Hanoi Sights & Attractions

Created with broad tree-lined boulevards, lakes and parks, belle époque villas and beautiful temples, the capital city of Hanoi reflects a fascinating blend of Indo-Chinese and French colonial influences.

What to see in Hanoi

Explore a maze of picturesque narrow streets of the Old Quarter; browse the sprawling Dong Xuan Market; pay your respects at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and see personal artifacts of the late Vietnamese leader at the Ho Chi Minh Museum or at his former lakeside home.

Then visit One Pillar Pagoda, a cultural and historic relic built in 1049 and unique for its architectural features or pop into the Temple of Literature (Van Mieu), Vietnam’s first university.

Major attractions in Hanoi, include the following…

Hoan Kiem Lake

Located in the heart of Hanoi, this pretty and mystical lake is known locally as the ‘Lake of the Restored Sword’.

The lake is steeped in Arthurian-style legend: in the 15th century, a giant turtle rose from the lake to reclaim a magical sword that was given to Emperor Le Loi to expel the Chinese army from Vietnam.

Stroll beneath a mix of huge, lush green trees, especially beautiful in June and July when the flame trees flower. Watch the locals exercise and practice martial arts while lovers cuddle on park benches and don't miss Ngoc Son (Jade Mountain) Temple, one of Hanoi’s most picturesque temples.

Thap Rua

The tiny Thap Rua (Turtle Tower) stupa was built in 1886 on a tiny island at the centre of Hoan Kiem Lake. If you’re really lucky you may spot a large soft-shelled turtle basking in the sun beneath the tower.

Ngoc Son (Jade Mountain) Temple

Discover one of Hanoi’s most picturesque temples. Surrounded by water and shaded by trees, Ngoc Son (Jade Mountain) Temple sits on a pretty little island in the northern part of Hoan Kiem Lake.

Said to exemplify the harmony of Taoist feng shui, Ngoc Son Temple is probably the most visited temple in Hanoi.

The temple is easily reached by an elegant red-painted wooden bridge, known as Huc (Flood of Morning Sunlight) Bridge, constructed in classical Vietnamese style and lined with flags.

Built on the 18th century, the temple honours the 13th century military leader, General Tran Hung Dao, who defeated the Mongol Yuan Dynasty in the 13th century; the scholar, Van Xuong; La To, the patron saint of physicians; and Nguyen Van Sieu, a Confucian master who made extensive repairs to the temple and built the Huc bridge in 1864.

Stroll around the main temple, ponder the three altars and other deities, admire the fine ceramics, some ancient bells and check out the glass case containing a stuffed lake turtle, said to weigh-in at a hefty 250kg.

Temple buildings include the Pen Tower (Thap But), the ink-slab (Dai Nghien), the Moon Contemplation Pavilion (Dac Nguyet) and the Pavilion against Waves (Dinh Tran Ba), all of which have symbolic meaning.

Location: Historic centre of Hanoi, bordered by Tran Nhat Duat and Phung Hung Sts., Hoan Kiem District; Cost: Entrance fee to temple 12,000VND; Hours: 8am-5pm.

Temple of Literature

Follow well-maintained pathways past scenic gardens and through ornate gates separating five large courtyards to the Temple of Literature and the National University (Van Mieu-Quoc Tu Giam).

Stroll around the Well of Heavenly Clarity, admire a series of pavilions, halls and statues that combine classic Chinese architecture with traditional Vietnamese influences, and see richly decorated altars dedicated to Confucius. and his disciples.

Don’t miss the 82 stone stelae – stone diplomas – erected between 1484 and 1780, inscribed with the names and birthplaces of 1306 doctor laureates who successfully passed the university's rigorous examinations.

The Temple of Literature, known in Vietnamese as Van Mieu (literally, Temple of the King Who Distinguished Literature), is a temple built in 1070 to worship the Chinese philosopher Confucius. In 1076, an institute known as the Imperial Academy (Quoc Tu Giam) was established to teach the doctrines of Confucius and his disciples to Vietnam’s elite.

