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Travelbook: Six things to do in Hanoi

Having not tried a cyclo tour around the Old Quarter, missing the Temple of Literature visit or skipping the pho bo soup when visiting Hanoi, foreign tourists would be very sorry.

The German travel website Travelbook.de has recently suggested travelers try awesome six activities in Hanoi- the friendly charming capital of Vietnam.

A French-style building in Hanoi's downtown. Photo: Tuan Ngo 

“Hanoi is one of the most popular travel destinations in Southeast Asia - not only because of the numerous sights but also because life in Vietnam's capital is still very authentic in many places,” it wrote.

The charming capital has various interesting things await you to discover, among them, “its colorful and bustling markets are and sometimes very authentic, but traffic volume that can hardly be surpassed,” according to the travel website.

Below are Travelbook.de’s suggestions for western travelers about things to do in Hanoi.

Visit the Temple of Literature

The Temple of Literature in Hanoi does not serve religious purposes but was an educational center for highly gifted young people from the beginning. The building complex was dedicated to the wise Confucius in 1076 and has since been considered the country’s first university, according to the article.

The stone steles in the Temple of Literature. Photo: Cultural and Scientific Activity Center Temple of Literature

“Today, visitors can tour the five courtyards and stroll through them along winding paths. The names of the feudal scholars are immortalized there on steles, along with awards and achievements,” wrote the German travel website.

There are 82 stone steles in total at the Temple of Literature. The names of those who passed royal doctoral examinations between 1484 and 1780 under the Early Le, Mac, and Late Le dynasties were carved on them.

“These stone steles can be considered a unique sculptural work reflecting a great value of sculpture throughout the history of Vietnam,” Le Xuan Kieu – Head of the Cultural and Scientific Activity Center Temple of Literature told The Hanoi Times.

“The stone slabs are placed on the backs of stone tortoises, symbolizing longevity and permanence. Meanwhile, each composition engraved on the steles is highly regarded for its remarkable literature valuable in terms of art and ideology,” he added.

Pay tribute to President Ho Chi Minh

President Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is the resting place of Vietnamese Revolutionary leader and President Ho Chi Minh in Hanoi. Photo: Doan Bach


One of the important things that Travelbook.de advises travelers to do in Hanoi is to visit President Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, which is located in spacious Ba Dinh Square.

“For the Vietnamese, this building is one of the most important sights in the country. They come there to pay respect to their ‘Uncle Ho’, the revolutionary and politician who died in 1969,” it wrote.

Strict rules of conduct apply in the building including wearing appropriate clothing, speaking in a low voice, and not taking photographs. “Standing in front of the body with your hands in your pockets is considered disrespectful,” it suggested.

Discover the unique architecture of On-Pillar Pagoda

The One-Pillar Pagoda is also known as Dien Huu Pagoda or Lien Hoa Dai, was built in 1049 by Ly Thai Tong (1028-1054), a king of the Ly dynasty in Vietnam. Photo: Lam Hanoi

Located nearby President Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, the One-Pillar Pagoda, or Chua Mot Cot in Vietnamese, is one of the oldest pagodas in the city and is considered a Hanoi landmark. The wooden temple was built on a log more than 1000 years ago.

In the 1950s, the original tree trunk could not be saved due to rot and was replaced with a concrete pillar. The temple is built of wood on a single stone pillar 1.25m in diameter and 4m in height, and it is designed to resemble a lotus blossom, which is a Buddhist symbol of purity, since a lotus blossoms in a muddy pond.

Travel around the Old Quarter on a cyclo

Taking a cyclo to get through the 36 streets of the old town is not without its dangers due to the high volume of traffic, but it gives you a good impression of the special attitude towards life in the city, according to the Travelbook.de.

Foreign travelers enjoyed a cyclo tour around Hanoi's Old Quarter area. Photo: Di san Trang An

In addition to numerous restaurants and shops, the old town is characterized above all by handicraft businesses, some of which have existed for generations.

The fact is that Hanoi’s Old Quarter Area is remembered as the best place to reflect the capital’s ancient architecture and lifestyle.

According to local historians, Hanoi's Old Quarter was founded in the early 15th century. “It is used to be the most bustling market of Thang Long Citadel- the former name of Hanoi where traders and craftsmen gathered in guilds. Each guild filled a street, reflected today in the names of the streets such as Hang Thiec (the guild of metalworkers), Hang Ma (the guild of votive paper makers), Hang Bac (the guild of a goldsmith), Hang Chieu (the guild of mattress makers), among others,” they stated.

Watch an outstanding water puppet show

A water puppet show performed by artists from Thang Long Water Puppetry Theater in Hanoi. Photo courtesy of the theater

A visit to a water puppet theater is also a must in Hanoi. Located by the iconic Hoan Kiem Lake, the Thang Long Water Puppetry Theater offers five shows every day on the weekend.

The practice of water puppetry began 1000 years ago in the water-filled rice paddies of Northern Vietnam.

Numerous stories of the daily lives of farmers and fishermen, legends of dragons, and other historical tales were told to the audience through puppet shows.

Try a piping hot bowl of “pho

“If you haven’t done it elsewhere in Vietnam before, you should try Pho at least once in Hanoi,” Travelbook.de suggested. It describes this Vietnamese traditional dish as “the aromatic soup is prepared with lots of fresh herbs, rice noodles, and beef. In some places, vegetarian options are also offered.”

This awesome bowl of Pho bo can be found at many Pho shops in Hanoi. Photo: Trinh Le Phong

The Hanoi Times suggests you try as much Pho as you can in Hanoi because people can’t find elsewhere on earth have such various good pho shops in the place. 

The special food that “its aroma alone is enough to chase winter from the soul” begins with the steaming of beef shinbones in a huge cauldron until the gelatinous consommé is concentrated - this takes about 24 hours. It is then spiced up with a dedicated balance of herbs, spices, and salts.

When you place your order, the cook adds slices of raw, cooked, or sauté beef (depending on the order) to a bowl of broth, and rice noodles then sprinkle it all with sliced onion, chopped green onion, and fresh coriander. 

“When in Rome, do as the Romans do”, so when in Hanoi, why don’t you eat as Hanoians do?