Hanoi is Vietnam’s capital. The city is buzzing, chaotic and energetic. It keeps you on your toes with the flurry of scooters, constant beeping and occasional risk of losing your life crossing the road. Also fantastic if you love food!
Top Tip: Organise a tour with Hanoi Kids, the tours are meant to be amazing and it’s hard to get a place, as they are constantly booked up. We missed out 🙁 It’s a student-run organisation by taking travellers on city tours of Hanoi including food tours.
Day One – Walking Tour of Old Town and Surroundings
Start the day off with a free walking tour, you can either do this with Vietnam Backpackers or Hanoi Free Walking Tours.
We did the walking tour with Vietnam Backpackers Original hostel. The walking route of the tour is around the Old Quarter, you see St Joseph’s Church, Hoan Kiem Lake, Ngoc Son Temple (only the bridge), street food and last stop egg coffee.
Egg coffee is a meringue on top of a black coffee and speciality of Hanoi. Try Cafe Phoco on Hang Gia Street. It down an entrance to a shop front, you come across lots of birds in cages and head to either the first or second floor.
Head back to Ly Quoc Su street for lunch, 39c Ly Quoc Su Street. It has a great cheap restaurant there which also serves a number of vegetarian dishes. I think it’s called Bun Bo Man Bo Ban Cha, although the address is accurate, it’s a yellow building on the opposite side of the road to Ngo Huyen.
Nearby is the Hoa Lo Prison, it’s an interesting perspective on the prison and to make your own mind up about ‘hilton’.
Qun Su Pagoda or Women’s Museum is in the same area if you have more time to wander around.
If you have timed your stay right and end up in Hanoi on the weekend, the streets come alive with night markets and food stalls which is on Hang Ngang and Hang Dao street. Try a cream roll while you are there, it’s ice cream made on a plate.
Not everyone feels safe with street food or like me, I can’t eat most of it as it’s not vegetarian, we had a fantastic meal at New Day on Ma May street. It’s bustling with both tourist and locals which is great! Not so many vegetarian options but there were things for me to eat. Meals were around 50,000 – 90,000 vdn per meal.
Day Two – Communism in Vietnam & Night Out
For a view of communism in Vietnam head to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. On the way to Mausoleum on Dien Bein Phu street take snaps of the railway track going through the city.
Stop by Lenin Park Statue on Dein Bein Phu street.
Finally coming to Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. It’s only open between 8:00 am to 11:00 am, it’s also closed on Mondays and Friday, so are the additional things to do in the area. You must wear respectful clothing, especially at the Mausoleum, that means shoulders, legs and feet should be covered. The Mausoleum is free to enter, the palace and house on stilts is 30,000 vdn and the Ho Chi Minh Museum is 30,000 vdn.
We stumbled across the changing of the guards when we were there. It happens just before 12:00 pm so try and be there around 11.45 am to 11.50 am to watch the guards change.
After the Mausoleum explore the Presidential Palace and House on Stilts. It’s hard to miss the Palace, it’s bright yellow!
Depending on your schedule you can continue to the Ho Chi Minh Museum. We didn’t do this in the end as we were starving.
We had a splurge day if you have a budget that allows a splurge you should go to 4 Pizza. They have really interesting styles of pizza and they were pretty amazing. It cost around 140,0000 – 180,000 vdn and you can do halves if you want to try more pizza styles.
What goes well with pizza? Beer! Hanoi has Bai Hoi which is local beer. It’s said to have been introduced by the Czech brewers over 40 years ago to communist soldiers. You can pick up a local beer for 3,000 – 5,000 vdn. The most famous place to try Bai Hoi is located at the corner of P Ta Hien and P Luong Ngoc Quyen. Be careful as it gives you really nasty hangovers! We had four cups and it didn’t make us feel fresh the next day.