Considered Vietnam’s first national university, the Imperial Academy existed for more than 700 years as a centre for Confucian learning.

The Imperial Academy lost its prominence in 1802, following the Nguyen monarchs decision to found the capital of Hue where they established a new imperial academy.

Location: About 2km west of Hoan Kiem Lake on Quoc Tu Giam Street; Admission: 5000VND, 3000VND for an English brochure; Hours: Daily 7:30am-5:30pm.

National Museum of Vietnamese History

Discover an exhaustive collection of ancient and historical relics showcasing Vietnamese history.

Displays include prehistoric artifacts, carvings, funerary jars, decorative mandarin robes, bronze drums, Buddhist statuary and excavations of Han tombs.

The collection is housed in an elegant, ochre-coloured structure built between 1925 and 1932 by French architect Ernest Hebrard. Once home to the École Française d’Extrême Orient, the building remains one of Hanoi’s most stunning architectural showpieces.

Book a knowledgeable tour guide to get the most out of a visit to this wonderful museum.

Location: 1 P Trang Tien Street, Hoan Kiem District; Admission: 20,000VND; Hours: Daily except Monday, 8am-11:30am & 1:30pm-4:30pm.

Ho Chi Minh Residence

(Nha Bac Ho) – Get a glimpse into the life of this Vietnamese hero by taking a guided tour through Ho Chi Minh’s residence where he lived and worked from 1958 until his death in 1969.

The traditional rural dwelling has been preserved just as Ho left it, facing a carp-filled pond and surrounded by well-tended gardens filled with flame trees, willows, mango trees and aromatic frangipani.

See the basement meeting room, the upstairs bedroom and study as well as a collection of Ho’s personal possessions such as his walking stick and small typewriter.

The small house sits on stilts just behind the Presidential Palace, a huge French colonial building built in 1901 for the resident French governor.

Following the French withdrew from Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh famously shunned the huge colonial-era structure, preferring instead to live in the servants' quarters behind the palace, and then in 1958, the stilt house, which was built in the palace gardens to serve as his residence and office.

Location: Next to Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum and behind the Presidential Palace on Ba Dinh Square, Hanoi; Admission: Presidential Palace Site 5000VND, Guided tour 25000VNDe; Hours: Daily (except Monday & Friday) 7:30-11am & 1:30-4pm.

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

Head to this imposing granite mausoleum, to view the embalmed body of the Vietnamese hero, Ho Chi Minh.

Silently follow the line of vsitors into the cooled, central hall of the mausoleum where Ho’s body – dressed in a khaki suit – lies within a glass case protected by a military honour guard.

Strict dress and behaviour rules are enforced by staff; a respectful behaviour is required and no shorts, mini-skirts or sleeveless shirts are allowed.

The gardens surrounding the mausoleum have nearly 250 different species of plants and flowers, gathered from different regions of Vietnam.

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is located in the centre of Ba Dinh Square where Ho read the Declaration of Independence on September 2, 1945, establishing the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. Nearby, stands the Ho Chi Minh Museum and Ho Chi Minh residence.

Modelled on Lenin's tomb, the mausoleum was constructed between 1973 and 1975.

Note: The mausoleum is usually closed in October and November, when Ho Chi Minh’s embalmed corpse goes to Russia for maintenance.

Location: Ba Dinh Square, Hanoi; Admission: Free; Hours: Daily (except Monday & Friday) 8-11am. Last visitor admitted – 10:15am.

Ho Chi Minh Museum

Get an insight into the life and times of Ho Chi Minh at this huge Soviet-style museum dedicated to the founder of modern Vietnam

View an array of personal mementos as well as fascinating historical photos and documents relating to the overthrow of the French and the rise of communism.

This tribute to Ho also includes an insight into the Vietnam Communist Party’s revolutionary struggle against foreign powers from their perspective.

