Hanoi is the capital city of Vietnam and the second-largest city after Ho Chi Minh. Talking about Vietnam, it must include a foothold city like Hanoi to begin traveling on the list. Base on the principle, Hanoi is considered an important historical city and the administrative center of Vietnam that is more than 1,000 years ago. During the French colonial period in Vietnam, Hanoi is also the main city France was settled as the administrative center.
Of course, ancient and important as it is, means most of the tourist attractions in Hanoi are Vietnam’s old city streets combined with Roman architectures built by France. These mixed cultures and traditions make Hanoi charming and unique antiquated. Provoking to travel this much, you better be prepared to read and make a memorable journey together!
Hanoi Itinerary : 3 Days 2 Nights
Generally speaking, we can travel to all attractions within 3 days. This trip will be focusing on experiencing Hanoi’s essential landmarks. To be frank, we will cover all the famous tourist destinations, so that you don’t have to return to Hanoi again. But if you looking for more places to visit, I recommend doing a Café Hopping in Hanoi because the cafes there are manifold with a chic unique design. Let’s follow the guideline of this trip review below 😆. (I’m sorry that the cafe’s review is Thai language. But if you want really follow, you may use the Google Translate.)
Traveling in Hanoi
Regarding traveling in this Hanoi guide review, it may look a bit lazy because I used GRAB taxi throughout the trip (I didn’t get paid from advertising this, I’d just like to give the best suggestion. Haha.), I didn’t call for a general taxi, getting on a bus, or rent a motorbike. I was too sluggish to run, wait, and ride. You know… riding a motorbike in a very busy city like Hanoi is a nuisance and inconvenience. So, using GRAB is the best option with good price.
The GRAB is the taxi app which offers the best standard price. To call Grab to get to any destination, the price will be starting around 25,000 to 50,000 VND, depending on the distance. There was one time, I wanted to try calling a regular taxi for a short ride, I specifically told the driver to use the meter, but the meter rose up to 250,000 VND at the end. I think the driver definitely played tricks, so I took the local taxi just once because I didn’t feel comfortable and I compared to the Grab price, it much cheaper!
In this case, I think it is understandable. After calling a taxi along the road, then feel uncomfortable and worry about being cheated. In the end, GRAB was the most convenient in all aspects. For tourists traveling alone, there is a GRAB Bike service as well. Don’t worry!
Yeah! Let’s Start Traveling Day 1:
Ho Chi Minh Museum
The first place to visit Hanoi, let’s start at the Ho Chi Minh Museum in favor of people who are interested in history and want to get to know Vietnam better. This is highly recommended to visit attributable to the Ho Chi Minh Museum is where you can learn about the life of ‘Ho Chi Minh’, the former most important leader of Vietnamese history since bringing independence to Vietnam and creating the communist rule.
Before entering the building, you have to buy the ticket for 10,000 VND first. Then, walk into the white building where you’ll find the bronze statue of Uncle Ho standing majestically to welcome visitors. When walking past the statue to the right, you’ll enter the exhibition zone of Uncle Ho’s history which is divided into 8 exhibitions.
Honestly, if you take serious time to read and study. The duration of the museum visiting, I reckon it would take almost half a day. If you’re interested in these sources of information, you must come. There provides an English translation for wider understanding as well. Furthermore, the exhibition displays various items, the presentation came out quite interesting.
One Pillar Pagoda
Once you already finish exploring the Ho Chi Minh Museum. Later, take a short walk from the museum front, on the left side, you’ll see the One Pillar Pagoda situated on a single cement pillar in the lotus pond. The One Pillar Pagoda is considered as the important historic Buddhist temple in Vietnam, created since 1409, and well-preserved until the present day. From then on, the temple is now over 600 years old.
One Pillar Pagoda was constructed by the Vietnamese emperor Lý Thái Tông who was childless and dreamt that he met the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, sitting in the middle of the lotus flower, and handing him a baby son. Not long after, Emperor Lý Thái Tông got married and had a son as he hoped. Consequently, he built the One Pillar Pagoda to worship the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara.
After attending, it’s advisable to walk up to pay respect to Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva inside the pagoda, where holds a conviction that if any suitors come to grant a wish there, the marriage life will be felicitous with descendants according to the legendary origin of the One Pillar Pagoda temple as well.
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
Walkout from One Pillar Pagoda, then, come outside. You’ll pass through the square where Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is located. Honestly, it was a pity that I arrived too late because the place is open at 8 am and closed at 11 am. It closes very fast. I can only take a picture of the outside prospect. Now, when traveling, I advise approaching the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum first, later it ups to you whether you want to attend One Pillar Pagoda or Ho Chi Minh Museum first. Don’t miss out like me. 😭
Quán Thánh Temple
Quán Thánh Temple is one of the Four Sacred Temples of the capital city. It is beautiful and quite charming, especially the entrance to the front temple which is enormous and has a semblance of Chinese design vibe. This temple is 1 in 4 of Taoist temples constructed to protect the country to be peaceful and devoted to the god Xuanwu, also known as the northern god. Anyone interested in worshiping or sightseeing, you have to pay 10,000 VND for entrance. The price is regarded to be the maintenance of the temple as well.
