How would you like to save money while exploring the best locations at Hanoi’s Old Quarter in Vietnam? Additionally, all of your savings will be a part of your next journeys? What are the best things to do in Hanoi?
Traveling + saving + doing the best things? That would be pretty epic.
You are in luck because this post will be about the Ultimate Guide to travel Vietnam in a budget which should help D.I.Y. and solo travelers.
Vietnam – an agricultural country which has an economy that depends mainly on wet rice production. Some of these locations have become tourist spots.
It packs a full course of cultural attractions which will most probably be included on your city trips at Vietnam, especially in learning about the best things to do in Hanoi, the capital city of the country.
In addition, Vietnam is also widely popular due to its cheap foods and amazing cuisines where tourists even try to enroll at short courses to learn the local dishes.
You may not have heard Vietnam as a travel destination before, but as per the Reader’s Digest, it houses one of the top destinations in South East Asia pointing to the Halong Bay.
Traveling Vietnam at a meager price is doable while fulfilling the most awesome things to do in Hanoi, and with this post, we can squeeze more as we go on with the best tips and tricks as per our experiences.
So what are you waiting for? Let’s go and dive into the diverse culture and memorable tourist attractions in Vietnam!
As I have told you, Vietnam is packing a punch of cultural tourist spots which relates to ancient Buddhism, and Vietnamese Folk. For which the latter is the country’s most populous religion.
Hanoi doesn’t just show her beauty through history, but also with eco-parks, night shows, and foodie adventures, especially in the Old Quarters.
Best Places and Best Things to Do in Hanoi
After our flight, we took a good night’s rest at our AirBnb, even after a somewhat messy impression during our arrival (Quyet Homestay, more below).
By late morning, we ate our brunch and started to commence our Hanoi trip.
Dao Bach Thao
Dao Bach Thao is the “green lung” of Hanoi, an eco-park built by the French in 1890. Before, the park had around 33 hectares. As time goes by, it was reduced to its current state to accommodate the growing city of Hanoi. Numerous modern structures were built, such as the Ba Dinh, which is also a tourist spot.
The park within the city is best to visit during the first day (early morning), or on the last day of your trip, for a more relaxed and chill atmosphere.
Even though the park is considered a tourist spot, it seems that it needs more attention and maintenance to adequately cater the needs of the visitors and the locals. There were a few garbage within the vicinity and poorly maintained statues. But comparing to some of the best eco-parks in the Asia, like the Philippines, they has way lesser litter all around the place.
Even some of the hallways had a few rugged places to look at, but lake inside the park still gives off a relaxing experience.
In addition to the cool experience, wild animals such as pigeons and little birds are all around the park. They sing and dance as you walk throughout the vicinity.
You can find huge trees that even three persons will barely hug their perimeters. As well as colorful flowers and ornamental plants.
Morning joggers can also be seen, which could also be befriended by visitors while exercising if your hotel is just nearby.
Ho Chi Minh Stilt House
Just a few minutes walk from Dao Bach Thao, the Stilt House where Ho Chi Minh lived modestly will greet you.
It is located along with finely cultivated garden of ornamental plants, precious fruits and colorful flowers.
The house is surrounded by walkways, but entry to the rooms are barred. Even so, tourists can enjoy the diverse culture that Ho lived-in during his time. Additionally, the stilt house also reflects how simple did the man lived until his death which.
There, you can find different valuable belongings of Vietnam’s greatest man, preserved like those in the museums. A house full of Vietnam’s long history and one of the best places in Hanoi, Vietnam.
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
Another historical tourist attraction lies just a few minutes of walk from Ho Chi Minh Stilt House. The Mausoleum is considered as the final resting place of the Vietnamese Revolutionary Leader and at the same time, president of Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh.
Upon entering, the tourists must adhere to proper attire, wear shorts, and sleeveless t-shirts are not allowed. I would recommend wearing a comfortable outfit but unrevealing clothes to fully enjoy the best things to do in Hanoi, else, you will not be allowed to enter to some of Hanoi’s best places to visit. In conclusion, be decent!
While inside the building, you can view the preserved body of one of the greatest presidents of Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh. Honorary guards protect him, and visitors must act accordingly.
One Pillar Pagoda
One of the most visited attractions after the Stilthouse and Mausoleum is the One Pillar Pagoda. Again, it is just a few minutes of walk after Mausoleum.
Within the vicinity, tourists are expected to act and wear proper clothing. It is a sacred temple with a long history that can be seen in the middle of a square lake. Its temple looks like a blossoming lotus which has a deep representation in Vietnam’s history and culture.
