Recommended Places and Food in Hanoi By Local

As a city lying on the fertile field of Hong River, Hanoi keeps a-thousand-year cultural history of Vietnam and withholds unique attractive East Asian cultural values. Many valuable historic remnants were left in Hanoi since the year 1010 when King Ly Cong Uan moved Vietnam’s capital from Hoa Lu (Ninh Binh province) to Thang Long (Hanoi’s former name). 

In this article, I will recommend you some must-visit destinations and must-eat food in Hanoi that should be in your bucket list when travelling to Hanoi. 

I – Best Season To Visit Hanoi:

There are four seasons in Hanoi,mostly humid and hot with a lot of rain. In the summer, it is quite hot and rainy, but cold and dry in the winter. The spring and autumn, with comfortable weather, play the role as a transiting season and enrich climate diversity for the city. Every season of Hanoi is glamorous and worth exploring.

For instance, if you visit Hanoi in the spring from January to March, you will experience the exciting atmosphere of traditional Tet festival (Lunar New Year) in the light rainy weather with blossomed peach flowers coloring all streets with red and pink. As for romantic people, please come to Hanoi in July and September and you will be amazed by the leave-changing mosaic beauty of such streets as Phan Dinh Phung, Hoang Dieu, Kim Ma, etc.

Phan Dinh Phung street. (Photo: hanoihotels.info)

II – Must-visit Destinations in Hanoi:

Here, I will skip some popular destinations like Hoan Kiem Lake, Old Quarter, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, etc.

1/ Imperial Citadel of Thang Long:

In 2010, it was 1000 years since the day King Ly Cong Uan moved the capital to Hanoi, Thang Long royal castle was recognized by the UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee as the World Cultural Heritage. Although Thang Long Citadel was torn down throughout history, fortunately its main entrance to the Forbidden City (‘Cấm Thành’) – Doan Mon Gate is still remained. The Imperial Citadel of Thang Long is one of the regrettable things of Hanoi people, and Vietnamese people as general. If it was still in its complete shape, it would be comparable to the Forbidden City of China (‘Tử Cấm Thành’.)

  • Address: Quan Thanh District, Ba Dinh, Hanoi.
  • Opening hours: 08:00 – 17:00 every day except Monday.
  • Entrance ticket: 30.000 VNĐ ($1.32) (for students is 15.000 VNĐ ($0.64).
  • Public transportation: Bus number 22, 33, 45, 50.
Photo: TourHanoi

2/ St. Joseph’s Cathedral Church:

Catholics is the second biggest religion in Vietnam after Buddhism. From the sixteenth century, the European missionaries began to introduce Catholics to Vietnam. Over 5 centuries, Catholics became familiar with a large Vietnamese community. The religious values also left for Hanoi some beautiful architectures carrying uniqueness of European Gothic architecture, namely St. Joseph’s Cathedral Church, Ham Long Church, Cua Bac Church, Phung Khoang Church, An Thai Church, Thinh Liet Church, and Ha Dong Church. Out of those, St. Joseph’s Cathedral Church is the most famous one.

St. Joseph’s Cathedral Church was built in 1884 and consecrated on Christmas day in 1887. It is one of the first western architectures that were reconstructed in Hanoi. Its original name was Saint Joseph because Pope Innocentinus XI wanted to honour Saint Joseph as a saint protecting Vietnam and neighbouring countries. However, people usually call it ‘Nhà thờ Lớn’ (the Big Church.) It was also a cathedral of the Hanoi archdiocese.

St. Joseph’s Cathedral Church. (Photo: timeoutvietnam)

One interesting point to attracting tourists to St. Joseph’s Cathedral Church, which also has led to unique trademark of Hanoi people, is ‘Trà chanh nhà thờ’ (Church’s Lemon tea.) This area has become a familiar place of young Hanoians. With a cup of iced tea, sitting opposite to the church, visitors can feel relaxed enjoying the whole view of the church in ‘one of a kind’ area of the capital. In addition, there are famous night street food nearby, including cheese sticks, roasted fermented pork roll.

  • Location: Nha Trung street, about 5 minutes of walking away from Hoan Kiem Lake.
  • Small tip: Visitors can choose visiting Hoan Kiem Lake, Ngoc Son Temple, and rent a cyclo, which is always available on two side of pedestrian zones, to go to the Big Church.

