Top attractions and free things to do in Hanoi 2024

Hanoi is a city steeped in rich history and culture. Each year, millions of travelers are drawn to Hanoi's magnetic charm. Today, let's delve into all the attractions in Hanoi together in our article!

1. Top attractions in Hanoi 

There are several attractions in Hanoi that captivate the beauty of the city's rich history and cultural heritage. You've likely heard of the enchanting streets of the Old Quarter, where ancient architecture and bustling markets provide a glimpse into Hanoi's storied past, or the serene ambiance of Hoan Kiem Lake, a tranquil oasis amidst the city's hustle and bustle.
Each of these attractions showcases the captivating beauty of Hanoi, making it a captivating destination for travelers seeking authentic experiences.

1.1. Hoan Kiem Lake

Known as the "Lake of the Returned Sword" or "Lake of the Restored Sword," Hoan Kiem Lake holds deep historical and cultural significance for the people of Vietnam.
hoan kiem lake hanoi

Surrounded by lush greenery, scenic walkways, and historic landmarks, Hoan Kiem Lake serves as a focal point for locals and tourists alike. At dawn, the lakeside comes alive with Tai Chi practitioners gracefully moving through their routines, while early morning joggers weave along its perimeter, enjoying the serene ambiance.

1.2. Hanoi Old Quarter

Back in the day, Hanoi Old Quarter had 36 different groups of traders, each selling different stuff like clothes, jewelry, and food. Even now, you can see some of these names on the streets. The buildings are really old-fashioned, with colorful shutters and fancy balconies.
hanoi old quarter 3

As day turns to night, the Old Quarter takes on a magical atmosphere. Lanterns illuminate the streets, casting a warm glow over the bustling alleyways. Sidewalk cafes spill onto the pavements, offering the perfect vantage point for people-watching and soaking in the lively ambiance.

1.3. Temple of Literature

The Temple of Literature was built to honor Confucius, a wise teacher from China, and to celebrate education and scholars. 
Temple of Literature 1

When you go inside the Temple of Literature, you'll see beautiful buildings with curved roofs and pretty gardens. It's a calm and quiet place. People visit to pay their respects to Confucius and to celebrate education. It's also a popular place for tourists to learn about Vietnam's rich history and culture.

1.4. Vietnam Museum of Ethnology

The Vietnam Museum of Ethnology is a really cool place in Hanoi where you can learn all about the different cultures and people of Vietnam. It's like taking a trip around the country without ever leaving the city.
Vietnam Museum of Ethnology

There, you can explore life-size replicas of traditional houses from different ethnic groups. Some are on stilts, some are made of bamboo, and they all have their own unique styles. You also see colorful costumes, intricate jewelry, and even musical instruments.

1.5. Hoa Lo prison

Originally built by the French in the late 19th century, it was used to imprison Vietnamese political activists fighting for independence from colonial rule. Today, Hoa Lo Prison serves as a museum, offering visitors a sobering glimpse into its dark past.

The museum displays artifacts and photographs documenting the prison's history, including the harsh treatment of Vietnamese revolutionaries and the experiences of American POWs during the Vietnam War.

1.6. Ho Chi Minh complex

The Ho Chi Minh Complex in Hanoi is a place of great reverence and significance. It's dedicated to honoring the life and legacy of Ho Chi Minh, who played a pivotal role in Vietnam's independence.

The complex is centered around the imposing Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, where visitors can pay their respects to the beloved leader. Surrounding the mausoleum is a vast expanse of gardens and monuments, including the Presidential Palace, where Ho Chi Minh lived and worked, and the One Pillar Pagoda, a historic Buddhist temple dating back to the 11th century.

1.7. Thang Long Imperial Citadel

Thang Long Imperial Citadel is one of the most important cultural and historical sites in the country, with roots stretching back over a thousand years.
Imperial Citadel of Thang Long

The citadel itself is a massive complex, surrounded by high walls and moats. Inside the citadel, you'll find treasures at every turn. There are ancient relics, intricate carvings, and beautifully preserved architecture that give you a glimpse into Vietnam's glorious past.

1.8. Thang Long Water Puppet Theater

Water puppetry is a unique art form that has been practiced in Vietnam for centuries. Over time, this folk art evolved into a sophisticated theatrical performance. 
Hanoi water puppet show times

At the Thang Long Water Puppet Theater, audiences are treated to a spectacle unlike any other. The stage is a pool of water, and puppeteers stand behind a screen, manipulating wooden puppets with long poles hidden beneath the surface. The performances are accompanied by traditional music played on instruments like drums, flutes, and stringed instruments.

