Hanoi, the second largest city in Vietnam - and also the country's capital - is in many ways different from its big-city cousin, Ho Chi Minh City.

More clean, consistent and picturesque than the rough architectural hodge-podge that is Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi's classical appearance is composed of colorful colonial buildings, lakes, abundant flora (fig trees grace the streets), and a more suburban air throughout.

The biggest testament to Hanoi's persona is The Old Quarter, a colorful district with narrow, twining streets that wind in all directions, packed back-to-back with commercial activity, an enormous variety of restaurants and cafes of all price levels, colonial architecture, and all shades of bars, bakeries and boutique shops. It is here that you will also find Hoan Kiem Lake, which many associate as the symbol of Hanoi.

Motorbikes still swarm in chaotic droves and every corner of more popular districts is packed with interesting regional cuisine. Do not expect a foreigner-friendly experience just because the city is relatively modernized and the streets are cleaner than in Saigon - this is through and through an old-school Vietnamese city with conservative ideals and few English speakers. Locals are kind, as they are in much of Vietnam, and petty crime is less prevalent than in the South, but still exists.

Hanoi's appeal lies in its charming presentation, great street food, beautiful surroundings and a classic appeal that comes from 1,000+ years of existence. Cuisine is a big indicator or the Northern city’s different style of life: food is exotic and many dishes are surprisingly new experiences even for those who have traveled extensively throughout central and southern Vietnam. Like much of Saigon and Dalat, Hanoi retains trace roots from the colonial era, employing French architecture and food and merging these with Northern Vietnam's age-old customs and traditions.

most popular articles in Hanoi

Set Lunch in Hanoi

Set Lunch in Hanoi

"Travel does not become adventure until you leave yourself behind" Martin Rubin Which city would be the best destination to enjoy Vietnamese cuisine and culture? For some people, it might be Saigon. For others, it could be Hue. For me, it is Hanoi, the one thousand year capital. Whether it is "phở", "chả cá" or "bánh cuốn" (and a plethora of other mesmerizing choices), each dis...

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Best Time To Visit Vietnam

Best Time To Visit Vietnam

Planning your holidays in Vietnam, you might wonder when it is the best time to visit the country. The answer is quite simple: anytime is the best time! No, but seriously. I think it depends on how you would like to spend your holidays in Vietnam. If you want to stay at a nice and cozy beach resort, sipping cocktails and getting a tan, you will want to set your timing different than if you wan...

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Top Three Souvenir Shops in Hanoi

Top Three Souvenir Shops in Hanoi

By Truong Tang Travellers often buy souvenirs as gifts and as mementos, and it can be hard to distinguish quality from fake. Below are our hand-picked souvenir shops in Hanoi that provide quality products. 1 – Minh Long Fine Porcelain At first glance, Minh Long Fine Porcelain on Hang Than street doesn’t stand out from other pottery stores. But once you enter the shop, you will b...

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Hanoi – A first timer’s primer

Hanoi – A first timer’s primer

Pack lightly, but not too light lightly Am I boarding an airport bus in Ulan Bator or Vietnam’s capital? I can’t tell because every passenger is wearing scarves and mittens. It’s not Arctic cold, but I’ve just swooped in via the tropical bliss of Ho Chi Minh City wearing nothing but shorts and a t-shirt. Little wonder my tightly bundled fellow travellers smirk and my wi...

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How to get a Visa to Vietnam

How to get a Visa to Vietnam

Getting a Visa to Vietnam can be a draining and all around difficult process. From choosing the correct visa category, duration and fee, to arranging the right documents, checking your passport and finally beginning the application process itself, for so many travellers entering Vietnam can seem almost impossible. Where do you even begin? Do I need a visa? If you're Australian or America th...

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Discover Vietnam: Hanoi

Discover Vietnam: Hanoi

Walk the 36 Streets in Old Quarter From hidden cosy coffee shops in aging buildings and an emerging contemporary art scene to luxury cars slinking through the city’s intricate little streets, Hanoi truly knows how to welcome modernity while keeping true to its roots. Stylish, nostalgic, romantic and tested by the extremes of its seasonal weather, this is a city bursting with character.Ge...

