Watch the Locals doing Laughing Yoga at Hoan Kiem Lake
Every morning from 8am there are yoga and tai chi sessions held at the Buddhist temple on Jade Island. This small piece of land is centrally located on Hoan Kiem Lake and is accessed by means of a red wooden bridge lined with flags called Huc Bridge.
Visit the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre
One of Hanoi’s traditional attractions is its puppet theatre on Dinh Tien Hoang Street. This artform has a history dating back to the 11th century when workers in the flooded paddy fields would entertain local children with puppets whilst standing up to their waist in water. The show takes place in a pool of water on the stage where the puppeteers tell a number of humorous short stories to the accompaniment of traditional Vietnamese music. The hour-long performances are very popular and the artform itself has seen shows take place at venues all over the world. The theatre only has a small capacity so it’s important to book tickets for shows well in advance.
Enjoy Hanoi’s Best Beef Noodles at Pho Bat Dan
Pho is a traditional Vietnamese soup which is served in restaurants all over the country. It consists of a rich broth containing rice noodles, various herbs and sliced beef. Recipes vary regionally and whilst Pho is a popular street food it is also available at many restaurants. A great place to try this dish is at one of the many Pho noodle restaurants along Bat Dan Street in the Old Quarter. The most famous of these restaurants is at number 49 which only sells beef noodles and has been doing so since the 1960s. It is always packed with locals standing in a queue waiting to be served at the counter before taking a seat at one of the outside tables.
Enjoy a Fresh Beer at Bia Hoi Corner
After a day of sightseeing it’s well worth paying a visit to Bia Hoi Junction in the Old Quarter of Hanoi. This unique spot on the corner of Ta Hien and Luong Ngoc Quyen streets consists of numerous bars with small stools outside which serve local draft beer called ‘bia hoi’ for a pittance. It becomes packed with locals and visitors alike as the evening progresses and is one of the highlights of a night out in Hanoi.
Pay Your Respects to Uncle Ho
The much revered Ho Chi Minh was a revolutionary who served as President of Vietnam from 1945 until his death in 1969. He is fondly referred to as ‘Uncle Ho’ by the Vietnamese people and his embalmed body lies on display in a glass coffin at a large mausoleum in Ba Dinh Square. Tourists can visit the mausoleum although it closes for two months towards the end of every year when the body is reputedly sent to Russia to undergo its annual preservation work. The nearby Ho Chi Minh Museum is well worth a visit for those interested in learning his role in helping shape modern-day Vietnam.
Hanoi Airport Transfers
Hanoi’s Noi Bai International Airport lies 30km north of the city centre. It serves as the gateway to Vietnam for many international travellers as well as catering for many domestic arrivals on frequent flights from Ho Chi Minh City. Travellers arriving on a Vietnam Airlines flight can take minibus transfers into the centre of Hanoi. Alternatively, there’s an Express Bus (#86) service which drops off next to the Post Office on the edge of the Old Quarter.
Private transfers from Hanoi Airport can be booked in advance through Shuttle Direct. They offer a reliable and good value service to hotels all over the city. Airport taxis are not recommended as they have a bad reputation for overcharging tourists and frequently transporting them to the wrong hotel in an attempt to earn a commission from properties with which they have an ‘understanding’.
Visit Train Street, One of Hanoi’s Most Unlikely Attractions
Social media has a lot to answer for when it comes to identifying some of the world’s unlikeliest tourist attractions. That’s certainly the case in Hanoi’s Old Quarter where a narrow, residential street with a train line running through it has become one of the Vietnamese capital’s most visited sights. Located between Le Duan and Kham Tien Street this attraction became known as ‘Train Street’. Twice daily the train still runs along these tracks within inches of local houses. Local people duck into passageways as the train approaches then go about their business once it has passed. Unfortunately, the sheer number of tourists visiting the street has become so large that the local authorities have had to ban visitors for their own safety. It is still possible to visit Train Street provided that you are accompanied by one of the bar owners who will escort you to their premises. In return you will be expected to buy normal-priced drinks in the bar.
Visit the Lotte Tower Observation Deck
The Lotte Center in Hanoi is a 267 metre high skyscraper with 65 floors. It is home to commercial offices, residential homes, a 5 star hotel and the Lotte Department Store. The observation deck on the top floor is a great place from which to enjoy panoramic views over the city. The tower also houses numerous restaurants and a rooftop bar.
Go Shopping at Dong Xuan Market
Dating back to 1889, Hanoi’s largest indoor market was originally built by the French although it has been rebuilt on numerous occasions. Today it stands on four floors to the north of the Old Quarter and is home to many stalls selling everything from fresh produce to electrical goods. It’s well worth a visit simply to browse the fish, fruit and flower sections whilst stopping for lunch at the enormous dining area. Popular souvenirs worth looking out for include fake branded tee-shirts and handbags, locally-made handicrafts and traditional conical hats. Market lovers will also enjoy a visit to the Weekend Night Market which runs from just south of Dong Xuan Market into the Old Quarter. It takes place on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings from 7pm and is another great place to look for souvenirs and enjoy some great Vietnamese street food.
Take an Overnight Cruise on Ha Long Bay
Every visitor to Hanoi should allow time for a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ha Long Bay which is located some 175km east of the capital. The dramatic seascapes of the region are made up of thousands of limestone karsts which can only be accessed on boat trips from Hai Phong Harbour on the mainland. There are agencies in Hanoi which offer day trips to Ha Long Bay which are ideal if you’re on a budget or pushed for time. A far more rewarding experience can be had by booking an overnight cruise on the Bay through one of Hanoi’s more reputable and eco-friendly tour operators.
Take a Day Trip to the Perfume Pagoda
The other main excursion from Hanoi is to the Perfume Pagoda which lies 60km south of the capital. Standing in the Huong Son Mountains, this Buddhist temple is said to have a history going back more than 2000 years ago. Visitors travel from Hanoi by tour bus then approach the Pagoda on a small boat which slowly travels through some impressive rock formations to get there.
About Shuttle Direct
Shuttle Direct is one of the world’s most established and respected airport transfer providers. Our services are available throughout Europe as well as in North Africa, the Middle East, Southeast Asia and South America. Our friendly local drivers will ensure your safe, economical and convenient passage to and from the airport, cruise terminal or major train station of your choice with a minimum of fuss. Book your transfer with our easy to use online booking system and leave the rest up to us!