The temple was built in 1028 to 1054 by Emperor Ly Thai Tong. It has an outstanding reason and history why the temple was built.
Upon visiting the Pagoda, you will view a majestic temple while learning an additional knowledge of the diverse history and culture of Vietnam and its link to Buddhism.
Ba Dinh Square
After a few lines that you must follow at Ho Chi Minh Stilt House and Mausoleum, you can chill at the Ba Dinh Square.
Ba Dinh Square is an open park where you can take amazing photos with your travel mates. It is located in front of the Mausoleum, just on the other side of the road.
We can compare it like the Rizal Park of the Philippines, but Ba Dinh Square was where Ho Chi Minh read the Proclamation of Independence of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.
There is nothing much to do here but to chill, relax, and take photos. In conclusion, a relaxing way to explore the vicinity.
You can also try to eat a few snacks if you feel starving because the next destination would take a few more minutes of walk under the heated sunlight before lunch.
There are numerous food stalls and restaurants near the vicinity, but we continued our trip to Old Quarters for a better selection of food and attractions.
But before that, we visited the Imperial Citadel, a UNESCO World Heritage site in Hanoi, Vietnam.
Thang Long Imperial Citadel
In this section we will tackle about the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long which houses Vietnam’s history that signifies the diverse culture and historical abundance of the country.
It was made as a UNESCO World Heritage Site on the year 2010, which is also currently known as the Hanoi Citadel– in other words, it is one of the best places to visit in Hanoi.
The amazing architectural design of the heritage site surely amazes all visitors that we have met there. You can feel that the extravagant design was well thought and executed when it was under construction.
One notable attraction within the citadel is the Hanoi Flag Tower. There, you can find the renovated 4-m tall stone fortress which you can view the beautiful Ba Dinh Square and Hanoi City Center.
The museum is also within the vicinity of Bach Thao, and the other locations stated above. But since it was located on the western part, we were not able to go there since Old Quarters is more like on the eastern side of Hanoi.
Hanoi Old Quarters
Another best things to do in Hanoi Old Quarters is to start filling up your stomachs because of the best local foods that you can try.
But before that, let us discuss the best spots to visit in the Old Quarters below.
1. Hoan Kiem Lake & Ngoc Son Temple Park
Considered as the “heart of the district of Hanoi.” There you can visit numerous attractions, take several photos and experience the best in Hanoi, Vietnam.
The lake surrounds the Ngoc Son Temple at the Old Quarters. While it is sitting just at the center on a small island, it attracts numerous visitors because of its picturesque view.
Additionally, at night, the island is busting of colorful lights which highlights the beauty of the tourist spot. There, visitors can freely walk by and take a few minutes of rest before splurging at the Old Quarters.
2. Hanoi Opera House
A 1911 structure which houses one of the most popular attractions in Old Quarters has the vibe of the neo-classic French architectures which features Gothic themes. The Opera House is a theatrical attraction where tourists can watch musicians, actors, and dancers that showcases the rich history and cultures of Vietnam.
3. Water Puppet Theatre in Hanoi
Another famous must-visit attraction in the Old Quarters is the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre. The show will start with puppets being controlled by the puppeteers in a pool of water. The pool also acts as the stage for the puppets.
Several short stories and legends are being performed in the Water Puppet shows such as ancient village life and famous Vietnam legends.
4. Old Quarter Night Market
One of the most notable things to do in Vietnam is to experience the diverse amount of foods at Old Quarters. And when the night comes, several stalls will pop out, just on the streets offering the best street foods in the country.
Another popular activity that tourists are encouraged to do in the Old Quarters is to enroll in a few hours (a short course) of cooking Vietnamese foods. Numerous professionals are always willing and open on teaching different cultures with regards to the gourmet of Vietnam, but of course, for a small fee as well.
The night market is also one of the best ways to purchase souvenirs because of the low prices the market sells during this time. It is like a festival of food and shopping, in which many tourists love to go and explore.
Other notable nearby attractions:
Ho Chi Minh Museum
Fees: 40.000VND(Address: 25 Hung Vuong street)
Opening Days: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday
Opening Hours: 0800 – 1200, 1400-1630
Ho Chi Minh Museum was built with the design of like a lotus flower.
There, you can find priceless historical photos, mementos, and almost anything related to the history of Vietnam.
Vietnam Military History Museum
Fees: V.N.D. 30, 000 (entrance), additional V.N.D. 20, 000 of you want to take photos.
Just 10-15 minutes walk from Imperial Citadel, the Vietnam Military Museum stands by.
It is still gaining attention where you can find numerous war-filled aircraft from history ranging from bombers, fighter planes, helicopters, and even tanks!
