Vietnam‘s capital is witnessing a tremendous tourism surge. According to recent data, Hanoi has welcomed more than 50% more travelers than last year, with 388,000 tourists flocking to the city last month alone.
Hanoi is simply irresistible. This surge in tourism signifies a spike in global interest in the city’s fusion of Southeast Asian, Chinese, and French cultures, fostering the historic sites, thriving markets, and edible joys that make the capital what it is today.
Offering a wealth of unique experiences, Hanoi is a not-to-be-missed spot for all. Here are five standout locations that genuinely make the city stick out among the rest.
Uncover the Old Quarter’s Historic Charms
First and foremost, the Old Quarter is worth visiting at the heart of Hanoi. Tourists enjoy wandering through the enticing labyrinth of charming alleys brimming with Vietnamese art, history and local life, lined with boutiques, traditional shops, and charming cafes.
Each street boasts its own unique specialty and character, like silver, silk, and street food, making it a shoppers’ paradise.
To make the experience more engaging, adventurous jet setters should consider jumping on a cyclo (three-wheeled bicycle) to venture through the Old Quarter in style. The tranquil ride allows all to soak in this fascinating city’s sounds, sights and smells in a unique way.
Affordable Fine Dining
Hanoi is world-renowned for its delectable cuisine and Northern Vietnamese delicacies, which can be found all around the historical center, and food stalls at basically every corner you turn.
Though sampling street food in Vietnam is an experience you absolutely should not miss out on, it can prove risky particularly if you’re not familiarized with the locals’ cooking practice, and you have a sensitive stomach.
If you’re looking to try traditional Vietnamese, yet you’re fine with skipping the kerbside dining experience, you can opt for a more upscale environment at HOME Hanoi, where the risks of getting food poisoning are null, and the traditional food has a more modern, high-end twist.
It is easily our favorite restaurant in town, tucked away far from the busy French Quarter in a more reclusive area, where the sounds of traffic can only be faintly heard in the distance, and equipped with a patio, richly-decorated AC-cooled dining halls, and a terrace boasting privileged views of the Hanoian skyline.
After sampling the menu extensively, our top picks have to be HOME Hanoi’s flavorful Pho, a noodle-soup rich in broth and herbs best enjoyed with meat cuts, though vegetarian alternatives are also available at request, the deliciously crispy deep-fried spring rolls, which seemed a step up from the soggy ones you sometimes find in night markets, and the accompanying rice paper rolls.
Though HOME Hanoi is definitely more on the pricey side compared to other restaurants in the area, it is still incredibly affordable by Western standards.
You should expect to pay between $40 and $50 for a hearty three-course meal and a couple of tropical drinks to beat the unforgiving heat, which is definitely a bargain considering this is one of the city’s most sophisticated eateries.
Explore the Elegance of the French Quarter
Within walking distance of the must-visit Old Quarter lies the French Quarter, a district best known for boasting wide boulevards and stunning French colonial architecture.
When taking a leisurely stroll along these picturesque streets, French-styled townhouses and upscale restaurants and cafes can be found.
The Temple of Literature is an attractive historical site and a place of learning, housing Vietnam’s first university, the Imperial Academy, where scholars once learned about Confucian teachings.
One Pillar Pagoda, on the other hand, is a breathtaking Buddhist temple built in 1094, famed for its enchanting architectural design. Here, travelers can view a pillar emerging from a peaceful pond, expressing the Emperor’s unique dream of bringing forth a son while perched on a lotus flower.
Appreciate Performing Arts at the Hanoi Opera House
Hanoi Opera House serves as another captivating place of pleasure. The French created the opera house in 1901, and it remains one of the city’s architectural gems to this day, offering an experience reflecting the nation’s artistic talents and diverse traditions.
All who visit can admire the out-of-this-world French architecture and immerse themselves in the charming world of both Vietnamese and Western musical performances, including much-loved ballets and operas.
Whispers of yesteryears can be witnessed in every corner of the venue, inviting visitors to sit back and enjoy the passion and magic of performing arts.
Honor a Revolutionary Leader at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
Visiting the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is an educational and solemn experience. The renowned mausoleum is home to the preserved remains of the Vietnamese national hero and Communist revolutionary leader Ho Chi Minh, protected around the clock by a military honor guard in the central hall.
The museum provides a peek into the complex political history and the devotion with which Vietnamese citizens regard their former leader, shedding light on the life and legacy of this powerful authority.
Moreover, the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum displays artifacts, exhibits, and images that showcase Ho Chi Minh’s radical expedition and impact on modern Vietnam, providing in-depth learnings of his political ideology and visionary outlook for the nation, interesting for all history buffs.
Cruise Through the Untouched Beauty of Halong Bay
Once delving into all the vibrant city has to offer, tourists can easily escape the enticing chaos of Hanoi by hopping onto a cruise ship to Halong Bay.
Situated just a 2.5-hour boat trip away, this celebrated excursion is the ideal hotspot for travelers wanting to relax and bask in the sun before facing reality.
The clear turquoise sea and extraordinary sunrises offer a harmonious retreat. However, adventure seekers that struggle to unwind can dive into numerous activities available from the deck (literally): snorkeling, cave explorations, kayaking, and more.
At night, enjoy looking above at the stars and listening to the calming sound of the waves crashing with a cocktail in hand. The destination is unlike no other, creating lasting memories for all who wave goodbye to the capital to venture there.
Memorable Hotspots for All Walks of Life
All of these state-of-the-art offerings make Hanoi the ideal travel destination for tourists desiring out-of-the-ordinary, spectacular experiences.
The Old and French Quarter’s historic charm, the opera house’s musical delights, and Halong Bay’s natural beauty make Hanoi a deeply memorable retreat with timeless appeal.
For those traveling alone, fear not: recently, more individuals than ever are venturing to Hanoi to travel solo.
So, whatever your circumstance, put this enchanting capital city on your bucket list to create treasured memories that will stay in your heart for years down the line. On the plus side, Vietnam is a budget-friendly nation!
Traveler Alert: Don’t Forget Travel Insurance For Your Next Trip!
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com