Welcome to Hanoi!
Let your journey to Hanoi, Vietnam, take you beyond the typical tourist spots and enjoy the true heartbeat of Hanoi. Walk through temples, markets located on the banks of the Red River and enjoy Hanoi in all it’s beauty, as one of the most ancient capitals in the world. Tourists know the well-known attractions, like the Tower of Hanoi, but a worldwide local knows how to experience it best. This is an insider’s guide of some of Hanoi’s best local spots.
Don’t Miss the Markets!
While you are visiting, you should stop at the night market, Hang Da Market, famous for wines, clothes, and beautiful handmade items. Otherwise, visit Cho Hom Market, where you can purchase delicious fruits and other tasty eats around the market. A good tip is to watch locals come and go and take a peek at the delicious meals they’ve ordered--be sure to ask what it is they ordered and emulate it! You might even pick up a secret recipe or two.
Worldwide Local Tip: Time for a sweet treat! Whether you are traveling by yourself, with a group or with your kids, everyone will enjoy a delicious coconut ice-cream served in a coconut shell. A refreshing break to recharge energy and keep going!
Get Outdoors to Enjoy the Hanoi Weather
The Vietnamese love to be connected with all aspects of nature. They are very respectful as well as resourceful from nature. So, when you are visiting, do as the locals do to unwind and enjoy a walk through a lusciously green park with a beautiful lake at Hanoi Botanical Garden. And nestled on a peaceful side street lies the Buddhist temple that can’t be missed!
Worldwide Local Tip: Is that the smell of coffee? Yes, it is! Visit Old Town Garden Café, it truly feels like a secret garden here. You can have all kinds of different flavors of local coffee including egg coffee, coconut coffee, and Weasel coffee.
Relax with a Convenient Day Trip
With more than 7.5 million people in the city of Hanoi, you might feel a little overwhelmed and need a little break. Head to West Lake. You have probably heard of the famous Hoàn Kiếm Lake in Hanoi right in the city center. However, it has a big and slightly overlooked sister: The West Lake. This is where locals enjoy the serene water to let their minds flow – think calm walks, cafes with lake views and stunning sunsets. From here you can head to Quán Thánh Temple. You can get here by bike, bicycle or foot, West Lake is a stunning place to discover and relax.
Worldwide Local Tip: You might not have heard of Vietnamese chocolate before but if you are in Hanoi you MUST taste some award-winning samples. Maison Marou in the French Quarter will answer all your chocolate prayers. Maison Marou produces all its products in-house and handpicks its 100% Vietnamese cocoa beans. This is a great gift to bring home to share too.
Eat Like a Hanoi Local
You will find that most locals don’t go to the supermarket for their food. Local street markets are where everyone gets their produce, herbs, meat or even fish. Many of these markets are “pop up” style and just appear out of nowhere and can get dispersed as quickly as they set up when the police arrive. There are only a few sanctioned areas that are designed for markets, but everyone makes it work.
Many travelers don’t know how much the French had a major influence in Vietnam, if you head down to the Hanoi Old Quarters, you will see a very small example of this. The two major differences in architectural styles are shown at The Ancient House and St. Joseph’s Cathedral. Today, you can see the Ancient House and view first-hand how Hanoian lived. On the other hand, Saint Joseph’s Cathedral is a hybrid of Vietnamese and Western architectural style. Saint Joseph’s Cathedral is a Roman Catholic cathedral done in a Neo-Gothic style. It was built around 120 years ago. The cathedral was constructed and completed in 1886, after the French army conquered Hanoi.
Don’t Miss the Water Puppets
Finally, take a break from the heat (or cold humidity in the winter months)--drop in and see a water puppet show at Thang Long Water Puppet Theater. Water Puppetry is uniquely Vietnamese and originated near the city nearly 1,000 years ago, making it one of the most authentic things to do in Hanoi. The show itself features the dancing forms of puppets manipulated by their puppeteers in a shallow pond or wading pool and is quite entertaining for travelers of all ages but this is a great local favorite for mothers to bring their children.
Have an Unforgettable Time in Hanoi!
Visiting a city that has stood for over 1,000 years is a trip in and of itself. Paired with amazing food and fantastic things to see, a trip to Hanoi is perfect for every traveler wanting to experience something new and yet ancient at the same time. Roaming the city as a worldwide local will grant you unparalleled access to its amazing sights and fascinating sounds.