vietnamese vendors on the street

12 Things to Do in Hanoi

Hanoi, Vietnam – the land of bún chả and egg coffee! But let’s get focused here. It’s not always about food isn’t it? Aside from munching our way through Vietnam’s freshest dishes, there are also other things to do in Hanoi and we’ve gathered 12 things to do in Hanoi for you!

BUT FIRST! watch our video

Here’s a short video for a quick guide to the Old Quarter.



thinnest house in the world
the yellow wall with 4 white box windows is only 0.90 meters in total width

Vietnam is the land of ‘tube houses’ which literally means a house similar to the shape of a tube.

The total base area of these houses are small but more space is provided as floors are added to the structure.

The reason behind this is the way people in the past were taxed on property. The bigger your facade and the base of your property is, the more tax you’re gonna have to pay.



There is one particular house with only 0.90M in width, and can be found exactly across 12A Hàng Mành, Hàng Gai, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội. We were told that this is the narrowest house in all of Hanoi.


vietnamese noodles famous in hanoi
BÚN CHẢ / grilled pork noodles

I don’t even know how to begin! Sweet barbecue pork goodness, topped on rice flour noodles on a light clear soup, that is bún chả. Add chilli and garlic for more flavour or enjoy it at its simplest! We can probably eat this bowl of yumminess all day errr day whenever we’re in Hanoi because once you move to another city, it can nowhere be found.


dry noodles
Mar’s favourite dry noodles in all of Hanoi DRY PORK NOODLES – VND 40,000 ( USD 1.80 / PHP 89)

If you have spent a good time traveling in Vietnam, Vietnamese food, just like anything else, will make you feel meh. So every time we are in town, we pay a visit to one of our favourite noodle houses in the Old Quarter. Mỳ Vằn Thắn – Đinh Liệt is just a mere 2-minute walk from the northern part of Hoan Kiem Lake, exact location here.

noodle soup with egg
Ian’s favorite soup noodles in Hanoi – VND 40,000 ( USD 1.80 / PHP 89)

I personally like the Phnom Penh dry noodles the most, Ian likes the soupy one with dumplings. All the noodles in the menu cost VND 40,000 (USD 1.8 / PHP 89) which means you can still order another bowl without spending a fortune! More photos in Foursquare.


red bridge
Hoàn Kiếm Lake

This lake is in the heart of Hanoi. Located about 5 minutes by foot from St. Joseph’s Cathedral (#5), Hoàn Kiếm Lake has rich history which you can read up more on here. There is an island pagoda that you can only reach by crossing the red bridge.


gothic cathedral
St. Joseph’s Cathedral

Quite famous for resembling Notre Dame de Paris, St. Joseph’s Cathedral is one of the first cathedrals built by the French in the late 1800’s.

Masses are conducted several times during the day, with the biggest one being on Sunday at 6:00 PM, when crowds spill out to the streets.

It is kind of hard to get a shot similar to this because the cathedral is always crowded. Nevertheless, as long as you’re patient, you’d get the shot you want. 🙂


If you are a coffee lover, Vietnam is your country. Coffee shops are all around the Old Quarter; along the streets, in cafes, in more expensive restaurants. They say the best ones are actually the cheapest ones because commercial establishments probably use the same local coffee beans everywhere.

drip coffee
learning how to make a cup of Vietnamese drip coffee

In coffeeshops along the streets, coffee powder is placed on a dripper and poured with hot water. After a few minutes, brewed coffee drips slowly to a cup underneath, hence the name. And after adding condensed/sweet milk and ice, you get the richest cup cà phê sữa đá. A cup is only VND 20,000 (USD 0.90 / PHP 45), what more can you ask for?


hot white coffee in a cup
hot egg coffee

Not a fan of regular brewed coffee? Why not try a cup of egg coffee aka ‘liquid tiramisu‘? To be frank, I have mixed feelings about it. Easily because 1, I don’t drink coffee and 2, its taste and consistency is confusing! It’s kind of a super thick drink borderline mousse-y? The kind of thick that you need to spoon out. It’s also neither iced nor hot.

egg coffee
iced egg coffee in Hanoi

However, we learned how to make it on our own from a cooking class we joined in. {Free Recipe here!} Whether you like it or not, you need to try it for yourself because your Hanoi experience won’t be complete without a cup of egg coffee! You never know, you might be crazy about it too just like other foreigners!


The secret photo spots of the city is kind of hard to find if you don’t have a local friend who can easily bring you around. Hanoi Photography Tour is run by a group of university students with a passion for photography. They will personally adjust the tours depending on your interest.

Your guide will also help you with tips in photography if you happen to be a beginner. We wanted to take photos of the real Hanoi which is why our guide, Hang, brought us to busy markets and actual residences of locals. Here are some photos I took.


The Train Street is slowly gaining fame as people add this place to their must-see’s in Hanoi. A bit hard to find if you want to go there on your own so we were lucky that our photography tour included walking through this narrow strip.

We weren’t able to catch the train because we didn’t have enough time. If you would like to see the trains pass by up close, make yourselves available at exactly 3:30pm and 7:30pm. Be there early to find a perfect photo spot. Exact location here:


old style wood and stone house
a shophouse in the Old Quarter

Squeezed in the narrow streets of the Old Quarter are old shophouses that were built a long time ago. House owners have their ground floors rented out, while they stay on the second floor.

Renters renovate their spaces with modern design, and convert the area to either a shop or a restaurant, resulting to an interesting mix of architecture. Being total opposites, these shophouses are good photography subjects.


fresh draft beer
BIA HƠI / draft beer

Light freshly brewed beer — that’s about it and that’s all you need. Chill out along Beer Street and sit on the street sides in the most local way by grabbing a bia hơi!

street filled with people drinking at night
Beer Street, Old Quarter



The biggest ones are during the weekends, when everyone in the Old Quarter comes together and fills up the streets connecting Hang Dao and Dong Xuan Market. Find out more about the Hanoi Weekend Night Market in this article.

and because you made it this far.... BONUS ROUND!


Can you spare a day or 2? If yes, then join a tour and marvel at Halong Bay’s beauty!

sunset with ship and lights reflecting on water
beautiful sunsets only at Halong Bay

For a 2-day trip with hotel pickup and return, we paid VND 1,250,000 (USD 55 / PHP 2,590) per head for it but that’s January 2016 price. All meals included in the boat, mostly being buffet, and activities such as kayaking, squid fishing, and spring roll making are in the list as well!

Anything we missed?

Let us know if this article was helpful. Would love to hear what your top things to do in Hanoi are!

Spread the love

12 Replies to “12 Things to Do in Hanoi

  1. The food looks yummy, especially the egg coffee, I would like to try that! The photo tour sounds interesting, I did one in Santa Barbara and loved it. All your tips are very helpful.

  2. i woukd very much like to visit st. joseph’s cathedral and try out egg coffee! great post! thanks for sharing! i also heard that vietnamese coffee is the best coffee out there it’s quite addicting!

  3. It’s nice to try and venture places like you mentioned. It’s worth give myself a short break and take vacation and travel this wonderful places. Thanks

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *