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With lakeside temples, water puppets and legends galore, the Vietnamese capital makes for a rich meeting place of history and culture.

Once known as Thang Long, or "Rising Dragon", Hanoi has an air of mystery about it which wafts up out of its lakeside temples and becomes scented with the aromas of delicious cuisine as it floats through the marketplaces, accompanied by the exotic sounds of water-puppet music.

The city has a population of 2.6 million and first became the nation’s capital over a millennium ago when it was still known as Thang Long. In 1831 it received its new name, Ha Noi, which means “Between Two Rivers”. Since then, it has been successively swallowed up into the make-up of French Indochina, occupied by the Japanese and bombed by the Americans, and a walk through the city will show you evidence of all of these twists and turns of history.

For a taste of traditional Vietnamese arts and craft, a good place to start is the Old Quarter. Head to Don Xuan Market, a great place to barter for souvenirs and try out Vietnamese and French food. "Pho", the rice noodle soup, is a must – and you’ll never be too far from a bottle of Bia Hoi, Vietnam’s favourite tipple. When you’re in these markets – or, for that matter, anywhere in Vietnam – there is one thing to remember: it is considered rude to point with the finger, so you should always gesture with your whole hand.

On a free evening, try and catch a show or two at Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre – these captivating performances are a great way in to Vietnam’s legends and cultural history. You can learn more about the tales of this old tradition by heading down to the lakes and visiting the temples there. The ones by Hoan Kiem ("Lake of the Restored Sword") and Ho Tay ("West Lake") are good starting points.

For those more interested in Vietnam’s recent history, it may be worth dropping in to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and paying a visit to the nation's former leader. Like Lenin in Moscow and Chairman Mao in Beijing, Ho Chi Minh's body has been embalmed and preserved for posterity. The Ho Chi Minh Museum provides an interesting and informative insight into the past.

Hanoi is a good place to organise boat trips through the karst landscapes and turquoise waters of Ha Long Bay.

Getting around Hanoi is easy on the buses which provide a good, cheap service all over the city. Otherwise you could rent a bike, or hail a “cyclo” or a taxi – just make sure you always fix a price in dong (the local currency) with the drivers before you climb in, because they have been known to ask for extortionate prices on arrival!

Where to stay in Hanoi

Hoan Kiem which includes street scenes, a city and signage

Hoan Kiem

4.5/5Wonderful!(557 area reviews)

Panoramic lake views interesting history and top sights from Hoan Kiem Lake to Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre – discover Hoan Kiem, a destination also famous for its shopping.

Hoan Kiem

Top hotels in Hanoi

Super Hotel Candle
Super Hotel Candle
4 out of 5
287 - 301 Doi Can Str, Ba Dinh, Hanoi
The price is NZ$69 per night from 30 Oct. to 31 Oct.

Located in Ba Dinh, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Van Phuc Diplomatic Corps and Lotte Center Hanoi. Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and Ho Chi Minh Museum are ...

4.2/5Very Good! (271 reviews)

"コロナのせいで、客足が少ない。でも朝飯の種類は減っていません。 お風呂もゆっくり堪能したし、バッチリでした。"…"

Reviewed on 11 Jul. 2020

Super Hotel Candle
Melia Hanoi
Melia Hanoi
5 out of 5
44b Ly Thuong Kiet Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
The price is NZ$186 per night from 13 Nov. to 14 Nov.

Located in Hoan Kiem, this luxury hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Hoa Lo Prison Museum, Hoan Kiem Lake, and St. Joseph's Cathedral. Hanoi Opera House and ...

4.4/5Wonderful! (768 reviews)
Highly Recommended

"Highly recommend to stay here. I love the bfast and the pillows menu. Will definitely be back. 😁"…"

Reviewed on 21 Feb. 2020

Melia Hanoi
Imperial Hotel & Spa
Imperial Hotel & Spa
4 out of 5
44 Hang Hanh Street, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
The price is NZ$39 per night from 6 Nov. to 7 Nov.