1.9. Vietnam Military Museum

It is a place where you can learn all about the country's rich military history. 

The museum is housed in a grand building with imposing architecture, making it hard to miss. Inside, you'll find an impressive collection of military equipment, weapons, and vehicles from different periods of Vietnamese history. One of the most striking exhibits is the outdoor display of captured American military equipment from the Vietnam War.

2. Top free things to do in Hanoi        

Hanoi also offers plenty of free and exciting activities for travelers on a budget. Here are some top things to do in Hanoi that won't cost you a dime: 

2.1. West lake & Tran Quoc pagoda

West Lake, or Ho Tay in Vietnamese, is the largest freshwater lake in Hanoi and a beloved destination for locals and tourists alike. The lake is surrounded by lush greenery, parks, and gardens, creating a tranquil atmosphere that's ideal for relaxation and reflection.
tran quoc pagoda photo

On the other hand, Tran Quoc Pagoda, located on a small island in the southeastern corner of West Lake, is one of the oldest pagodas in Vietnam. Visitors are welcome to wander the grounds, take photos, and soak in the serene ambiance of this historic site.

2.2. French Quarter

The French Quarter in Hanoi is a charming and historic district known for its elegant architecture, tree-lined boulevards, and vibrant atmosphere. You can simply take a leisurely walk through the French Quarter and admire the stunning view of the colonial-era buildings.

Keep an eye out for street art and murals scattered throughout the French Quarter. These vibrant artworks add a splash of color to the neighborhood and provide insight into Hanoi's contemporary art scene.

2.3 St Joseph’s Cathedral

St Joseph’s Cathedral is a must-visit destination for travelers exploring the city. 

Visitors are welcome to enter St. Joseph's Cathedral and explore its interior, which is characterized by soaring arches, stained glass windows, and intricate details. At St. Joseph's Cathedral, the bustling square outside is a hotspot for locals and tourists alike. Especially on weekends, it's alive with street vendors, performers, and plenty of opportunities for people-watching and photos.

2.4. Long Bien Bridge

The Long Bien Bridge stands as a living monument to Vietnam's tumultuous past and enduring spirit. It continues to serve as a vital artery for commuters and traders, with motorbikes, bicycles, and pedestrians crossing its span daily. 
long bien bridge hanoi

Visitors to Hanoi can walk or cycle across the bridge, taking in panoramic views of the Red River and the surrounding countryside. The bridge's pedestrian walkway offers a unique vantage point for photographing the bustling river below and the city skyline beyond.

2.5. Hanoi Train Street

Hanoi Train Street is a unique and captivating attraction located in the heart of the city. It's famous for its close proximity to the railway tracks, where trains pass through just inches away from houses and cafes. 
hanoi train street 10

Visitors can experience the thrill of watching trains rumble past while enjoying a meal or a drink at one of the quaint cafes lining the street. The atmosphere is bustling and lively, with vendors selling souvenirs and locals going about their daily lives.

2.6. Dong Xuan market

Dong Xuan Market is one of the largest and oldest markets in Hanoi. Located in the Old Quarter, the market is housed in a large, four-story building and is divided into different sections selling everything from clothing and accessories to fresh produce.

Visitors can immerse themselves in the lively atmosphere, bargaining with vendors and sampling local street food delicacies. The right place to experience local life!

2.7. Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and One pillar pagoda

The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and One Pillar Pagoda stand as two iconic landmarks nestled within close proximity to each other in Ba Dinh Square. Both sites provide a profound glimpse into Vietnam's rich history and cultural heritage, rendering them essential stops for travelers venturing through Hanoi.

In conclusion, the city is brimming with captivating attractions in Hanoi and experiences that cater to all interests and budgets. There's no better time to discover the wonders of this city! 

>>> Check out: What to do in Hanoi for 4 days 
                            Best places to visit near Hanoi 

Go Viet Trip hope that this article will help you have a great time in Hanoi. Please feel free to contact us: Email: or hotline +84968667589. We are guarantee about quality and prices. Get a full refund if you do not feel happy with our services.

Author Hoan Nguyen

Hoan Nguyen has over 10 years of experience working in the tourism sector and operator. He has traveled to many places in Vietnam and around the world.


author hoan
My name is Hoan and I come from Hanoi, with more than 10 years working in the tourism industry (both as a tour guide then tour operator). I am very proud to say that I can give you the best advice for your trip to beautiful Vietnam.

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