Hanoi

Travel Guide
Hanoi showing cycling as well as an individual female

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

Imperial Hotel & Spa
Imperial Hotel & Spa
4 out of 5
44 Hang Hanh Street, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
The price is NZ$41 per night from 25 Jan. to 26 Jan.
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 ...
4.7/5 Exceptional! (166 reviews)
"Staff was very helpful friendly and accommodating. Great location price reasonable. Will definitely book here again on my next visit"

Reviewed on 31 Dec. 2020

Imperial Hotel & Spa
InterContinental Hanoi Westlake, an IHG Hotel
InterContinental Hanoi Westlake, an IHG Hotel
5 out of 5
5 Tu Hoa, Hanoi
The price is NZ$161 per night from 24 Jan. to 25 Jan.
Located in Quảng An, this luxury hotel is 0.5 mi (0.9 km) from Syrena Shopping Center and within 3 miles (5 km) of Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and Imperial Citadel ...
4.4/5 Wonderful! (997 reviews)
Unsatisfactory
"Disappointed how run down this once a 5 star hotel was. During this covid time guests were mainly local Vietnamese with loud manners using health clubs as well as room next door."

Reviewed on 5 Jan. 2021

InterContinental Hanoi Westlake, an IHG Hotel
The Hanoi Club Hotel & Residences
The Hanoi Club Hotel & Residences
4 out of 5
76 Yen Phu Street,Tay Ho District, Hanoi
The price is NZ$81 per night from 21 Jan. to 22 Jan.
This family-friendly Hanoi hotel is located on a lake, within 1 mi (2 km) of Tran Quoc Pagoda, Syrena Shopping Center and Hanoi Botanical Garden. Ho Chi Minh ...
4.1/5 Very Good! (359 reviews)
"It has nice view of the lake. But unfortunately, it is old and run down. Buffet breakfast is miserable. And Taxi drivers do not know where it is. I have called for Taxi twice and both Taxi drivers could not find it. It is not worth the price paying for. The real place is very different from all the ..."

Reviewed on 17 Jan. 2020

The Hanoi Club Hotel & Residences
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.
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 4 Feb. to 5 Feb.
Located in Quảng An, this aparthotel is 0.4 mi (0.7 km) from Syrena Shopping Center and within 3 miles (5 km) of Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and Ho Chi Minh Museum. ...
4.6/5 Wonderful! (20 reviews)
"This was my third time staying at The Oakwood Residence Hanoi and again had a very pleasant time. Excellent service from all staff. Needles to say rooms are also excellent."

Reviewed on 27 Jul. 2021

Oakwood Residence Hanoi
Granda West Lake Apartment
Granda West Lake Apartment
3.5 out of 5
3/100 Vo Chi Cong, Tay Ho, Hanoi
Situated in Hanoi, this apartment building is within 3 miles (5 km) of Trinh Cong Son Walking Street, Ho Tay Water Park and Museum of Ethnology. Vietnam Museum ...
4.1/5 Very Good! (32 reviews)
"Love the place! A little bit far from the city but you could always call a Grab or taxi. They have free laundry service and return your clothes in the same day. The guard is very nice if you’re able to converse with him in Vietnamese"

Reviewed on 8 Feb. 2020

Granda West Lake Apartment
Elegant Suites Westlake
Elegant Suites Westlake
5 out of 5
10B Dang Thai Mai Street, Tay Ho District, Hanoi
The price is NZ$164 per night from 4 Feb. to 5 Feb.
Located in Quảng An, this luxury aparthotel is within a 10-minute walk of West Lake and Syrena Shopping Center. Tran Quoc Pagoda and Presidential Palace are ...
4.5/5 Wonderful! (498 reviews)
"Good quality, clean, comfortable, good location, friendly staff"

Reviewed on 24 Apr. 2021

Elegant Suites Westlake
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.

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