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Hanoi: A History Through an Architectural Lens

Hanoi: A History Through an Architectural Lens

Hanoi’s history can be separated into four eras: centuries of continual Chinese domination, a spell of French Colonialism, the Vietnam War and modern day Hanoi. Perhaps one of the best ways to appreciate a city’s character is to understand its history. And what better way to understand a city’s history than by visiting its remnants? Before going on a journey through Hanoi&rs...

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How to get VAT refunds in Vietnam

How to get VAT refunds in Vietnam

How to get VAT refunds in Vietnam If you purchase expensive products during your travel in Vietnam, it is very easy to get a VAT refund if you follow our instructions below. A pilot programme was implemented in 2012 at Noi Bai and Tan Son Nhat International airports which allowed foreigners to receive VAT refunds in Vietnam. As of early March 2015, the VAT refund to foreigners programme has e...

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7 Reasons Why Foodies Love the Lotte Hotel Hanoi

7 Reasons Why Foodies Love the Lotte Hotel Hanoi

A few months ago, the Lotte Hotel Hanoi opened its doors to public, only to witness an enormous amount of interest in its exemplary service and culinary delights – and for good reason too. The hotel boasts seven food and beverage outlets which cater to both Western and Asian food enthusiasts, making it reasonably possible to never leave the hotel. All food establishments, except one, are ...

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Top 5 tips to rent a motorbike in Vietnam

Top 5 tips to rent a motorbike in Vietnam

Renting a motorbike is a great opportunity to get off the beaten track and discover Vietnam on your own. That is if you are able to deal with the manic traffic and less than stringent road rules. There are many places in tourist areas such as Pham Ngu Lao in Ho Chi Minh City and the Old Quarter in Hanoi that rent bikes to foreigners. You will need to fill out a form to rent the bike along with...

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Hanoi’s Snake Village of Le Mat

Hanoi’s Snake Village of Le Mat

Hanoi’s Snake Village of Le Mat The villagers of Le Mat, just 7 km northeast of central Hanoi, welcome many curious travellers craving a different type of lunch, namely, one of snake meat. Surely a dining experience that cannot be filed under ‘blasé’. The restaurant’s owner is a man of few words and many scars. Indeed, his arms are covered with wounds, ugly souven...

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Family trip in Vietnam - Episode 8: Water Puppets

Family trip in Vietnam - Episode 8: Water Puppets

Kathleen Brown, her husband John and their two adopted children, Peter Quang and Claire Xuan, are touring around Vietnam during their Christmas holiday. Kathleen is a long-time television producer and /media consultant for humanitarian agencies and her husband, John, a professional photographer. Every couple of days, they will post a story along with photos on their travels and adventures. Fam...

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Family trip in Vietnam - Episode 9: Time to Cha Cha with the Chả Cá

Family trip in Vietnam - Episode 9: Time to Cha Cha with the Chả Cá

Kathleen Brown, her husband John and their two adopted children, Peter Quang and Claire Xuan, are touring around Vietnam during their Christmas holiday. Kathleen is a long-time television producer and /media consultant for humanitarian agencies and her husband, John, a professional photographer. Every couple of days, they will post a story along with photos on their travels and adventures. Fam...

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A Quick Guide to Hanoi Weather

A Quick Guide to Hanoi Weather

Lo and behold! It’s not just exotic and tropical in Vietnam, at least not in the northern hemisphere. Saigon might be sunny and dandy all year, but its northerner sister Hanoi has more seasonal surprises. It can get horribly cold and misty in winter, scorching hot in summer, with some unpredictable months in between. But don’t let Hanoi’s fickle weather get in your way! Don&rs...

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Rush Hour Traffic in Hanoi

Rush Hour Traffic in Hanoi

Rush Hour Traffic in Hanoi Hanoi is the New York of rush hour traffic. If you can make it there, you'll make it anywhere. No, seriously. To be honest, I am lost for adjectives that I could use to describe the rush hour traffic in Hanoi. It is chaotic, maddening, noisy, fascinating, hectic, noisy, turbulent, wait... have I mentioned noisy? It is noisy! It is as if everyday from 7 am to 9 am an...