I’m sure your kids would love to see those large and unusual vehicles.
Where to Stay
When we visited Hanoi, we just took a 3D/2N AirBNB booking at Quyet homestay. From the Airport, we just took a taxi and headed to our Airbnb booking.
From Quyet Homestay, we have always tried to ride only by GrabCar because of our bad experiences since we landed at the airport– you know, just for safety?
1. Quyet Homestay Review
Since our arrival time in Vietnam was around 1 PM, we needed to inform our host earlier because they needed to lock the gates at around 10 PM. Furthermore, it is always a full lock-down after curfew, which also made us decide to stay in this Airbnb for security reasons.
Upon arriving, the host was a little bit accommodating but didn’t talk too much. However, kudos to the host because they have provided our booking and made their schedules flexible.
Our order of portable WiFi router had also arrived in the location during the daylight. Our host adequately received it and placed inside our room.
Everything was well maintained and clean on our arrival. In addition, the bed sheets and pillows looked good and adequately taken cared off. The television was working with Netflix, and you can chill at night, which feeling the refreshing breeze of the running air conditioner which had given us a delightful stay.
I liked the bathroom, which was simple but shows class. It was also properly cleaned where you could not find a single stain within the floor, walls, or even on the toilet or sink.
Location? : Good
The location was decent considering that it was only a few miles away from the best tourist destinations of Hanoi, especially from the Old Quarters. Just book a grab or taxi, and you’ll be there in no time. One notable problem is during the night, or by early morning– the streets seemed to show off an eerie aura which spelled as a danger. In conclusion, we were scared!
Beware of scams people!
Overall, our stay was excellent, and we will book again at Quyet Homestay if there will be a chance next time.
Things to do in Hanoi? "Eat"
In this section, we would learn the best restaurants to visit in Hanoi. Vietnam has plenty of restaurants that serve authentic food ranging from Vietnamese foods to western, and other Asian gourmets.
If you were able to book at Quyet Homestay, you could try to visit the nearby restaurants below. If you are too tired to go after a long day of the walk, then a secure online ordering scheme would be much better.
Mind you, the food in Vietnam is relatively cheap!
1. Essence Restaurant
With a diverse menu, Essence Restaurant packs different varieties from Vietnamese, SEA to different international foods.
As per the different reviews from TripAdvisor, the restaurant takes a 5.0 score out of 1600 reviews. A feat that can’t easily be achieved by most restaurants in the world.
In addition with the combination of different positive reviews, Essence Restaurants ranks as the number three best places to have your perfect dinner while in Hanoi Old Quarters.
My partner and I had dinner at Essence, the food was great and the service was excellent. Summer, Nga and Daisy who looked after us were all very helpful and attentive. I will be recommending Essence to others. Thank you for a nice experience!
~~ User caseyheheho from London, UK.
2. Nha Hang Ngon
Sitting just a couple hundreds of feet from the Red River and HOan Kiem Lake. Nha Hang Ngon is a perfect spot to chill after a long day at Hanoi.
They specialize only in Vietnamese foods which should be enough for you to know the best cuisines in the country on a budget.
The restaurant have a cozy outdoor place where you can enjoy the summer winds or the cold breeze of the night. They can also host parties and gathering where a group of travelers might also enjoy.
Nha Hang Ngon is ranked as the 200th restaurant to try in Hanoi, but has a 4.0 star rating at TripAdvisor.
First Vietnamese restaurant this time, friends brought us here, we arrived early, the service was quick and good, the food was surprisingly good, simple and nice, will love to come back soon again!
~~TripAdvisor user SunnyOu016, a Taiwanese Traveller
3. Nhà Hàng Kiều Gia
Another top of the line restaurant that must be tried is the Nha Hang Kieu Gia.
Nhà Hàng Kiều Gia are just located beside the Red River. A stunning sunset in this restaurant will surely make your dinner memorable and enjoyable. In addition, specializes in sea foods. Who doesn’t like sea foods?
Fish, crabs, lobsters and anything that is within the Vietnamese cuisine might be here!
If you are a seafood lover, then a quick dinner at this cozy restaurant should be done.
They have a facebook page where you can check out the best deals and latest news in there establishment.
4. Sen Trang An Vietnamese Restaurant
A bang for the buck small restaurant just in the heart of the Old Quarters.
Sen Trang An is one of the cheapest restaurants in the vicinity where you can have a fabulous meal for a range of 5 to 100 USD only!
The restaurant offer different Asian cuisines and Vietnamese foods that will surely exceed your expectations. They might have a small restaurant compared to the others that we have recommended above, but here, the management of the restaurants are hands-on and very nice!
