Hanoi, Vietnam is one of the most interesting places in the world. To explore the beauty and cuisine in Hanoi just in one day, you have to get up early in the morning and make use of every moment.
We’ll start a new day at the night flower market so that when the sun rises, you’ll visit the famous places around Hanoi and then, relax with a cup of coffee on the balcony at night.
4-5 am: Night flower market
Quang Ba night flower market often opens at 2 am. Until 4 am, the vendors will sell wholesale. From 4 am, besides wholesale, they will also sell retail. Quang Ba market is a place with the most beautiful flowers and the cheapest price in Hanoi.
If you just want to visit and buy some flowers, you can get up around 4 am and go to the market. At that time, the market is not too crowded so, you can bargain and choose what you like such as roses and lilies.
7 am: Noodle soup with snail at Tay Ho
From Quang Ba flower market, it takes just 5 minutes to drive along the lake to Tay Ho Palace, which has the famous noodle soup with snail. A bowl is full of delicious snails with beef broth, pork rolls, and fried tofu pieces. It is a good way to start your day with energy.
8 am: Co Ngu coffee
Right on Thanh Nien Street, Co Ngu coffee shop is a great place for those who like a peaceful space at West Lake. The second floor is decorated carefully with ancient architecture style with sindora wooden bed, horizontal lacquered board and pairs of wood panels. And the third floor has a view of the windswept lake.
In a summer morning, drinking coffee or tea and admiring the West Lake will bring tourists some truly relaxing times.
9.30 am: Temple of Literature
Let’s continue the trip exploring Hanoi though the relics at Temple of Literature – the first university in Vietnam. Located on Quoc Tu Giam Street, the Temple attracts tourists with its sacred beauty from the ancient trees, dark brown roofs, deep blue lakes, and radiant gardens.
Here you get to know how originally Vietnam educated people and how much influence Confucious had on Vietnamese people. It’s worth learning history here.
Opening times: 7.30am – 6pm
11:30 am: Culinary adventure and sightseeing tours.
Now we head to the Old Quarter to enjoy a local guided tour with unexpected experiences. Depending on your interest, you can choose from two options below that will give you insight into Hanoi food culture.
Option 1: Hanoi street food tour + Dong Xuan market visit
You’ll spend a few hours wandering around the old quarter of Hanoi with a tour guide. On the way, the local guide takes you to some food stalls where locals often come to eat. We can claim that this kind of tour is the best way to sample some seriously amazing specialties such as Vietnamese crepes, noodle soup, steamed rice rolls or fried spring rolls.
Each food stall looks rustic, simple, unlike any restaurants, and tourists feel like they experience true local life. Sitting on a plastic stool and enjoying food on the street give tourists great memories. Highly recommended is the Hanoi street food tour as the first thing to do in Hanoi to get acquainted with the bustling city!
Apart from food, the guide will take you to some places for sightseeing and one of the places you must visit is the Dong Xuan market.
Here, tourists can take a walk around the market. At each section, they sell different things from fried food, seafood, and souvenirs. If you’d like to buy some souvenirs as gifts to bring back home, don’t skip this market.
At the back of the market, there are lots of street vendors who often concentrate here, a very local sight of Hanoi. And a good chance to capture photos.
Option 2: Enjoy a Hanoi Home Cooking Class
Vietnamese food is famous for its diversity so if you’re curious how its made, and what ingredients are used, a Hanoi cooking class will give you the answers.
To feel a true Vietnamese atmosphere through food, let’s join a Hanoi home cooking course taking place in a local house with the chef’s guidelines. This class starts with a local market visit to gather some ingredients for the cooking course. And then, at the house, you will cook at a very typical Vietnamese kitchen. Finally, you’ll enjoy the food at a living room.
This is as authentic as it gets. You will learn many things about the culture and how to prepare typical Vietnamese food such as Pho (beef or chicken noodle soup), Vietnamese meal, and Bun Cha (noodle with grilled pork). This also is a chance for you to learn the recipe for cooking at home.
4 pm: Show at the Thang Long Water Puppetry Theater
After spending a few hours of culinary adventures, now it’s time to relax and enjoy a theatrical water puppet show. Located on Dinh Tien Hoang Street, the Thang Long Water Puppetry Theater is a unique place for tourists when visiting Hanoi.
You can discover the folk culture of Vietnam through watching a puppetry performance delicately chosen from more than 400 ancient stories of Vietnam.
The ticket price is 60.000VND – 100.000VND ($2.5-$4.5).
5.30 pm: Visiting around Old Quarter by electric car
After leaving the theater, you can take a doorless electric car at any stop to explore around the Old Quarter. The space is open, clean and modern between the hustle and bustle of city and ancient beauty, which brings you an exciting feeling.
You should go through the traditional craft streets in Hanoi like Hang Bac, O Quan Chuong, and Hang Chieu… and other relics such as Bach Ma Temple, Hang Ngang, and Ma May ancient house. This is also a great opportunity to capture pictures about Hanoi’s life while sitting in the car.
6.30 pm: Draught beer at Ta Hien
In the evening, head to Ta Hien Street to enjoy a refreshing glass of beer after a long day of exploring. You can order some food and watch the passers-by. This place is very hectic at night, especially on weekends when the local youth flock here to hang out.
Fresh beer here is considered some of the cheapest beer in the world. You can have several drinks without much financial worry.
Ta Hien is always crowded in the hot summer days
8 pm: Talk a walk around Sword Lake
Sword Lake at night is stunning. It is also an ideal time to unwind and enjoy the fresh air around the lake. You will see a lot of hand in hand couples walking around the lake or older people sitting on benches to relax.
Then, don’t forget to stand in line and buy ice cream on Trang Tien Street. Otherwise, you can walk to Nguyen Xi Street to find and buy a good book to read in your free time.
9.30 pm: See Hanoi from above
The easiest way to admire Hanoi’s beauty at night and leave the bustle and hustle of Hanoi behind is to look for a rooftop cafe with a panoramic view of the sparkling lights of Hanoi.
It is not only beautiful but also suitable for those who like privacy and quiet space to relax.
11 pm: Midnight Entertainment
There is good news for both Vietnamese locals and foreigners. Hanoi just lifted its midnight curfew to allow tourists have more fun at night. This means some entertainment spots are allowed to keep their doors open until 2 am.
Before, many foreigners complained that they had nothing to do other than drink beer on sidewalks. This is Hanoi authorities’ efforts to attract more foreign tourists. Now, you can leisurely enjoy food at food stalls, restaurants, or drink at bars after 12 am.
Do you have any other suggestions of must-do in Hanoi?