• Photo: Cristal Tran / Shutterstock

Plan Your Hanoi Vacation

Hanoi marked its 1,000-year anniversary amidst much fanfare back in 2010, and although Western fashions, music, and food have long since elbowed their way into the once-impenetrable north, the city maintains a strong sense of identity. It’s a fascinating mix of old and new Vietnam, with Chinese and French influences, ancient culture, colonial architecture, broad tree-lined boulevards, and beautiful lakes.

Full of things to see, from the architecture of the Old Quarter and the French Quarter to Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum and the Temple of Literature, the Vietnamese capital lends itself to leisurely exploration. The city is home to one of Asia’s stronger indigenous culinary traditions, with earthy markets and a rambunctious street-food culture, but also boasts a stellar range of international dining options. Hanoi is also very affordable by urban Asian standards, with the majority of hotels and restaurants offering plenty of value.

Hanoians have increasing amounts of disposable income, and the city continues to modernize at a breakneck pace. The predominant sound at an intersection was once the delicate ring of bicycle bells. Today motorcycles and cars, including luxury models such as BMWs and Bentleys, are taxing the city's antiquated road system. Like their counterparts in Ho Chi Minh City, the youth of Hanoi express themselves through an eclectic range of influences ranging from skateboard culture and envelope-pushing contemporary art to high living and luxury labels. Nonetheless, Hanoi remains a refined city of academics, artists, diplomats—and contradictions. Timeless tableaus of "Old Asia" are easy to spot. Emerge early and you’ll find old timers practicing tai chi moves down by the banks of mist-shrouded Hoan Kiem Lake. Nearby, beret-wearing grandfathers stroke their wispy beards as they contemplate their next chess move over a cup of full-bodied Vietnamese coffee. Those looking for a city preserved in aspic won’t find it in this urbane, confounding metropolis.

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Top Reasons To Go

  1. Embark on a cultural odyssey Delve into the thriving art scene at one of the city’s contemporary galleries or at a museum highlighting Vietnam’s rich culture and history.
  2. Take it to the streets Wander the narrow streets of Hanoi’s Old Quarter, where cafés, bars, shops, and street vendors spill onto the sidewalks.
  3. Go on a gastronomic adventure Appease your palate in a melting pot of meals, ranging from pho food carts with plastic stools to fancy French restaurants offering the ultimate in refined service.
  4. Seek out the revolutionary Eye-catching propaganda art displayed in public and in small galleries to banner attractions such as Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum brings Hanoi’s revolutionary past to life.
  5. Check out hip Hanoi From arty bars, where intellectual discourse flows as freely as red wine, to cutting-edge live music venues, the capital continues to stake its claim to being Vietnam’s most febrile cultural hub.

When To Go

When to Go

In terms of weather, the ideal time to visit Hanoi is between October (with temperatures averaging 80 degrees Fahrenheit) and mid-December ...

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