and take a left.), ☎ 04 3928 7715. 8AM-5PM. Try their pies and pasties. 60,000 VND for a sandwich, 45,000 for an Punto Italia latte.
- The Cart Nghi Tam, 8B, Lane 1 Au Co, Nghi Tam Village, Tay Ho (Follow the road between the back doors of the Sheraton and the Intercontinental till it takes a right and The Cart Nghi Tam is just around the corner.), ☎ 0437186967. 7AM-7PM. This one is great for an early breakfast or a takeaway coffee. Their Old School Bacon Baguette with back bacon is a rarity in Hanoi. Try the meat and potato pie or the veggie cheese, onion and potato pasty. 60,000 VND for a sandwich, 45,000 for a Punto Italia latte.
- Sen (Lotus), #10, lane 431, Au Co Rd, Tay Ho district (right next to the Water Park). Buffet style restaurant. They also have a very wide range of dishes from many regions in the country. The dishes are divided into stations where customers can order noodles, rice cakes or rice vermicelli. Serves both lunch and dinner. Their new restaurant looks Westernized, compared with their old thatched restaurants.
- “Banh it” – sticky rice cake, (It is true that “Banh it” is a must try specialty of the Central Region in Vietnam!). Served for lunch and dinner. Commonly, there are two kinds of “Banh it”. The first one is “Banh it la gai”, which is sticky rice cake with coconut or green bean stuffing wrapped in pinnate leaf. The second one is “Banh it tom thit” – glutinous rice cake with meat and shrimp, its name means “little meat shrimp cakes”, the stuffing is made of ground pork and shrimp mixed with spring onion and other spices.
- Cam Chan Quan, 108 K1 Giang Vo St, ☎ +84 12 3259 7696. This eatery has staff that speaks English, Chinese and Vietnamese that would be able to help you speak to the cab drivers to bring you to them. They serve asian fare, with a closer touch to the singapore cusines. It’s one place where good clean toilet is expected, with free wifi. Try their noodles, its not the usual pho you see around the place, but a more typical noodle you will see in Singapore. Try the Beggar’s chicken, Savioury Fried eggplants, Chinese rice wine Hotpot Soup. Bowl of noodles: 65,000 dong.
- Cha Ca La Vong, 14 Cha Ca St & 107 Nguyen Truong To St. This establishment is so famous, the street is named after it, instead of the other way around. There’s only one dish on the (Vietnamese-only) menu, fried fish in grease, but they’ve been serving it now for five generations. They traditional shrimp paste is now an optional extra. If you really love fish and shrimp, this experience might be for you. Authentic as it may be, it is a total rip-off according to the locals. For the same price, you could eat 3 meals at a decent cafe by the street. One wonders why this is recommended in most guidebooks from Lonelyplanet to Frommers.170,000 dong for a small portion (as of June 2012), 1,000 dong charge per napkin.
- Ciao Cafe, 2 Hang Bai St. Cosy place for coffee and cake and it is not full of cigarette smoke unlike other cafes in Hanoi.
- Daluva Wine | Tapas | Events, 33 To Ngoc Van St, Tay Ho (West Lake), ☎ +84 4 3718 5831 or +84 907 144 561. 8AM till late. Wine and Tapas Bar/Restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. The food caters for all tastes including vegetarians and kids. Ranging from small tapas plates to main courses of hearty Western and Asian fare. It’s a modern place and well decorated with great well trained staff and easy music on your ears. The 3rd floor has a Children’s play room with free supervision as well as a Children’s menu. The place is a favourite with local expats in the area.
- Huyen Houng Restaurant, 20 Bao Khanh, Hanoi, ☎ +84 4 8288430. Choose from a wide variety of seafood dishes (many of which are swimming around in tanks) and other Vietnamese specialities. Friendly staff complement the tasty food. 80,000-120,000 dong for a meal and drink.
- Huong Ly, Ly Thuong Kiet, Hanoi. Very close to the Melia Hotel, this is a fantastic bar / restaurant on the ground floor and top floor of a building. Randomly the middle floor is a clothes shop. Fantastic food, serving anything from traditional noodles to salmon steak, beautifully presented and delicious. Friendly staff too.55,000-120,000 dong for a main course.
