Colourful, vibrant and on-the-move; Hanoi, Vietnam’s historic capital, is fast becoming one of Asia’s most valuable economic hubs. In 2010, the city celebrated its 1,000th birthday by showcasing a collection of its most important historic gems for the first time — revealing a staggering depth of antiquity previously unknown to foreign visitors.
Belying its status as one of the continent’s fastest growing metropolises, Hanoi has suffered several periods of hardship throughout its first millennium. But thanks to the resilience and determination of its people, the city has since bounced back — becoming a wonderful visitor destination in its own right.
Those visiting Hanoi as part of a once-in-a-lifetime Asian cruise break will treasure their time spent in this optimistic capital city. To help you make the most of your trip to Hanoi, here we provide tips and advice on what to see and do during your visit, as well as a few suggestions of places to eat.
Temple of Literature
First built in 1070, the Temple of Literature is one of Hanoi’s oldest structures, and houses the Imperial Academy, Vietnam’s first national university. The site boasts numerous ancient statues, halls and pavilions, as well as the eponymous Temple of Confucius. History lover or not, you mustn’t miss this peaceful heritage site.
St. Joseph’s Cathedral
With its Gothic Revival façade, Hanoi’s St. Joseph’s Cathedral looks more akin to the Notre Dame than a regular Vietnamese temple — and there’s a good reason for this. The cathedral was first constructed in 1886, at the peak of French colonialism in Vietnam, lending it a distinct European charm. Despite suffering decades of persecution after the Viet Minh took control of the country, the St Joseph’s is now considered one of Hanoi’s most prestigious sites.
Hanoi Opera House
Modelled on the Parisian concert venue Palais Garnier, Hanoi’s opulent Opera House is considered the most important architectural landmark in the city. Exuding the influence of French colonialism, the Hanoi Opera House became one of the most important venues in Asia after its completion in 1911. Today the concert hall still hosts regular performances by the Vietnam National Symphony Orchestra and the Hanoi Philharmonic Orchestra.
Hunt for Bargains in the Old Quarter
Want to experience a true taste of Hanoi? Then head to the city’s evocative Old Quarter, whose narrow streets hold timeless charm, culture and curiosity. From street vendors and performers to bustling cafes and bars, the Old Quarter is a place where old meets new in a truly vibrant fashion.
Enjoy a Picnic on the Banks of Hoan Kiem Lake
You wouldn’t think it, but the huge body of water that is Hoan Kiem Lake is located slap bang in the middle of one of Hanoi’s busiest neighbourhoods. But far from being overcrowded, Hoan Kiem offers peace, quiet and tranquillity — making it the perfect place for a picnic when you’ve tired of trawling the city.
See a Show at the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre
“Weird”, “fun” and “delightful” — these are but a few of the words used to describe Hanoi’s Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre on TripAdvisor. Whether you’ve kids in tow or not, a trip to this peculiar venue is well worth it for an afternoon of light-hearted oddness.
Banh Mi 25
Banh Mi may sound an exotic dish, but it’s actually the Vietnamese term for sandwich. So if you’re looking for a light bite during your tour of the city, head to Banh Mi 25 — an aptly named sandwich shop selling some of Hanoi’s most beloved Banh Mi butties.
From its architecture to its food, the French influence runs deep in Hanoi. If you’re a fan of Franco cuisine, head to French Grill, arguably Hanoi’s best European restaurant. With a faithful array of French classics on the menu, including lobster bisque and pork tenderloin, this restaurant is a great choice for those not keen on Hanoi’s more exotic fare.
Café Duy Tri
If you’ve a courageous palate and want to sample some of Hanoi’s traditional Vietnamese cuisine, make for Café Duy Tri. Located in the Old Quarter where it spills out on to the cobbled street, this authentic Vietnamese café is popular with locals and tourists alike, and serves some of the best coffee in the city.
If Hanoi has taken a top spot in your must-visit list, why not pay tribute as part of an Asian cruise holiday? At Cruise1st Australia we offers lots of cruises to Vietnam, so you can spend a day or two in this majestic old city. To browse our range of Asia cruises, visit the website or call us on 1300 857 345.