If you have a chance to visit Hanoi – the heart of Vietnam, never should you miss a chance on visiting the heart of Hanoi – the Old Quarter – a precious architectural heritage embracing Vietnamese cultural traits from the primitive time. Don’t worry if you have so little time to spend on Hanoi, here’s the list of top suggestions for travelers to explore Hanoi Old Quarter within a day.
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6:00 – 6.45: Sipping Hanoi Old Quarter’s coffee
Every morning, no matter how it’s hot or cold, you can easily find the elderly going out to exercises and meet up around Hoan Kiem lake early at about 5am as well. So there’s no reason to get up late and skip the only chance to see Hanoi peaceful morning in the Old Quarter.
Nothing’s better to start a day in Hanoi Old Quarter than a cup of joe. Hanoi’s been famous for morning coffee, especially egg coffee which you can find in many coffee shops as well as street vendors. These traits have greatly contributed to the peaceful beauty of Hanoi that attracts tourists from all walks of life.
6.45 – 7.30: Breakfast in Hanoi
Pho has long been famous worldwide for its taste and special Vietnamese recipe. Breakfast with pho noodle soup is considered the most memorable experience as a Hanoian so don’t skip it.
7:30 – 8:30: Wandering around Hanoi Old Quarters and hop in Dong Xuan Market
Hanoi has long been well-known for “Hang” streets which used to be the gathering place of artisans from the villages around the ancient Thang Long. They concentrated on private handicraft areas and the products traded here turned those areas into the streets as today, just behind the letter “Hang”. Undergoing the time, these streets have not been intact like their own origin. Yet you can still find the ancient Hanoi days in some streets remaining its traditional craft at Old Quarter, namely Hang Bac (Silver) or Hang Duong (Sugar).
You can also visit Dong Xuan Market in downtown Hanoi which has long been a favorite, a busy trade center that attracted buyers from many different destinations. Together with many souvenir stores along Hanoi Old Quarter’s Streets, this is a very suitable place for some small gifts for your friends and family.
8.30 – 11.30: Visiting Bach Ma Temple, Kim Ngan Temple, Ngoc Son Temple Complex and Ma May Ancient House
If you are interested in Vietnamese culture, don’t skip these destinations:
– Bach Ma Temple (White Horse Temple): 76 Hang Buom Street, was built from Ly dynasty (about over 1000 years ago), is one of 4 sacred sites of the old Thang Long capital.
– Kim Ngan Temple: 42 Hang Bac Street, was built to worship the ancestor of jeweler.
– Ngoc Son Temple Complex (Temple of the Jade Mound): located on an islet in the middle of Hoan Kiem Lake. Other projects were also newly built or upgraded that created a new complex of relics with a harmonious architecture. The complex includes Ngoc Son Temple, The Huc Bridge, But Thap (Pen Tower) and Dai Nghien (Ink Slab). At night, all the lights make the complex and the Sword Lake the most attractive and must-see place in the Old Quarter. But in day-time, this also is a worth visiting destination which costs you only about 3,5$ for an entrance ticket to see the inside beauty of the temple.
– Ancient House: 87 Ma May Street (0,5$/person) was built from early 20th century. The house preserves many cultural and architectural values of ancient Hanoi.
*If you are about to visit these spiritual places, notice to avoid short, sexy or too exposed clothes.
11.30 – 12.30: Lunch time
This could be a little different to the Occidental culture which starts a day quite late at about 8 or 9 in the morning and don’t have lunch until around 2pm. But in Vietnam, as we start a day so early, we have meals early as well. For lunch, it’s highly recommended that you try this typical food of Hanoi:
This simple dish is a great combination of savory and fresh, it has vibrant colors and the harmony of the meat and vegetables makes this dish special. Including round rice noodles (bún) served with grilled pork patties (chả), pork belly, fresh herbs, and a sour-sweet fish-sauce-fortified broth, this special dish has attracted plenty of tourists. After Obama came to Vietnam and tried it, this dish has gained so much fame that almost every restaurant now has Obama combo. Suitable restaurant for a bowl of bun cha can be 34 Hang Than or 1 Hang Manh with the reasonable price of about 30000 – 50.000VND/person.
12.30 – 15.30: French Quarter
Spanning the southern end Hoan Kiem Lake, next to Hanoi Old Quarter, French Quarter is perhaps not of the same calibre as the Old Quarter’s quaint temples, street markets and traditional Vietnamese arts, but is still worth checking out.
