Hanoi Things to Do Tips by bpacker Top 5 Page for this destination
Hanoi Things to Do: 931 reviews and 2,112 photos
View from Sung Sot Cave
If someone should ever compile a list for the seven Natural wonders of the modern world, I'm quite sure Ha Long Bay would make it. It has already been noted by Patricia Schultz as one of the spots in the famed tome "1000 places to see before you die".
1,600 islands and islets, beautiful jade green waters and countless of gigantic limestone pillars. Need I say more? You need to be here to understand what I am saying. Go for a tour package with a reliable agency here. So far ODC and Handspan seem to be the agencies of choice in VT. I went on a 3d2ntour with ODC and had loads of fun!
About USD56 per person for a full board trip. This also included canoeing.
Opera House, Hanoi
A visit to the French Quarters of Hanoi is an absolute must. Really, the colonial buildings here are gorgeous despite the Vietnamese addiction to ochre-coloured paint.
Take a look around and marvel at the Neo-Baroque facade of the Opera House, the History Museum, the Geographic Museum. You'll find that the colonial buildings here are more well-maintained and stately compared to the ones found in Ho Chi Minh. If you really need to know, the Opera House was recently refurbished at a cost of a whopping USD$20million.
Tip: Look out for strange mythical creatures on the roof of the Opera House.
Directions: Trang Tien Street and thereabouts, East of Hoan Kiem Lake.
Give me the civet cat crap pls
If you're thinking I advocate drinking bad coffee, I'm not.
If I were , the title would be "Drinking coffee in Seoul". Yes, I am not apologectic about it , coffee there sucks big time. Only tea is good over there.
The purist in me says that instant coffee taste like acrid dishwater. Same goes for the watered-down coffees found in fancy joints branded with mermaids.
Back to where I was saying, you have to try Cafe cut chon (It literally translates to Fox Dung Coffee ) when you're in Hanoi. It's simply the best coffee in the world and if you need to know it's Arabica coffee beans that has been eaten, digested and regurgitated from the palm civet cat. Yes, it is crap from a civet cat. But what wonderful crap! The digestive juices from the weasel makes the coffee stronger, smoother and more heady. Once you try this, it's unlikely you'll try anything else, including mermaid-branded coffee.
Where to buy it: It's difficult to buy the real deal, many tourists end up purchasing synthectic Cafe Cut Chon from the ubiquitious Trung Nguyen coffee shops. I bought mine from Cafe Mai ( see the address below).
Taste Review : Taste a lot like gd ol' Saigonese Coffee, only stronger and better. Strong accent of mocha with a strong earthy , acidic taste.
Address: 96 Le Van Huu, Hai Ba Trung Dist, Hanoi
One Pillar Pagoda, Hanoi
Quite a must see since this temple is an architectural gem in Hanoi and on every postcard that you can find in seedy tourist shops. This pagoda is built after an Emperor hallucinated and saw a goddess sitting on a lotus leaf. The goddess promised that he would have a son which he eventually did.
Now, other than the Red Huc Bridge at Ho An Kiem Lake, the one-pillar pagoda is the second most recognisable icon in Hanoi. Yes, this structure stands on one leg and it is built in such a way so as to reflect a lotus rising out of the water. I suppose it might looked better in its original wooden structure but we have the French to thank for the new concrete structure. Hmm, yes, the French destroyed this temple during their retreat in 1954. No reason was given..
Opening Times: Daily 6 AM-6 PM; 6 AM-9 PM
Address: Ong Ich Kiem Street, Ba Dinh District
Old Quarters, Hanoi
Honestly, if you miss this, you've not been to Hanoi at all ! The Old Quarters is where you'll find the Hanoi's Hearbeat. Wander along the clogged arterial streets of the place and you'll find that each street specialises in a special trade. Eg. There is a street that sells nothing but herbs, another sells clothes, etc. If you look at the picture, you'll see that the shop sells nothing but pretty, colourful lanterns.
Additional Tip: Stay at the Old Quarters if you can, it's bloody atmospheric and you can soak in the local culture. Check my hotel tips
Address: Old Quarters
The red bridge at Ho An Kiem
You'll probably recognised the red bridge from countless of photographs so it'll compel you to go there and take your own 'expert' shot of it. Keen?
Head for Ho An Kiem Lake, right in the heart of the Old Quarters. Look out for the red laquered bridge attached to a temple.Here's my own crummy shot taken from the side of the temple.
Address: Ho An Kiem Lake, near Old Quarters
Entrance to the Temple of Literature
This place existed for more than 700 years as a center for Confucian learning and it's a a must see for those who are interested in classical Chinese/vietanamese architecture.
If you're there, look out for the 82 stone diplomas on tortoises bearing the names and birthplaces of 1,306 students who scrapped thru' the university's tough examinations. Like the one-pillar pagoda, some parts of this place was built after the original parts were destroyed during the French War.
Admission Fee: 10,000 VND (US66¢)
Opening Times: Daily 8am-5pm
Address: Quoc Tu Giam St, Dong Da District
Shamanic Burial Display
If I were you, I'll visit just one museum in Hanoi and forget about the rest. The Museum of Ethonology in Hanoi which exhibits the traditional cultures of Vietnam's 54 ethnic groups is worth taking a look. Especially if you're interested in the different tribes in Vietnam and haven't got the time to visit every darn province. There are both indoor and outdoor displays but my favourite is the outdoor section which boasts an impressive display of different tribal houses and elaborate funery displays.
Admission 10,000 VND (US66¢)
How to get there:
It's some 6km (3 3/4 miles) W of town so grab a cab.
Tues-Sun 8:30-11:30am and 1:30-4:30pm
Directions: Nguyen v.Huyen Road 191/20/10
Nghia Do, Can Ciay
Phone: 84 48 360 350
Snake queues at Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum
Heck, you must be wondering why I'm asking you to join a hideously long queue to see a dead body, right? Well, I don't have a thing for taxidermy but a keen fascination for kooky things. Yup, having heard so much about Ho Chi Minh, I needed to see the strange decorum surrounding his preserved body. What's this about lining up and dressing up in "proper" attire to see a corpse stiffer than a Brit's upper lip? Also, what's with the snowy white military uniformed guards?
Well, after I've seen the place, I understood it all. The decorum was a reflection of Vietnamese pride for someone who united their country against the most powerful force in the world and made them believe in themselves again. Uncle Ho deserved the honour.
Take note of these annoying things when you're visiting:
Winter 8:00-11:00, Summer 7:30-10:30
2)Check your camera at the entrance
3)No bare shoulders, mini-skirts or shorts allowed. Defy it and you'll be forced to buy the ghastly over-priced clothes at the entrance.
4)Uncle Ho pays a visit to Russia every two months of the year, usually in Nov and Dec.
Directions: Ba Dinh District
Sunset, Perfume Pagoda River
Miss this and you'll miss the Halong Bay of the Rice Paddy Fields. The best deal about this trip is the the fun boat trip along the scenic waterway which takes about 30min of constant rowing in a creaky boat. You'll see green quilted rice fields along the way, grazing buffaloes and astounding scenary, particularly around sunset.
Note: Perfume Pagoda is about 75 km south-west of Hanoi and it takes a bum-rotting 2.5bus ride to get there as the road sucks big time. But the scenary and boat ride more than makes up for it. Contact ODC travels for a well-organised trip there. It cost roughly $14 per person, including lunch.
Address: 43 Hang Bo Str, Hoan Kiem
Phone: (84.4) 8.288.729, 8.243.024.
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