3/ Temple of Literature:

In Hanoi, there is a place considered as the soul of Hanoi, the heart and symbol in the mind of Hanoi people. That is the first university of Vietnam – The Temple of Literature. Built in 1070 (King Ly Thanh Tong,) it was originally the school for princes and the place to worship Confucius scholars and sages, namely Khong Tu (Confucius), and Chu Van An.

The architecture of the Temple of Literature is unique with Confucius style. The most outstanding of the whole relic site is 83 Stelae of Doctors on turtles (only 1 stelae has only turtle). Those stelae were carved the names of the doctors who had passed the exams in Han language. According to archaeologists, the oldest stelae was constructed in 1484, and the newest in 1784. Those stelaes did not only have historical value, but also philosophical, architectural, and art values.

>>>We have a full article about the Temple of Literature, please click here.

Stelae of Doctors on turtles. (Photo: dkn.tv)

The relic site of the Temple of Literature was placed 23th on the list of National Monuments in Vietnam. If you have a chance to visit Hanoi, should not miss this place.

  • Location: 58 Quoc Tu Giam street, Dong Da District, Hanoi City.
  • Opening hours: 
    Monday – Friday: From 7:30 – 18:00 (I checked it from Mon- Fri not Thurs)
    Saturday – Sunday: From 8:00 –  21:00.
  • Entrance ticket: 30.000 VND/1 time ($1.32), 50% off for the disabled, students, the elder from 60 years old to above.
  • Public transportation: bus number 2, 23, 38, 41.

***From Hanoi, it is easy to visit other provinces like Sapa, Moc Chau, Cao Bang, etc.

II – Must-Eat Food in Hanoi:

Hanoi is not only famous for interesting places, but also for various cuisines which have all the quintessence of Hanoians. Let’s move on those already popular dishes, which had been introduced from the past Vietnam Track’s articles such as pho, bun cha, bun thang, cha ca La Vong, bun dau mam tom, banh tom Ho Tay, etc. Here, I will recommend you some other delicious dishes that you must try in Hanoi:

1/ Bún ốc (snail vermicelli soup)

Bun oc is easy to find because of its popularity; from street booth to restaurants, they all serve it.  The main ingredient is vermicelli noodles and snails, which have been cleaned. A bowl of bun oc is always colorful with distilled tomato and yellow banana. The taste is a perfect combination between soup with a little bit of greasiness, sour, and smell of vinegar. With thin slice of banana flowers and vegetables, the bowl becomes full of different flavors.

Bún ốc. (Photo: i.ytimg.com)

Recommended restaurants:

Ms. Beo at Hoe Nhai street,

Ms. Luong at Khuong Thuong street, 530 Thuy Khue,

Tinh Que restaurant at Cao Dat street,

Inside Dong Xuan market,

Around Tay Ho (West Lake).

2/ Banh cuon (Rolled rice crepes)

Banh cuon is made from rice flour through the skillful hands of the cooks to create a very thin and soft layer. Banh cuon has different types to keep up with the various tastes of people such as Banh cuon without filling, banh cuon filled with wood ear mushroom, banh cuon filled with egg, or shrimp, salted shredded meat, roasted cinnamon pork, etc.

However, the only thing to make banh cuon delicious is sour and spicy fish sauce, which is the cook’s secret. Using chopsticks to dip a piece of banh cuon in the sauce then put it straight into your mouth will give you an unforgettable experience.

Bánh cuốn. (Photo: i.ytimg.com)

Recommended restaurants:

Banh cuon Phuong, 68 Hang Cot (Hanoi),

Banh cuon Ms. Thoa at Ham Tu Quan street,

banh cuon Thanh Van at Hang Ga street.

3/ Pho cuon (rice noodle rolls)

If you already felt familiar with the pho with broth, then pho cuon (rice noodle rolls) will be an interesting thing for you to try when visiting Hanoi. It is different from pho with broth, but rather similar with banh cuon (rolled rice crepes). However, the flour is tougher and thicker. Inside the roll is fried beef, egg, vegetable; and it is served with sweet and sour fish sauce. The most delicious pho cuon is at Ngu Xa village, near Truc Bach lake; it is also the original place of the dish.

Phở cuốn.(Photo: chiecthiavang.com)

Recommended restaurant: Hung Ben restaurant at 33 Ngu Xa, Hanoi.

>>>For drinking beer, here is a good place to check out.

>>>Hanoi has a very special tea, click here to discover.

Writer: Linh Dang.
Translator: Diem Nguyen.

