West Lake shimmers as the morning sunlight illuminates its surface, drawing visitors on a natural trail that circles it. At its core lies Tran Quoc Pagoda – Hanoi’s oldest temple.
At the center of Hoan Kiem Lake lies St. Joseph’s Cathedral, an outstanding neo-Gothic structure inspired by Notre Dame cathedral in Paris. Ngoc Son Temple stands nearby on an island located within Hoan Kiem Lake. Hong Kong to Hanoi flights are available from Cathay Pacific.
St. Joseph’s Cathedral
St Joseph’s cathedral is well known for its two tall front towers that resemble those of Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, its high vaulted ceiling with wood ribs, as well as its strikingly beautiful interior featuring black-and-white chequered Italian marble floors, sandstone block construction, and authentic leadlight windows hand-crafted in England.
The cathedral is dedicated to St Joseph, husband of Mary and carer of Jesus as an infant. He can be found depicted on its high altar alongside biblical scenes painted around his depiction.
The main entrance of Nha Chung Street intersecting with Ly Quoc Su Street can be found near a popular coffee and tea spot known as Lemon Tea Court, while during the daytime the area becomes lively as people chat over lemon tea or coffee and drink in conversation over time. Furthermore, non-religious grooms and brides frequently take wedding photos here too! EverGreene was hired to perform historic finishes investigation and plaster survey services as well as create and implement a liturgical artistry program as part of a comprehensive restoration/renewal initiative.
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
The mausoleum honoring Vietnam’s revered leader and is a place of pilgrimage, visited by thousands of Vietnamese to pay their respects and experience Vietnamese culture first hand. A visit here provides a truly unforgettable experience and insight.
Uncle Ho’s simple stilt house stands just outside the mausoleum, surrounded by an exquisite garden full of trees and flowers that are carefully cared for every day. Visitors can escape city noise by strolling through this tranquil garden.
There is a thin alley nearby known for the trains passing inches away from houses’ doors, offering visitors the chance to walk down it and experience the bustling backstreets of Old Quarter where merchants used to live above their shops. You can also catch a taxi or “xe om” (motorbike-taxi).
Hoan Kiem Lake
Hoan Kiem Lake is one of Hanoi’s premier attractions, with emerald green water home to iconic monuments and sites such as Turtle Tower and Huc Bridge. According to legend, Hoan Kiem got its name from an encounter between Le Loi and Golden Turtle Genie who gave him an invincible sword for use during Ming invasion and returning it afterwards back into Hoan Kiem where an enormous turtle took it before disappearing beneath its jade waters.
Walking around the lake is an enjoyable activity for residents of all ages, especially on weekends when traffic-free streets transform into pedestrian-only zones – ideal for shopping souvenirs and dining at restaurants offering local cuisine.
Ngoc Son Temple
Ngoc Son Temple, perched atop Jade Island within Hoan Kiem Lake and dedicated to 13th-century military leader Tran Hung Dao who fought against Yuan Dynasty is one of Hanoi’s premier tourist spots. You can reach it via Huc Bridge (Rising Sun Bridge), an attractive scarlet-painted wooden bridge featuring classical Vietnamese design that provides access to this spot.
The Temple of Literature was Vietnam’s first university. You might recognize its striking appearance on the 100,000 dong banknote as well as an opportunity to connect with its history and culture. Visitors flock here during Tet (Vietnamese New Year) to write wishes in calligraphy; tread carefully when visiting, as laughing is forbidden so as to maintain its solemnity. Also take time out for St Joseph Cathedral; its architecture was inspired by Notre Dame de Paris with twin bell towers for good measure!
Museum of Ethnic Minorities
Vietnam is home to 54 different ethnic groups, each with unique cultural features that this museum displays through full-scale houses and gardens showcasing. It’s no secret that Vietnam has some of the world’s most fascinating museums; one such attraction focuses on Vietnam’s unique cultures through full-scale houses and gardens that show the various architectural styles from across Vietnam.
Temple of Literature is also well known for being an epicenter for calligraphy; during Tet (Vietnamese New Year), many gather at this spot to express their wishes in Han characters. You might recognize it from its appearance on the 100,000 Vietnamese dong banknote!
