Vietnam has one of the longest coastlines in all of Asia. It has become such a major tourist hub, with people from all over the world going to see how nice it really is. I wrote a previous post about visiting Ha Long Bay from Hanoi. In this weeks post, I want to give you some tips and recommendations on things to do and places to eat in Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital city.
When you first leave the airport in any major Vietnamese city, the first thing you notice is the abundance of motorbikes and scooters all over the streets. The traffic is extremely chaotic, but no one ever seems to be in a rush and there aren’t as many accidents as you would think. I think that’s one of the most impressive things about Vietnam, the roads and motorbikes. I have read that there are more motorbikes in the bigger cities than people, which seems true.
There is no short of things to do, see and eat in Hanoi. I would suggest anywhere from 48-72 hours here to see what you need to, depending on your schedule. A lot of people come to Hanoi for a few days and then set off to Ha Long Bay, or head north to hike. Just like any other place in the world, there is a lot to see and do in Vietnam. I have visited twice and will be back again.
THINGS TO DO
HO CHI MINH MOSALEAM
Communist countries keep the bodies of their leaders very well preserved, so you can go through and see Ho Chi Minh’s body. It is only open in the mornings. The line to see the body can be pretty long, but when I visited it only took about 10 minutes to go through. You proceed in a line through the building and into a cold room to see his body. It can be pretty freaky but also interesting because they do such a good job of preserving the body. I do know that for a few months of the year the body goes to Moscow to have work done. If you plan to visit, make sure the body is there.
HOA LO PRISON (HANOI HILTON)
This prison is most famous for having American GI’s here as a POW during the Vietnam War. The most famous POW to spend time here was Senator John McCain. Visiting the prison you can see the history of the prison throughout the many years it was in operation. It is definitely worth a visit, visiting any museum in Hanoi is very cheap as well. I would suggest allotting for an hour or so for this visit.
VIETNAM MILITARY HISTORY MUSEUM
War is a major part of human history, whether people like it or not. For every war, there are two sides to the story. I grew up in the USA so I know how I was taught about the Vietnam War. Seeing it from the Vietnamese perspective is very interesting, so I would suggest checking out this museum. Obviously, the Vietnam War isn’t the only war that is covered in the museum, but it never hurts to learn more about other countries history.
A hidden gem in the city, if you look up Train Street on any map or ask any local they can point you in the right direction. It is literally a street with houses and restaurants on both sides of the tracks. The train comes through a few times a day, but it comes more frequently on weekends. I would suggest going to one of the second story bars and having a drink waiting for the train to come by. Check out my video below for a better idea.
WHERE TO EAT
The biggest and one of the best things to do in Hanoi is to eat street food. Pull up one of those little elementary school stools, take a seat on the street and eat some of the cheapest and the best food you can ever have. This is a big part of the Vietnamese culture, I would suggest fully immersing yourself in it. Vietnamese Pho is one of the most famous dishes to try, but get creative and leave your food comfort zone.
I did eat at some really good restaurants while I was there as well. I suggest checking out Dong Phu which is a little bit on the pricey side, but a good mix of French and Vietnamese Cuisine. Quan An Ngon is a famous tourist spot but has a wide range of great Vietnamese foods. I would also recommend another pricey option, but a delicious option in Duong’s Restaurant.
WHERE TO STAY
I visited Hanoi with my parents who came out all the way from the USA. We stayed at the Hanoi Royal Palace 2 which was fairly priced and located in a good area. There are tons of options throughout the city, this is just where we stayed.
I would suggest going to see Hanoi if you ever plan on visiting Vietnam or Ha Long Bay. It is full of culture, chaos, great food, and happy people. I wish to go back someday and Guy Around there again.