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What should you do when visit Hanoi

Known as the capital of Vietnam, Hanoi is noisy, bustling and chaotic. But Hanoi is also beautiful, tranquil, idylic that not everybody can recognize. I can say it is hard to find a place in this country like Hanoi, a city that combines the poetic atmostphere of Da Lat, hectic Sai Gon and ancient features of Hue. If you've never come to Hanoi before, take a few days to visit this city! Let's travel around Hanoi in one day with me through this article!.
Visit Hanoi
Attractions in Hanoi
Visitors usually come to Hanoi as the starting or finishing point of their trip to Vietnam. There are many tourist attractions to visit, however, depends on how long you stay and your budget. Below I will list a few places for your reference, I will also give some hints about itinerary at the end of the article:
Cultural places: Hanoi has many famous cultural tourist destinations such as Uncle Ho Mausoleum, One Pillar Pagoda, Temple of Literature, the Citadel, Ethnology museum, the Museum of Ho Chi Minh, Ngoc Son Temple, Tran Quoc pagoda, Hoan Kiem Lake, West Lake, Old Quarter.
Romantic places for couples: Long Bien bridge, Red river rock field, Bach Thao botanical garden, Thu Le park.
Entertainment places: St. Joseph's Cathedral (Nha Tho Lon), sidewalk Ice tea shops, Fresh Beer in Ta Hien street, cafes around Hoan Kiem lake, backpackers' bar in the Old area, Vincom shopping centre in Ba Trieu street, Royal city entertainment centre, Westlake waterpark...

Attractions near Hanoi
- Le Mat snake village, across the Red River, about 15 km from city centre
- Bat Trang ceramics village, on the other side of Long Bien bridge, 15 km from Hanoi centre
- Duong Lam ancient village: 30 km south of Hanoi, you can travel down the highway 32 or Thang Long road via Nhon township
- Co Loa old citadel, located in Dong An district, 20 km from Hanoi city
- Ba Vi national park, located in former Ha Tay province, about 30 km from Hanoi
- Chua Huong or Perfume pagoda, 50 km south of Hanoi
You can find information about travel schedules below.

Eating in Hanoi
Hanoi cuisine has bold features of Trang An people's culture in the old time with it's own flavor. There are many delicacies for you to enjoy:
- Pho (noodle soup): the most characteristic dish of Hanoi. I have eaten Pho in Sai Gon and Nam Dinh but found Pho in Hanoi the best, Hanoi has all types of Pho: Pho Bo (Beef noodle) famous is Pho Thin in Bo Ho area (Hoan Kiem lake) or at 11 Lo Duc street, Pho Ga (chicken noodle) is famous at 172 Ton Duc Thang street and Quan Thanh street, also famous is Pho Cuon (rolled noodle) in Westlake, Pho Tron (mixed noodle) in Lan Ong street and Ap Chao (fried noodle) in Bat Dan street, each has it's own characteristics and is very delicious. I especially like Pho Cuon and always go to a small restaurant in Mac Dinh Chi street.

There are also lots of other featured dishes such as Com Lang Vong (young rice made in Vong village), Cha Ca La Vong (Grilled fish at La Vong restaurant), Bun Cha (Vermicelli with grilled pork), Banh Cuon Thanh Tri (Rice paper rolls), Banh Tom Ho Tay (Prawn cake in the Westlake), chicken feet, Vermicelli with shrimp sauce...

