Are you looking for some suggestions about hidden gems in Hanoi, money-saving tips, food suggestions, and useful information about the city and the local people? You’re at the right place! In this article, we’ll share some helpful tips about visiting this beautiful city in in Northern Vietnam and share a few non touristy things to do, perfect for travelers looking to get off the beaten track in Hanoi.
Hanoi Travel Tips For First-Time Visitors
Hanoi is famous in the region for its lakes that give a special charm to the city. And the translation of the name Ha Noi is a “city inside rivers”. But this city has much more to offer than its lakes. From completely chaotic streets and crowded roads to beautiful architecture, charming night markets, and wide, long bridges, Hanoi is a city of contrasts. This city is the face of the Vietnamese obstreperousness and stubbornness throughout the years.
The city is very difficult to get around in. I was mostly relying on Google Maps, but my phone let me down my first day and I got lost. Getting lost in Hanoi can happen to anyone. Getting stuck in traffic or elbowing your way through the crowds is one thing, but something that caught my eye was the streets. I know it sounds peculiar, but I could swear that I didn’t see two streets meeting at 90 degrees not even once. And there are many one-way streets that were a pain in the backside as well. So yeah, I sincerely recommend you get a local sim card (for only $3) and use Google Maps or count on getting lost.
I know I made these chaotic streets sound scary, but that’s part of Vietnam’s authenticity. If you’re one of those travelers that can always find the beauty in the chaos, Hanoi, and Vietnam, in general, is the right place for your next trip. Hanoi is the kind of city that makes urban jungles like Phnom Penh and Vientiane look like quiet suburbs. It definitely looks more chaotic than Bangkok, and it’s almost as chaotic as Delhi and Mumbai.
Average Costs Of Traveling In Hanoi
Dorms – 100,000 dongs and above ($5 USD and above)
Hotel rooms – 250,000-450,000 dongs ($10-$20 USD); but if you want to save even more, use this to get you 15% off on all accommodation rentals in Hanoi.
Street food – 30,000-80,000 for a meal ($1-$3 USD); Check out this post for some more Vietnam shopping tips.
*Street food is pretty safe and not very spicy. Personally, I can say that I enjoyed street food even more than the food in the restaurants.
Transportation with buses: starting from 1,000 dongs per ride (less than 10 cents). If you plan to take day trips or travel to another city, use 12GoAsia to arrange your transportation. It’s affordable, easy, and hassle-free.
Grab bikes: around 3,000 dongs per km, but they’re very fast and get out of the traffic easier;
Taxi: around 10,000-12,000 dongs per km;
Looking for cheap flights to Hanoi? Qatar Airways has some of the best deals you can get. Additionally, this coupon can get you a big discount on all Qatar Airways flights to Hanoi.
Last but not least, you can always come across unpredictable situations like these while traveling and that’s why it’s important to get a decent travel insurance provider. Wherever I go, my go-to choice is always SafetyWing and I warmly recommend them.
Now that we covered some useful information, let’s get to the most important part of this article…
Our 15 Favorite Hidden Gems In Hanoi
Without any further ado, let’s discover some of. the best beautiful places off the beaten track in Hanoi, starting with…
Explore The Streets Of Ngoc Ha
Ngoc Ha, a hidden gem nestled within the vibrant city of Hanoi, is a neighborhood that enchants visitors with its rich history, charming ambiance, and captivating local experiences. This quaint district, located southwest of Hanoi’s city center, offers a delightful blend of tradition and modernity, allowing travelers to immerse themselves in the authentic essence of Vietnam.
Ngoc Ha is renowned for its idyllic streets, adorned with ancient Banyan trees that stand as silent witnesses to the passage of time. As you wander through its labyrinthine alleys, you’ll be transported to a bygone era, where the old-world charm mingles effortlessly with the bustling energy of the present day.
One of the most captivating aspects of Ngoc Ha is its vibrant market scene. As you meander through the lively streets, you’ll be tantalized by the intoxicating aromas of freshly cooked street food, the vibrant colors of local produce, and the enthusiastic banter of vendors vying for attention. The market offers a treasure trove of delectable culinary delights, allowing you to indulge in authentic Vietnamese cuisine that bursts with flavors and delights the senses.
Ngoc Ha is a place where time seems to slow down, where you can escape the frenetic pace of modern life and savor the simple pleasures of the present moment. Whether you’re exploring the picturesque streets, sampling delectable street food, or engaging in heartfelt conversations with the locals, Ngoc Ha invites you to experience Vietnam in its purest form.
See The Grand Houses Of Phan Dinh Phung
Phan Dinh Phung, a captivating destination in Hanoi, Vietnam, is renowned for its grand houses that stand as majestic testaments to the city’s rich architectural heritage and historical significance. Phan Dinh Phung is named after the esteemed Vietnamese general who played a pivotal role in Vietnam’s fight for independence. The neighborhood pays homage to his legacy through its grand houses, which served as residences for affluent Vietnamese families during the colonial era. These architectural marvels blend French and Vietnamese design elements, resulting in a unique fusion that exudes both grandeur and cultural authenticity.
