First Time in Hanoi - What To Do

Planning your first time in Hanoi can be challenging. The capital of Vietnam is known for its two main neighbourhoods, namely the French Quarter and Old Quarter. Both are packed with attractions, but are easily accessible on foot. You can explore shopping streets, colonial buildings, ancient pagodas and unique museums. It’s a lot to take in, but we have narrowed down the choice to just the absolute must-see highlights.

Hanoi is also home to a multi-cultural community that’s made up of Chinese, French and Russian influences, with a wide range of restaurants to match. The nightlife ranges from modern nightclubs and expat-owned bars to night markets and family-friendly traditional shows. With our quick Hanoi survival guide, you can navigate through your first few days in this unique city, getting the most out of your time.
Hanoi is packed with fascinating historical attractions, including beautiful colonial buildings and ancient pagodas, especially in Old Quarter. The iconic Hoan Kiem Lake, in the heart of the Old Quarter, is surrounded by shopping streets and great local eateries. Landmarks like Hanoi Opera House and Hoa Lo Prison are found in French Quarter, along with high-end hotels and restaurants. You can walk between the Old Quarter and French Quarter within 15 minutes, though do take care when crossing roads as traffic in Hanoi can be chaotic throughout the day.

WHAT'S GOOD ABOUT HANOI: Plenty of cheap shopping options Local beers and street food are very cheap, especially in Old Quarter Good choice of restaurants Lively atmosphere WHAT IS LESS GOOD: Traffic is intense Pickpockets are common in touristy areas It can get really noisy and crowded at night

WHAT IS LESS GOOD: Traffic is intense Pickpockets are common in touristy areas It can get really noisy and crowded at night
THINGS YOU CAN DO IN HA NOI:  Hanoi may be known for its close proximity to Halong Bay, but the city itself has plenty of sightseeing spots. One of the most popular landmarks in Old Quarter is Hoan Kiem Lake, a peaceful public park where you can see locals jogging, enjoying a coffee, practising Tai Chi and line dancing. There are also several Buddhist temples dating back to the 11th century. In French Quarter, you can find luxury shopping malls, colonial buildings and a war museum. However, if you see nothing else during your first time in Hanoi, we recommend visiting just these three places.
Exploring Hanoi at night, you’ll find that it’s is packed with nightclubs, pubs and bars offering loud music and all sorts of booze. The most iconic nightlife area is Bia Hoi Junction, where you can sit by the road and enjoy Vietnamese draft beer for less than US$1. If you prefer a classier setting, Hanoi French Quarter features jazz lounges and swanky hotel bars. When it comes to planning your evenings for your first time in Hanoi, we recommend you check out the following great places before any others.

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