Things to Do
Hanoi Night Market: On weekends the streets fill up with every good imaginable. Bring lots of cash! A search on google maps will bring up the location.
Hanoi Street Train: This train runs through town a couple of times a day - it's crazy to see everyone pack up so quickly as it zooms by. Grab a coffee around when it runs through around 3:30 and 7:30 in the afternoon.
Ha Long Bay: You can arrange trips from one day up to three. Check out our blog post review here for more information!
Hoan Kiem Lake Park: Beautiful park with a pagoda located on an island in the middle.
Hoa Lo Prison Memorial: Often known as the "Hanoi Hilton". Eye opening history.
Museums: Whether you're interested in learning about women's history or wars, Vietnam has tons museums to choose from.
Old Quarter: A great place to shop, explore, and eat. Streets blocks usually have a common theme.
Perfume Pagoda: Tour guides around the city offer day trips to this beautiful pagoda.
Temple of Literature: A grand temple of Confucius. Come early to beat the crowds.
Tran Quoc Pagoda: Stunning multi level pagoda located on a lake.
Places to Eat
An interesting thing about Hanoi is that there's many restaurants that are less than official - you most likely wont be able to find them on google maps. While we have some recommendations listed below, we also totally recommend wandering around and looking for a busy restaurant on a street corner. It'll likely be fresh. Keep in mind, many restaurants only specialize in one thing!
Bun Ba Nam Bo: Fantastic beef noodles!
Bun Cha Huong Lien: Famous restaurant where Anthony Bourdain and Obama ate.
Bun Cha Dac Kim: Stretches across two corners, and has the best, you guessed it, Bun Cha.
Giang Cafe: Great spot to try egg coffee - some say this is where it started!
Joma Bakery: Get their carrot cake.
The Note Cafe: Cute coffee shop with baked goods. Leave your mark behind on a sticky note or five.
Places to Drink
Bia Hoi Corner: On any given night, you'll find fresh kegs of Vietnam's beer, bia hoi. It'll only set you back about 10 cent a glass.
Ta Hien Street: On this street in the old quarter, you'll find plenty of bars with happy hour deals and loud music.
Places to Stay
Babylon Garden Inn: Affordable privates and dorm rooms, with free breakfast, a roof top bar, and pool. Walking distance to everything.
Hanoi Pho Hotel: Clean, large, private rooms in the old quarter.
Hanoi Royal Palace 2: Affordable private rooms - spend a little extra and get the penthouse with a terrific view. In the old quarter.
Walking is the norm around Old Quarter.
From the airport, you can take a taxi for about 15 USD or Bus No 86 to the Hanoi Central Railway Station for a few USD. Both ways take about an hour. Keep in mind, the bus does not run after 10 PM.
You can also arrange for a pickup through your hotel. Many come with combination packages to help you pick up your Visa on Arrival in the airport. More info on visas in our tips below!
When visiting temples or pagodas, you will need to cover your knees and shoulders as a sign of respect. It's easiest to wear flowy pants (especially when it's hot) and cover a scarf to cover up.
You MUST have a Visa to enter Vietnam. Your passport must also not expire within 6 months of your duration, and have a full page for the visa. We've broken down the two best ways:
1. Order a Visa ahead of time. You'll need over a month for this method as they will mail you the sticker for your passport. You can do this through the Vietnam Embassy here. This process often seems a bit sketchy as they want you to PayPal money and send your passport details, but that's how it's done. It costs a bit more than the other option.
2. Visa on arrival. With this method, you will send in your information and make a payment, and a few days later receive an approval letter. You'll also need to print out a NA1 for arrival and bring a passport sized photo on arrival. Make sure to print the approval letter in color, and ahead of time. We did ours through Visa-Vietnam.org. Some things we recommend with this method:
Paying the few extra dollars to have your passport number apart from everyone else. If you don't do this, you and the other people on the order will all see each others passport number and details. It's personal preference but for security of your personal information.
Bringing more than the recommended currency. They told us that only 25 USD per person was needed for entry, and we had to pay 50 per person. This could cause a headache.
Printing out extra approval letters and forms - just in case!