English-language explanations help to piece together the rise of the nation's Communist revolution.

Location: Ba Dinh Square, Hanoi; Admission: 12,000VND; Hours: Daily (except Monday) 8-11:30am & 1:30-4pm.

One-Pillar Pagoda

(Chua Mot Cot) Tucked away between the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and Museum stands the One-Pillar Pagoda, a charming wooden structure that sits on a stone pillar over a lake.

According to court records, the childless emperor Ly Thai Thong built the temple after dreaming that Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, the Goddess of Mercy, handed him a baby while seated on a lotus flower.

Shortly after, Ly Thai Tong married a young peasant girl who bore him a son and heir. As a way of expressing his thanks for this event, he constructed this pagoda in 1049.

A prayer here is said to bring fertility and good health.

Location: Ba Dinh Square, Hanoi; Admission: Free; Hours: Daily 6-11:30am & 2-6pm.

Vietnam Military History Museum

Discover an amazing array of weaponry, including aircraft, tanks, bombs and artillery pieces that were used during the French and American wars.

Thousands of exhibits, including evocative photographs, maps, scale models and various bric-a-brac, give an insight into Vietnam’s struggle against the colonial powers.

Exhibit descriptions are in Vietnamese, French and English.

The displays feature Soviet and Chinese equipment sitting alongside French- and US-made weapons captured during years of warfare, including wreckage of French aircraft downed at Dien Bien Phu, a Soviet-built MiG-21 jet fighter, a US F-111 and a UH-1H Iroquois (Huey) helicopter.

Don’t miss the SA-2 guided missile on its launcher and one of the Vietnamese tanks that crashed through the Presidential Palace gates in Saigon, on 30 April 1975.

Hanoi's ancient flag tower (Cot Co), built in 1812, stands in the grounds.

Location: 28A Dien Bien Phu Street, Hanoi; Admission: 20,000VND; Hours: Daily – except Monday & Friday – 8am-11:30am & 1pm-4:30pm.

Hoa Lo Prison (Hanoi Hilton)

Get a glimpse into Vietnam's grim past at this small museum, all that now remains of a prison complex originally built by the French in 1896 to detain Vietnamese dissidents, then reused from 1964 to 1973 to incarcerate downed US pilots during the Vietnam War.

Famous inmates of this prison, sarcastically nicknamed the ‘Hanoi Hilton’ by US POWs, include Senator John McCain, the Republican nominee for the US presidency in 2008; Pete Peterson, who later became the first US Ambassador to a unified Vietnam in 1995; and Lt. Everett Alvarez, officially the first American pilot to be shot down over Vietnam.

Take a guided tour of the small museum that includes the former interrogation room where captured American prisoners were questioned (known among former prisoners as the ‘blue room’), guillotine room (still with its original equipment), and the female and Vietnamese political prisoners' quarters.

Exhibits are presented from the Vietnamese governments perspective and depict the struggle of the Vietnamese people against French and American imperialism.

In the courtyard linking the two rooms you can see parts of original tunnels once used by a hundred Vietnamese revolutionaries to escape in 1945.

Today only a small portion of the original buildings remain: the prison was demolished in the mid-1990s to make way for two high-rise buildings, known as the Hanoi Towers.

Location: 1 Hoa Lo Street, Hoan Kiem District; Admission: 10,000VND; Hours: Daily 8am-5pm.