- Kaiser Kaffee Restaurant, 34A Ba Trieu. Interesting little place which has excellent Vietnamese and Western food.
- La Salsa, (‘in Nha Tho St near the church in Old Town – just across the street from Moka Cafe). French food and ex-pat hang-out.
- Little Hanoi, 21 Pho Hang Gai, ☎ +84 4 928 5333. Upscale cafe serving mainly Westerners in a pleasantly lit restaurant.
- Mediteraneo, (Nha Tho St, between La Salsa and Paris Deli). offers authentic Italian food – probably the best you’ll get in Hanoi. Prices are however steep and portions small.
- Moka Café, (In Nha Tho St close to the cathedral). Excellent selection of Western and Vietnamese food served in a coffee shop environment.
- Paris Deli, (Nha Tho St across from Moka Cafe). Offers delicious European fare for hearty appetites.
- Pepperoni’s, (near the Hang Gai end of Nha Chung). Part of a small international chain of pizza restaurants. Locally run, they do regular special offers such as free desserts, eat-all-you-can buffets and loyalty schemes, whereby collecting tokens with each take-out entitles you to a free pizza. Pizzas, burgers, ice cream, and apple crumble. Pizzas: 65,000+ dong.
- Tamarind Café, Ma May 80 (Old Quarter), ☎ +84 4 926-0580, Has a menu full of inventive vegetarian dishes, lots of fresh juices, and a relaxed, stylish interior. Don’t come here if you’re hungry though, as the portions aren’t very big and it’s a tad pricey.
- Paradieso Restaurant, 7 Nguyen Sieu (Old Quarter), ☎ +84 4 39974861, . Small and warmly restaurant with both local Vietnamese and Western food, good quality and affordable price. You can have Vietnam traditional food: Cha Ca, Bun Cha, Pho, Nem (spring rolls), also can have very good crepes. All very good quality and nice decor.
- Tan My Design Cafe, 61 Hang Gai, ☎ +84 4 3938-1451. One of the Hanoi’s best for boutique fashion where you can also get nice Asian and Western foods in the cozy ambiance
- Luala Cafe, 61 Ly Thai To, Hoan Kiem, ☎ +84 4 3936 9899. Luala Cafe is a cafe and restaurant inside the Luala Store, a luxury fashing concept store located in the shopping district of Hanoi. The restaurant offers a variety of gourmet foods, drinks and desserts
- Pots ‘n Pans Restaurant, 57 Bui Thi Xuan Street, Hai Ba Trung District, Hanoi (Follow Ba Trieu Street south from Hoan Kiem Lake 5 mins), ☎ +84 4 39 4402 04 ([email protected], fax: +84 4 39 44 65 99). From 11.30AM-late. Innovative Vietnamese cuisine infused with international flair. A fine-dining restaurant & lounge bar brought to you by a group of former street and disadvantaged youth from Hanoi’s own KOTO Training Program now rising stars of the Vietnamese food scene. Happy Hour 7 days from 5pm – 7pm.
- Don’s Bistro, 16/27 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Ha Noi, ☎ +84 4 3719 2460 ([email protected], fax: +84 4 3719 5998). From 8AM-11. Multi-concept establishment serving classic and innovative international cuisine, including Vietnamese favorites, in a variety of indoor and outdoor settings. With unparalleled views and eclectic music selections, don’s is a destination in itself for dining, leisure, business and entertainment. The focus is on local produce, quality imports, and the utmost in service standards, while catering to a very diverse clientele. Don’s houses a signature fine dining restaurant with a cigar den, wine cellar and rotating art gallery as well as a rooftop Skyline Oyster Bar featuring live oysters and live nightly music. The first floor is geared for more casual dining, serving pho, cocktails, coffee, fresh baked goods, wood fire pizzas, shisha and more.
- Green Tangerine, 48 Hang Be (A few steps away from busy Hang Be St), ☎ 84 4 825-1286. Excellent French restaurant offering rich and delicious French fare with both an a la carte selection and a set menu. Popular with expats.
