Hanoi is one of the most popular destination for tourists in Vietnam. We recommend travelers to stay at least two nights to have enough time to visit its numerous attractions and landmarks.

A city between the rivers, built on lowland, Hanoi has many scenic lakes and it is sometimes called "city of lakes". Among them, the most famous are Hoan Kiem Lake, West Lake, Halais Lake (Hồ Thiền Quang in Vietnamese) and Bay Mau Lake.

Hoan Kiem Lake, also known as Sword Lake, is the historical and cultural center of Hanoi, and is linked to the legend of the magic sword. Many of Hanoi's best hotels are located in that area. West Lake (Hồ Tây) is a popular place for people to spend time. It is the largest lake in Hanoi and there are many temples in the area. There are small boats for hire and a floating restaurant.

Hanoi has a treasure trove of French architecture. Look for buildings in the trademark yellow ochre color, well maintained colonial houses often repurposed as clothing boutiques or government buildings.

Mixed in with the recent past are ancient pagodas and temples, classic Vietnamese monuments to the nation’s history. Carvings at the Temple of Literature show that little of the nation’s past are available in books. Here it is set in stone, preserved for generations to come.

In one form or another, Hanoi has been a capital city for around 1000 years. With its many museums, pagodas, the jumbled maze of narrow streets of the Old Quarter and legendary Hoan Kiem Lake, the city is a history buff’s delight. 

What to See in Hanoi

Hanoi Opera House

Hanoi Opera House

One of the few places in Hanoi to catch a symphony, this century-old French colonial building is a major city landmark. While the interior could use some sprucing up, this imposing Opera House is still on the list of top things to see in Hanoi, given its architectural beauty, historical significance and repertoire of internationally celebrated musicians. Completed in 1911 ...

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Hoa Lo Prison

Hoa Lo Prison

Referred to ironically as the 'Hanoi Hilton' by American POWs, Hoa Lo Prison was built by the French in 1896 and used to house Vietnamese political prisoners. The prison was just one in a series of northern incarceration centres. By 1954 there were over 2000 inmates within the cold, damp walls of Hoa Lo and the jail had become, in ...

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One Pillar Pagoda

One Pillar Pagoda

The original Buddhist pagoda was built in 1049 by Emperor Ly Thai Tong to mark the birth of his heir after a dream in which a goddess gave him a son floating on a lotus. Fittingly, the structure rises out of a pond covered in lotuses. The name of the temple literally translates to 'long lasting happiness and good luck'. ...

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Temple of Literature

Temple of Literature

Vietnam's first university, the oldest sections of Van Mieu date from 1070, but only four of the interlocking courtyards survived French bombing. Check out the stone stelae where those who passed the notoriously difficult exams have had their names carved for eternity. The stone turtles are well-rubbed as they offer good luck to those in need of knowledge. Van Mieu ...

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More What to See Venues

West Lake & Tran Quoc Pagoda

West Lake & Tran Quoc Pagoda

West Lake, also known as Ho Tay, is Hanoi’s largest body of water and one of the city’s most beautiful monuments to the Buddhist religion. Steeped in local legend, Ho Tay is home to two magnificent temples and a ring of up-market suburbs now lining its 15 kilometer circumference. It’s a top sightseeing destination for those who are fascinated by ...

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Co Loa Citadel & An Duong Vuong Temple

Co Loa Citadel & An Duong Vuong Temple

Built near Phong Khe and located 20km from Hanoi, this ancient citadel was commissioned by King An Duong Vuong, famous for a magic crossbow and infamous for the fact that he decapitated his daughter. Once the capital of the Au Lac state, all that remain are two outer walls and the interior citadel building. The fortress is a spiral shaped ...

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Colonial Quarter Houses

Colonial Quarter Houses

After their conquest of Hanoi, the French took over the western part of the citadel and transformed it into a pleasant shady district dotted with small parks and yellow villas. Today, these colonial houses are home to foreign consulates, a university and various government buildings. Pack your camera and explore the area for many wonderful Hanoi photo opportunities.

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National Museum of History

National Museum of History

The National Museum of History in Hanoi is one of the country's top museums. An extensive collection of over 7,000 artefacts that traces Vietnam's history makes this museum worth a visit. The Museum's exhibition system is arranged chronologically from primitive life in Vietnam to the August 1945 Revolution and the foundation of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. Don't miss the ...

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Hanoi Opera House

Hanoi Opera House

One of the few places in Hanoi to catch a symphony, this century-old French colonial building is a major city landmark. While the interior could use some sprucing up, this imposing Opera House is still on the list of top things to see in Hanoi, given its architectural beauty, historical significance and repertoire of internationally celebrated musicians. Completed in 1911 ...

Read More
Long Bien Bridge

Long Bien Bridge

Designed by French Architect Gustave Eiffel of Eiffel Tower fame, Long Bien Bridge was completed in 1902 when it was one of the longest bridges in Asia. A beloved Hanoi landmark, this cantilever bridge provides stunning views across the Red River if you're adventurous enough to brave the potholes. Formerly named Paul Doumer Bridge, Long Bien Bridge is mercifully closed ...

