Hanoi is a 1000-year-old capital city with an incredible history. It’s a place where ancient culture meets modernity.
In the Old Quarter, you’ll find tube-shaped houses that still resemble their French colonial origins. You’ll also see temples and pagodas from the past.
1. Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is an impressive edifice that pays homage to Vietnam’s founding father. This landmark is a must-visit in Hanoi and a great way to explore the city’s history.
Built over 2 years from 1973 to 1975, this iconic structure is a living illustration of national unity. It was inspired by Lenin’s tomb in Moscow but was redesigned to fit Vietnamese culture and lifestyle.
2. One Pillar Pagoda
Tucked away amongst the mega UNESCO memorial monoliths of the Hanoi tourism scene is One Pillar Pagoda. With a unique structure, heart touching history and warm Vietnamese culture this pagoda is sure to be one of the most captivating sights on your travel itinerary in Vietnam.
Originally built during the reign of Emperor Ly Thai Tong, One Pillar Pagoda was inspired by a dream during which Quan The Am Bo Tat, the Goddess of Mercy, held out an infant to the emperor. The heirless king constructed this lotus-shaped pagoda to honor this event.
3. Water Puppet Show
Water puppet shows have been an integral part of Vietnamese culture for centuries. They are performed on ponds and are often used during festivals in ancient villages.
A great way to explore the city’s cultural heritage, the Water Puppet Show is one of Hanoi’s most popular tourist attractions. The show is held in the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre next to Hoan Kiem Lake.
These shows are based on traditional Vietnamese folk tales and legends that tell about the life of rural farmers in the past. They include topics such as fishing, planting and harvesting rice and village folklore.
4. Hoan Kiem Lake
Hoan Kiem Lake is one of the most well-known Hanoi tourist attractions that offers a serene and beautiful retreat from the hustle and bustle of the capital. Located in the center of the city, this small lake is a place to relax and enjoy a quiet time with your loved ones.
Known as the Lake of the Returned Sword, this green oasis is a popular place for tourists to spend their free time in Hanoi. The lake is named after a legendary story that tells of Emperor Loi receiving a sword from Heaven and later returning it to a golden turtle who jumped into the lake to reclaim it.
5. Ngoc Son Temple
Ngoc Son Temple (also known as Jade Mountain Temple) is a popular tourist attraction in Hanoi. It is located on Ngoc Son islet on Hoan Kiem Lake.
Originally, Ngoc Son temple was a pagoda that was later converted to a temple. The relic site worships Van Xuong De Quan (Wenchang Dijun) and general Tran Hung Dao (1228-1300).
Ngoc Son temple is also famous for the legend of a national hero who was given a magical sword by God. This sword helped him defeat the Ming dynasty, and when the sword was returned to the lake by a turtle it became a symbol of Vietnam.
6. Hoan Kiem Lake Night Market
The Night Market in Hoan Kiem Lake is a must-visit destination for visitors who want to enjoy a new shopping experience in Hanoi. This three-kilometer-long night market is packed with stalls that sell everything from traditional Vietnamese handicrafts to delicious street food.
Located in the Old Quarter, this night market is a favorite among tourists and locals. The crowded streets are filled with countless rows of stalls that sell clothing, accessories, electronics and even mementos.
7. Ngoc Son Temple
Located on the island of Ngoc Son in Hoan Kiem Lake, Ngoc Son Temple is one of Hanoi’s most popular attractions. The temple is surrounded by trees and overlooks the lake, making it a tranquil and pleasant place to relax during your Hanoi day trip.
The temple is predominately dedicated to General Tran Hung Dao, who defeated the Mongols in the 13th century; La To, the patron saint of physicians; and scholar Van Xuong De Quan. Inside the temple, you can find altars, ancient artifacts and a glass case containing a stuffed lake turtle.