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Hanoi - Things to See and Do

Founded more than a millennium ago; established as the centre of government for the Indochina in 1888; and named as the capital of reunified North and South Vietnam in 1975, Hanoi is a city rich with history, tradition and culture.

Recognised as the heart and soul of Vietnam, today Hanoi is home to a confluence of influences. Ancient temples, pagodas and monuments are scattered among French colonial residences and modern office buildings. The Old Quarter preserves medieval customs as hawkers deal in centuries’-old trades. While t’ai chi and chess enthusiasts line the shores of Hoan Kiem Lake, epitomising the city’s charm.

Hanoi Information

Population: Approx. 4 million
Time Zone: GMT +7 hours
Languages: Vietnamese (official), French, English and Cantonese
Currency: Vietnamese dong
Currency Exchange: Purchase your dong and travellers’ cheques before you leave Australia.

Ho Chi Minh City Climate

Hanoi features a warm humid subtropical climate with four distinct seasons. Summer is hot and humid with heavy rainfall. Temperatures average between 24 °C and 29°C, and can reach as high as 40°C. Winter, by national standards, is relatively cold and dry. Temperatures average between 13 °C and 15°C, and can dip as low as 5°C. Spring can bring light rain. Autumn is considered the best time to visit the capital, as temperatures average around 25°C, and the trees display a delightful showcase of warm hues.

Hanoi Airport

Name: Noi Bai Airport
Location: 45km from the city centre – travel time 30–45mins.

Hanoi Airport Transport

Car Rental: Great choice of hire cars at Mates’ Rates from our car suppliers.
Taxi: Taxis are available outside the airport, on Arrivals level. Taxis from the airport to the city centre costs a fixed VND 160,000 for a sedan, VND 190,000 for an SUV.
Bus: City buses 7 and 17 connect Noi Bai Airport with Hanoi’s city centre. The bus stop is located on the right side of the terminal exit. The bus costs 5,000 VND and takes one hour. Buses run every 15-20 minutes from 5am to 10pm.


Owing to its long history and diverse and cosmopolitan nature, Hanoi enjoys an exciting food culture. Cooking is considered an art form in Vietnam, and as a result the capital has no shortage of impressive dishes and eateries.

Packed with charming colonial architecture, the Old Quarter is Hanoi’s major commercial district. A maze of ancient trade streets, the Old Quarter is a great place to experience traditional and modern Vietnamese fare. Preserved shop-houses host restaurants, bakeries and bars; while street vendors ply the streets hawking local and adventurous delicacies. Hang Hanh, a lively street near Hoan Kiem Lake, is a popular Vietnamese hang out, lined with cafés and restaurants. As the city’s major business and tourism hub, the Old Quarter comes alive at night with live music venues, discos, clubs, bars and karaoke joints.

The wide tree-lined boulevards of the French Quarter offer a refreshing contrast to the chaotic cobblestoned lanes of the Old Quarter. Dotted with lemon-hued colonial villas, the French Quarter is home to embassies, upscale hotels and designer restaurants. Visitors could be forgiven for thinking they were in Paris as the Quarter’s main artery, Trang Tien, is lined with cafes, bookshops and art galleries, and permeated with the smell baguettes and café au lait – a reminder of Hanoi’s French colonial history.

A typical Hanoi breakfast consists of pho. Pho can be bought on city blocks all throughout the city, as makeshift pho stands with vendors serving the steaming noodles broth populate the street corners. The classic Vietnamese noodle soup is sold from sunrise to last call.

Another authentic Hanoi food experience is to pull up a stool at one of the city’s many bia hois (beer halls), and indulge in the local beer. Draft beer (bia hoi) is sacred to Vietnam, and can be enjoyed all throughout the city.


Shopping in Hanoi does not disappoint. The thousand-year old Vietnamese capital brims with an array of shopping opportunities, ranging for cheap and cheerful to expensive and impressive.

Most of the city’s retail trade is conducted near Hoan Kiem Lake, within the Hoan Kiem District. Hang Bac Street – one of the oldest streets in Vietnam – has its roots in silver making, dating back to the 13th century, and is still a great place to pick up beautiful Vietnamese jewellery. Hang Gai Street (Silk Street) is renowned its craftsmen, and is a go-to for personally tailored suits and garbs. While Hang Dau Street is a haven for shoe-lovers.

Little Hanoi, a shopping area which covers Nha Tho Street and Xuan Dieu Street, brims with tourists looking to pick up souvenirs and unusual pieces. The area also hosts a few upmarket flagship shops, including Burberry and Esprit. Pho Trang Tien is Hanoi’s premier art street, boasting private galleries and workshops. Trang Tien Plaza attracts a young and trendy crowd with imported brand names in fashion, apparel and electronic goods.

The city also has a good range of markets, which provide a great opportunity to experience Hanoi’s social setting and retail scene. Hanoi’s largest covered market, Dong Xuan is a sprawling traditional Vietnamese market, home to stalls selling everything from trinkets to fake goods and fashion to home wares. Cho 19-12 (the 19-12 Market) is one of Hanoi's most interesting markets; a labyrinth of local goods, produce and oddities.