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Hanoi Highlights: Discover the Charm and Essence of Vietnam's Capital City

Posted By: Christina Lee / Vietnam Travel Guides
Hanoi Highlights refers to the most significant attractions and experiences that define the city of Hanoi. This term encompasses the iconic landmarks, cultural sites, historical monuments, traditional cuisine, vibrant street markets, traditional water puppetry shows, and the overall charm of Hanoi's bustling streets. These highlights offer visitors a glimpse into the rich history, diverse culture, and authentic Vietnamese lifestyle of the capital city.

Ha Noi at a glimpse

Hanoi Old Quarter

Hanoi Old Quarter - (Source: Collected)

Ha Noi, the capital of Vietnam, is a vibrant city known for its rich history, traditional culture, and bustling streets. Nestled in the northern part of the country, Ha Noi offers visitors a unique blend of old-world charm and modern developments. With its iconic landmarks, bustling markets, and delectable cuisine, Ha Noi is a must-visit destination for travelers.

Location and Climate

Ha Noi is located on the banks of the Red River, in the northern part of Vietnam. Surrounded by lush greenery and picturesque landscapes, the city enjoys a humid subtropical climate. The summers are hot and humid, while the winters are cool and dry. The best time to visit Ha Noi is during the spring (March to April) and autumn (September to November), when the weather is pleasant and the city is alive with festivals and events.

History and Culture

Ha Noi has a rich historical and cultural heritage that dates back thousands of years. As the capital of Vietnam, the city has played a significant role in shaping the country's history and identity. From ancient temples and pagodas to historic monuments and museums, Ha Noi offers a glimpse into Vietnam's past. The Old Quarter, with its narrow streets and colonial architecture, is a testament to the city's rich history.

Hanoi Overview

Tran Quoc Pagoda, Hanoi

Tran Quoc Pagoda, Hanoi - (Source: Collected)

With its bustling streets, vibrant markets, and enchanting landmarks, Ha Noi offers visitors a true taste of Vietnamese culture and tradition. The city is a perfect blend of old and new, with ancient temples and pagodas standing alongside modern skyscrapers. Here, you can immerse yourself in the rich history, explore bustling markets, indulge in delicious street food, and take in the breathtaking beauty of the city.

Old Quarter

The Old Quarter is one of the most iconic and historic areas in Ha Noi. With its narrow streets, bustling markets, and traditional architecture, it is a must-visit destination for travelers. The streets are packed with shops selling a variety of goods, from local handicrafts to delicious street food. Each street specializes in a particular trade, making it a fascinating place to explore and discover the city's vibrant culture.

Hanoi Opera House

The Hanoi Opera House is an architectural masterpiece that showcases the city's French colonial influence. Built in the early 20th century, it is one of the most prominent landmarks in Ha Noi. The opera house hosts regular performances, including ballet, opera, and classical music, and is a popular cultural destination for both locals and tourists. Its stunning facade and elegant interior make it a must-visit attraction for art and music enthusiasts.

See and do

Ha Noi offers a multitude of attractions and activities for visitors to explore and enjoy. From historic landmarks and cultural sites to bustling markets and outdoor adventures, there is something for everyone in this vibrant city.

Hanoi Old Citadel

The Hanoi Old Citadel, also known as the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a fascinating historical site. Built over a thousand years ago, it served as the political and cultural center of ancient Vietnam. The site is home to ancient palaces, temples, and relics, offering visitors a glimpse into the country's rich history.

Hoan Kiem Lake

Located in the heart of Ha Noi, Hoan Kiem Lake is a tranquil oasis amidst the bustling city. Surrounded by lush greenery and scenic landscapes, the lake is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike. Visitors can take a leisurely stroll around the lake, visit the iconic Turtle Tower, and explore the Ngoc Son Temple located on an island in the middle of the lake.

Culture and Arts

Water Puppet Theater

Water Puppet Theater - (Source: Collected)

Ha Noi is a city that takes pride in its cultural and artistic heritage. From traditional performances and art galleries to vibrant festivals and exhibitions, the city offers a plethora of cultural experiences for visitors to enjoy.