As you stroll through the leafy streets of Phan Dinh Phung, you’ll be captivated by the stunning facades of these grand houses. Elaborate wrought-iron gates open onto meticulously manicured gardens, where vibrant flowers bloom in a riot of colors, welcoming visitors into a world of refined beauty and grace. The houses themselves are a symphony of architectural styles, featuring intricate carvings, ornate balconies, and exquisite detailing that showcase the craftsmanship of a bygone era.
Take Photos Of Train Street
Train Street, one of the hidden gems in Hanoi, Vietnam, is a captivating destination that offers a truly unique and thrilling experience for photographers and visitors alike. Train Street, officially known as Đường Rẽ Quán Trạm, is a narrow residential street where homes are built perilously close to the operational train tracks. As trains pass through this residential neighborhood, the houses on Train Street become an integral part of the captivating scene. It is a place where daily life seamlessly merges with the thundering sound of train engines and the rush of steel on tracks.
Trains barrel through the narrow street, mere inches away from the houses. The sheer power and velocity of the passing locomotive send a rush of exhilaration through your veins. The noise is deafening, the wind tousles your hair, and your camera clicks away, freezing this extraordinary moment in time. It is a sensory overload—a symphony of sights, sounds, and emotions.
But Train Street is more than just a thrilling photography opportunity. It is also a vibrant community, where residents have adapted to living alongside the railway tracks, creating a harmonious coexistence with the trains that pass through their daily lives. As you explore the street, you’ll witness the resilience and spirit of the locals, their homes adorned with colorful facades and thriving gardens, providing a striking contrast to the industrial backdrop.
Liking this post? Then you’ll probably also enjoy our list of things to do in Hoi An.
Discover Thanh Chuong Viet Palace
Thanh Chuong Viet Palace, a hidden gem nestled amidst the picturesque countryside of Hanoi, Vietnam, is a captivating destination that takes visitors on a journey through art, culture, and history. This enchanting palace, created by the esteemed artist Thanh Chuong, is a testament to his lifelong passion for preserving and showcasing the beauty of Vietnamese heritage.
Thanh Chuong Viet Palace is a sprawling complex that beautifully blends traditional Vietnamese architecture with artistic flair. As you step into this cultural oasis, you’ll be greeted by a world of vibrant colors, intricate designs, and captivating sculptures. Every corner of the palace exudes a sense of elegance and charm, inviting you to embark on a voyage of discovery.
Shop At Long Bien Morning Market
Long Bien Morning Market, a vibrant and bustling marketplace in Hanoi, Vietnam, is a haven for shopaholics and adventure seekers alike. This dynamic market, located in the Long Bien district, offers a unique and immersive shopping experience that will leave you enchanted and exhilarated.
Long Bien Morning Market is a vibrant tapestry of sights, sounds, and aromas, where locals gather to buy and sell an array of goods. As the sun rises, the market comes alive with a flurry of activity. Vendors set up their colorful stalls, filling the air with the enticing aroma of freshly brewed Vietnamese coffee and the mouthwatering scent of sizzling street food.
Long Bien Morning Market is not just a place to shop; it is an immersive cultural experience. It offers a glimpse into the everyday lives of the locals, their customs, and their traditions. Engage in friendly banter with the vendors, taste exotic fruits and street snacks, and marvel at the skill and artistry displayed in the handicrafts and traditional products on offer.
Enjoy Street Art Phung Hung Public Art Project
We just can’t complete this list of hidden gems in Hanoi without the Art Phung Hung Public Art Project. Located in the historic Phung Hung street, this project has breathed new life into the neighborhood, creating an immersive experience that celebrates the intersection of art, culture, and urban life.
As you stroll along Phung Hung street, you’ll be greeted by an explosion of color and creativity. Walls that were once dull and unremarkable have been transformed into stunning works of art, showcasing a diverse range of styles and themes. Talented local and international artists have contributed their unique perspectives, using various mediums such as murals, graffiti, and street installations to create a visual feast for the senses.
Walk The Hanoi Ceramic Mosaic Mural
One of the most vibrant hidden gems in Hanoi, the Ceramic Mosaic Mural is an extraordinary artistic masterpiece that stretches for over four kilometers, captivating locals and visitors alike. This mesmerizing mural is a testament to the rich cultural heritage of Hanoi and a celebration of the city’s vibrant artistic spirit.
The Hanoi Ceramic Mosaic Mural is the result of a remarkable community effort that involved thousands of artists, craftsmen, and volunteers. It was created to commemorate the millennium anniversary of Hanoi and is recognized as the world’s largest ceramic mosaic mural. This colossal work of art weaves its way through the heart of the city, adorning the walls along the Red River dyke.