Staffs are accommodating and helpful and brings joy while they serve your hot plate on the table.
Definitely a must-visit restaurant if you are to visit Hanoi’s Old Quarter.
William is a very friendly man who is really hardworking and proud of his restaurant. The food is delicious. You should really come here to have Vietnamese food!
~~TripAdvisor user samiraprang
5. Tung's Kitchen Vietnamese Cuisine & Cooking Class
One of the best things to do in Hanoi is to learn the local cuisine. When I say learning, , it means to enroll in a very short cooking class! This restaurant can offer a cheap way to learn Vietnamese cusine!
Ranking as 12th on TripAdvisor’s guide in Hanoi, Tung’s Kitchen doesn’t fall behind from their competitors.
They offer very cheap and affordable menu at around 2 to 10 USD! With just a very small amount to purchase, your bellies can have a party the dinner after your tiring day at Hanoi. Not to mention, the foods are really tasty!
Thung’s Kitchen is also currently reaching a 5.0 rating out of 113 reviews at TripAdvisors, which make them authentic because a lot of travelers are already recommending the restaurant.
We stumbled across Tung’s Kitchen and were not disappointed. The food was really delicious and the two ladies who served us (I think one was the owner) were very friendly with a good sense of humour.
~~TripAdvisor user 49Sarah, from Canada
Things to Do in Hanoi: Tips for Future Travelers
- Most of the time, it will be hard to communicate with the locals because not all people know English. It would be best to hire a local tour guide or purchase a dictionary and start learning the basics!
- Since taxis has so many tricks to scam tourists, always check the taxi meter. It should be around 10-15k V.N.D. per kilometer. The recommended taxis are the Mai Linh and Taxi Group.
- Secure your belongings, especially electronic devices when traveling, walking, or even eating in a restaurant to avoid robbery.
- Additionally, secure your very important documents such as passports and I.D. You need to at least bring photocopies, and put some of them in your luggage, bags, and/or wallet.
- Foods are very cheap and affordable. Fill in your stomach on crazy delicious Vietnamese foods. Likewise, if you are too tired to go to the restaurants, you can order online and use delivery companies such as GrabFood.
Possible Dangers and Scams
- Airport Taxi/Grab Scams – Some people will act like your booked Grab/Taxi and will force you to go inside their car. Carefully inspect the plate numbers, car type, and color to distinguish between the fake and the booked Grab Car. This literally happened to us! That guy almost had us, he took our cellphone and FORCED us to enter to his “grab” car. Luckily we got some hint and hastily took our phone and went away.
- “Required” tipping fee on Grab/Taxi. We paid 289k V.N.D. all in all from the Airport to our AirBNB + 15k V.N.D. “tipping fee.”
- Taxi drivers will relatively increase the amount that you need to pay against their meter. For instance, we have encountered a driver who shouted at us the whole trip and would like to be paid in Philippine Peso, Euro or Dollars instead of the converted Vietnamese Dong.
- Some streets show off an eerie aura which could be spelled as a danger. For example, we didn’t feel a single assurance while walking down the streets, to and from our homestay. That is why we booked a GrabCar everytime we go outside. It was cheap so it was fine.
- Small crimes, mainly theft-– Be sure to check out and be aware of your surroundings. It will also be hard to report to the police because of the language barrier.
- Stay away from people offering shoe repair or cleaning. They will rip you up!
- Another thing is to stay away from people (mostly ladies) in the streets with fruits in baskets. They charge too high.
- Do not buy bus and train tickets which are not from the stations. Some scammers will sell tickets at a “lower” price. Stay away from them.
- There are reported fake travel agencies which lurk all around Vietnam. They will charge you, but no services will be provided.
Cellular Signals / Pocket Wifi
We just rented our pocket WiFi during our stay in Hanoi using Klook online. The signal was superb, and they even have strong connections even when we were in the mountains at Trang An.
Top Items to Bring
- Lotion & moisturizer
- Lip Balm
- Sun Screen
- Face Masks
Tech & Gadgets
- High-end cameras
- Action cameras
- Travel bags
- Durable luggage bag
We have experienced the best things to do in Hanoi, Vietnam, but it was a love-hate relationship at the start of the journey. It was a really messy adventure. Therefore, as a result, our impressions were really bad because of what happened to the airport arrival. Despite of all the negative experiences at start, we got to experience the cool atmosphere of Hanoi, especially in the Old Quarters in which we highly recommend to visit on your last day of stay because of amazing food trip that you can do. Overall, Hanoi might be one of the top destinations in Asia in terms of food travel and more on the cultural and historic adventures.
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