St Joseph’s Cathedral
The second day of the tour in Hanoi will circle Hoan Kiem Lake, the first place to visit is another landmark that is worth taking pictures, St. Joseph’s Cathedral, a more than 130 years old Neo-gothic Catholic church, considered to be Hanoi’s oldest church and the first architecture built by France when they came to occupy Vietnam at that moment.
Up to now, St. Joseph’s Cathedral is still very astonishing and worth visiting. Oh! And around the church, there are cafes and hip bars for you to relax as well. The atmosphere is really classy.
Hoan Kiem Lake
Hoan Kiem Lake or Lake of the Restored Sword is an important landmark, also the center of the meeting point for Hanoi people. You’ll see people hanging out and enjoying themselves leisurely. Or sometimes a group of an elderly meeting to do various activities. Strolling around the lake was quite fun, you’ll be able to watch people, and experience their lifestyle.
Keep walking straight until reaching the middle of Hoan Kiem Lake, there are two more essential landmarks, the Ngoc Son Temple, where you have to cross Thê Húc Bridge (means Perch of the Morning Sunlight), painted in vermillion red, to get into the temple. But I didn’t go in because of paying an extra entrance fee, plus, it was raining. So, I didn’t feel like going in. Another prominent place in the center of Hoan Kiem Lake is the Thap Rue (the Turtle Tower), built according to legends and beliefs about the sacred turtle on this lake.
Exclusive of the landmarks, the road around Hoan Kiem Lake is also very special. If you come to Hanoi on Saturday-Sunday. The road will be closed to become a pedestrian street for local people to hang out and do activities. This is quite surprising. The most favorite part of this pedestrian street atmosphere is a traditional-warm mood, I saw people formed a folk-dance play to sing while clapping a bamboo to create a rhythm. Foreigner children jumped out to enjoy their time as well.
Next to the road around the lake, let’s walk to Dong Kinh Nghia Thuc Square, a gathering place for young people to hang out as a group in cafés and restaurants. It’s bustling. Like the day I was traveling, there organized a great event too. It means that the place is a public square where festivities always happen.
I suggest going up to Highlands Coffee, which situated on the building with the ALDO store on the ground floor. The café provides a good outlook, you can see the lake at night with the glamorous lights. While also enjoying the enthusiastic cityscape below.
Day 3: Long Bien Bridge
On the last day of Hanoi, we will first open at the Long Bien Bridge, which is now a popular place for taking and posting street style photography on Instagram among Vietnamese teenagers and foreign tourists. If you come early, at the Long Bien Bridge, there is a fresh market too. But I was too slow because when I arrived there, the market was already finished. Lol
This Long Bien Bridge is considered the oldest bridge in Hanoi. It was built from 1898 until now it is more than 120 years long. Not only this bridge has been built for a long time, but it was also the first steel bridge built across the Red River, the largest river in Vietnam. This Long Bien Bridge is open for motorbike traffic and the railway crossing only.
Hanoi Street Train
Another must-visit attraction in Hanoi is to see the train running through a small community along the railroad, the spot you can settle down to experience this is at the railway between the Hanoi station and the Long Bien Station. But I advise searching ‘Hanoi Street Train’ on Google Map, then, head straight there following the recommendation route.
For the duration of a train run-through, there are 2 scheduled times, at 3.30 pm and 7.30 pm. In my viewpoint, the afternoon schedule at three is an excellent choice. The expected sight is to experience while the train passing through at close range. It was sensational! (It reminds me of the Maeklong railway market in Thailand, but the slight difference is, there is no market here.)
Lotte Centre Hanoi
Before saying goodbye to Hanoi, let’s have a look at the high perspective of Hanoi city on the Lotte Center Hanoi – 65th floor. The building is regarded to be a newly constructed landmark, located in the heart of the city, with a degree of being the 2nd tallest building in Vietnam.
The admission fee to enter the Observation Deck on floor 65 is at 230,000 VND. If comparing this price to the tall buildings’ observation decks in other countries, it is truly cheap. I highly recommend visiting because there is one special part I personally amaze with it the most, the part where a clear glass floor extends outside the building to let you experience walking on it. It was a rip-roaring adventure! 😱
Throughout the Hanoi Vietnam trip, seeing the panoramic view of Hanoi from here is a perfect ending of this unforgettable trip in Vietnam. 💙
Accommodation in Hanoi
Allure Hotel Hanoi
To select a place to stay overnight in Hanoi this time, considered a reasonably convenient choice with the 4-star hotel, Allure Hotel Hanoi. The must be appreciated is the hotel location, which is excellent, and located in the old town called Old Quarter Hanoi, close to Hanoi’s night market, also close to Hoan Kiem Lake. With this simple accessibility, I give it full ten points! As for the service, the accommodation, and breakfast conditions are flawless, priced at just 78 USD/night. It’s tremendously reasonable!
A bedroom decorated in a white-gold tone, mixed with a marble pattern, it’s visually luxurious and has a classic feel in agreement with the location environment. The bed is very comfortable, as well as there is a welcome Vietnamese snack. Yummy!
The breakfast room is located underground, there are not many breakfast choices here but overall is quite fair because the food is really pleasing whether Vietnamese noodles or unlimited Vietnamese iced coffee. Other than that, the foods serve as the general standard hotel buffet, bacon, eggs, sausage, etc. I’m gleefully enjoyed it!