Hanoi self-sufficient travel guide for foreign tourists

  • 03/12/2019

Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, has been an alluring and attractive destination to foreigners as a result of its authentic beauty and unique cultural features for such a long time. Therefore, Whatsup Vietnam is honored to provide the best useful information for independent travelers who want to explore the capital city by themselves so that you can have a good preparation.

I. When should you visit Hanoi?

Hanoi is influenced by the tropical monsoon climate with 4 distinguish seasons. It may be stated that each season of Hanoi has its own distinctive enchantress, thus you can travel to Hanoi at any time of the year.

Spring (February to April): Just like Spring all over the world, Hanoi’s spring brings the drizzle rains and fresh air along. The most important event of Vietnam, Tet holiday, also takes place in the early February. People will take a short break to come back their homeland and gather with their family. Many tourists choose to pay a visit to Hanoi to experience a number of festivals as well as other cultural and artistic programs.

Hanoi spring

Summer (May to July): Summer isn’t the most beautiful season, however, it has a typical traitsthat the rest of the year can't offer. It often comes with heavy showers and then leaves the rainbow alone in the vast sky. The average temperature is about 30oC – 38oC, thus if you are usused to living in extremey cold countries, you ought to carefully prepare in order to avoid heatstroke due to considerable weather change.

Hanoi summer

Autumn (August to October): This is the most appropriate time to travel to Hanoi. The weather is cool and pleasant along with blue sky and yellow sunshine. Hanoi’s autumn impresses visitors with the streets flooded with fallen yellow leaves and the cold breezes. Walking around Hanoi in the autumn days, tourists can easily sense the silhouette of colorful chrysanthemums, heather flowers, sunflowers and somewhere the passionate aroma of milk flowers.

Hanoi autumn

Winter (November to January): Winter usually delivers a sad feeling as the sky is often dark and gloomy. However, Hanoi seems to have its busiest days of the year and streets are more crowded than usual during working hours as people are in rush to complete all the remaining works and prepare for Tet holiday. The cold weather enables people living in Hanoi or visitors to enjoy the tasty hot food like hotpot or grilled dishes.

Hanoi winter

II. How to get around Hanoi?

You can explore the city on your own by renting a motorbike, which costs from 50.000 VND – 200.000 VND / day depending on the type of motorcycle or scooter.

Foreigners drive motorbike in Hanoi

Taxi: If you go with your friends, you can select taxi. Despite the high price, this vehicle will help you to get to any place you want safely and quickly.

Taxi of Hanoi

Cyclo: You can move by cyclo to visit the Old Quarter. Most tourists come here to choose cyclo to travel to famous attractions in Hanoi. You can easily pick up a cyclo around Hoan Kiem Lake with the price 150.000 VND – 300.000 VND.

Hanoi cyclo around Hoan Kiem Lake

Bus: This type of public transport is extremely familiar to residents as well as visitors to Hanoi. Ticket price for each trip is quite cheap, only 7.000 – 9.000 VND.

Hanoi bus

Tramcar: This is a new green travel vehicle which has been put into use in Hanoi for a few years. You can also choose the tram to move to attractions to fully explore a civilizing Hanoi.

newest Hanoi tramcar

III. Where to stay in Hanoi?

1. JW Marriott Hotel

Officially put into operation in 2013, just one year later, JW Marriott has "won" itself for the prestigious award "The new hotel with the best design and construction" in the Asia-Pacific region of The International Property Awards. The idea of design of the hotel is inspired by the legendary dragon in folk that has created the uniqueness of JW Marriott. JW Marriott's international 5-star hotel is also reflected in the quality and style of professional, friendly service, accompanied facilities such as swimming pool, restaurant, spa, swimming pool, which are always highly rated by the customers.

JW Marriott at night

2. The Sofitel Legend Metropole

This is one of the famous architectural works of the French in Hanoi. Built in 1901 by two Frenchmen, Metropole was the first 5-star hotel in Hanoi and has continuously entered the top of the list of leading regional hotels. Located in the center of the capital, the hotel has more than 300 rooms and suites divided into 2 areas: the old Metropole and the new Opera. Especially, Grand Prestige Suite (President's room) with its own office, library, spa has been the home of many famous presidents, heads of state and politicians when visiting Hanoi.