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Family trip in Vietnam - Episode 10: Honoring the Ancestor

Family trip in Vietnam - Episode 10: Honoring the Ancestor

Kathleen Brown, her husband John and their two adopted children, Peter Quang and Claire Xuan, are touring around Vietnam during their Christmas holiday. Kathleen is a long-time television producer and /media consultant for humanitarian agencies and her husband, John, a professional photographer. Every couple of days, they will post a story along with photos on their travels and adventures. T...

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Which Pho are you?

Which Pho are you?

Pho Vietnam No dish is more synonymous with Vietnamese cuisine than humble bowl of pho. The concept of noodle, broth and meat is amazingly simple yet the preparation and presentation involved is as complex as the broth it is served in. Hanoi and Saigon have their own take on pho and is indicative of the people that live there. Pho Bac Pho Bac is indicative of the cooler, less agricultural no...

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Top 5 dishes to eat in Hanoi

Top 5 dishes to eat in Hanoi

Hanoi is a foodie’s paradise offering plenty of cheap yet delicious eats. Heartier and indicative of the cooler temperatures of the north, the nuanced flavours of Hanoi cuisine can be a welcome relief to it’s brash cousin to the south. Nowhere is this more indicative than in the Old Quarter. The maze like streets are crammed with makeshift stalls and storefronts that offer one ...

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Chill your weekend at the Lantern Neighborhood

Chill your weekend at the Lantern Neighborhood

Luong Nhu Hoc Street, District 5, HCMC Rising in the middle of China town, Luong Nhu Hoc street has been bustling these days with colorful lanterns hanging in front of several stores throughout many tiny valleys within the neighborhood. Not knowing when, the street has been an indispensable part of Tet Trung Thu (Mid-autumn festival) for Saigonese besides festive events in town. Just 300 mete...

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Premiere venues in Hanoi

Hilton Garden Inn Hanoi

Hilton Garden Inn Hanoi

Located in the bustling center of Hanoi city, the Hilton Garden Inn Hanoi is close to a variety of popular attractions, entertainment options and only 45 minutes drive from Noi Bai International Airport. It is really a perfect base for exploring the city, for both business and leisure travelers. Rooms & Suites Explore the various types of rooms and amenities and choose the space that's right for you. King/Twin Guest Room King Suite King Disable Room Restaurant – Bar Savor the culinary delights of Vietnam in dining Garden Grille restaurant or relax with friends over a bottle of wine or ...

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Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi Hotel

Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi Hotel

With its colonial facade and famed French restaurant Le Beaulieu, the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi Hotel offers visitors a taste of white-gloved luxury with a dash of history in the heart of the capital. Guests can also choose to relax in their classy Spa or grab a drink in the bar Angelina. Sofitel has two other locations: Sofitel Saigon Plaza and Sofitel Plaza Hanoi.

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The Hanoi Club Hotel & Lake Palais Residences

The Hanoi Club Hotel & Lake Palais Residences

The Hanoi Club Hotel and Lake Palais Residences present unadulterated luxury in a palatial setting; this is a unique experience in Vietnam. Location The Hanoi Club is located on Yen Phu Street, on the banks of Hanoi’s famous West Lake. The hotel is an ideal place for tourists wishing to discover the elegance and poetic beauty of Hanoi. The intrinsic beauty of The Hanoi Club in enhanced even further when combined with the romantic views of the lake. Without doubt, this is one of the most tranquil locations anywhere in the city. The Hanoi Club Hotel and Lake Palais Residence ...

