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Hanoi Travel Guide

About Hanoi

Late night beer joints, food stalls spilling out across the street and a peaceful lake for a morning stroll. Hanoi offers an eye–popping introduction to Vietnam.

The bustling, narrow streets of the Old Quarter are the ultimate expression of Vietnam’s can–do attitude. Businesses sprawl across the narrow paths, selling everything from flip-flops to locally grown coffee. In between it all you’ll find workers taking a nap on their scooters or locals cooking up treats over an open fire.

Food fanatics will find so much to love here. Don’t be put off by pulling up a child–sized chair at any one of the street side carts which dot the Old Quarter and the edges of the blissful Hoa Kiem Lake. Vietnamese food is unquestionably among the most delicious in all of Asia. Try banh mi (baguettes with cold cuts, chilli and fresh leaves) which marries Asian flavours with the fresh bread from the country’s French colonial past. Hanoi’s seafood is also legendary.

That colonial history is in evidence all over Hanoi: crumbling buildings dot the city from a time before it suffered at the hands of American bombers during the war of the 1960s and 1970s. But it’s a brutalist modern building which is the city’s most famous; Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum is an essential stop off for any visitor. Huge crowds gather everyday to file past the body of the one–time leader of Vietnam, who helped see off French and American troops.

There are plenty of other excellent cultural highlights, from the ancient Temple of Literature and its peaceful gardens to the thought provoking and politically charged Hoa Lo Prison, which once housed Vietnamese prisoners during French rule and was nicknamed the Hanoi Hilton by the U.S. troops held there during the war.

Be sure to sink a cheap and cheerful bia hoi, a light, local brew, at one of the bars around the pretty St Joseph’s Cathedral - just be careful crossing the road after you’ve had a few as the locals on their laden scooters won’t stop for anyone.

Key facts

Population:
7500000
Latitude:
21.031899
Longitude:
105.848150

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City Highlight: Hanoi

Teeming with culture, history and fantastic street food stalls spilling out across the street, Hanoi offers an eye-popping introduction to Vietnam

Featured Hotels

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Maison d'Hanoi Hanova Hotel

The narrow entrance is barely noticeable, but this boutique hotel is well known for its stylish combination of colonial and art deco design. It’s within walking distance of Hoan Kiem Lake and ideal for exploring the Old Quarter. With its own restaurant and spa, this is a real find in an excellent location.

Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi

An old colonial hotel steeped in history, the Sofitel isn’t called ‘legend’ for nothing. With three excellent restaurants (Vietnamese, French and Italian), as well as bars, swimming pool and gym, it’s the most prized luxury choice of the city. Rooms in the historical Metropole Wing have maintained the original features, while the Opera Wing has rooms designed in classic French style.

InterContinental Hanoi Westlake

This is one of the best 5-star business hotels in Hanoi, built entirely over the West Lake, featuring large rooms, restaurants and bars, swimming pool and spa facilities. The hotel's Vietnamese, Italian and French restaurants all have good reputations. Rooms overlook the lake or the Hanoi skyline and are stylishly Vietnamese.

Hoa Binh Hotel

A consistently popular choice on the Hanoi hotel scene, the Hoa Binh is a renovated colonial hotel dating from 1926. Located within walking distance of Hoan Kiem Lake, it boasts more than 100 rooms, all large and comfortable with good facilities for a 3-star hotel. There are also French and Vietnamese restaurants.

Hilton Hanoi Opera

A stunning colonial-style hotel, the Hilton is built next to the Opera House (hence its name) in the French Quarter. The rooms are large and chic with a hint of Vietnamese style. A short walk from the Old Quarter, the open-air bar of the hotel's Ba Mien restaurant is a popular nightspot.

Essence d’Orient Hotel & Spa

As the newly extended wing of the Essence Hotel & Spa this stylish comfortable property in the heart of the Old Quarter offers excellent value. Despite being positioned a few steps from the popular Beer Corner its spacious rooms are quiet. The staff are professional and friendly while the restaurant is exceptional.