As you embark on a leisurely walk along the Hanoi Ceramic Mosaic Mural, you’ll be immersed in a visual symphony of colors, patterns, and stories. The mural depicts various aspects of Hanoi’s history, culture, and everyday life, with each segment telling a unique tale. From scenes of ancient folklore and historical landmarks to glimpses of daily street life and traditional Vietnamese customs, the mural captures the essence of Hanoi’s soul.
Admire Art At 54 Traditions Gallery
The 54 Traditions Gallery is a hidden gem nestled in the heart of Hanoi, Vietnam, where art enthusiasts and cultural explorers can immerse themselves in a treasure trove of traditional Vietnamese art and craftsmanship. This captivating gallery showcases the rich heritage and artistic traditions of Vietnam, offering a glimpse into the country’s vibrant cultural tapestry.
At 54 Traditions Gallery, you will be transported into a world of artistic splendor. The gallery’s carefully curated collection features a diverse range of traditional Vietnamese art forms, including lacquerware, ceramics, woodblock prints, silk paintings, and more. Each piece exudes a sense of timeless beauty, reflecting the deep-rooted traditions and the meticulous craftsmanship of Vietnamese artisans.
See The B-52 Bomber Plane Remains
The B-52 Bomber Plane Remains hold a significant place in Vietnam’s history. These planes were part of the strategic bombing campaign during the Vietnam War, where they played a pivotal role in shaping the course of the conflict. Today, the wreckage of one of these iconic planes stands as a solemn memorial, evoking a sense of awe and reflection.
As you approach the remains of the B-52 Bomber Plane, you can’t help but feel a mix of emotions. The sheer size and magnitude of the aircraft leave you in awe of its power and the technological advancements of its time. The scars and damage inflicted by war are visible, serving as a somber reminder of the human cost of armed conflicts.
The remnants of the B-52 Bomber Plane offer a glimpse into the past, a tangible link to a time when the world watched in anticipation of the outcome of the Vietnam War. The plane’s twisted metal and shattered parts tell stories of courage, sacrifice, and the resilience of the Vietnamese people. They stand as a testament to the indomitable spirit that endured even in the face of adversity.
Try To Find The Middle Warp Of Red River
The Red River holds historical, cultural, and ecological significance, and its banks and islands are often dotted with communities and natural landscapes. One such place is the island near Long Bien Bridge. Dotted with picturesque landscape, lush greenery, tranquil waters, and fishing settlements, this hidden oasis is a haven for nature lovers, offering an escape from the bustling city life and providing an opportunity to connect with the natural beauty of Vietnam.
Here, one could expect to find a peaceful retreat where one can immerse themselves in the stunning surroundings, embark on leisurely walks or bike rides along the riverbanks, and discover local communities that have thrived along the Red River for generations.
How to get there?
A small stairway near the Long Bien Bridge provides access to the middle warp of the Red River. While primarily intended for pedestrians, this pathway allows bicycles and motorbikes to pass through as well.
Enjoying this post? Then you may also like our post- Ha Long Bay vs Lan Ha Bay (both are attractive day trip ideas from Hanoi).
Seat Next To Bourdain And Obama’s Dinner Table
In May 2016, Bún Chả Hương Liên, a Vietnamese noodle store, transformed from obscurity to global fame when it became the chosen dinner spot for two of the world’s most renowned figures, Anthony Bourdain and President Barack Obama, during their visit to Hanoi. While the allure of the eatery stemmed from its delectable dishes such as slippery noodles and fragrant pork patties, it was the sight of these iconic personalities seated on humble blue plastic stools, savoring chilled bottles of local beer, that captivated viewers worldwide.
Today, Bún Chả Hương Liên continues to thrive, preserving the essence of that memorable encounter. Although the restaurant retains much of its original charm, a few notable changes have taken place. As guests seek to relive the experience, they can now indulge in the “Combo Obama” featured on the menu, consisting of bun cha, a delectable seafood spring roll, and a refreshing bottle of Hanoi beer, all for an affordable price of 105,000 VND (approximately $4.50).
However, what remains elusive is the opportunity to sit at that very table adorned with the familiar blue plastic stools. Preserving the iconic scene for posterity, the restaurant has encased the entire setup in glass, occasionally adorning it with decorative plants. The metal-topped table, still meticulously set with plates, bowls, chopsticks, and beers, patiently awaits the return of its esteemed diners.
Listen To Jazz AT Binh Minh Jazz Club
Located in the vibrant Old Quarter, this intimate jazz club offers a unique and immersive experience for music enthusiasts seeking a blend of soulful melodies and captivating rhythms.At Binh Minh Jazz Club, the ambiance is electric, with dim lighting casting a warm glow over the cozy space adorned with vintage decor.