Where to stay in Hanoi

Hanoi offers a wide range of accommodation options to suit most honeymoon budgets, including the following 5-star hotels…

Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi
Location: 15 Ngo Quyen Street, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
Rating: 5-star
Ave nightly price: AUD314 per room
Description: A historic luxury landmark since 1901, Sofitel Legend Metropole features pampering spa services, 24-hour room service and a heated swimming pool. It is in central Hanoi, near the Old Quarter. Still retaining the hotel’s original grandeur, rooms feature either an elegant neo-classical theme or classic French decor. Fully air-conditioned, each room includes free internet and a flat-screen TV. Offering a blend of Eastern and Western therapies, guests can indulge themselves with a massage and body treatment at Le Spa du Metropole. So Fit Fitness Centre is well-equipped and offers exercise classes. The hotel also provides a business center and gift shop. With a private dining room and outdoor terrace, Spices Garden serves Asian and Vietnamese specialties. Other dining options include Angelina Italian Restaurant and Lounge and Le Beaulieu French Restaurant. Drinks can be enjoyed at any of the hotel's 3 bars. The 5-star Sofitel Legend Metropole is just 170 yards from the famous Hanoi Opera House. The scenic Hoan Kiem Lake is less than a kilometre from the hotel.

JW Marriott Hotel Hanoi
Location: 8 Do Duc Duc, Hanoi
Rating: 5-star
Ave nightly price: AUD206 per room
Description: Boasting an impressive facade, the luxurious 5-star JW Marriott Hotel Hanoi offers elegant, air-conditioned rooms and suites with free Wi-Fi. It is located beside a local lake next to the National Convention Centre. A flat-screen satellite TV, minibar and seating area are found in all rooms and suites. Private bathroom includes a bath or shower, hairdryer and free toiletries. Select rooms and suites boast lake views. Recreation facilities include an indoor pool, spa and fitness centre. A virtual concierge is available at the hotel, which also has business centre. Luggage storage facilities are provided at the 24-hour front desk. International cuisine is served at JW Café with a variety of cuisines including Vietnamese, Japanese, Korean and Mediterranean. Other dining options include light snacks at the Lounge, seafood at the French Grill and authentic Cantonese at Crystal Jade restaurant. JW Marriott Hotel Hanoi is just 1 km from Kang Nam Tower and 4 km away from the Temple of Literature and the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and Museum. It takes 35 minutes to drive to Noi Bai International Airport.

Lotte Hotel Hanoi
Location: 54 Lieu Giai Street, Ba Dinh, Hanoi
Rating: 5-star
Ave nightly price: AUD180 per room
Description: Lotte Hotel Hanoi offers modern and luxurious accommodation with free WiFi access throughout the property. It features an outdoor pool, indoor pool, a fitness centre, sauna facility and free parking on site. Offering city views, air-conditioned rooms and suites are furnished with a wardrobe, in-room safe, a flat-screen cable/satellite TV and sofa seating area. Minibar and tea/coffee making facilities are also included. The en suite bathroom comes with a bathtub, separate shower, bathrobes and hairdryer. At Lotte Hotel Hanoi, guests may indulge in a pampering massage at the spa. The friendly 24-hour front desk staff can assist with laundry, car rental and tour arrangements. Airport transfers and business facilities are also available at an extra charge. The in-house restaurant serves a delectable selection of local and Western dishes. After-meal drinks can be enjoyed at the bar, while barbecue facilities are available upon request. Room service options are offered for guests’ convenience. This non-smoking hotel is just 1.2 km from Giang Vo Exhibition Centre an 1.8 km from Vietnam Museum of Ethnology. The famous One Pillar Pagoda is 2.2 km away, while Noi Bai International Airport is accessible within a 20 km drive.

InterContinental Hanoi Westlake
Location: 1A Nghi Tam Street, Tay Ho, Hanoi
Rating: 5-star
Ave nightly price: AUD160 per room
Description: The luxurious InterContinental sits on the peaceful waters of Hanoi's Westlake, next to the 800-year-old Kim Lien (Golden Lotus) Pagoda. Spacious air-conditioned rooms feature contemporary Vietnamese decor and flat-screen TVs. Free WiFi is available in public areas. InterContinental Hanoi Westlake is about 14 miles from Noibai International Airport. Attractions like Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre and Vietnam Fine Arts Museum are within 3 miles of the hotel. Featuring hardwood floors, the stylish rooms provide a minibar and private balconies overlooking the hotel's pool, Westlake or Hanoi City. The large private bathrooms have walk-in rainshowers and bathtubs. The hotel's Health Club features a well-equipped fitness center, as well as yoga and Pilates classes. Guests can enjoy relaxing massage services, or arrange day trips at the tour desk. The 3 on-site restaurants serve a daily breakfast, Vietnamese cuisine and Italian dishes. Drinks and wine can be enjoyed at Sunset Bar or Diplomat Lounge.

