Visit the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long
This imposing citadel is a must-see for anyone on holiday in Hanoi. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is home to artefacts and objects from as far back as the 6th-century. Also known as the Hanoi Citadel, it was the centre of Vietnam’s politics for over 12 centuries, and was a long-standing capital too. While you’re exploring the intriguing exhibitions, make sure you head to the Hanoi Flag Tower. It’s a stone fortress that’s over 40 metres tall, and gives panoramic views over Ba Dinh Square and Hanoi City Centre. The Imperial Citadel of Thang Long is the best place to gain a thorough understanding of Vietnam’s history, as well as seeing artefacts from around Asia and China.
Walk around Ba Vi National Park
Escape from the bustling streets of Hanoi and head to the outstanding area of natural beauty that is the Ba Vi National Park. Your holiday in Hanoi, Vietnam gives you access to plenty of incredible sights – and this park is no different. It’s one of the country’s most famous national parks, thanks to the three-peaked mountain that juts dramatically from the dense tropical jungle and rainforest around it. The thick clouds, fresh air and calls of the wild are the perfect way to relax and unwind. If you need any extra help, there’s a luxury spa at the foot of the mountain. There are many hiking and walking trails around the national park, and it’s possible to climb to the second-highest peak, Tan Vien. At the top is a sacred shrine and incredible views over the forests stretching to Hanoi.
Enjoy the food and drink
There’s no better place in the world for street food than Vietnam, and in Hanoi, you’re treated to some of the best dishes on offer. The cheap prices and mouthwatering smells make it easy to try everything! Above all, choose the bun cha, a tasty broth containing barbecued pork and rice noodles. Another local delicacy is egg coffee. Since the 19th-century, the Vietnamese have grown and created unique coffees. This particular drink is almost like a dessert, and tastes like a sweet coffee-flavoured mousse.
No Hanoi holiday is complete without a visit to the Dong Xuan Market, on the edge of the Old Quarter. As well as clothes, souvenirs and electronics, you’ll find fresh meat, seafood and locally grown fresh vegetables and fruit.
Head to Hoan Kiem Lake for the Water Puppets
After a busy day of exploring Hanoi’s streets, settle down near the Hoan Kiem Lake to watch dusk fade into inky darkness. Kick-start your day by visiting the park before dawn where you can join locals in a spot of tai chi practice. The lake is a serene, peaceful spot which surrounds the Ngoc Son Temple. Continue past the lake and you’ll arrive at the Municipal Water Puppet Theatre. Here you can watch the 1,000-year-old art form in action. Since the 11th-century, Vietnamese musicians and puppeteers have brought stories to life. It’s an enchanting experience, and is loved by tourists and locals alike.
Visit Ha Long Bay
Undeniably one of Vietnam’s most beautiful spots, Ha Long Bay is made up of islands, forests and hidden caves. With around 1,600 limestone islands and tiny islets, there’s plenty to explore – and all of it is stunning. It’s been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1994, and these islands and grottoes hold a huge amount of history inside them. They are also home to countless types of animals, plants and fish. The most popular way to see Ha Long Bay is by boat, and there are many operators offering tours of varying lengths. To see it all at once, try a seaplane flight, where you’ll view everything from the tiny villages nestled against the coastline to the scattered islands and rock formations.
There’s always something to do in Hanoi whether it’s exploring the city’s secrets or heading out into its sublime national parks. The food is delicious, the locals are friendly and welcoming and the streets are full of culture. You’ll be entertained, educated and surprised at every turn. There’s never a dull moment in this Vietnamese city.