[Hanoi] Four Places To Observe Daisy Flowers (Cuc Hoa Mi)

Daisy (Cúc họa mi) picks its own season; only blooms from the end of November till two weeks later. Anybody who loves Hanoi cannot miss this once-a-year chance because daisy is believed to carry beautiful characteristics of Hanoians such as tenderness, purity, and simpleness.

If you are happen to be in Hanoi, take the chance and visit one of these following destinations to enjoy the beauty of daisy flowers in the cool weather of Hanoi.

1/ TAY TUU GARDEN:

Tây Tựu Garden is the biggest place of planting flower in Hanoi. Situated in Bac Tu Liem District, 20 km away from center Hanoi, this large area plants many types of flowers. During daisy’s blooming time, many fields in the garden that only grow this type of flower. The whole area is totally in white, beautifully and imposingly.

How To Go:

Follow to Xuan Thuy direction (Cau Giay,) pass Cầu Diễn and get to the University of Industry (Đại học Công Nghiệp.) Then, go to Tay Tuu crossroads and turn right to the flower village.

Expense:

When coming to garden, you only need to buy a small bunch of flower, and then you can take as many pictures as you can. Tay Tuu does not offer photography service, so you do not have to pay money. However, before coming in, you need to ask for permission and be tender with these flowers.

Photo: tripnow.vn

2/ NHAT TAN FLOWER VILLAGE:

Located under Long Bien Bridge, Nhat Tan Flower Village is a familiar place of photoholics. In any season of the year, this flower village is always full of colorful flowers.

How To Go:

Departing from the inside of Hanoi, you can take the bus (number 55, 58, 31), get off at Nhat Tan crossroads, and then walk to the garden. Another way is to follow Au Co Street, turn at 264 Lane, and then pass by peach garden, kumquat garden to the garden.

Expense:

Price of taking photos at garden is from 30,000-50,000VND up to each garden owner.

Photo: tripnow.vn

3/ ROCK GARDEN OF RED RIVER:

Located near Nhat Tan Flower Village, Rock Garden of Red River with an area of 10 hecta is also a favorable place to take pictures.

How To Go:

From Nhat Tan Peach Garden, you need to go straight to the end of 264 Lane. Otherwise, you can choose bus 31, 33, 55 and 58 from center Hanoi to the Rock Garden of Red River.

Expense:

Entrance ticket price is about 50,000VND/ person, but it can be reduced for students.

The Rock Garden of Red River has a lot of romantic landscapes, so it will be a place to get your creativity going.

Photo: thoibao.today

4/THAO NGUYEN HOA FILM STUDIO:

Thao Nguyen Hoa is located on Thach Cau, Long Bien Ward, opposite to Gia Lam Longan Garden.

How To Go:

From Long Bien embankment, follow Vinh Tuy Bridge for about 1,5 km, turn right to Thach Cau street for about 1km.

Expense:

With an entrance ticket costs 70,000VND/1 time, you can take pictures of many different types of flower, not only daisy in this studio.

In addition to the above-mentioned locations, it is not difficult to see many bouquets of daisy weave in the middle of Hanoi old quarter streets such as Thanh Nien – Thuy Khue, Phan Dinh Phung or Kim Ma, etc.

Photo: thanhnien.vn
Photo: Le Thanh

Are you ready to catch this beautiful moment of Hanoi?

Source: baomoi.com

Translator: Tien Le

Banner Photo Source: anadi.vn

Feel the Elegance of Hanoi through Bun Thang

One of the most notable things in Hanoi is that the capital sells different versions of rice noodles (bún.) And Bun Thang is among its culinary delights with simple but diverse ingredients. Being a traditional dish of old Hanoi families, especially during Tet (Lunar New Year,) Bun Thang carries several elements of the unique elegance of Hanoi.

Continue reading “Feel the Elegance of Hanoi through Bun Thang”

Visit West Lake (Hanoi) to Taste Shrimp Cakes

West Lake Shrimp Cake (Banh Tom Ho Tay) is one of the most famous dishes of Hanoi. It is made from crayfish or shrimps from rivers or from the West Lake directly . Over the years, West Lake Shrimp Cakes have engraved in the memories of many generations of Hanoians. Though made of really simple ingredients, this special kind of cakes has had a considerable contribution to Hanoi cuisine. Continue reading “Visit West Lake (Hanoi) to Taste Shrimp Cakes”

Ta Hien Street Hanoi – Must Go for Beer Lovers

Are you an enthusiast of this cool wheat-made drink? If the answer is yes, Ta Hien (Tạ Hiện) vintage street would be an interesting hub for you. It takes about 15 minutes to walk in the north direction from Hoan Kiem Lake.