Apricot Hotel
Location: 136 Hang Trong, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
Rating: 5-star
Ave nightly price: AUD146 per room
Description: Situated at the edge of Hoan Kiem Lake, the neo-classical and luxuriously designed Apricot Hotel offers modern and luxurious accommodation with free WiFi access throughout the property. It offers sweeping views of the city and lake from its rooftop swimming pool and panoramic fitness centre. Free parking space is available on-site. Artistically-designed, air-conditioned rooms and suites come with a wardrobe, in-room safe, a work desk, seating area and a flat-screen TV with cable channels. Electric kettle, minibar and ironing facilities are also provided. The en suite bathroom includes shower facility, bathrobes and hairdryer. At Apricot Hotel, the friendly 24-hour front desk staff can assist guests with laundry services, currency exchange and meeting/banquet arrangements. Car rentals, ticketing service and tour excursions are also available. Featuring a trendy rooftop bar where a fine selection of drinks are offered, the property also offers guests with 2 dining options. Guests can enjoy an appetising selection of Vietnamese and Western dishes. The hotel is 300 metres from Thang Long Water Puppet Theater and St. Joseph Cathedral. Noi Bai International Airport is approximately 21 km away.

Best time to visit Hanoi

For best time to visit Hanoi is between October and December, when you can expect warm, sunny days, with limited rainfall. December is the driest month of the year.

Hanoi has a humid subtropical climate, characterized by relatively high temperatures and evenly distributed rainfall throughout the year.

For warm, sunny days, visit Hanoi from October to December. Northern Vietnam is dry from November to April; wet and hot from June to August.

Winter, December through February, averages 17°C (62°F), while summer, from June to September, averages 28°C (82°F).

You can expect hot and wet weather from May to September.

In summer, daytime temperatures are high with warm nights. Much of the summer rainfall comes from thunderstorms. August is typically the wettest month of the year.

The warmest month, on average, is June with an average temperature of 29°C (84°F), while the coolest month, on average, is January, with an average temperature of 17°C (62°F).

Winter (December through February) averages 16°C (60°F) while summer averages 30°C (86°F).

More information about Hanoi weather

How to get to Hanoi

Hanoi – the capital and largest city in Vietnam – is located on the Red River Delta in northern Vietnam, around 90km (56mi) from the coast.

The most convenient route to Hanoi is by air to Noi Bai International Airport (HAN), located about 28km (17mi) northeast of central Hanoi.

Alternatively, ride the Reunification Express from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi, a distance of 1726km (1072mi), taking about 32 hours, with a choice of five trains daily.

More information about How to get to Hanoi

How to get around Hanoi

The best way of getting around the Old Quarter is on foot or by electric bus. Elsewhere, taxis are the best option.

Chauffered-driven cars and the local bus service are also available to get around Hanoi.

Hanoi's traffic is not for the faint-hearted, with relentless traffic, nonexistent road manners and often inadequate street lighting. Typically, the streets are crammed with bicycles, motorbikes and a growing number of cars.

Car hire: It's not possible to hire a self-drive car in Vietnam, but you can hire one with a driver from tour operators including Exo Travel (www.exotravel.com) and Vidotour (www.vidotourtravel.com).

More information about How to get around Hanoi

More about Hanoi…

More about Vietnam…

Latest update: Hanoi Sights & Attractions: 5 June, 2022