Vietnam is slowly becoming one of the best destinations to visit in Southeast Asia. The country’s capital is a good place to start your exploration. You’re bound to find things to do in Hanoi, considering its many cultural and historical offerings. If you’re a laidback traveller like us, you may find these spots and activities more fitting to your taste.
What is Hanoi best known for?
Hanoi has a vibrant art culture. It’s also the country’s center, so you can expect to see lots of cultural and political sites. All of these are surrounded by scenic nature. Did you know that Hanoi is also called the City of Lakes? Hanoi literally means ‘inside rivers’. A mix of old world charm, stunning architecture, important cultural sites and nature? Sign us up!
Things to do in Hanoi if you’re a laidback traveller
There truly are so many things to do in Hanoi for every kind of traveler. But if you don’t want activities that need extremely high energy and just want to savor what Hanoi is best known for, here are 7 things you definitely must try.
Watch Water Puppet Shows at the Thang Long Theater
The Thang Long Theater, established in 1969, hosts around 500 water puppet shows each year. These water puppet shows are distinctly Vietnamese, offering a glimpse into the lives and culture of the people – from farmers’ lives to historical legends. The show is accompanied by traditional folk Vietnamese music too.
Pottery at Bat Trang Ceramic Village
Bat Trang is an ancient pottery style in Vietnam which dates back to almost 700 years ago. The Bat Trang Ceramic Village is located in an area rich in clay, allowing its locals to enjoy creating ceramics of different kinds. There’s a pottery market here where you can buy any piece of ceramic that tickles your fancy as a souvenir. If you want to take the experience to the next level, you can also try your hand (pun intended) at pottery at the Ceramic Clay Yard, where they offer pottery classes.
Visit Ho Chi Minh (the person)
No, you don’t need to fly to the other side of the country to see Ho Chi Minh; the president lies in a mausoleum in Hanoi. It’s located in the middle of Ba Dinh Square. Inside, you can see the president’s body encased in a glass, guarded by two soldiers. Contrasting the mausoleum’s strong, granite structure is its surrounding flora – there are over 250 species of plants here.
Take pics at the Hanoi Opera House and other iconic landmarks
By now, you already know that Hanoi is teeming with cultural and artistic charm. So many old buildings here have impressive architecture! So, it goes without saying that you should definitely take a stroll and marvel at these sites. Taking photos is a plus, of course! You can definitely DIY your way to all of the major spots such as the Hanoi Opera House, Temple of Literature, and St. Joseph Cathedral. But you can also join a private tour to get insights into the historical significance of each location.
Visit the Vietnamese Women’s Museum
If visiting museums isn’t part of your itinerary when you travel, it definitely should be! You can learn so many things about a place’s culture and its people through art. This one, in particular, is something not to be missed when in Hanoi. The museum was built to recognize the societal contributions of women in Vietnam and to empower their women at present. There are approximately 4,000 pieces to marvel at and examine here, from clothing to rifles.
Cycle around West Lake
West Lake is the biggest fresh water lake in Hanoi. The perimeter of the lake is around 12 kilometers, which can be exhausting to go over on foot (if it’s at all possible to do in a day). So the easy and enjoyable way to go about it is with a bike! While going around, make sure you take a pause and enjoy the view of the mesmerizing Tran Quoc Pagoda and lounge around and take in the beauty of the lake while sipping on Vietnamese coffee in one of the area’s cafes.
Eat your heart out
Speaking of drinking coffee, you may want to try the famous egg coffee too! Add in an order of Banh Mi for the full snack experience. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg, of course. There are so many more dishes native to Hanoi to indulge in. Make sure you to add pho, cha ca, banh cuon and banh chung to your must-try-dishes list.
Looking for more travel spots and guides? Check these out.
Jorj is an editor by profession, a b/vlogger on weekends, and a wife to Yop and mom to Cadence always. She's powered by curiosity and is in the process of becoming her best self.