If you’ve already made your way through Ho Chi Minh City, then Hanoi should be next on your list of cities to visit in Vietnam.
What once was the capital of the Ly Dynasty in 1010 CE later became and remained Vietnam’s political center for hundreds of years. In the 19th century, the French colonized the city until the Japanese took over during WWII. It wasn’t until 1945 when the city was named the capital of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in which it was able to grow into the city we see today.
Although Hanoi is full of interesting sites such as the Old Quarter, Thang Long Water Puppet Theater and Dong Xuan Market, there are some other great interests to add to your itinerary on your next stop in this fun city.
The Note Coffee
Vietnam is known for having amazing, fresh yet very strong coffee consumed by a majority of the population there. If you do love coffee, you’ll be able to find a cafe on every street corner, but one that stands out is The Note Coffee. Inside you will notice everything covered in sticky notes with actual notes on them left by customers, which gives it a quirky and cool place to hang out. If you do happen to stop by, make sure to try their coconut coffee or egg coffee, both of which are sweet and creamy—it’s a delicious dessert that will also give you a good kick!
There are a lot of markets in Hanoi, but we love little boutiques like Indigo Store. It’s unique and sells some interesting goods that you might not find anywhere else. They sell jewelry, clothes, computer bags, teas, soaps and more that are of high-quality, and options for men, women and children. Everything is handmade and all clothing is created from organic cotton. If you see something that doesn’t fit (i.e. a shirt or a case for your laptop/phone), the staff will make it for you and deliver it to wherever you’re staying, free of charge. Pick up something for yourself, or even for family or friends back home.
Thăng Long Imperial Citadel
The Imperial Citadel of Thang Long was once a fortress and now a UNESCO Heritage Site. Constructed in 1010 CE by Emperor Ly, the Citadel was the epicenter of the government for 1,300 years until its condition began to worsen, especially after France invaded. But in the early 2000s, the Citadel was excavated and amazing things were discovered, and when you visit it today, you will be able to see beautiful roads and ponds, palaces, a bunker under the ground, and various relics from throughout the centuries. If you love history, this is one place we recommend you go.
The Imperial Citadel is open from 8am to 5pm, Tuesday through Sunday and closed on Monday.
Finding really cheap beer isn’t too hard to find in Hanoi, but if you’re looking to meet some locals as well as other tourists, or maybe just hang out with friends or travel partners, Bia Hoi is fun yet busy area to unwind and chat or just have a good beer and people watch. The beer here is insanely cheap, about 25 cents (sometimes cheaper)! If you’re hungry, you can find traditional street food at the restaurants and bars as well. Bia Hoi will definitely make you feel more like a local but is not the place to be if you’re looking for comfortable seats and an elegant table setting.
Weekend Night Market
If you’re in Hanoi over the weekend, the Weekend Night Market is an outstanding option to find some inexpensive goods such as souvenirs, clothing, handmade items and more. This is where you should put on your bargaining hat—don’t take the first price the vendors offer, rather try to haggle down about 75 percent. Aside from shopping, there are tons of street artists performing, which is entertaining in itself. The Weekend Night Market is open Friday through Sunday, from 8pm to 11pm.
Hanoi is a bustling city with so much to see and do, in addition to offering amazing (and a lot) of places to eat traditional Vietnamese cuisine. It’s a vibrant city with various cultural influences that have molded it into the city it is today. If Hanoi is on your list of destinations, don’t forget to stop by some of the above recommendations for a memorable trip in Vietnam’s capital.
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