Another highlight of the museum is a daily water puppet performance that alone justifies your visit. The theatre employs members of the local community who perform and sell souvenirs, so your money is staying within its local economy. There’s also a restaurant, bookstore and Craft Link shop selling goods made by minority groups onsite.
Tay Ho Pagoda
Explore Hanoi’s revered pagodas and temples with your guide during this half-day tour. Take a boat ride across West Lake (Ho Tay) to reach Golden Fish Island and the Tran Quoc Pagoda – Vietnam’s oldest temple!
On the western outskirts of Hanoi lies West Lake – an idyllic retreat from city life where locals come for Tai chi or strolls. Home to Ngoc Son Temple which honors three key figures from Vietnamese history including La To (patron saint of doctors); scholar Van Xuong; and 13th century general Tran Hung Dao.
Perfume Pagoda, located within easy walking distance, is a Buddhist temple complex built into limestone cliffs with stalagmites and stalactites, home to pilgrims looking for good luck as well as tourists visiting for good fortune. This maze of shrines attracts both visitors and pilgrims.
Dong Xuan Market
Dong Xuan Market is an excellent opportunity for those interested in exploring an energetic local market. Boasting three floors packed with items ranging from food and clothing to household supplies, Dong Xuan Market will have something to please every shopper on every floor of its bustling three-floor venue. To make the most of your visit it is key that visitors communicate effectively with vendors while being open to haggling for the best bargains possible.
This market holds tremendous historical importance as the site of bloody battles between Vietnamese resistance forces and French armies in early 1947. A memorial honoring those Vietnamese soldiers who decided to fight until the very last moment can be found near its main gate.
At Dong Xuan, visitors can enjoy some of the city’s finest street foods. A favorite among them is dried beef salad – its tender meat is perfected through marinating so as to maintain its soft texture and moist flavor.
Hoa Lo Prison
Hoa Lo Prison, known to American POWs as the Hanoi Hilton, now stands as an informative museum and memorial. Most exhibits focus on its use up until mid 1950s and the struggle of Vietnamese against France for independence; although there are also disturbing displays such as an authentic French guillotine.
Touring a prison will provide an accurate picture of what life was like for Vietnamese under colonial rulers. You will witness stocks where prisoners were handcuffed while sitting, cramped solitary confinement cells, torture tools used against inmates, as well as the guillotine room.
BestPrice Travel advises visitors who wish to tour a prison at nighttime to take part in the night tour as this provides more of an emotional experience and is also more convenient if time is of the essence when visiting Hanoi.
Hanoi Opera House
Hanoi Opera House, situated on Trang Tien Street near August Revolution Square, is the largest theater serving arts performances. As such, it has become a cultural landmark both among residents of Hanoi as well as tourists visiting their capital city.
The main space of the theater is divided into three distinct sections, beginning with an entrance featuring a T-shaped staircase and marble flooring, then leading into the Mirror Room for important ceremonies or welcoming high-ranking figures.
Visitors to Hanoi Opera House can tour this stunning building to admire its architecture and history while taking in musical or theatrical performances by local talent. Information regarding performances and ticket prices is available on their website, while daily tours take approximately 70 minutes; tickets may also be booked online to avoid waiting lines.
Ha Long Bay
Vietnam’s capital city is an energetic and mesmerizing experience that will challenge all your senses. From centuries-old French colonial buildings to tantalising Vietnamese cuisine, it will leave an unforgettable mark.
Tay Ho (West Lake), one of Hanoi’s largest lakes, provides an oasis of quiet. Residents practice Tai Chi here or take strolls along its banks. In addition, two pagodas–Tran Quoc Pagoda and 15-metre-tall Tay Ho Pagoda–stand atop it.
The Temple of Literature is a Confucian shrine in Hanoi, famous for its calligraphists writing wishes in Han characters during Tet (Vietnam’s Lunar New Year). You’ll recognize it by its iconic facade overlooking a small plaza full of selfie stick wielding tourists – making a visit an essential component of any Hanoi itinerary.