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Quan Su Pagoda

Quan Su Pagoda

The headquarters of the Buddhist Church of Vietnam, Quan Su Pagoda doesn't boast a long history or impressive architecture, but it is one of Hanoi's famed treasures, built to welcome foreign dignitaries to the capital. Luckily, Quan Su was saved when most of the pagodas were burned down at the end of the Le Dynasty. Buy a stick of incense ...

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Old Quarter

Old Quarter

Like the Minotaur's maze, the 36 streets that make up Hanoi's Old Quarter are famously difficult to navigate. This section of the city has a 1,000-year-old history of commerce and though much has changed, items are still sold by category with entire streets dedicated to single items. The Old Quarter was once walled off to discourage thieves, but the wall ...

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Cot Co Tower

Cot Co Tower

The flag tower, or Cot Co, was a later addition to the Hanoi Citadel complex, built by Emperor Gia Long with the help of French engineers in 1805. The tower, which affords excellent views of the surrounding area for anyone with the energy to climb its winding stone steps, currently stands on the grounds of the Military Museum. The tower ...

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Hoan Kiem Lake & Ngoc Son Temple

Hoan Kiem Lake & Ngoc Son Temple

Hang out on the shores of the 'Lake of the Returned Sword' and bask in the full spectrum of Hanoians: from old women practising sunrise aerobics to teenage couples canoodling there's always something interesting going on. Hoan Kiem Lake is arguably Hanoi's public focal point and its surroundings are superb for a game of badminton, jogging or other exercise. Walk ...

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Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

Silence reigns as visitors file by the preserved body of Vietnam's revered leader, Ho Chi Minh. The long lines and quick glimpse are worth it; how often do you get to meet a historical figure in the flesh, so to speak? Although the embalming was against the former leader's wishes, it still makes for an interesting yet gruesome morning tour. ...

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Van Phuc Village

Van Phuc Village

Van Phuc Village, a mecca of all things silk, is a great place to stock up on fabric, pre-made clothing and scarves at prices slightly cheaper than in central Hanoi. If your next stop is the tailor, the shopkeeper can tell you how much fabric you'll need. While it was once a hotspot for bargain hunters, local shops have caught ...

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Hanoi Museum

Hanoi Museum

Shaped like an inverted pyramid and spread over nearly 5.4 hectares, Hanoi Museum opened in 2010 to mark Hanoi's 1,000 year anniversary. The exhibits can feel a bit scattered, as everything from ornamental trees to six hundred year-old weapons are on display, but the museum itself seems to be the main attraction despite what's on display inside. Hanoi Museum is ...

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Le Mat Snake Village

Le Mat Snake Village

Always wanted to down a shot of rice wine that floats a still-beating cobra heart? How about a little gecko in your cocktail? Le Mat Snake Village in Hanoi's Long Bien District is the spot to make your reptilian gustatory dreams come true. A snake will set you back VND600,000 to VND1 million, but it will come prepared in seven ...

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Ho Chi Minh's House

Ho Chi Minh's House

Built as a representation of a traditional stilt house in 1958 for then-president Ho Chi Minh, who preferred the gardener's hut to the opulent Presidential Palace, located next door. The simple, but elegant house contains only a bedroom and study. The simplicity of the small house, set beside a pond in a leafy garden, reflects Ho's humble beginnings and makes ...

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My Thuat Museum

My Thuat Museum

A good introduction to Vietnamese painting, lacquer and ceramics, the collection inside Hanoi's My Thuat Museum includes everything from 1,000 year-old silk paintings to more modern work, much of which depicts the war and its aftermath. My Thuat _ or Fine Arts _ Museum is housed in a building that was originally occupied by the French Ministry of Information. First ...

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Perfume Pagoda

Perfume Pagoda

This complex of Buddhist pagodas and shrines built into the limestone cliffs of Huong Tich Mountain is extremely popular among Vietnamese tourists and Buddhist pilgrims. Some believe that Buddha once paused by the river to wash himself clean of the dust of humanity. Consequently, many pilgrims bathe their face and hands in Long Tuyen Well in hopes of washing away ...

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One Pillar Pagoda

One Pillar Pagoda

The original Buddhist pagoda was built in 1049 by Emperor Ly Thai Tong to mark the birth of his heir after a dream in which a goddess gave him a son floating on a lotus. Fittingly, the structure rises out of a pond covered in lotuses. The name of the temple literally translates to 'long lasting happiness and good luck'. ...

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Ancient Citadel

Ancient Citadel

While digging the foundation for a new national assembly building in 2002, workers began to unearth remnants of a much older building. Archaeologists discovered the ancient foundations of an imperial city that dates back 1,300 years to the Chinese Tang dynasty. The ancient citadel of Hanoi was the former home of Vietnamese sovereigns going back to Dai Viet, when Hanoi ...