Eating in Hanoi is not as quick as in Sai Gon. Going to a restaurant you can choose the dish you like and enjoy it slowly. Ah, don't forget to check price before order. People from other cities with different accent and international visitors are sometimes overcharged, this is one of the bad things in Hanoi, but not common.
Ethnology Museum in Hanoi
Day trip in Hanoi
If traveling Hanoi in 1 day you can tour around the city, and if time permits you can go to the tourist places in the suburbs. This is a typical itinerary:
- 6am: Take a walk around your hotel for a Pho or Bun Cha restaurant for breakfast, find a nearby cafe or a tea shop for a glass of ice tea, very good for digestion.
- 8am: Start from hotel to visit Ho Chi Minh mausoleum complex, remember to check open times, note that the mausoleum closes on Mondays and Fridays, you have to park the bikes outside and stand in the queue on Ngoc Ha street. After the mausoleum you can visit Ho Chi Minh museum and One Pillar pagoda and Uncle Ho's house on stilts.
- 9.30am Leave for Van Mieu (Temple of Literature), the first university of Vietnam, about 1 km away, you can ask the way from a local or a guard at the mausoleum if you don't have a map, continue to Tran Quoc pagoda, an ancient pagoda located at West Lake, about 2.5km from the mausoleum, you can visit Tran Quoc pagoda before or after the mausoleum.
- 11.30: After visiting Tran Quoc pagoda and West lake you can find a Pho Cuon restaurant nearby, there are some restaurants serving Pho Cuon in the area near Truc Bach lake and finish with an ice cream just across Tran Quoc pagoda.
- 13.00 Leave for museum of Ethnology, located on Nguyen Van Huyen street, about 10km from city centre, here you can learn about cultures of ethnic minorities in Vietnam. Museum of Ethnology is one of the most worth visiting places for foreign tourists to Hanoi.
- 15.00: Return to Hanoi centre and move straight to Hoan Kiem lake, park your bike and visit Ngoc Son temple, there is a sample of a giant dead turtle in the temple with it's legend about the lake, you may enjoy a walk around the lake and the Old Quarter, stop by a sidewalk restaurant and enjoy some famous of street food in Hanoi such as Banh Chuoi, Banh Khoai (cakes made from banana, sweet potatoes)
- 17.00 Time to go back to hotel for a shower and dinner, if you have time we recommend an 1 hour show of Water Puppetry, a traditional performance of Vietnamese culture
- 20.00: You have some choices, visit the night market if it is on weekend, the market is pretty crowded and you can see a lot of souvenirs, most imported from China and some second hand stuff, and handmade crafts. You can also ride a bike to Long Bien bridge for a view of Hanoi by night or go for a cup of Lemon tea at Ly Quoc Su street, just across the cathedral.

Visit Hanoi in 2 days or more
If you stay in Hanoi more than 1 day just spend the first day as above and you will cover most of the best sites in Hanoi. On the second day you can visit places on the outskirsts of Hanoi such as Bat Trang ceramics village, Duong Lam ancient village, the oldest village in Vietnam, Tay Thien Zen monastery and Tam Dao resort mountain, you are recommended to spend one night here, Ba Vi national park or Co Loa ancient citadel.
These places can be visited in a day except Tay Thien Zen monastery and Tam Dao mountain where you can stay the night as they are very beautiful.

Notes when you visit Hanoi
- Travel Hanoi in summer you should wear light clothes, easy to absorb sweat as it is really hot. Conversely if you go to Hanoi in winter you should bring a jacket as temperature sometimes drops below 10 degrees.
- There are many pagodas and temples in Hanoi and you travelers should wear long pants and dresses...to religious places or visit the mausoleum.
- The Old Quarter is like a maze and you are recommended to have a map with you.
- You should bargain when you go shopping at the markets of Hanoi, however the sellers are superstitious and not polite and window-shopping is not welcomed in the morning especially if you are the first customer to their shop and the sellers would think that you bring bad luck to them for the whole day, and the price you bargain should not be too harsh or just pay one price and go, it is best to pay a price once and then add up a bit, even if you don't buy you should thank the seller before leaving, tell them that you want to see more of other goods before deciding whether to buy or not.
- People from other cities to Hanoi especially those who have different accent would be given a high price when you go shopping or catch a taxi motorbike, this is practical experiences told by my friends. However if you know in advance and consider it a natural way it would be more comfortable, just laugh and don't get upset with them.

Finally, I wish you a Hanoi trip with so much pleasant experience. If you have any worry or questions feel free to contact me and I'm happy to help. And if you come to Hanoi in a short time and want me to be a casual guide for free just ring me up ;)

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