Sofitel Legend Metropole

3. Intercontinental Hotel

 It can be said that Intercontinental is a "unique" hotel project in Hanoi because all the living rooms, restaurants and entertainment areas are built on the surface of West Lake. The design of the hotel is a delicate and harmonious combination between the graceful grace of Vietnamese culture and the modern and luxurious Western style, making it an unforgettable impression to foreign tourists

Hanoi intercontinental hotel

4. Calidas Landmark 72

Calidas Landmark 72 Hotel is characterized from the 48th floor to the 60th floor in the highest building in Vietnam, Keangnam Landmark Tower, and only 7.5 kilometers away from the center of Hanoi and has a favorably geographical position to help visitors easily visit and explore interesting destinations in the capital city. As one of the famous 5-star hotels, Calidas Landmark Hotel promises to bring you a wonderful vacation in Hanoi. Each room is provided with full equipment, providing comfort, lively space for visitors as their own home. Calidas Landmark Hotel also integrates many sports activities, entertainment and relaxation in the common spaces in the building.

Calisdas Landmark 72

5. Somerest Grand Hanoi

Somerset Grand Hanoi Hotel is like a large mansion in the heart of the capital, surrounded by shopping centers, restaurants and entertainment areas. With 5-star international standards, Somerset Grand Hanoi is increasingly affirming the attraction to foreigner visitors. Tourists staying at this hotel can easily walk around Hoan Kiem Lake, wander the Old Quarter or admire the panoramic beauty of the capital from the view of the balcony on the upper floor.

Somerest Grand Hanoi

IV. What to eat in Hanoi?

1. Pho

Pho is the name associated with Hanoi, not only a simple dish, but also the beauty and sophistication of Vietnamese culinary culture in the eyes of international friends. Foreign tourists are impressed by the Hanoi noodle bowls because of the subtly sweet and fragrant broth of stewed beef bone, soft pho noodles and delicious Vietnamese beef, which makes it one of a kind. The brands that make a name for Hanoi are Bat Dan, Pho Thin, Pho Co, etc.


2. Bun Cha (grilled meat with noodle)

Previously, bun cha of Hanoi people was grilled with bamboo sticks, but there were very few shops left. Nowadays, grilled vermicelli bun cha is more popular than the others. You can choose meat ball or pork pie to eat. The vermicelli dipping sauce in Hanoi is considered as the soul of the dish and usually is contained in a large bowl.

Bun Cha

3. Sticky rice

Delicious sticky rice is a favorite and popular choice for many people, especially foreign visitors who don't have this dish in their country. In Hanoi, there are countless dishes of sticky rice for you to choose: slanted sticky rice, black beans, peanuts, corn, crab rolls, chicken, chunks, meat, shrimp paste,…even in the early morning or late at night, winter day or summer day or whenever you crave to taste the full flavor of each glutinous round grain.

Sticky rice

4. Cha ca (grilled fish)

Grilled fish is a famous specialty of Hanoi, present in almost everywhere from small restaurants to high-quality Hanoi hotels. This dish is prepared as follows: Fish is fried in a small oil pan, then served with baked pies, vermicelli, roasted peanuts, coriander, basil, dill, freshly chopped onions with shrimp sauce. The sauce is prepared with lemon juice, chili pepper, oil, a few drops of white wine, a spoon of fat and sugar and then beat to foam. This dish has a sweet and fleshy taste.

Cha ca

5. Bun dau mam tom (noodle with shrimp sauce)

One of the most popular dishes of Hanoi is the noodle with shrimp sauce. The dish simply consists of crispy fried apricot beans with white noodles and some herbs, but conquers even the most demanding customers. In addition to fried tofu, the dish also combines with spring rolls, fried hearts, boiled meat, apricot, boiled tongue ... to ensure nutrition.