Speaking of beer, people immediately think of the prosperous German. But in the capital city of Vietnam, there is still a humble 100-metre street which attracts thousands of tourists to enjoy drinking beer. Are you an enthusiast of this cool wheat-made drink? If the answer is yes, Ta Hien (Tạ Hiện) vintage street would be an interesting hub for you. It takes about 15 minutes to walk in the north direction from Hoan Kiem Lake.

People drink beer at Ta Hien Old Quarter, Ha Noi Viet Nam (Photo: news.zing.vn)

Actually, Ta Hien street, one of Hanoi old quarters, is a combination of short lanes. During the French colonization time,  the street was named Géraud. According to the Hanoi’s Street Dictionary, the name Ta Hien originated from the name of a leader of an anti-France colonization campaign – Ta Quang Hien (Tạ Quang Hiện) (1841-1887) who was born in Quynh Lang Village of Thai Binh Province. In 1883 when the Nguyen Dynasty let France took over Northern cities, Ta Hien resigned from his position as Lord Lieutenant and led liberal fighters against the French army. At the end of that year, after recruiting about 4000-5000 liberal fighters, his army regained Thai Binh Province and prevailed in other battles afterwards. But in a battle in February 1887, he was captured and killed.

Another interesting fact about the name Ta Hien is that it was sometimes misread into Tạ Hiền (originally ‘Tạ Hiện’,) so it creates a huge confusion for tourists because the words of ‘Tạ Hiền’ and ‘Tạ Hiện’ are both displayed on signboards in the same street.

Ta Hien Street, Ha Noi Old Quarter (Photo: cellphones.com.vn)

All the pubs at the crossroads of  Ta Hien – Luong Ngoc Quyen have been operated for over a decade. The beer here is known to be cheap and tourist-magnetic. Pub operators from time to time speak Vietnamese and some English to communicate with their customers who come from different countries. Eventually it appeared the informal name of the crossroads – ‘The International Crossroads’ (Ngã tư Quốc tế.)

If you imagine yourself sitting in a pub and enjoy beer in Ta Hien Street Hanoi, you will be completely wrong! There is no proper pub here, not even proper table. Customers will sit on small stools around a little taller plastic or wooden stools on which food and beer bottles are placed. It may be uncomfortable for some foreigners, but it creates a unique atmosphere for customers to experience ancient local lifestyles in Hanoi. Besides, one of the best parts of drinking beer here is that the beer is usually served along with delicious food such as roasted squid, fried fermented pork rolls, roasted bird meat, or simply a plate of sunflower’s seeds.

Like any other pub street, the atmosphere here becomes more lively when the night falls down with the influx of both locals and foreigners. The quietness of the street in the day time is suddenly replaced with the noisiness. The whole street is crowded with groups of people drinking beer and chatting with each other. Echoed throughout the street is the sound of “một hai badzô!” (one two three… cheers!) from both local and foreign customers.

Foreigners drink beer at Ta Hien Street, Ha Noi Old Quarter (Photo: Indochina Travel Blog)

There is a joke spreaded widely among Vietnamese young people: if you want to improve your English skills, the Ta Hien street is a must-place to go. Frankly speaking, this street really attracts foreigners from all nations and races as they seem to be fond of unique Vietnamese alcoholistic cultures. It does not matter if you are traveling alone, because in a few minutes, there will be some young people patting on your shoulders and talking with you like an old friend. That is what people usually talk about the friendliness of Vietnamese.

Ta Hien Street is full of both foreigners and native people at night. (Photo: Hanoi luxury hotel)

In the far southern area of Viet Nam – Ho Chi Minh City, there is a resemblance of Ta Hien Street named Bui Vien (Bùi Viện) Street which is crowded with bars and pubs. The street’s name is originated from the name of a great Vietnamese diplomat and revolutionizer. Coincidently, Bui Vien was a contemporary of Ta Hien’s.

So, if you like beer and plan to visit Vietnam, then Ta Hien or Bui Vien Streets should appear in your bucket list.

Một hai ba… Dzô !!!

One two three … Cheers!!!

A native guy drinks beer with foreigners at Ta Hien Street (Photo: Travel4foodfun)

Writer: Linh Dang