HanoiVietnam

Image for Hanoi which includes a lake or waterhole and a park

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!(537 area reviews)

Hoan Kiem

Top hotels in Hanoi

Estimated price for 1 night / 2 adults
The Oriental Jade Hotel
The Oriental Jade Hotel
5 out of 5
No. 92-94 Hang Trong Str., Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, Hanoi
NZ$136
per night
Mar 4 - Mar 5

Located in Hoan Kiem, this luxury hotel is within a 10-minute walk of St. Joseph's Cathedral and Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre. Hanoi Old City Gate and Hanoi ...

4.8/5Exceptional! (348 reviews)

"Great staff, wonderful breakfast and overall great location in the city!!"…"

Reviewed on 21 Feb. 2020

The Oriental Jade Hotel
O'Gallery Premier Hotel & Spa
O'Gallery Premier Hotel & Spa
4 out of 5
122 Hang Bong Street, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
NZ$86
per night
Feb 29 - Mar 1

Located in Hoan Kiem, this hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Hang Da Market and Vietnamese National Tuong Theatre. Ly Trieu Quoc Su Pagoda and Hang Gai Street ...

4.7/5Exceptional! (1,307 reviews)

"Great location, friendly and helpful staff, modern and clean rooms, and good breakfast. My friends and I will stay here again when we visit Hanoi."…"

Reviewed on 17 Feb. 2020

O'Gallery Premier Hotel & Spa
Movenpick Hotel Hanoi
Movenpick Hotel Hanoi
4.5 out of 5
83A Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
Free Cancellation
NZ$142
per night
Mar 15 - Mar 16

Located in Hoan Kiem, this luxury hotel is within 1 mi (2 km) of St. Joseph's Cathedral, Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre and Hanoi Opera House. Dong Xuan Market ...

4.4/5Excellent! (517 reviews)

"Good location, clean hotel, friendly staff Would recommend to friends and have no hesitation in booking again"…"

Reviewed on 30 Jan. 2020

Movenpick Hotel Hanoi

Popular activities in Hanoi

Hoan Kiem Lake
Image for Hoan Kiem Lake

Hoan Kiem Lake

Wander around the banks of this peaceful lake and discover an historic temple, observe locals going about their daily life or enjoy a picnic lunch under the shade.

Hanoi Opera House
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Hanoi Opera House

Located at the heart of the French Quarter, the magnificent Hanoi Opera House represents the pinnacle of music and performance in Vietnam.

Hanoi Old City Gate
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Hanoi Old City Gate

The attractive shape of the only city gate remaining in Hanoi harks back to a time when the city was under siege.

Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre
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Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre

A unique taste of Vietnamese traditional puppetry – watch out for splashes!

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
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Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

Pay your respects to the embalmed body of Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam’s revolutionary leader.

Dong Xuan Market
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Dong Xuan Market

Experience the hustle and bustle of Hanoi’s largest market.

Top activities in Hanoi

Halong Bay 2-Day Adventure
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Halong Bay 2-Day Adventure

96% of travellers recommend
NZ$240
Per adult
Full-Day Ha Long Bay Boat Excursion from Hanoi
Image for Full-Day Ha Long Bay Boat Excursion from Hanoi

Full-Day Ha Long Bay Boat Excursion from Hanoi

84% of travellers recommend
NZ$69
Per adult
Halong Bay Boat Cruise with Lunch
Image for Halong Bay Boat Cruise with Lunch

Halong Bay Boat Cruise with Lunch

78% of travellers recommend
NZ$79
Per adult
Halong Luxury 1-day Visit Surprise Cave
Image for Halong Luxury 1-day Visit Surprise Cave

Halong Luxury 1-day Visit Surprise Cave

100% of travellers recommend
NZ$125
Per adult
Countryside Excursion to Hoa Lu & Tam Coc From Hanoi
Image for Countryside Excursion to Hoa Lu & Tam Coc From Hanoi

Countryside Excursion to Hoa Lu & Tam Coc From Hanoi

92% of travellers recommend
NZ$74
Per adult
Hanoi private transfer to NinhBinh HoaLu TamCoc with luxury car 7seat from Hanoi
Image for Hanoi private transfer to NinhBinh HoaLu TamCoc with luxury car 7seat from Hanoi

Hanoi private transfer to NinhBinh HoaLu TamCoc with luxury car 7seat from Hanoi

NZ$31
Per adult

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