The Best Hanoi Attractions


Hanoi attractions that score high with tourists and expats alike are many and varied. As with all cities, there are historical, architectural and cultural attractions such as museums, churches and art galleries. Dig a little deeper though and Hanoi shows itself to be rich in the other things that make life a little better.

The standard of living here, as with other parts of Vietnam is exceptional. The economy is booming and lifestyles are extremely favorable. Hanoi is a pretty town of lakes, boulevards, and a rich dynamic arts and culture scene. It is not for nothing that it is regarded as the cultural capital as well as obviously being the administrative one. 

If you are considering moving abroad to further your career then look no further. The main Hanoi attractions will draw you in and keep you entertained.

The Main Physical Hanoi Attractions

This beautiful and famously historic city has much to keep people entertained, long after the initial holiday period. It is a pretty city with plenty of green spaces in which to relax. This article will help you discover all that Hanoi has to offer. To see a fuller description of the Hanoi attractions click here.

West Lake

Ho Tay, to give West Lake its Vietnamese name, is the largest of all the lakes in the city. It is extremely pretty with seafood restaurants along its south banks and cafes, restaurants, boutiques and luxury hotels along the east. It is a calm and relaxing place to be, somewhat upmarket and a great area in which to chill out.

Hoan Kiem Lake

This is one of the most well-loved of all Hanoi attractions. In the center on a small lake stands the 18th century Ngoc Son Pagoda. The island is connected to the bank by a picturesque red wooden bridge. People of all ages gather around the lake in the early mornings and the evenings to stroll, exercise or just relax. At the weekends the road round the northern and western edges have been made traffic free. It is a wonderful place to be at this time.

St Joseph’s Cathedral

The 19th-century gothic cathedral is the center of Catholicism for Hanoians. Built by the French to resemble Notre Dame in Paris, it is also the oldest church in the capital. The Sunday evening mass attracts huge crowds that spill out onto the surrounding streets.

The Old Quarter

This is easily the best part of town. Originally just 36 streets comprised the trading capital of the whole city. Nowadays they are home to dozens of bars and restaurants, though some of the old shops survive. The place really comes alive in the evenings and with licensing laws recently relaxed, the vibe continues late into the night. 

Hanoi Opera House

The French built masterpiece stands proudly among Hanoi attractions. Built to resemble the famous Opera de Paris, it dominates an intersection of 5 roads. It was opened in 1911 and fully restored in 1995 at a cost of $14million. It is home to the Hanoi Opera and is acclaimed as a National Relic.

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

The body of Vietnam’s famous leader lies in state in this austere looking building on the edge of Ba Dinh Square. The body lies in a glass sarcophagus surrounded by guards dressed in white uniforms. It is a testimony to the love felt for “Uncle Ho” that thousands queue daily to pay their respects.

Some of the Streets are Hanoi Attractions

Especially in the Old Quarter, the streets are famous in their own right. They are named after the goods that they presented. Hang means merchandise and features among some of the names. There is Hang Bac, which means silver street and it is here that you’ll find many jewelers. Hang Be relates to bamboo crafts, especially the manufacture of the bamboo rafts that were once used for navigating the lakes and swamps. Hang Dao is where you’ll find the silk traders, today many shops offer ready-made clothing. Hang Mam was for the manufacture of Vietnam’s famous fish sauce or Ngoc mam.

Hoang Hoa Tham

This colorful tree-lined street is one of calmness and tranquility. It still has a steady flow of traffic but it is not as chaotic as many of the others. The local vendors here sell flowers and plants which help to generate the sense of greenery. There are also shops selling birds and pet fish.

Ngo 224 Le Duan

One of the strangest Hanoi attractions is this tiny narrow street in the middle of town. Every day at 3.30pm and 7.30pm the train from Hue to Long Bien railway station makes its way along the street. People huddle against the sides of the houses as it passes. There is barely enough room for it. It makes for incredibly iconic photos, though care needs to be taken.

Hanoi Attractions Include Great Schools

For those thinking about moving their families to Vietnam’s capital, it is important that education is both readily available and of a high standard. The International schools here offer superb quality. The British International School has a reputation that spreads well beyond the shores of the country. The famous Hanoi International School offer extremely high standards. Many other countries have developed their own schools over the years. The Lycée Francais Alexandre Yersin is favored among French expats.

There are many to choose from in the city. Kindergartens, junior schools and secondary and academies for the older children. Many different nationalities are catered for. It is worth noting that in general, a child spending a few years in Hanoi at one of the top International school will be well ahead of their contemporaries in their home country. If you are visiting with a view to moving here, it is recommended that you look at some of the directories that are available such as You can then make appointments to visit the ones that suit your needs.

5 Star Hotels Among Hanoi Attractions

Whilst there are more hotels in Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi does offer an excellent choice especially among the 5-star hotels. The Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi is an excellent example of a French-built 5-star hotel in the heart of the city. Other great choices are the Lotte Hotel Hanoi and the Apricot Hotel on the shores of Hoan Kiem Lake. There are also many 3 and 4-star hotels from which to choose.

To Summarise

Hanoi Attractions will surprise and delight you in equal measure. This cultural city has much to offer the tourist and expat alike. Renowned for its art and culture it also has much to offer in the food and beverage sector. It was, after all, Hanoi that gave the world Pho, the Vietnamese national dish. Also, a Hanoi favorite, try the egg coffee, it is surprisingly tasty. The chaotic first impressions provided by the millions of motorbikes will astonish you at first, but most expats buy a motorbike within a couple of months of arriving. It is the best way to get to know the city.

In addition to all that Hanoi offers within the city, it is an incredible hub from which to explore the north of Vietnam. Halong Bay, Ninh Binh, and Sapa are all within easy reach. Hue, Hoi An, and Danang are further down the coast and can be reached quickly by air or at a more leisurely pace by taking the Reunification Express train on its picturesque journey along Vietnam’s coastline.

This is a great city with full of amazing opportunities. Contact us at RGF Executive Search to find out more about the terrific opportunities that await.

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About the Author

Keith Hancock
Following a highly successful 25-year career as a singer/songwriter and musician, Keith pulled out of the rat race and moved to Southeast Asia in 2008. First living in Thailand, he moved to Cambodia and then relocated to Ho Chi Minh City in early 2013. 

Keith has had work published in magazines and websites in the UK, Europe, USA, Australia, and Asia. He has written for the BBC and has appeared on TV and radio in many different countries. His great loves are music and travel, but he writes on a whole range of subjects.