TOP 15 UNIQUE THINGS TO DO IN HANOI
Hanoi is a gorgeous cultural and culinary mecca, yet if you look at a guidebook, the chances are that you may far more often find the same handful of activities to do over and over again: visiting a temple, going to the markets, strolling around a lake, or trying street food. Those mentioned things are definitely must do’s when you have the opportunity to in this land, but if you’re looking forward to something more extraordinary, stimilating or unusual to have a go in this capital city of Vietnam, then you might find the following list of 15 things to do in Hanoi informative.
1. Taking a night travel
When the whole city is falling into sound sleep, the streets of Hanoi suddenly wear a quieter character, in contrast to the bustle of the daylight. The doors are silent, the shops turn off their lights, streets are empty without a lot of vehicles, those sights and emotion will surely leave a very different impression in the hearts of travelers.
There are some amazing destinations for you to visit at this time of the day, for instance, Long Bien bridge, Nhat Tan bridge, Ta Hien beer street, etc.
2. Ice skating
Wow, you might be thinking: "Ice skating in tropical Hanoi? Really? You must be kidding!" But yeah, you can absolutely ice skate in Royal City Mall for about 200,000 VND.
Address: Vincom Mega Mall Royal City, B2R3, B2 floor, 72A Nguyen Trai, Thanh Xuan District, Hanoi.
Currently, the price of skating tickets at Vincom Ice Rink Royal City on weekdays (from Monday to Friday) is 120,000 VND/pax (~5 USD), and on weekends (7th and Sunday) and holidays are 170,000 VND/pax (~7.5 USD). Opening hours are from 9:30 to 22:00 daily. However, on public holidays, you should contact the ice rink management in advance to know the opening schedule and ticket price.
Besides, the cost of renting appliances is as follows:
- Horses: 30,000 ,
- Sear-shaped skating device: VND 60,000,
- Penguin skating equipment: VND 40,000.
3. Get an ao dai
Ao dais are gorgeous, long flowing dresses that Vietnamese women often wear on formal or special occasions. There are numerous places in Hanoi where you can choose a model and have it tailored by a skillful tailor who is certain to make it fit you pererfectly. It’s consionsidered a real unique souvenir in Hanoi.
Photo: Trung ANh Photography
4. Ride a xe om (motobike taxi)
Xe oms are motorbike taxis and Hanoian xe oms are typically a bit of an adventure. Normally, they’re cheaper than regular cabs, but you need to ask for price before travelling because many Xe om riders will ask for higher price. The price would be reasonable if it's around 15,000 VND for the first 2 kms and you can add 5,000 VND for each next km. Try taking one to your next destination instead of catching a cab for a weird and wild ride. Actually, these days, it is highly recommended that you download the bike (and car) ordering apps like Grab, GoViet, or Bee because you won't have to bargain or fear of being cheated.
5. Riding a swan around Truc Bach or West Lake
It would be fabulous experience to rent a swan boat and go for a paddle in a windy cool afternoon. There’s not a whole lot to see on tiny Truc Bach, but it promises to provide you with some interesting photo ops. Also, don't ignore the silence watching the sunset gradually drop on the West Lake. The vast surface of the lake, the vast sky, all bearing a vibrant orange color, creating an extremely splendid moment amid the idyllic and humble beauty of Hanoi.
6. Hanoi Old Quarter Culture Exchange Center
Address: 50 Dao Duy Tu, Hang Buom, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
Operating hours: 8:00 - 17:30 every day
Probably only the grandparents and parents get to know this hundred-year-old cultural rendezvous, which once used to be Lac Viet Theatre. At present, this theater has been built spaciously at 50 Dao Duy Tu str. and has become a cultural exchange center of the Old Quarter. The building is a harmony of classic and modern architectural features designed by experts from Toulouse (France), with the goal of promoting the heritage and preserving Hanoi cultural characteristics.
This is also the place to hang out at the weekend in Hanoi where many young people invite each other to contemplate the exhibition with many topics changed over time. At the same time, students of art and architecture schools often drop in to find a source of inspiration for creative ideas for their works. Many young people call this the Old Quarter cultural salon, which gives them endless inspiration for art, especially things that is closely connected to Hanoi.
7. See a 4D movie.
The Vincom Mega Mall has a 4D movie theater, complete with moving chairs, wind blowing in your face, weird smells, and surrounded by sound. Buy tickets for your favourite movie and settle in.
8. Cam Cafe - 60s Tho Quan
At: Area 60s, No. 60 Tho Quan Lane, Kham Thien, Dong Da District, Hanoi.