Bun dau mam tom

V. Famous tourist attractions in Hanoi

1. Hoan Kiem Lake

Also known as Sword Lake, it is located in the heart of Hanoi capital with the ancient Turtle Tower located on a small island in the middle of the lake. Around Sword Lake are architectural works of high cultural and historical value, such as But tower, Nghien tower, The Huc bridge, Tran Ba communal house, Ngoc Son temple, etc. This area will become a walking street on weekends and take place many interesting activities and entertainment. An interesting experience for tourists is walking around the lake and you will see a very adorable Hanoi of both ancient and modern character.

Hoan Kiem Lake in the morning

2. West Lake

West Lake is located in the Northwest of Hanoi inner city with an area of about 500 hectares and the road around the lake is nearly 20km in length. This is the most romantic corner and poetic colorful picture of Hanoi. West Lake is not only a fascinating place in Hanoi that attracts visitors but it also contains national cultural values. There are more than 20 temples, temples and pagodas which have many famous monuments with many valuable documents such as more than 100 gravestones, 165 couplets, 140 galleries, nearly 20 ancient bells and over 300 bronze, wooden and stone statues around the lake.

West Lake

3. The Old Quarter

Hanoi Old Quarter is located in the Western and Northern of Hoan Kiem Lake including 36 ancient street adding, in addition to some thriving laneways and alleys. Each of them is named after a product/service, which is originally sold on that street. The Old Quarter of Hanoi is charming and is full of colonial architecture and Buddhist temples. Vietnamese people have predominant Buddhist belief, and there are also many pagodas paying homage to the Chinese influence on the city.

A corner of the Old Quarter

4. One Pillar Pagoda

The one pillar pagoda is a historic Buddhist temple in Hanoi, which was built in 11th century. Featuring a unique architect based on the image of a fragrant lotus flower, this temple has always been the top destination for international visitors.

One Pillar Pagoda

5. Van Mieu Quoc Tu Giam (Hanoi Temple of Literature)

Hanoi Temple of Literature is the first university in Vietnam and also the only feudal university that is still reserved until present. The various pavilions, halls, statues and stelae of doctors are places where offering ceremonies, study sessions and the harsh exams of the Dai Viet country (contemporary name of Vietnam) took place. Just before the Vietnamese New Year celebration Tet holiday, calligraphists will assemble outside the temple and write down wishes in Chinese characters. The art works are given away as gifts or are used as home decorations for special occasions.

Quoc Tu Giam Temple of Literature

6. Long Bien Bridge

The bridge was built in 1899-1902 by the architects Daydé & Pillé of Paris and officially opened in 1903. At 2.4 kilometers (1.5 miles) in length, it was one of the longest bridges in Asia at that time. It is not only a historical witness, connecting the Red River banks, but also a bridge between the simple and peaceful life of the people in the middle of the Red River rocky area and the bustle of urban life.

Long Bien Bridge

7. The Big Church

This is a Roman Catholic cathedral with neo-gothic which was built over 100 years ago. In 1882, after the French army conquered Hanoi, the cathedral was constructed and completed in 1886. Besides Western style, the main interior part is decorated in Vietnamese way with two typical colors yellow and red. Outside, in front of the cathedral is the statue of Mother Maria.

Hanoi big church

8. Ba Dinh Square - Ho Chi Minh mausoleum

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is a mausoleum which serves as the resting place of Vietnamese Revolutionary leader & President Ho Chi Minh in Hanoi, Vietnam. It is a large building located in the center of Ba Dinh Square, where Ho, Chairman of the Workers' Party of Vietnam, lived and worked from 1951 until his death in 1969, read the Declaration of Independence on 2 September 1945, establishing the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. Visitors are required to follow the instructions such as dressing up formal clothes and not bring electrical and recording equipments along in the mausoleum.

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

Above is the essential information that you cannot ignore in your Hanoi travel trip. Hope this information will help you have a good trip to discover the beautiful capital.


Written by: Hieu La


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