Hanoi was a city of culture, old Vietnamese traditions and a place we all fell in love with. Hanoi is a fantastic city for your family and a great place for kids. There is endless activities and the food is so, so delicious. The streets of Hanoi are tree lined and there are many places to find a quiet spot in the city.
Eat all the Food
The food is Hanoi was WOW. We loved every meal we had and found so many different options in Hanoi. The street food was fresh, yummy and we loved trying it all. Every corner seemed to have another delicious spring roll, fried corner fritters and spicy meat in fresh bread rolls. Always try the street food as it where the locals eat and where the best food can be found. Our tip would be to eat at busy places and make sure the meat is cooked well. We had the best experiences letting go of any expectations while eating in Vietnam.
The walking street in the Old Quarter is another fantastic place to have a meal. We found that around the backpackers area were some great options and we enjoyed barbecuing our meal at the table. Our best meal of our trip was in Hanoi and it was a ‘restaurant’ that we stumbled across. Hanoi is known for the dish Bun Cha which is a meal of pork, noodles and crunchy pieces of apple served in a broth, with a side of crab spring rolls. Our restaurant had no menu and Bun Cha was the only dish they served. It was fresh, fast and mouth watering. Take me back now!
Egg Coffee is a must and you will need to head to the coffee shop that started this delicious drink. Giang Coffee House, in the Old Quarter is famous for their egg coffee and the creamy deliciousness is not to be missed.
Things to Do in Hanoi
We spent many hours walking the streets and being in awe of the city. Each street has a distinct type of product or service. From the street dedicated to stationery to the bamboo ladder street, explore them all. We loved the food markets and finding little alleys ways to wander through. So many alleys had little places to eat, head down those alley ways and get lost in the magic that is Hanoi.
We found the train street where the tracks go directly in front of the houses. There are specific times when the train comes through. We pulled up a plastic chair here and had a coffee. We really felt that with all our wandering around that we found the heart of Hanoi and it was not a touristy visit at all.
Walking around the lake is a lovely way to spend an afternoon. There is a pagoda that can be visited in the middle of the lake and it is accessed on the red bridge. On Sundays the area around the lake becomes closed off to cars and the atmosphere is like a street festival. Families come out and play games and there are buskers and activities going on everywhere.
There seems to be an endless list of museums to visit in Hanoi and we explored many of them over the few days we were there.
Vietnam Military Museum is large and is resourced really well. We enjoyed it here and found it informative and interesting. The boys loved the collection of military vehicles that surround the museum. The flag tower is also in the grounds of the museum and it was a great walk up to the top area to have a view of parts of Hanoi.
Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum was an unusual experience as his mummified body is in a glass coffin for all to see. We queued for hour in the longest line I have seen. It moved quickly and it was something worthwhile doing. The lines can vary and you will need to check the opening times. In the grounds of the mausoleum is HCM’s one pillar pagoda.
Museum of Ethnology – We really loved it here and this museum is beautifully presented and very modern. It showcases the different ethnic groups found within Vietnam. In the grounds of the museum are typical Vietnamese houses that are found in rural areas and it was possible to explore each house. This was my favourite museum in Hanoi and well worth the visit.
Hoa Lo Prison Museum – Hanoi Hilton – This historical prison is fascinating and not to be missed. We all enjoyed the history and how it was displayed. The kids were able to read the information as it was well presented and gave lots of fascinating pieces of history.
Temple of Literature – This is the first university of Hanoi is beautifully preserved and well worth a visit. The grounds are large and the gardens peaceful. Make sure you head up stairs to look at the temples.
We stayed in two different hotels while in Hanoi and they were both in the Old Quarter. I recommend that you stay any where in the Old Quarter as it is walking distance to most places that will be on your ‘to do’ list.
We stayed in Serenity Diamond Hotel which has been recently renovated and right in the action of the Old Quarter. We loved being near many places to eat and drink and we felt right in the centre of the Hanoi vibe. The hotel was very clean and had a great breakfast on the roof with a lovely view.
We also stayed in Hanoi Capella Hotel which is a stone throw away from the large Hanoi Lake. This hotel was clean, had a lovely breakfast and it was great to be near the lake. We did prefer the Serenity Diamond for its location and staff.
We landed at Hanoi airport and used a taxi to get into the city. The airport was approx. 30-45mins from the Old Quarter. Our hotel Serenity Diamond organised a large van when we returned to the airport. We were expecting to see lots of companies with vans/cars to get us to the city as they have in HCMC. This was not the case and there is just taxis available or public transport.
Where to in Vietnam next?
We have tips for:
- Getting ready for a Vietnamese holiday here
- Ho Chi Minh City here
- Can Tho in a homestay on the Mekong here
- Visiting Halong Bay from Cat Ba Island here