- La Restaurant & Bar, 25 Ly Quoc Su, ☎ +84 4 9288933, +84 913221971. Situated near St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Hanoi’s old quarter, this elegant, air-conditioned restaurant has a choice of delicious Western and Vietnamese dishes. While the selection of vegetarian dishes is somewhat restricted, the food is excellent, if pricey by Hanoi standards. La will definitely satisfy longings for quality food after weeks of eating on the street. Think Parisian bistro meets fine dining Asian. 300,000 dong for a meal and drinks.
- Restaurant Bobby Chinn, 77 Xuan Dieu St, Tay Ho,, ☎ +84 4 3718 5988. An amazing restaurant with the trademark green pea pods as the logo. Without a doubt one of the more hip dining experiences of Hanoi. The interior alone is worth a look, while the menu is delightfully eclectic.
- Restaurant at Bamboo Hotel, 32,Hang Be. Why risk street food when this cosy, friendly and clean place offers good food, ambience, and at prices cheaper than in Malaysia and Thailand ? After your experience with street food, you will be coming here everyday. We went lunch and dinner as well almost everyday except when away for day trips out of the city. Menu is in English and English is fluently spoken.
- Pane e Vino Italian Restaurant and Wine Shop, 3 Nguyen Khac Can & 98 Hang Trong (100 m away from Hoan Kiem Lake), ☎ +84 4 3826 9080, +84 4 3928 6329. Fully A/C. Serves a wide range of traditional regional Italian dishes with strictly controlled quality of ingredients. An extensive wine list with many choices of Imported Italian wines from Veneto, Tuscany, Puglia, Sicilia and Piemont. Friendly service with smiling and fluent speaking English waiter and waitress. A great place to relax and get recover after a long walking and shopping day. Drop in for a chat and a complimentary digestivo with the manager.
- Saigon Restaurant at InterContinental Hanoi Westlake. The freshest blend of Vietnamese and Chinese cuisine. The restaurant features contemporary Asian design, dramatic glass-fronted kitchens and inspiring views of the city’s ever-changing skyline.
- Sofitel Metropole – Chocolate Buffett. daily 3PM-5:30PM. All you can eat chocolate. The chocolate is of a very high quality and includes a chocolate fountain and chocolate ice cream as well as a variety of freshly-made “Belgian” style chocolates. Buffett: US$20; Pot of tea: US$4.
- Sofitel Metropole – Sunday Brunch. Su noon-3PM. Innovative and unconventional cooking. 40 m of buffet with everything your heart can desire, from sushi to carvery, from fresh french oysters to homemade ice cream – you name it – they’ve got it. Among the highlights are a 3 story chocolate buffet with a chocolate fountain and the goose liver creme brulee. US$80.
- Insect food, Khuong Thuong village,. The most special cuisines at his restaurant are those processed from ant-eggs, in the styles of Thai people or Muong and Tay ethnic people in Vietnam.
- Press Club, 59 A Ly Thai To St., ☎ +84 4 3934-0888 ([email protected], fax: +84 4 3934-0899). Fine dining with western cuisine and a good selection of wines. 70 seat restaurant, private wine room for 12 and another cosy private room for 4. A combination of old and contemporary features with a classically trained executive chef.
Bia Hơi is abundant in the streets of the Old Quarter. At the crossing of Ta Hien and Luong Ngoc Quyen five separate venues fill up with travellers in the evenings, but you can get more local atmosphere on some of the side streets.
Hanoi is a lively city on the weekends, but the Old Quarter closes relatively early (at midnight) on weekdays, so you might want to start your night early. Other places outside the Old Quarter stay open later and vary in closing times.
Local young people gather around the cathedral located in Ly Quoc Su to have lemon ice tea (Tra Chanh) and sunflower seeds in street bars. After dark it gets quite crowded. Tra Chanh: 8,000 to 10,000 dong.
Sit on a plastic chair in front of one of the Bia Hoi (fresh beer) establishments which are invariably situated on the corners of many of Hanoi’s ‘Old Quarter’ streets. This preservative-free light beer is the perfect drink to sip as you watch the city’s frenetic life bustle by. The beer costs less than twenty cents and gives you an excuse to relax and take photos of the passing local characters. Should not be missed. Moreover, once you reach the Old Quarter, you will find that almost every corner is filled with stalls selling Pho (Vietnamese noodle) and cafe (the name is not limited only to coffee, but also tea, sweets and grocery items, and yes, even to Pho!).