Located in Hoan Kiem, this spa hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Hoan Kiem Lake, Hang Gai Street and Hanoi Old Town Night Market. Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre ...

4.7/5Exceptional! (162 reviews)

"The rooms are very nice, big and it’s nicely furnished. Staff are so kind, polite, helpful and friendly! The hotel is located at an Old Quarter of the City and it’s in great location where you can just walk to the lake, night market, restaurants and a lot to see around. Everything is amazing at this ..."…"

Reviewed on 6 Jul. 2020

Imperial Hotel & Spa
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.

Holiday Rentals in Hanoi

Oakwood Residence Hanoi
Oakwood Residence Hanoi
3.5 out of 5
No.17, Lane 35, Dang Thai Mai Street, Hanoi
The price is NZ$115 per night from 3 Nov. to 4 Nov.

Located in Quảng An, this aparthotel is 0.2 mi (0.4 km) from West Lake and within 3 miles (5 km) of Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and Hanoi Old City Gate. One Pillar ...

4.5/5Wonderful! (15 reviews)

"The room was a little small but very new and clean. There was even a washing machine and dryer in the balcony!"…"

Reviewed on 23 Feb. 2020

Oakwood Residence Hanoi
Jasmine Apartment managed by Lily
Jasmine Apartment managed by Lily
3 out of 5
No. 42B, 209 Alley, Doi Can, Ba Dinh, Hanoi, Hanoi
The price is NZ$37 per night from 11 Nov. to 12 Nov.

Located in Ba Dinh, this apartment building is within 1 mile (2 km) of B52 Victory Museum, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and Ho Chi Minh Museum. Lotte Center Hanoi and ...

5/5Exceptional! (3 reviews)
Perfect Homestay to spend a week in Hanoi

"The hotel is in great condition. The room was clean and hygienic. The Reception was very helpful as well, they helped us with Airport Drop at a very economical rate. The property also has ample amount for bike parking space."…"

Reviewed on 3 Mar. 2020

Jasmine Apartment managed by Lily
Somerset Hoa Binh Hanoi
Somerset Hoa Binh Hanoi
4 out of 5
106 Hoang Quoc Viet, Cau Giay, Hanoi
The price is NZ$91 per night from 30 Oct. to 31 Oct.

This family-friendly Hanoi aparthotel is located in the business district, within a 15-minute walk of Museum of Ethnology and Vietnam Museum of Ethnology. Lotte ...

4.5/5Wonderful! (195 reviews)
Great medium term

"Great apartment, plenty of shops close y to make this a very pleasant medium term stay for 6+ weeks."…"

Reviewed on 20 Jul. 2020

Somerset Hoa Binh Hanoi
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.

Popular places to visit in Hanoi

Top activities in Hanoi

Reviews of Hanoi


Top Destination

5 - Excellent
5 - Excellent 52.619589977220954%
4 - Good
4 - Good 38.95216400911162%
3 - Okay
3 - Okay 7.517084282460137%
2 - Disappointing
2 - Disappointing 0.683371298405467%
1 - Terrible
1 - Terrible 0.22779043280182232%

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveller

26 Mar. 2020

Very, Very, Very quiet compared to previous visits due to Covid-19. One benefit was the ease at which you could walk across streets :-)

3/5 - Okay

Verified traveller

21 Mar. 2020

Hanoi is a place I would advise to go for a couple of days, there is a lot to see in a day or two and any longer would become quite repetitive.

5/5 - Excellent


13 Mar. 2020

We enjoyed a wonderful street food tour which was a great way to be introduced to Hanoi’s old town. Also check out the water puppet theatre it was amazing !

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveller

28 Feb. 2020

Absolutely loved Hanoi! It was a beautiful place with lovely people and delicious food.

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveller

26 Feb. 2020

Great place! Loved it.

5/5 - Excellent


7 Feb. 2020

Hanoi is a vibrant city, with much to see and do. I wish I had planned to stay longer to take home some unique experiences, so I will return to Hanoi before too long.

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