The densely populated capital of Vietnam, Hanoi, is a prosperous city that thrives off of the chaotic movement of its daily life. Contemporary Hanoi is a blend of historical culture and modern values that embodied in its architecture and the people’s way of life. With this in mind, Hanoi has no shortage of places to see and things to do and we have gathered below some of the most popular Hanoi highlights to explore.
Top Recommended Hanoi Highlights to Explore
Historical Attractions in Hanoi
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum – The resting place of the beloved past leader of Vietnam. The Mausoleum was opened in 1975 to the public, where his body has been preserved for all to witness.
Thang Long Imperial Citadel – Listed as a World Heritage site, the citadel was home to many Vietnamese dynasties royals in the past. Throughout the centuries, many historical events have left their influences on the citadel grounds.
Temple Of Literature – Constructed over 1,000 years ago in honor of Confucius. It then quickly went on to become Vietnam’s first university as ancient scholars gather here in pursuit of knowledge.
Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre – Experience the world’s famous water puppet show, an indigenous art form to Vietnam.
Architectural Structures in Hanoi
Hanoi Opera House
Hanoi Opera House – Considered to be the prime example of French neoclassical architecture in Hanoi, the Hanoi Opera House has maintained its prestigious appearance for over a century. Traditional Vietnamese performances are still held within the opera house to this day.
Long Bien Bridge – The bridge shared the same architecture like the famous Eiffel Tower of France, but besides that, the bridge carries symbolic meanings for the people of Hanoi. It is considered to be the living embodiment of Hanoi’s perseverance, a structure that has lived through many harsh historical conflicts.
Museums in Hanoi
National Museum of Vietnam’s History
Vietnam’s capital of Hanoi indeed contains a plethora of fascinating museums. Below are some of the must-visit highlights when it comes to Hanoi’s museums.
National Museum of Vietnam’s History – Learn about Vietnam’s past through this living history book in the form of a museum. The museum contains many priceless artifacts important to Vietnamese cultural heritage.
Ho Chi Minh Museum – Located within the grounds of the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, the museum is dedicated to the life of Ho Chi Minh.
Vietnam Museum Of Ethnology – The museum is a collection of cultural artifacts for all of the various ethnic groups of Vietnam. Learn about the people of Vietnam as well as the areas that they are from.
Hoa Lo Prison Museum – Before being repurposed into an educational museum, the Hoa Lo prison was an actual place of imprisonment for criminals in the past. The history of the prisoners is on display for visitors to learn about their lives and deaths.
Vietnamese Women’s Museum – Learn about Vietnamese women’s exceptional history and their influence in Vietnam’s society, revolutions, and cultures.
Vietnam Fine Arts Museum – Dedicated to the preservation of Vietnamese art and its cultural heritage.
Vietnam Military History Museum – The museum documents the numerous battles that Vietnam has endured since ancient times to the post-modern era.
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Religious Sites in Hanoi
Temples And Pagodas in Hanoi
Tran Quoc Pagoda
The presence of temples and pagodas in Hanoi are profoundly abundant throughout the city. These are just some of the Hanoi highlights to explore when it comes to Buddhist religious sites.
Tran Quoc Pagoda – Constructed at beautiful “island” surrounded by the water of West Lake, the 1,500-year-old pagoda is the oldest pagoda in Hanoi.
Tay Ho Temple – The temple is situated beside Hanoi’s West Lake, providing it with a serene scenic environment. The people of Hanoi frequent the temple as a place of worship and annual religious celebration.
One Pillar Pagoda – With a unique design in the form of a lotus flower, the pagoda has an ancient tale attached to its construction.
Churches in Hanoi
St. Joseph’s Cathedral
St. Joseph’s Cathedral – Although churches can be found within Hanoi, there is only one that can be defined as grand due to its French architecture.
Markets in Hanoi
Dong Xuan Market
Markets of all types are abundant in Vietnam, and browsing through these markets is a chance to get a sense of local lifestyle and culture. Hanoi is no exception as it contains both open markets and indoor markets of various scales, with some specializing in certain products and night markets.
Dong Xuan Market – This is a mostly indoor market and is the biggest market in Hanoi. The market has been operating for over 100 years and is still as busy as ever.
Long Bien Wholesale Market – A traditional wet market situated by the Long Bien Bridge. This market is an open market where most vendors are located outside under a stall umbrella or overhead tarp setup.
Quang Ba Night Flower Market – A wholesale market specialized in flowers that are open for business in the middle of the night. An abundance of flower varieties can be found here from all over Northern Vietnam.
Old Quarter’s Night Market – Open only during the weekend nights, this weekly local market is a more recent tradition in Hanoi for tourists. The market is set up along a stretch of street that runs through the Old Quarters area of Hanoi.
Lakes and Public Parks
Hoan Kiem Lake’s The Huc Bridge
Hanoi has many public parks that are available to stroll through freely. Most are bordering water bodies such as lakes or rivers, making them a very relaxed place to escape from the chaotic city for locals and tourists.
Hoan Kiem Lake – Situated in the center of the city, the lake is a popular place for locals and tourists. The Ngoc Son Temple is situated right in the center of the lake connected by the distinctively red Huc Bridge.
West Lake – The biggest lake in Hanoi, West Lake is away from the city’s center, making it a better getaway destination from the city when seeking a relaxed atmosphere with more natural scenery.
Highlighted Activities to Experience in Hanoi
Sample Local Cuisine in Hanoi
Bun Cha – A flavourful native dish of Hanoi. It consists of vermicelli noodles combined with savory grilled pork in fish sauce and fresh Vietnamese greens.
Hanoi Style Northern Pho – Hanoi pho differentiates itself from other pho in the country by having a clearer broth that results in a smoother taste than a rich broth. The noodles are also bigger in terms of strand size, and the protein options are kept much simpler.
Cha Ca La Vong – Another Hanoi specialty, the dish features grilled fish seasoned with plenty of dills, turmeric, and mam tom (fermented shrimp paste).
Bun Dau Mam Tom – Perhaps the signature dish of Hanoi, this classic dish starts with vermicelli, tofu, and fresh Vietnamese greens. A variety of other proteins can be added, ranging from boiled pork to intestine. And finally, all of this is accompanied by the mam tom (fermented shrimp paste) dip.
Nom Bo Kho – The favorite street food dish in Hanoi is a salad with dried beef jerky mixed with young papaya, Vietnamese green, peanuts, and a distinctive sauce dressing.
Egg Coffee – Created in Hanoi, the egg coffee’s idea comes from replacing the milk component of a cappuccino with a whisked egg.
Explore Local Street Areas in Hanoi
Hanoi Train Street
Hanoi Old Quarter – Also known as the French Old Quarter, casually stroll through the mixture of past and present buildings and get a sense of the Hanoi lifestyle.
Hanoi Train Street – This famous area of Hanoi is known for its old homes situated literally right next to a train track on both sides. The locals have embraced the train tracks and continued their way of life here.
Finals Words on Hanoi Highlights to Explore
With such a large list of highlights to begin exploring Hanoi with, there should be no issues of options to choose from. Hopefully, the listed interests above are satisfactory enough for first-time visitors to Hanoi.
For repeat visitors or those looking for more than the usual places to visit or things to try, perhaps the nightlife of Hanoi can be the next area of interest. Or maybe just enjoy the city for what it is and forego all the famous attractions by experiencing Hanoi’s street culture.
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