Explore the Old Quarter
The Old Quarter is a collection of about 36 streets, which all specialize in selling something (like jewelry, pillows, shirts, baskets, toys, shoes, sunglasses, etc). Moreover, make sure to check out St. Joseph’s Cathedral, a church that has been there since the late 1886s. It is a popular landmark and meeting place in the city.
Walk around Hoan Kiem Lake
A beautiful and charming lake with amazing views. Go here to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, especially on weekends when they block off the street for cars and it is pedestrians only.
Visit the Temple of Literature
A quiet and green oasis. the Temple of Literature blooms in stark contrast with the concrete city surrounding it. With many landscaped courtyards, garden and pavilions, this place is definitely one for the photography-inclined.
Built as a temple to Confucius in 1070, the Temple of Literature was centered more on academia than religion. A place of study for the wealthy, The Temple of Literature was Vietnam’s first national university, and many monuments still remain on the grounds dedicated to the scholars who graduated here.
Visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
Next up is the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. Ho Chi Minh will forever be etched into Vietnamese history. He is remembered as the savior of his people, which explains the reverence with which he is held.
Ho Chi Minh was the first communist ruler of Vietnam, defeating the French during the colonial era in 1954. Modeled after the tomb of Lenin of Russia, visitors can now see the body of Ho Chi Minh preserved for eternity in a coffin of glass.
The grounds around this immense Mausoleum are really worth exploring and should definitely be on your list of things to do in Hanoi.
Explore Hoa Lo Prison
Hoa Lo Prison has a dark and foreboding history. First built in the late 1800’s by the French, the prison was used to house Vietnamese political prisoners. Later in its history, the prison would become known by another name, the dreaded Hanoi Hilton.