Opening time: 09:00 - 22:00
Beverage price: From VND 15,000 - VND 50,000
Perhaps, people come here to feel the old flavor, to open their hearts, to live slowly but peacefully in the heart of noisy Hanoi. Sometimes, Cam also organizes a small music concert of of classic music and old love songs for visitors to experience from music coffee to pet coffee for 50,000 VND for a drink to then enjoy the space super romantic, super romantic but not sad here.
Quan Cam is a peaceful place hidden in the heart of Hanoi. Coming to Cam is coming to the music space, to the sun and the wind, with the cats lying lazy on the corrugated iron roof, Kafka and Atlas dozing under the table. It is said that one should actually come to Cam once to understand a little the definition of "peace". Try a glass of lemongrass & lemon, milk coffee, or bread with homemade strawberry jam, and you'll see you are in love with life again.
9. Watch Hanoi traffic with a view
It's ridiculous to hear of a place in the world where traffic-watching is a national past time, but in Hanoi, it can provide hours of entertainment. And if you’ve got a beer in hand, then you can make a night of it. A good recommendation for you to do the traffic watching is Muse Home Bar at No. 54 Luong Van Can Str.
10. Barbecue your own street food.
Why just watch someone cook your food when you can cook your own. Walk to the end of Hang Giay (night market street) or Hang Luoc and look for a tiny alley near the end filled with a bunch of plastic tables and barbecue materials. Yum! (The barbecue places are located in the alleys on either side of the bridge pictured below.)
11. Join the flag-lowering ceremony at President Ho Chi Minh's mausoleum
If you miss the morning flag-raising ceremony at President Ho Chi Minh's mausoleum, you can rest assure to stroll around the city and come back here to take part in the flag-raising ceremony at 9:00 pm daily. A solemn atmosphere fills Ba Dinh square when the sound of loudspeakers signal to announce the upcoming flag-raising ceremony. The people are lining up orderly, watching the security team solemnly lower the Vietnamese national flag in the heroic music.
12. Go see the B-52
Huu Tiep Lake in Hanoi still contains the wreckage of a U.S. B-52, rotting away in a quiet neighborhood. It’s a startling reminder of the war, because it preserves the B52 plane which was shot down in the sky of Hanoi in 12 days and nights of the Dien Bien Phu Campaign in 1972.
13. Take part in a cooking class
This is a definitely a fantastic experience who are passionate about Hanoi culinary culture. Joining the class, you will be taken to local market to choose necessary ingredients and listen to the cooking instructor talking endlessly about Hanoi daily cuisine. You will prepare everything to cook authentic Hanoi food yourself, such as Pho, Bun Cha, etc., and even the egg coffee, in addition to other dishes whatever you wish to get your hands in. Finally, you and companions will enjoy the Vietnamese feast that you have just made yourself. What can be more interesting when you can bring these tips and cooking recipes back to your home country and open a Vietnamese restaurant?
14. Visit a night market
Not Dong Xuan market, Quang Ba flower market and Long Bien wholesale market are the two places to visit. These market mainly sells flowers and fruits, but the "secret" for you is to stay up late and get up early to see all the bustling atmosphere of a very different Hanoi when the night falls.
Located right at the foot of Long Bien Bridge, Long Bien wholesale night market is bustling with seafood products, food for cattle, poultry, vegetables, etc. all year round, but the most famous is the outdoor fruit market. From 8:00 PM, the market begins to wake up from its "day sleep".
You might also like: Explore Long Bien Market - the largest agricultural night market in Hanoi
Quang Ba Flower Market operates all night but the most crowded is around 3 - 4 AM with busy buyers and sellers. Huge and small bouquets of flowers arre piled high in the car going back and forth to the marrket. High street lights shimmers fancifully brightening up thousands of colorful flowers makes many people fall in love with it. There are people, who are not retailing traders, but stay up all night wandering around that market. Not because of crazily falling in love with anyone, nor flowers, they are just addicted to the precious atmosphere at midnight of Hanoi capital land.
15. Observation Deck at Lotte Building - watching the entire Hanoi
Lotte Center Hanoi is one of the high-class housing, office, 5-star hotel and modern shopping center complex of Hanoi. The building includes 65 floors and 05 basements. This is the second tallest tower in Hanoi, after Keangnam Landmark Tower.
Lotte Observation Deck provides a holistic view of Hanoi with a 360-degree panoramic view. From the height of 272m, the Observation deck will open the image of the whole city located right below your feet to bring a sense of unique and exciting experience, which bring you the sense of modern and peaceful beauty of Hanoi. Hanoi would then, appear to be both small and large in your sight. Take a closer look to see the familiar things and destinations, to discover new things and find you have an even deeper love for Hanoi.
It is suggested that you should visit the Observation deck in the evening to see the entire city in shimmering and fanciful lights. The crowded streets will turn out to be narrowed down, leaving only the tiny "bright spots" sparkling below.
By Quynh Nhi