– St.Joseph’s Cathedral: An Neo-Gothic Cathedral located in the heart of Hanoi Capital, Saint Joseph Cathedral is the oldest representative evidence of the French colonial architecture which was completed in 1886.
– The Opera House: The best place to see the landmark of Hanoi. Built from 1901 to 1911, it costed 2 millions franc to complete this luxurious opera house. It’s still now suitable for people of high class in the society as the entrance ticket for a performance is rather expensive.
– National Museum of Vietnamese History: 5 The National Museum of Vietnamese History occupies a picturesque, two-storey French colonial building in the French Quarter, where visitors can find an array of antiques, sculptures and weapons discovered in Vietnam throughout the years.
Address: 1 Trang Tien & 216 Tran Quang Khai, Hoan Kiem District. Price Range: 1,8$/person.
15.30 – 17.00: Setting foot on Long Bien Bridge and passing by Quan Chuong Old City Gate
Just a few steps from Hanoi Old Quarter, Long Bien Bridge is a worth visiting bridge which was built under the French colony and well-known for being the first bridge cross the Red River. Here, you can discover the local life under the bridge, in the night market and the fresh and green gardens along the riverside.
Located on Hang Chieu street, O Quan Chuong’s front faces the east and the Red River. If you visit Long Bien Bridge, don’t forget to spend a few minutes visiting this Old City Gate too. Built in 18th century, O Quan Chuong, also called Dong Ha (ie Dong Ha ward) or East gate was named after a chief of the army (Quan Chuong) to remember his sacrifice and Nguyen soldiers, to fight against the French when they attacked Hanoi.
17.00 – 18.30: Water puppet show
Located at 57B, Dinh Tien Hoang street, nearby Hoan Kiem Lake, Thang Long Water Puppet Theater is a familiar address to discover the beauty of this unique Vietnam traditional art. Traditional content of water puppet performance like the daily life of Vietnamese farmers, communal entertainment or historical legends with modest performance way has appealed audiences for centuries. However, the artists of Thang Long Water Puppet Theater want to renew the old puppet shows with the effect of light, music, and combination between people and puppets. A puppet performance within an hour is quite suitable for a day trip to Hanoi Old Quarter, isn’t it?
18.30 – 22.00: Weekend night market and walking streets
If you are lucky to hop in from Friday evening to Sunday night, it would be wonderful as you can experience the walking streets around Sword Lake where everybody heads out to dance and play Vietnamese traditional games. Isn’t it a good way to get an insight into the mysterious Oriental culture of Vietnam?
Besides, the night market which spans almost 3km from the lake to Dong Xuan Market is the most crowded places attracting many tourists with millions types of food and goods.
18.30 – 20.00: Enjoy Vietnamese spa, why not?
If you are tired of walking all day around Hanoi Old Quarter, this can be the most suitable time to enjoy spa and massage, especially after a hot day of summer. You can easily find a spa anywhere in the Old Quarter, or you can ask the receptionists about the service included in the hotel where you stay. A combo of spa, massage and swimming pool, and even beauty therapy for ladies is always indispensable and this is also a chance to experience Vietnamese spa.
20.00 – 22.00: Food Adventure
If you get to Hanoi on a normal day of the week, no worries as Hanoi still offers you plenty things to do at night. A foodtour requires you to walk along the beautiful streets of Hanoi by night is a good idea, isn’t it?
Streetfood has long been a special signature of Hanoi in particular and Vietnam in general. Coming to Hanoi Old Quarter, there’re millions of kinds of food that you must try. It’s easy to find these food as there are restaurant and street vendors everywhere in the downtown of Hanoi. So, if you are a food lover, spare time and follow this list:
All the dishes are well-served with a very reasonable price. Most interestingly, you can have a chance to experience outdoor streetfood on small plastic chairs which is a culinary trait of Hanoi Old Quarter. Otherwise, Trang Tien ice-cream at 35 Trang Tien is worth trying as dessert too.
22.00-23.00: Beer time
After the foodtour, if you still don’t wanna leave the party early for bed yet, then Ta Hien Street with draught beer is absolutely the next stop. This is the most famous street for any foreigner wanting to try this special Vietnamese beer.
All these suggestions may be enough for a day discovering Hanoi Old Quarter on foot. So it’s highly recommended that you spend time reasonably if you want to visit all. Or just let our tailor help you create the most suitable and meaningful Hanoi Old Quarter exploration.