Deep in Vietnam’s north lies the city of Hanoi, the country’s capital. Nestled against the banks of the Red River, this part of the world has been inhabited for thousands of years, and the old heart of the city will impress you with its historical heft, whilst the newer quarter of Hanoi will inspire you with its bold leap towards securing this city’s future as the contemporary face of Vietnam.
Things to do in Hanoi, Vietnam
Explore the capital’s Old Quarter, where you can lose yourself in the labyrinthine alleys and passageways that will lead you past medieval dwellings, cramped marketplaces, unusual stores, and atmospheric temples. In this part of town, there is the neo-Gothic cathedral, St. Joseph’s, which is a nice reminder and example of the city’s past under French Colonial rule.
For a look into more recent historical events, find your way to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, where the leader of the communist revolution, and the Prime Minister of North Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh, is entombed. There is a small, but fascinating exhibition on this important cultural figure, and it is definitely worth seeing.
Other excellent sightseeing highlights in Hanoi include the Imperial Citadel, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the wonderful Temple of Literature, a centre of Confucianism, and the city lakes, Hoan Kiem and Tay Ho.
Outside of the urban sprawl you can experience one of the most astounding natural attractions in the nation; Halong Bay. This ethereal bay is one of Southeast Asia’s most popular sites, known for its incredible seascape made up of thousands of islands, hidden caverns, and rising karst pillars, all of which are set amongst tranquil, turquoise waters.
Best time to visit Hanoi, Vietnam
- Summer is a popular season, but it can get quite hot, with temperatures ranging from 28-35°C.
- The shoulder seasons of spring (March-April) and autumn (September-November) are the most pleasant due to it being cooler and drier than the peak summer months.
- Hanoi’s winter temperatures hover around 10°C.
Best time to book
- It is recommended that if you are flying to Vietnam to book about 3 months in advance of your trip.
Expect to pay
- Vietnamese Dong (VND)
- Buying a regular cappuccino in the city will cost around 40,000VND ($2.30)
Arriving in Hanoi, Vietnam by plane
- Hanoi Airport, also called the Noi Ban International Airport (HAN) and airlines that fly from Australia to Hanoi are ANA, Vietnam Airlines, Asiana Airlines, Cebu Pacific, Jetstar, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways, AirAsia, Cathay Pacific, EVA Air, SilkAir and Malaysia Airlines.
- You’ll find that the airport is 30km outside of the city centre, and provides its transiting passengers with shopping and dining amenities, as well as access to cash machines and currency exchange services.
- There are regular routes operated to Hanoi from Australia, though these are usually via Singapore (SIN) or Ho Chi Minh City (SGN).
- Australians must apply for a visa before entering the country. Please ensure you have at least 6 months remaining validity on your passport before you travel. For further requirements and information, check the government smart traveller website, which has the latest updates on travel to Vietnam.
Transportation to city centre
- Taking a taxi into town will cost about 320,000VND ($18.50).
- There are public buses and minibuses that can run you into Hanoi, or you can sort an airport transfer through Skyscanner before you leave.
- You can hire a car within the airport, or arrange a vehicle online with our search tool.
Where to stay in Hanoi, Vietnam
- A huge portion of the city’s attractions can be found in the Old Quarter, which is an atmospheric district of the city. Expect to find accommodation of all types, along with excellent eateries and shopping options.
- A little away from the main part of the city is the serene West Lake, perfect for exploring the lovely banks that run along the waterfront and the ancient architecture. You can find luxurious hotels in this part of town as well as more moderate ones.
- Ba Dinh is great for access to the Botanical Gardens and the Temple of Literature, a little quieter than the Old Quarter, this is still a popular tourist hub for its hotels, attractions and restaurants.
Useful tips before you go
- Vietnam is a pretty laid back country but it is advised that you dress modestly when visiting temples or important attractions, and leave any skimpy outfits for the beach.
- Also, keep in mind that public displays of affection are uncommon in Vietnam and are a bit uncouth.
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