National Museum of Vietnamese History

The National Museum of Vietnamese History is a premier cultural institution that showcases the history and heritage of Vietnam. Through its extensive collection of artifacts, artworks, and archaeological finds, the museum offers visitors a comprehensive understanding of the country's past. From ancient dynasties to colonial periods, the museum provides a fascinating journey through Vietnam's rich cultural history.

Water Puppet Theater

The Water Puppet Theater is a unique and traditional art form that originated in the villages of Northern Vietnam. Performances are held in a pool of water, with puppeteers controlling the puppets from behind a screen. The shows depict traditional Vietnamese folklore and legends, accompanied by live music and colorful performances. It is a must-see cultural experience that showcases the creativity and talent of Vietnamese artists.

Food and Drink

When it comes to food, Ha Noi is a paradise for food lovers. From street stalls to upscale restaurants, the city offers a wide array of culinary delights that cater to all tastes and preferences.


No visit to Ha Noi is complete without trying the famous Vietnamese dish, Pho. This flavorful noodle soup is made with beef or chicken, aromatic herbs, and spices, and is a favorite among locals and tourists alike. You can find Pho in almost every corner of the city, from street vendors to upscale restaurants, each with their own unique twist on the traditional dish.

Cha Ca

Cha Ca is a popular Vietnamese dish that originated in Ha Noi. It consists of grilled fish marinated in turmeric, served with vermicelli noodles, herbs, and peanuts. The dish is usually served at specialty restaurants that have been perfecting the recipe for generations. It is a true culinary delight that showcases the flavors and textures of Vietnamese cuisine.

Overall, Ha Noi is a city that captivates visitors with its rich history, vibrant culture, and delectable cuisine. Whether you're exploring the ancient streets of the Old Quarter, immersing yourself in the city's cultural heritage, or indulging in the diverse flavors of Vietnamese cuisine, Ha Noi offers a truly unforgettable experience.

Festivals and Events

In Vietnam, festivals and events are an integral part of the country's culture and traditions. These celebrations offer visitors a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in the local customs and experience the vibrant atmosphere. From traditional festivals to modern music events, Vietnam has something to offer for everyone.

Tet Festival

One of the most important and widely celebrated festivals in Vietnam is Tet, also known as the Lunar New Year. It typically takes place in late January or early February and marks the beginning of the lunar calendar. During Tet, people gather with their families to pay respects to their ancestors, enjoy festive meals, exchange gifts, and participate in various cultural activities.

Mid-Autumn Festival

The Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival, is another significant event in Vietnam. It usually falls on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month, which is usually in September or October. During this festival, families come together to celebrate the harvest season and enjoy mooncakes, a traditional delicacy. Colorful lanterns are lit, and dragon dances are performed to add to the festive atmosphere.

Hoi An Lantern Festival

The Hoi An Lantern Festival is a monthly event that takes place in the charming town of Hoi An. On the 14th day of each lunar month, the town's streets are adorned with colorful lanterns, and motorized vehicles are prohibited. Visitors can participate in traditional games, listen to live music, and witness stunning cultural performances, all illuminated by the soft glow of lanterns.

Hanoi highlights: street food, coffee, hotspots & sights

Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, is a city that seamlessly blends its rich history with a dynamic modern energy. From mouthwatering street food to unique coffee culture, Hanoi offers a plethora of attractions and experiences that captivate visitors.

Street Food in Hanoi

Hanoi is renowned for its vibrant street food scene, offering a wide array of delicious and affordable dishes. Food stalls and street vendors can be found on almost every corner, serving local favorites such as pho (noodle soup), banh mi (Vietnamese sandwich), and bun cha (grilled pork and noodle dish). Exploring the bustling streets of Hanoi and indulging in the local street food is a must for any visitor.

Coffee Culture in Hanoi

Hanoi is famous for its strong and aromatic coffee, and the city's coffee culture is deeply ingrained in its daily life. Cafes and coffee shops can be found throughout the city, offering a wide range of coffee variations. The most popular is the traditional Vietnamese iced coffee, known as "ca phe sua da," which is a thick and rich brew served with condensed milk. Enjoying a cup of coffee while observing the bustling streets of Hanoi is a quintessential experience.