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Bat Trang Ceramics Village

Bat Trang Ceramics Village

While much of the famed Bat Trang pottery is now imported from elsewhere, this do- it-yourself operation, a welcome break from the madness of Hanoi's centre, is perfect for anyone feeling nostalgic for art class. Only 13km southeast of the central Hanoi, Bat Trang Village was established in the 14th century. What makes a better souvenir that one you make ...

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Quan Thanh Temple

Quan Thanh Temple

One of the four sacred temples built in each of the cardinal directions to protect Hanoi's citadel from evil spirits, this Taoist temple was completed in the 11th Century. The temple's namesake spirit, Huyen Thien Tran Vu, is remembered for feats like driving away the ghost in Co Loa citadel and protecting Vietnam's northern border. Quan Thanh Temple is located ...

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Hanoi Night Market

Hanoi Night Market

Hanoi Night Market is a hustling and bustling nocturnal fair in the heart of the Old Quarter. Stroll through myriad of stalls offering practically everything from clothes and souvenirs to mouth-watering food. This popular haunt is a pedestrian-only arena and held every Friday, Saturday and Sunday evening.

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Vietnamese Women’s Museum

Vietnamese Women’s Museum

Be they national heroes, mothers, intellectuals or fashion icons, women's contributions to the Vietnamese nation and society are told beautifully through well-organized text and audiovisual imagery. Located in central Hanoi, this museum was founded in 1987 as an entity within the Vietnam Women's Union. From family to history and finally fashion, each floor of the Vietnamese Women's Museum represents a ...

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Ho Chi Minh Museum

Ho Chi Minh Museum

Dedicated to Vietnam's founder, this museum in Hanoi is worth a visit mostly for its hallucinatory third floor exhibitions which include everything from sculptures of giant fruit representing wartime food shortages to photographs surrounding the life of the museum's namesake. The Ho Chi Minh Museum in Hanoi is a proud preserver of objects linked to Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam's revolutionist. ...

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Ba Dinh Square

Ba Dinh Square

All men are created equal! On September 2, 1945, Ho Chi Minh read Vietnam's Declaration of Independence from the spot where the mausoleum now stands. The grassy square in front is crowded in the evenings, but keep to the path- standing on the grass is not permitted. Stick around in the evenings for the changing of the guard.   In ...

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Revolution Museum

Revolution Museum

This homage to Vietnam's independence movement offers the usual blurry photographs along with some more interesting artefacts such as the microphone Ho Chi Minh used to read the Declaration of Independence. Located on Hanoi's Ton Dan and a short walk from Hanoi's Old Quarter, Revolution Museum is open daily except on Mondays. The entrance fee is a paltry VND15,000. Unless ...

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Hoa Lo Prison

Hoa Lo Prison

Referred to ironically as the 'Hanoi Hilton' by American POWs, Hoa Lo Prison was built by the French in 1896 and used to house Vietnamese political prisoners. The prison was just one in a series of northern incarceration centres. By 1954 there were over 2000 inmates within the cold, damp walls of Hoa Lo and the jail had become, in ...

Read More
St. Joseph's Cathedral

St. Joseph's Cathedral

This neo-gothic structure rising from Hanoi's Old Quarter's twisting streets was erected by the French in 1886 on the site of a former pagoda. Today St. Joseph's Cathedral, Hanoi's main Catholic church, holds services in Vietnamese and French which are packed and often overflow into the street. Stop for a coffee and a shoeshine at one of the cafes next ...

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Temple of Literature

Temple of Literature

Vietnam's first university, the oldest sections of Van Mieu date from 1070, but only four of the interlocking courtyards survived French bombing. Check out the stone stelae where those who passed the notoriously difficult exams have had their names carved for eternity. The stone turtles are well-rubbed as they offer good luck to those in need of knowledge. Van Mieu ...

Read More
Ethnology Museum

Ethnology Museum

Dedicated to educating the public about Vietnam's 53 ethnic minority groups, the Ethnology Museum is far and away Hanoi's most impressive museum. As it's a bit out of central Hanoi, make sure to leave plenty of time for a day trip. Don't miss the exterior section where the architectural styles of the various tribes are reproduced in life-size houses. You'll ...

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The Old Quarter

The Old Quarter

Once an alligator-infested swamp, Hanoi's Old Quarter's winding streets are the heart and soul of the capital. The Old Quarter began to garner its reputation as a crafts location when the Vietnamese people gained independence in the 11th century and King Ly Thai To had his palace built there. Two hundred years later, the artisan villages built up around the ...

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Dong Xuan Market

Dong Xuan Market

Scouring Hanoi for a Technicolor portrait of Ho Chi Minh complete with sound effects? Dong Xuan Market, rebuilt after a 1994 fire, is the place to go for all the items you never knew you wanted. The market is the oldest and largest of its kind in Hanoi and was once one of the busiest areas in all of Southeast ...

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