10 Unique Activities To Do In Ha Noi For Your First Visit

If you’re visiting Hanoi for the first time, here are some suggestions for exciting activities to do during your stay.

activities to do in Hanoi

1. Take pictures at the Hanoi Moi newspaper editorial office

Address: No. 44 Le Thai To Street, Hang Trong Ward, Hoan Kiem District

Referring to the outstanding check-in points in Hanoi, it is definitely impossible to ignore the Hanoi Moi Newsroom. Built in 1893 according to the prevailing French architectural style at that time, this place has witnessed many ups and downs in the history of Hanoi.

With brilliant yellow walls and wooden green doors, Hanoi Moi appears majestically in the middle of the streets. On the left side of the editorial office, there is also a bulletin board about 2m wide where the daily printed newspapers are posted for people to keep track of the information. Perhaps this is a special feature of the Hanoi Moi editorial office compared to other newsrooms in Vietnam.

hanoi moi newspaper
Taking pictures at Hanoi Moi Newspaper is one interesting activity. @tutulili618

As a habit, every morning when people walk or exercise around Hoan Kiem Lake, they stop by the message board to read new information. An extraordinary sense of peace and relaxation.

Located in the center of the capital, moving here is also very convenient and easy. However, this is the government office, so you cannot go into the building for visiting, just look and take pictures from the outside.

2. Admire Long Bien Bridge from above

For a long time, Long Bien Bridge has been considered a historical witness and has become an attractive Hanoi tourist destination for domestic and international travelers.

The bridge was inaugurated by the French in 1902, connecting the two banks of the Red River, serving both traffic and resistance against foreign invaders.

Going through the war and standing with the rain and sun, the Long Bien bridge becomes a symbol of Hanoi. You should try to admire this historic bridge from above. This is also a must-do when coming to Hanoi, giving you interesting experiences.

Nowadays, Long Bien Bridge has rusted due to time and this is what makes the bridge more ancient and impressive. You can go to the cafes near the bridge to have a broader view of a corner of the capital and see the Long Bien bridge. In which, the most ideal time is sunset.

Serein Cafe & Lounge on Tran Nhat Duat Street is the most suitable point to admire Long Bien Bridge from the top. The shop has a view that covers the bridge over a hundred years old, airy space.

3. Take a cyclo around the old town

Hanoi has 36 old streets, also called Hanoi Old Quarter, each street has its own unique and ancient features. Taking a cyclo around these central streets is a one-of-a-kind experience in Hanoi for visitors.

cyclo hanoi
Cyclo Hanoi is fun to explore the city. @tuan.luu.anh

With friendly and funny drivers, cyclos will take you through the famous places of Hanoi. In the fresh air, fragrant flowers, laughter, and bustling street corners, Hanoi capital appears bustling and colorful.

You will pass by Hang Ngang, Hang Dao, Thuy Ta ice cream, Turtle Tower, Dong Xuan market, Opera House… The wheels roll slowly, you can comfortably enjoy and take photos. This activity in Hanoi has a price ranging from 150,000 VND depending on the time to use. You should confirm the price before starting the Cyclo tour.

4. Watch the sunset at West Lake

West Lake is a natural freshwater lake with an area of up to 500ha. The lake beauty is seen as a romantic and poetic break in the middle of Hanoi. Check more about West Lake!

Perhaps, watching the sunset at West Lake has become a must-do when coming to Hanoi for tourists and city dwellers alike.

Not only bringing poetic beauty with the azure water surface, but West Lake also captivates visitors with the purple color of the Bang Lang flower, the yellow color of the canary or the fragrant pink lotus, and the red phoenix petals greeting summer. Every little thing contributes to a more romantic and lyrical for the lake.

In the afternoon, at around 5:00 pm, a lot of people come to West Lake to watch the sunset. This is the most beautiful dusk viewing spot in Hanoi.

The red and yellow color covered the vast lake and then slowly the whole space sank into darkness. So ends an exciting day in this city.

 5. Taste egg coffee in Giang cafe

Address: 39 Nguyen Huu Huan Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi

Just looking for certain drinks to try when coming to Hanoi, Giang Coffee will definitely take the top spot.

giang egg coffee
Tasting an egg coffee cup gives you an new experience. @yun.shil

Having existed for more than 70 years, Giang Cafe has been associated with countless generations of Ha Thanh people. No need for ostentatious advertising, this brand is still popular and attracts a lot of customers.