Hanoi Hotspots and Sights

Hanoi is home to several iconic attractions that should not be missed during a visit to the city. The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is a significant historical site, where visitors can pay their respects to the revered leader of Vietnam. The Temple of Literature, Vietnam's first national university, is another popular destination, known for its picturesque gardens and ancient architecture. The Thang Long Water Puppet Theater showcases a unique form of Vietnamese traditional art that dates back to the 11th century. These are just a few examples of the many cultural and historical sights that Hanoi has to offer.

Hanoi highlights | Old quarter | things to do

Vietnam Highlights: Temple of Literature, Hanoi

Vietnam Highlights: Temple of Literature, Hanoi - (Source: Collected)

The Old Quarter of Hanoi is a bustling and vibrant neighborhood that dates back to the 13th century. Its narrow streets are lined with traditional tube houses, coffee shops, markets, and temples, offering visitors a glimpse into Hanoi's rich history and culture.

Exploring the Streets of the Old Quarter

One of the best ways to experience the Old Quarter is by taking a leisurely stroll through its labyrinthine streets. Each street specializes in a particular product or craft, resulting in a fascinating array of shops and stalls. Hang Gai Street is famous for its silk products, while Hang Ma Street is known for selling paper goods for traditional festivals. Visitors can browse through the shops, admire the craftsmanship, and even purchase unique souvenirs.

Visiting the Local Markets

The Old Quarter is home to several bustling markets where visitors can immerse themselves in the vibrant atmosphere of Hanoi. The Dong Xuan Market is the largest in the city, offering a wide range of products, including clothing, accessories, and food. The weekend night market along Hang Dao Street is another popular destination, where visitors can sample local street food and browse through stalls selling handicrafts and souvenirs.

Temple of Ngoc Son

Nestled on a small island in Hoan Kiem Lake, the Temple of Ngoc Son is a serene oasis in the heart of Hanoi. Accessible via a red-painted wooden bridge, the temple is dedicated to the 13th-century military leader Tran Hung Dao. Visitors can explore the intricate architecture, enjoy the tranquil ambiance, and take in panoramic views of the lake and surrounding cityscape.

Hanoi highlights & tips | hotels

Discover The Wonders of One Pillar Pagoda

Discover The Wonders of One Pillar Pagoda - (Source: Collected)

When visiting Hanoi, choosing the right accommodation is crucial to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable stay. The city offers a wide range of options, from budget-friendly guesthouses to luxurious hotels.

Old Quarter Hotels

The Old Quarter is a popular area for tourists to stay due to its central location and vibrant atmosphere. There are numerous hotels and guesthouses scattered throughout the neighborhood, catering to different budgets and preferences. From boutique hotels with elegant decor to budget-friendly options with basic amenities, travelers can find a variety of options to suit their needs.

Hoan Kiem Lake Area

The Hoan Kiem Lake area is another popular choice for accommodation in Hanoi. This area offers a mix of high-end hotels and mid-range options, all within walking distance of major attractions such as the Old Quarter and the Temple of Literature. Many of the hotels in this area offer stunning views of Hoan Kiem Lake, creating a picturesque backdrop for a memorable stay.

Choosing the Right Hotel

When selecting a hotel in Hanoi, it is important to consider factors such as location, amenities, and budget. It is advisable to book accommodation in advance, especially during peak travel seasons, to secure the best deals and availability. Reading reviews and considering recommendations from trusted sources can also help in making an informed decision.

Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi | things to do | sights

Hanoi Highlights: Hoan Kiem Lake

Hanoi Highlights: Hoan Kiem Lake - (Source: Collected)

Hoan Kiem Lake, located in the heart of Hanoi, is a tranquil oasis amidst the bustling city center. Surrounded by lush greenery and iconic landmarks, the lake offers visitors a peaceful retreat and a chance to soak in the beauty of nature.

Taking a Stroll Around the Lake

One of the most popular activities around Hoan Kiem Lake is taking a leisurely stroll along its perimeter. The tree-lined paths provide a serene environment for a peaceful walk, away from the noise and traffic of the city. Visitors can enjoy the fresh air, admire the scenic views, and observe the locals going about their daily activities.

