Sights and activities in Hanoi
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum (opening hours: 08:00am - 11:00am except for Monday and Friday. Admission free) - Visitors are to be respectful both in dress (long pants and sleeved-shirts) and in attitude. Electronic devices are to be deposited before entering the mausoleum.
The One-pillar Pagoda - One of the unofficial symbols of Hanoi, dedicated to the Goddess of Mercy. The Pagoda symbolises a lotus blossom (representing purity) growing out of a sea of sorrow.
The Temple of Literature (Quoc Tu Giam St., south of the Mausoleum. opening hours: Daily 07:30am - 5:30pm. Admission 5,000 dong.) - Built in 1070 as a place to worship Confucius and his disciples, it became Vietnam's first university 6 years later. The original area was burned down and destroyed by the French colonialists.
History Museum (Tran Quang Khai Street, behind the Opera House. opening hours: 07:30am - 11:30am & 1:30pm - 4:30pm. Closed on Monday) - As its name suggests this museum is a showcase of Vietnam's history.
Army Museum (Dien Bien Phu Street, the Ancient Citadel Area. opening hours: 07:30am - 11:30am & 1:30pm - 4:30pm. Closed on Monday and Friday) - History of the country and of its military. Artifacts include wreckage of B52 bombers, F111 fighter aircrafts and different kinds of weapons from the war.
Hoa Lo Prison Museum (Hoa Lo Street, between Ly Thuong Kiet Street and Hai Ba Trung Street. opening hours: 07:30am - 11:30am & 1:30pm - 4:30pm. Closed on Monday) - Home to US prisoners of war, the prison was often called the "Hanoi Hilton"
Vietnam Museum of Ethnology (open all days except Monday. opening hours: 8:30 am to 17:30 pm ; Address : Nguyen Van Huyen St, Cau Giay, Hanoi); Tel : (84-4) 37562193 .Vietnam Museum of Ethnology is both a research centre and a public museum exhibiting the ethnic groups of Vietnam. The mission of the Museum is scientific research, collection, Documentation, conservation, exhibition and preserving the cultural and historic patrimony of the nation’s different ethnic groups. The museum also serves to guide research, conservation, and technology that are specific to the work of an ethnographic museum.
Women's Museum (Bao Tang Phu Nu, 36 Pho Ly Thuong Kiet, to the south of the Old Quarter. opening hours: 08:00am - 4:00pm. Closed on Monday) - Includes tributes to women soldiers during the war as well as costumes worn by ethnic minority groups. There are often one-off exhibitions on the 3rd floor.
Hanoi shopping opportunities abound in the many small streets that make up the Old Quarter. Wander around and you'll find clusters of shops all selling the same thing. There's a street selling just toys which becomes a street with Chinese lanterns then you'll come across several silk shops, art galleries and handicrafts.
It's amazing how they all lie next to one another selling exactly the same things with nothing to differentiate them. In the evening Pho Hang Dao becomes closed to traffic so it's a pleasant place to stroll again with the clusters of wallet and belt shops followed by what seemed to be the England football shirt department.
Well worth a visit during the daytime is the three storey Dong Xuan Market which is the focal point of life in the Old Quarter. It is mainly a market for the locals who pack the place out buying fruit and vegetables on the bottom floor and their clothes on the other levels. You'll also come across fake brand name sunglasses and some good luggage stalls but don't expect to find quality branded clothing here. Bootleg western CDs and DVDs were not on sale either.
Bargaining is commonplace but it isn't as ridiculous in its extremes as in other Asian countries, most notably Indonesia where the final price might be a 10th of the initial asking price. Here there is a margin for bartering but don't insult the seller with a ridiculous drop in their asking price. We found souvenir shopping quite difficult in the capital. There are plenty T-shirts for sale but there is no variety in designs not only in Hanoi but all over Vietnam and the quality is extremely poor. Art shops offer some of the best options for things to take home (try Pho Hang Gai and Pho Trang Tien) and you'll come across nice handmade tablecloths and embroidery in some shops.
Hanoi tailors will make you a dress or a suit in a couple of days but if you're traveling around you'd be better off ordering this in Hoi An which is a dress shopper's paradise.
Restaurants and cafes in Ha Noi
Cha ca La Vong
14 Cha ca
Tel: 3825 3929
Traditional, Ha Noi- style grillled fish in a famous restaurant run by the same family for five generations.
15 Chan Cam
Beatifully restored french villa serving traditional menus by one of Hanoi’s best chefs.
Au Lac House
13 Tran Hung Dao
Tel: 3933 3533
Renowned Vietnamese traditional dishes set in a beautiful French mansion
Club de L’Oriental
22 Tong Dan
Tel: 3826 8801
Elegant restaurant with beautiful interior design. An open kitchen area creates a unique dining experience.
13 Ly Thai To
Tel: 3824 0637
A slice of traditional HaNoi, in terms of both décor and gestation
16 Nam Ngu
Tel: 3942 4097
Old villa-style house with courtyard for indoor and outdoor dining. The best of local cuisine.
Spices Garden and Restaurant
Sofitel Metropole Hotel
15 Ngo Quyen
Tel: 3826 6919
A healthy and refined cuisine with exotic flavors features Vietnamese’herbs, spices and other well- known traditional specialties
55a Nguyen Du
Tel: 3943 9342
Exquisitely decorated place. Stylish but comfortable atmosphere.
Seasons of Hanoi
95B Quan Thanh
Tel: 3843 5444
Up- scale Vietnamese place. A very enjoyable and refine dining experience.
Cam Chi food alley
Cam Chi, South end of Old Quarter
Very small street crammed full of lively streets stalls serving delicious foods.
38 Duong Thanh
Tel: 3828 6844
Vietnamese and french cuisine. Dining in an unique ambience with real cyclos as tables
Le Beaulieu Restaurant
Sofitel Metropole hotel
15 Ngo Quyen
Tel: 3826 6919
This elegant restaurant offer the best French cuisine in the town.
19 Ngo Van So
Tel: 3944 6317
Inside a 1930s vila colonial-era Indochine fantasy. Great French cuisine by famous Hanoi chef, Didier Corlou
14-16 Nha Tho
Tel: 3825 6334
Casual French atmosphere in a scenic location with good western and Vietnamese food.
13 Nha Tho
Wide selection of tasty snacks and sandwiches to eat in or take away.
Minh’s Jazz club
31 Luong Van can
Tel: 3828 7890
Popular Jazz club.Live music every night
5 Bao Khanh
Tel: 3825 0959
An excellent bar with draught beers, pool table and decent music.
You can get excellent Vietnamese coffee at any Highland coffee shop but the one next to the Opera House has a great location.