As you step inside, the smooth sounds of jazz wash over you, transporting you to a world where time slows down and the music takes center stage. The club showcases a diverse lineup of talented local and international jazz artists, creating an ever-changing repertoire that keeps patrons coming back for more.
Admire The Views At Cafe Pho Co
Situated in the enchanting Old Quarter, this charming café offers a unique and delightful experience for those seeking relaxation and a taste of authentic Vietnamese culture.
What sets Cafe Pho Co apart is its captivating ambiance and its strategic location. As you navigate through the labyrinthine alleys of the Old Quarter, you stumble upon a nondescript entrance leading to a narrow staircase. Ascend these stairs, and you’ll discover a hidden oasis of tranquility, away from the hustle and bustle of the city streets.
Upon reaching the rooftop terrace, you’re greeted with breathtaking panoramic views of Hanoi’s bustling streets below. The combination of the city’s dynamic energy and the café’s serene setting creates a harmonious contrast that is truly captivating. Take a moment to soak in the atmosphere, and you’ll feel a sense of calm wash over you.
Take A Trip To Duong Lam Ancient Village
This list of hidden gems in Hanoi wouldn’t be complete without Duong Lam. Duong Lam Ancient Village is a hidden gem located approximately 44 kilometers west of Hanoi, Vietnam. This historic village is renowned for its well-preserved traditional architecture, ancient cultural heritage, and the opportunity it offers to take a step back in time and immerse oneself in the rich history of the region.
What makes Duong Lam Ancient Village special is its unique charm and the glimpse it provides into Vietnam’s rural past. As you stroll along the narrow, winding lanes, you’ll be transported to a bygone era, where ancient houses made of laterite bricks and tiled roofs stand proudly, each with its own story to tell.
The village is famed for its well-preserved traditional Vietnamese architecture, and many of its houses date back several centuries. These ancient houses serve as living museums, offering a glimpse into the daily lives of generations past. Explore the intricately carved wooden doors and windows, admire the elegant architectural details, and marvel at the craftsmanship that has withstood the test of time.
Visit Le Mat Snake Village
Lastly, we round up this list of hidden gems in Hanoi with Le Mat Snake Village. Le Mat Snake Village is a unique and fascinating destination located on the outskirts of Hanoi, Vietnam. Nestled along the banks of the Red River, this village is renowned for its longstanding tradition of snake farming and snake-related activities, making it a captivating and offbeat attraction for adventurous travelers.
The village has been engaged in snake-related practices for generations, with families specializing in raising snakes and producing snake-based products, such as snake wine and snake meat dishes.
When you visit Le Mat Snake Village, you’ll have the opportunity to witness the fascinating snake farming process up close. Experience the thrill of seeing various snake species, including cobras and pythons, being raised in controlled environments. Engage with the locals and learn about their traditional methods of handling and caring for these reptiles, gaining insight into a lesser-known aspect of Vietnamese culture.
Did you like this list of hidden gems in Hanoi? Did you ever visit any of them? Are there more places in Hanoi off the beaten track you’d like to see on this list? Let us know in the comments below!
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Saturday 2nd of February 2019
I used to live in Hanoi and I honestly miss that crazy city so much! The sunsets there are astounding!
Sunday 3rd of February 2019
Absolutely, Kaitlyn. Hanoi is an amazing city.
Saturday 2nd of February 2019
There are some interesting facts in here about the Vietnamese and their views on visitors. Loved reading and learning about your trip. I cannot believe the scam and would have been more upset if it were actually tiger meat! Great article
Sunday 3rd of February 2019
Thank you, Alison- I'm really glad to hear you liked this post and could learn a few new things about Vietnam.
Saturday 2nd of February 2019
Gosh, it always surprises me how cheap it's to travel in Asia! No matter how often you go there, you never get used to that :) You seem to have had an epic adventure btw!
Sunday 3rd of February 2019
Well, in a lot of parts of the continent, it sure is. Thank you for your comment, Kseniia- I'm glad you enjoyed this article.
Monday 22nd of October 2018
I lived in Hanoi for a year, this post made me very nostalgic. It's a crazy, chaotic city but is so full of life. Glad you enjoyed it.
Monday 22nd of October 2018
I'm really glad to hear that Kate! Thank you for your comment, I really appreciate it
Sunday 21st of October 2018
This is one place that is defo on my bucket list, some great tips in this guide especially on what to do if you believe you are being scammed. I think scamming tourists happens a lot around the world not just in Vietnam but to claim you were eating tiger meat is a bit of a stretch lol. Thanks for sharing.
Monday 22nd of October 2018
Thank you Louise, I hope you get the chance to visit Hanoi soon! And yeah, the idea of tiger meat being served on the street was absolutely ridiculous