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Tan My Design

Tan My Design

The First Shop on Silk Street It was 1969, in the midst of wartime. Men were sent off to fight, while women were left home. The wives, daughters, friends and lovers of those sent into enemy lines wanted to gift the troops handkerchiefs and pillowcases, and suddenly a market was born. Tan My, then a small shop in a narrow alley, was the first on Hang Gai to sell silk and embroidery, before the famous street became known as Hanoi’s Silk Street. In addition to pillowcases and handkerchiefs, it sold clothing, bed linen, tableclothes, cushion covers and more. Bach Thi ...

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Fortuna Hotel Hanoi

Fortuna Hotel Hanoi

Located in the business and financial center of Hanoi, Fortuna Hotel has been operating since 1998, serving business and leisure travelers from around the world. Fortuna offers the consistent commitment of Asian hospitality with a modern Western setting that reflects the culture and tradition of subtleness, delicate service and attention to detail. The hotel is strategically located by many embassies, government offices and exhibition centers. The service caters especially well to the business crowd. Companies looking for an all-in-one business hotel in Hanoi will not be disappointed: the rooms, cuisine, meeting and event space, business center, entertainment and relaxation zone ...

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Green Tangerine

Green Tangerine

Located in a lovingly restored colonial house in Hanoi’s Old Quarter, the Green Tangerine offers a menu of ingenious creative cuisine inspired by French recipes & Vietnamese flavors. All paired with a vast selection of new and old world wines.

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Da Paolo West Lake

Da Paolo West Lake

Have an authentic Italian meal at one of Hanoi's most beautiful and popular locations, West Lake. Da Paolo West Lake is popular with locals and travellers alike. Sample their home-made pastas, traditional appetizers or pizzas baked in a classic wood-fired oven. Or try something less commonly available around Hanoi; for example, sautéed baby calamari with garlic, olive oil and chilli in a white wine sauce, served with grilled polenta. Whatever you choose, you're sure to love the delicious, unpretentious, mid-range Italian comfort food at Da Paolo West Lake. Featuring imported Italian ingredients and wine, Da Paolo West Lake will transport your ...

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RockStore

RockStore

Head to the largest live rock music venue in the heart of the Old Quarter for a paradise of cocktails and heavenly Belgian beers. This is the hippest place to be in Hanoi with 4 to 5 rock bands performing weekly, themed parties and DJ’s.

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La Badiane Restaurant

La Badiane Restaurant

La Badiane Restaurant is a chic Hanoi restaurant dedicated to the fusion of French cuisine with the herbs and spices of the Orient. La Badiane's exchange of cultures, people and flavors results in inventive cuisine such as Australian beef tenderloin (some say it’s the most tender steak they’ve ever tried), pan-fried scallops with seafood lasagna, crab remoulade, and banana spring rolls with hazelnut and pistachios. The restaurant is centrally located on Nam Ngu in Hanoi's Hoan Kiem district, 10 minutes from Hoan Kiem Lake. Indulge in French fusion cuisine in a floral, indoor patio space with two additional floors upstairs ...

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Mekong Plus Hanoi

Mekong Plus Hanoi

Mekong+, incorporating Mekong Quilts and Mekong Creations, is  a social enterprise specializing in high quality, hand crafted quilts  and accessories. The Indo-Chine inspired quilt range uses patchwork, piecing and intricate stitch detail to create a contemporary aesthetic. We use only the highest quality silks and cottons, along with beautiful vintage ethnic embroideries in our products. Our accessories range combines the use of sustainable and local raw materials such as bamboo, water hyacinth and papier-mache with traditional hand craftsmanship to create innovative designs such as Bamboo bikes and gift items. Mekong Quilts was established in 2001 as an income generation project ...

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Minh Long

Minh Long

Minh Long was founded in 1970 by Mr. Ly Ngoc Minh, a young man devoted to creating exquisite porcelain. A family owned company, Minh Long has developed a characteristic style passed down through generations. From functional dinner sets to sculptures and spectacular hand-painted vases, the attention to artistry is legendary. Many of the pieces have a distinctive Vietnamese flavour and are sought after by locals and travellers alike. Minh Long also has a shop in Ho Chi Minh City.   Ly Ngoc Minh went to Hanoi to study the folk culture that abounds at sites such as One Pillar Pagoda, ...

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