In this shop, egg coffee is still loved by the locals. And many tourists come here, they also like to taste it, and you do too. It is the perfect combination between the mild bitterness of coffee and the greasy taste of eggs, with just the first sip, you will understand why Giang is so famous.

6. See the flag at Uncle Ho’s Mausoleum

One of the top things to do when coming to Hanoi is to watch the flag-raising ceremony at Uncle Ho’s Mausoleum. Every morning, the flag raising takes place regularly at 6:30 am in winter and 6 am in summer.

For a long time, this ceremony has become a sacred and emotional moment that attracts many locals and tourists.

Immediately after the signal to salute the flag is resounded, the national anthem music of Vietnam is played heroically, the flag will be pulled slowly, fluttering in the wind. In the middle of the large Ba Dinh Square, everyone dignifiedly sang the National Anthem with magnanimous spirit and overflowing pride.

Witnessing the flag-raising ceremony at Uncle Ho’s Mausoleum with your own eyes, you can find strong emotions. After finishing the flag-raising ceremony, you can visit the mausoleum, explore the stilt house, and Ho Chi Minh Museum.

7. Breakfast with Bat Dan Pho

Address: 49 Bat Dan Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi

Pho is a dish that is not only famous in the country but also regularly appears in the foreign press. Unlike other places, Pho Hanoi has its own flavor, delicious and irresistible.

pho bat dan hanoi
Try Pho Bat Dan should be in the local experience list here. @bongnguyen00

To know more about tasty Vietnamese noodles, please stop by Bat Dan Pho to enjoy a hot bowl of pho, a heirloom more than 100 years old.

Pho Bat Dan uses mainly simmered bones to create sweetness, so the broth is naturally sweet. The shop is very crowded and on weekends, you may have to queue.

8. Visit Hoa Lo Prison ruins

Address: 1 Hoa Lo Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi

Hoa Lo Prison opens from 8 am to 5 pm every day of the week, regardless of the New Year holidays.

With a ticket price of only 30,000 VND/adult, you will see the past in the most authentic way at this monument.

The prison work was built in 1896 and had the largest scale in Indochina at that time. Inmates at Hoa Lo prison are mostly political prisoners and patriots. This place was once known as “hell on earth” because of the brutal torture of inmates.

Although each room and each artifact have a signboard with information, you can see the barbarism of the colonists at that time.

In particular, in the time frame from 19:00 to 20:30 on Friday to Sunday, there is also an attractive Hoa Lo prison night tour, giving you unique experiences.

9. Eat small things at a roadside shop

Hanoi cuisine is extremely unique and attracts tourists from all over the world. Not only that, the shops are also extremely diverse, from high-class restaurants to roadside shops.

From vermicelli, pho, banh cuon, and bread for breakfast to lunch dishes, afternoon snacks like fried spring rolls or tea, or even evening snacks like hot pot, grilled… You can find all kinds of tasty food on the pavements.

street eat in hanoi
Street eat also becomes an exciting activity in Hanoi. @xthegioi87x

What could be more wonderful than being transformed into a local and going to pavement restaurants to enjoy local dishes?

However, not all of the pavement shops are good for international tourists. Thus, you need to ask your guides or the hotel receptionist before coming to one of these kinds of restaurants to try. It is better to join a street food tour in Hanoi to taste the local foods on the sidewalk shops.

10. Take a cooking class

One of the ways to better understand Hanoi’s culinary culture is to join a cooking class here.

You will be guided by the chef to go to the market and prepare some local dishes. From there, you have the opportunity to better understand the culture of buying and selling, processing food, and how to eat here.

A cooking class can last from 3-4 hours. You can join with the others for a lower tour price because the price of a private cooking class is quite high.

After the cooking class, you will have the opportunity to taste your first dishes.

Which activities in Hanoi would you like to do when visiting this city?

If you had any other exciting experience, please tell us to add more here. Thank you!

About the author


Editor at HueFlavor is a15-year local guide, Mr. Ho Thom, who loves local food in Hue as well as in Vietnam. Trusted by hundreds of guests around the world.