TravelExplore Hanoi: Top Activities for First-Time Visitors

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As a first time visitor to Hanoi, there are certain things you must do in order to get the most out of your trip. Here are some of the best activities and travel tips that will help you make the most of your visit to this fascinating city.

  1. What to do in Hanoi
  2. Where to stay in Hanoi
  3. What to eat in Hanoi
  4. How to get around Hanoi
  5. Top attractions in Hanoi
  6. Tips for first-time visitors to Hanoi
  7. How to make the most of your time in Hanoi
  8. Things to avoid in Hanoi
  9. What to pack for Hanoi
  10. The best time to visit Hanoi

What to do in Hanoi

street vendor hanoi

photo: Raissa Lara Lütolf (-Fasel)

As the capital of Vietnam, Hanoi is a city that is rich in culture and history. There are plenty of things to see and do, making it the perfect destination for first-time visitors. From exploring the Old Quarter to visiting the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, there is something for everyone in Hanoi.

Where to stay in Hanoi

There is a wide range of accommodation options available in Hanoi, from luxury hotels to budget-friendly hostels. It is important to do your research and choose a place that best suits your needs. For those looking for a luxurious stay, the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi is a great option. This historic hotel has been welcoming guests since 1901 and features an outdoor pool, spa and fine dining restaurants. For those on a tighter budget, the Hanoi La Siesta Hotel & Spa or the Sun Flower Hotel are both good options.

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What to eat in Hanoi

Hanoi is famous for its street food, so be sure to try some of the local specialties when you are in town. Popular dishes include pho (noodle soup), bun cha (grilled pork with noodles) and banh mi (Vietnamese sandwich). For those looking for something a little more upscale, there are plenty of restaurants that serve international cuisine.

How to get around Hanoi

Hanoi is a large city, so the best way to get around is by taxi or motorbike. There are also a number of apps that offer ride-sharing services, such as Grab or Beeline. If you are feeling adventurous, you can rent a bicycle or scooter and explore the city on your own. Just be sure to wear a helmet and drive cautiously!

Top attractions in Hanoi

hoan kiem lake hanoi

photo: Thuong D

There are many top attractions in Hanoi that are worth visiting. Some of the most popular include the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, the Temple of Literature, the Old Quarter and Hoan Kiem Lake. For those interested in art and history, the Vietnam Fine Arts Museum and the Museum of Vietnamese History are both great options.

Tips for first-time visitors to Hanoi

  1. Do your research before you go. Hanoi is a large city with a lot to see and do. It is helpful to make a list of the places you want to visit and the activities you want to do before you arrive.
  2. Choose your accommodation carefully. There is a wide range of accommodation options available, from luxury hotels to budget-friendly hostels. Make sure to choose a place that best suits your needs.
  3. Try the local food. Hanoi is famous for its street food, so be sure to try some of the local specialities when you are in town.
  4. Get around by taxi or motorbike. Hanoi is a large city, so the best way to get around is by taxi or motorbike. There are also a number of apps that offer ride-sharing services, such as Grab or Beeline.
  5. Visit the top attractions. There are many top attractions in Hanoi that are worth visiting. Some of the most popular include the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, the Temple of Literature, the Old Quarter and Hoan Kiem Lake.
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How to make the most of your time in Hanoi

  1. Wake up early and watch the sunrise over Hoan Kiem Lake.
  2. Explore the Old Quarter and take a cyclo ride through the narrow streets.
  3. Visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and learn about the history of Vietnam.
  4. Sample some of the delicious street food on offer.
  5. Take a day trip to Halong Bay and enjoy the stunning scenery.

Things to avoid in Hanoi

  1. Do not wear shorts or sleeveless shirts when visiting temples or the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum.
  2. Do not haggle too much when buying souvenirs. The prices are usually already quite reasonable.
  3. Do not cross the street without looking both ways first. Traffic in Hanoi can be quite chaotic.
  4. Do not carry large amounts of cash with you. It is best to use a credit or debit card when possible.
  5. Do not drink tap water. Stick to bottled water instead.
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What to pack for Hanoi

hanoi vietnam

photo: Đăng Nguyễn

  1. Comfortable shoes – Hanoi is a large city and you will do a lot of walking. Be sure to pack comfortable shoes that you can walk in all day.
  2. A hat or scarf – The weather in Hanoi can be quite hot, so it is important to protect yourself from the sun. A hat or scarf will help to keep you cool.
  3. A raincoat – It can rain unexpectedly in Hanoi, so it is always a good idea to have a raincoat on hand.
  4. Sunscreen – As mentioned above, the weather in Hanoi can be quite hot. Be sure to apply sunscreen regularly to avoid getting sunburn.
  5. Insect repellent – There are a lot of mosquitoes in Hanoi, so it is important to use insect repellent to avoid getting bitten.

The best time to visit Hanoi

The best time to visit Hanoi is from October to April. This is the cooler months and the weather is more pleasant. However, it is still possible to visit Hanoi outside of this time frame. Just be aware that the weather will be hotter and more humid.

With its rich culture and history, Hanoi is a city that should not be missed. There are plenty of things to see and do, making it the perfect destination for first-time visitors. From exploring the Old Quarter to sampling the street food, there is something for everyone in Hanoi. So what are you waiting for? Start planning your trip today!

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vietzone
Member

I’ve been to Hanoi a few times and it is an amazing city. I love the Old Quarter and all of the street food there. If you want to try something different, try eating pho at a local noodle shop.

I also recommend taking a boat ride on the Perfume River at night. You’ll get a great view of the city lights!

douknowhat
Member

A friend of mine from Canada is going to Vietnam next week and she is going to be in Hanoi for 4 days. I am going to send this to her right now. I want her to have an amazing time. She has never been there.

MrZero
Member

I think Hanoi overall is a good place for people to start who are completely new to Vietnam because it has so much going on. You can dip your toe in as much or as little of the culture as you want so you won’t feel pressured or overwhelmed. 

ElizabethGardner
Guest
ElizabethGardner

Hanoi really is a city for everyone, not just first-time visitors. You can find everything from traditional activities to guided tours, or you can simply explore the city on your own. If you’re looking for something to do with friends or family, I recommend taking a cooking class at one of the local restaurants. You’ll get to eat everything you make afterward!

RinieTran
Guest
RinieTran

I’ve been to Hanoi a few times, and I think this list is great. It’s a good way to get a feel for the city without overwhelming yourself with too much information or too much of an agenda.

caphekitty
Member

October to April being the best time to visit is not surprising. I would narrow it down a bit more to November through March. Even October and April can be too humid for people.

SoVintage
Member

@caphekitty I think the ideal month over all for most people tends to be January because it is very cheap to fly, the holidays are out of the way, and many people use this month to go on vacation. 

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