Visiting Ngoc Son Temple

Nestled on a small island in the northern part of Hoan Kiem Lake, Ngoc Son Temple is a must-visit attraction. Accessible via a beautiful red-painted bridge, the temple is dedicated to the legendary General Tran Hung Dao. Inside the temple, visitors can admire the intricate architecture, tranquil courtyards, and beautiful altars.

Turtle Tower

Located on a tiny island in the middle of Hoan Kiem Lake, the Turtle Tower is an iconic symbol of Hanoi. The tower is surrounded by legends, one of which tells the story of a magical turtle who returned a sword to Emperor Le Loi, helping him defeat the Chinese invaders. Visitors can gaze at the tower from the lake's edge or capture breathtaking views from the nearby Thap Rua Tower.

Overall, Hanoi is a city that seamlessly blends tradition with modernity, offering visitors a diverse range of experiences. From exploring its vibrant street food scene and bustling markets to immersing in its rich history and cultural heritage, Hanoi has something for everyone. Whether it's a 12-day itinerary or a shorter visit, exploring the city's top attractions and delving into its unique highlights is sure to be an unforgettable adventure.

Delicious Street Food in Hanoi | Tours and Things to Do

Exploring the Culinary Delights of Hanoi

Hanoi, the vibrant capital city of Vietnam, is known for its rich culture, historic landmarks, and of course, its mouthwatering street food. Exploring the culinary delights of Hanoi is a must for any food lover visiting Vietnam. From savory pho to crispy banh mi, the city is a paradise for those seeking delicious street food.

Embarking on Street Food Tours

One of the best ways to dive into Hanoi's street food scene is by joining a street food tour. Various Vietnam travel companies offer guided tours that take visitors through the bustling streets of Hanoi, introducing them to the flavors and aromas of authentic Vietnamese cuisine.

These tours typically include visits to bustling food markets, where visitors can witness the vibrant local food culture up close. Expert guides provide valuable insights into the history and preparation of each dish, making the experience educational as well as delicious.

Hanoi's Top Street Food Attractions

When it comes to street food in Hanoi, there are several top attractions that should not be missed. The Old Quarter is a prime destination, with its narrow alleys lined with food stalls offering local delicacies such as bun cha, a grilled pork noodle dish, and banh cuon, delicate rice flour rolls filled with savory ingredients.

Another popular spot is Quang Ba flower market, which transforms into a vibrant street food hub in the evening. Here, visitors can sample banh gio, a pyramid-shaped rice dumpling filled with minced pork and wood ear mushrooms, or indulge in a bowl of hot, comforting pho.

For those looking for a truly unique experience, Tay Ho district is famous for its West Lake snail noodles. The dish features succulent snails simmered in a flavorful broth, enriched with herbs and spices.

Restaurant Red Bean | Best Restaurants Hanoi

A Culinary Journey at Restaurant Red Bean

Located in the heart of Hanoi, Restaurant Red Bean is widely regarded as one of the best restaurants in the city. Offering a fusion of Vietnamese and international flavors, this restaurant provides a unique culinary journey for its patrons.

Taste and Presentation

A visit to Red Bean promises not only exceptional taste but also exquisite presentation. Every dish is artfully plated, showcasing the skill and creativity of the chefs. From traditional Vietnamese dishes like cao lau, a Hoi An specialty noodle dish, to innovative global fare, the menu is diverse and exciting.

Immersive Dining Experience

Restaurant Red Bean strives to create an immersive dining experience for its guests. The elegant ambiance, warm lighting, and attentive service combine to make every visit memorable. Patrons can choose to dine indoors or opt for a table on the charming outdoor terrace, where they can enjoy their meal amidst the beauty of Hanoi.

Hanoi Social Club – Hanoi Highlights & Hotspots

Hanoi Street food tour

Hanoi Street food tour - (Source: Collected)

A Hip and Vibrant Hub

Hanoi Social Club is a popular hangout for locals and expats alike. Situated in a beautiful French colonial building, this café-cum-restaurant offers a hip and vibrant atmosphere. Whether it's brunch, live music, or just grabbing a coffee, Hanoi Social Club has something for everyone.