On Tô Tich, a small street connecting Hang Quat and Hang Gai, you can help yourself to a refreshing fruit milkshake (sinh tố) at one of the stalls (~7000 dong).
- Highlands Coffee, (opposite KFC). Located on 3rd floor in a ship shaped 5 storey building overlooking Hoan Kiem Lake and Vietnam’s “Piccadilly Circus”. Great spot to relax in scenic location where you can watch all the traffic and pedestrians go about their business below you along their outside balcony or stay inside their comfy air-conditioned interior. They also serve food and beer. 45,000 vnd
If you are the adventurous type or simply bored temporarily of the city atmosphere, then consider a cruise in the northern countryside. A round trip will bring you to a lot of charming villages and through hills and valleys with stunning nature. Main roads are generally in good condition and you can easily do a couple of hundred kilometers a day. The villages and provinces are generally safe at night, and you get to see a lot of Vietnamese culture such as various tribe folks. While bus services are in fact available (albeit not always reliable), a recommended alternative is to rent a bike or car and make the trip on your own. Motorbikes in decent quality can be rented for as little as US$5 a day, and many places have suggestions for routes.
- Ha Long Bay’s spectacular ocean karst topography is the most popular side-trip from Hanoi.
- The Sapa mountain region, home to ethnic minorities, gorgeous mountain scenery, and trekking paths connecting many tiny mountain villages is the second most popular trip. It is accessible by bus or train toLao Cai, then onward by minibus or hired motorbike.
Interior of the Perfume Pagoda cave
- Perfume Pagoda, (Not reasonably reachable by public transport. Tours are available anywhere in Hanoi.). An ancient Buddhist pilgrimage site about 60 km southwest of Hanoi. A full-day excursion that involves a boat trip to the main site, where you will hike (30-45 min) or take a cable car up a mountain. Near the top is a large limestone cave containing Buddhist shrines and statues. There are various other temples and grottoes along the way. Tour from US$15 including transport, lunch, and admission. edit
- Bat Trang, a village world-famous for its pottery, 9 km southeast of Hanoi. It is accessible by taking Bus 47, which originates at Long Bien. Just hop on (the bus will be clearly labelled with the number 47 and the text “Long Bien – Bat Trang”; bus fare is 3,000 dong one-way as of 2008) and take it to the last stop, which is directly opposite the pottery market (haggle for lower prices, and insist on paying in Dong). Head back up the street to the factories to see artists at work.
- Cao Bang, featuring the beautiful Ban Gioc waterfall, is five hours away by bus, near the Chinese border.
- The Cuc Phuong National Park, the largest national park in Vietnam, and an easy day-trip from Hanoi.
- Co Loa is the oldest ancient capital in the region; a little visited site slightly northeast of Hanoi.
- Tam Coc/Hoa Lu: Located in Ninh Binh province, this day trip is a combines heritage tourism and natural landscape tourism. Hoa Lu is the site of the first capital of Vietnam in the 10th century, and was home to two kings– Dinh Bo Linh (Dinh Tien Hoang) and Le Hoan– there are now two shrines dedicated to these two kings. About 30 min away from Hoa Lu is Tam Coc [three grottoes]– also known as Halong Bay on land. It features karst landforms surrounded by paddy fields, and is accessed by little wooden boats. Boats are for hire at US$3.50/trip, which takes about one hour. This is an excellent alternative to Halong Bay for those who have short attention spans, as the boat trip takes a mere hour versus Halong Bay tourist boats which take 5 hours. One minor annoyance involves pedlars on boats hawking their wares, and your boat rower trying to sell you embroidery. Trip can be booked in Hanoi for about US$20.
GalleryTháp Bút (Pen Tower) with a phrase “Tả thanh thiên” (meaning “Write on the sky”) next to Hoàn Kiếm Lake (2007)Presidential Palace, Hanoi(formerly Place of The Governor-General of French Indochina)The cathedral St-JosephTran Quoc pagodaDong Xuan Market