Jan 10

Hanoi – the emerging capital of Vietnam

by in Adventure, Asia, Top Tips

With so many iconic places to visit, a trip to Vietnam can be difficult to plan for. It is a country with deep history and interest; one with such natural beauty that every city and town has a huge amount to offer. However, no trip to Vietnam's is complete without a visit to its capital city, Hanoi.

Hanoi, Vietnam

Hanoi City by David Conger

Located in the centre of Vietnam, Hanoi is an old city of great cultural importance, growing in popularity with tourists every year. It is one of the most captivating and atmospheric cities in South East Asia, with something to entertain and inspire all visitors. The weather is favourable throughout the year, though it is hottest between May and August so it's best avoided then if you're not a fan of humid weather. Flights go directly into Hanoi Airport and it's easily accessible by rail and road, meaning it's the perfect gateway to the rest of your journey around Vietnam.

Explore Hanoi's History

An absolute must-see is the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum – a tribute and museum to the infamous Communist leader and for many, it's an important place of pilgrimage to their former leader. The Mausoleum itself is a remarkable sight and in a similar style to the mausoleums of Lenin and Stalin. Here you'll learn the history of Ho Chi Minh and can view his body on display in a glass case, a memorable experience in itself as you slowly file past the heavily guarded body.  There is, however, a strict dress and behaviour code so make yourself aware of these before you visit. It's also worth taking a trip to the Presidential Palace, a stunning example of architecture built by the French colonialists, where Ho Chi Minh refused to stay during his trips to Hanoi. Another place many refused to stay in, though some had no choice, is the infamous Hỏa Lò Prison aka theHanoi Hilton’ . It was here that American POWs were brought during the Vietnam War and whilst it has been largely demolished, a section still exists and has been preserved as a museum.

Enjoy Hanoi's Culture

Hanoi Pagoda by David Conger

Hanoi Pagoda by David Conger

If you want to kick back and relax, Hanoi also offers many opportunities to do so. There's the tranquil and serene walks around the many lakes the city has to offer, exploring pagodas and taking in exquisitely built bridges. If you want to experience something far more modern, it's off to the shops.  Hanoi has been named as one of the top 10 places in Asia for shopping and there's much here to delight the shopaholic, though you may have to rein it in to ensure you're still able to carry your luggage!  Hanoi also has a thriving nightlife, with many karaoke bars, theatres and cinemas across the city and numerous festivals to experience throughout the year.

Hanoi night

Hanoi at night by Flipnomad

Top 5 things to do in Hanoi

1) Visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

2) Take a trip to the Hanoi Hilton

3) Explore Colonial Hanoi

4) Visit an iconic pagoda

5) Go shopping!

Hanoi market

Hanoi Market by Fahara

This article is brought to you by Natalie Likness.  She got her love of travel at an early age due to a trip abroad before she was even born! Having close family and making friends across the world, she has continued to travel ever since.

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7 Responses to “Hanoi – the emerging capital of Vietnam”

  1. From Zoë Dawes:

    Fascinating article showcasing why Hanoi is becoming such a must-see destination in SE Asia. I regret not visiting many years ago. In the 80s met a French photographer in Bangkok who’d just come back and said I should go before it opened up too much. Maybe get there one day …

    Posted on January 12, 2012 at 2:32 pm #
  2. From Victoria:

    This is a great blog, fantastic for educational use as well as if you are a keen traveller!

    Posted on October 16, 2012 at 4:18 pm #
  3. From Zoë Dawes:

    Thanks so much Victoria – one of the things I hope this blog can do is inspire and inform people, often about places they haven’t been and to share other travellers’ experiences far and wide :-)

    Posted on October 16, 2012 at 5:19 pm #
  4. From Thang:

    Nice suggestion to do. Street food is very nice :)

    Posted on January 22, 2014 at 9:20 am #
  5. From Zoë Dawes:

    Thanks Thang – Vietnamese food os delicious. Great Asian flavours with a French twist.

    Posted on January 22, 2014 at 11:40 am #


  1. IBIT TRAVEL DIGEST | I'm Black and I Travel! - January 13, 2012

    […] the Quirky Traveller Hanoi is emerging from the shadow of Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) as a tourist […]

  2. A first time visit to South East Asia | Quirky Traveller's Tales - September 13, 2013

    […] Hanoi in northern Vietnam next and a huge culture shock awaited us. The chaos of the old city and traffic was somehow exhilarating. The people were so helpful and friendly. We had our first experience of a cyclo there.  You need steady nerves for that! We went to HaLong Bay from there and were fortunate to have a cruise booked for three days. The serenity and beauty of the place was good for the soul. Back to Hanoi and more amazing food and then down to the south to visit Ho Chi Minh City (previously called Saigon). It was very different from the north of the country. The people were a little more reserved and the city was a little more modernised. Again, so much to see and do. […]

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