Creative Menu and Live Performances

The menu at Hanoi Social Club is diverse and creative, catering to various dietary preferences and restrictions. From vegan options to hearty meat dishes, the restaurant ensures there's something to satisfy every palate. Additionally, the venue hosts regular live performances, showcasing talented local musicians and artists.

Artistic Environment

Hanoi Social Club prides itself on creating an artistic environment where people can come together, connect, and appreciate the cultural diversity of the city. The interiors are adorned with vintage furniture, colorful murals, and cozy corners, making it an ideal spot for relaxation and socializing.

Cocktails at the Lantern Lounge

A Rooftop Oasis

The Lantern Lounge, located on the rooftop of a boutique hotel in Hanoi's Old Quarter, offers a serene oasis amidst the bustling city. With its panoramic views of the cityscape and sophisticated ambiance, this rooftop bar is the perfect place to unwind and enjoy a refreshing cocktail.

Award-Winning Mixology

At the Lantern Lounge, the art of mixology takes center stage. Talented bartenders create innovative and expertly crafted cocktails, using fresh local ingredients and premium spirits. Indulge in classic concoctions with a twist or savor signature cocktails inspired by Vietnamese flavors.

Relaxed Atmosphere and Live Music

The Lantern Lounge prides itself on providing a relaxed and intimate atmosphere for its guests. The soft lighting, comfortable seating, and attentive service create a welcoming environment. Live music performances further enhance the ambiance, setting the mood for a truly memorable evening.

Caphe Trung, aka Egg Coffee, So Addictive | Hanoi Highlights | Vietnam

Hanoi Egg Coffee

Hanoi Egg Coffee - (Source: Collected)

A Unique Vietnamese Delicacy

Caphe Trung, also known as egg coffee, is a beloved Vietnamese delicacy that should not be missed during a visit to Hanoi. This unique beverage consists of a rich, velvety egg yolk-based custard poured over strong Vietnamese coffee. The result is a creamy, slightly sweet coffee experience like no other.

Hanoi's Egg Coffee Pioneers

Invented in the 1940s by a resourceful Hanoi resident, egg coffee quickly gained popularity and became a local specialty. Two notable cafes where this delectable drink can be enjoyed are Café Giang and Café Dinh. These establishments have perfected the art of making egg coffee, preserving the traditional recipe while adding their own unique twists.

The Addictive Allure of Egg Coffee

Caphe Trung's addictive allure lies in its creamy texture and the harmonious combination of bitter coffee and sweet custard. The drink is usually served in a small cup, allowing drinkers to savor each sip. Whether enjoyed as a morning pick-me-up or an afternoon treat, egg coffee is sure to leave a lasting impression on anyone who tries it.


When it comes to exploring the vibrant city of Hanoi, there are numerous highlights that shouldn't be missed. From historical monuments to bustling markets, Hanoi offers a diverse range of experiences for travelers. Some of the top attractions in Hanoi include the iconic Hoan Kiem Lake with its picturesque Turtle Tower, the historic Temple of Literature, and the intriguing Old Quarter with its narrow streets and traditional architecture.

For those planning their Vietnam travel itinerary, spending 12 days in this captivating country is highly recommended. Hanoi, with its rich history and cultural significance, should definitely be included in the itinerary. Apart from exploring the city's highlights, visitors can also embark on a breathtaking cruise in Halong Bay, renowned for its stunning limestone karsts and emerald waters. These natural wonders make for a truly unforgettable experience.

While planning your trip, it is advisable to consider reaching out to reputable Vietnam travel companies for well-organized tours and reliable services. These companies can offer invaluable assistance in crafting the perfect itinerary and ensuring a smooth travel experience.

All in all, Hanoi is a city that will leave you mesmerized with its fascinating history, vibrant culture, and incredible sights. Whether you're exploring the city's top attractions or venturing out to the spectacular Halong Bay, Hanoi promises an unforgettable travel experience.

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