There are many things to love about Vietnam’s capital city of Hanoi. From the varieties of Phở noodle dishes, historical sites, and breath-taking nature attractions, Hanoi and its surrounding environs are truly a traveler’s dream destination. It’s no wonder that everyone from backpackers and digital nomads to expats and local tourists have fallen in love with the place, despite the inconveniences of a being a city in a rapidly developing Southeast Asian country.
Beyond the usual attractions, the city still has a lot of aces up its sleeves. Some are a call back to Vietnam’s past, while others offer a glimpse of where this country is headed. Book a Hanoi travel combo package with Traveloka today, and take the path less travelled to this Little Paris of the East.
People Watch at Hoan Kiem Lake (HồHoànKiếm)
At the heart of Hanoi lies Hoan Kiem Lake. Its name translates to“Lake of the Restored Sword,”hearkening back to the legend of Emperor LêLợi and the Golden Turtle God. At its center is the island where the famous Ngoc Son Temple sits.
The lake is a scenic and peaceful refuge from the crazy motorbike traffic of the city, especially during the weekends. In fact, Friday evening to Sunday evening, traffic is diverted away from the lake so people can exercise, dance, and do their own thing in the park around the lake. It’s the perfect time to take a stroll, practice some street photography, or simply do some people watching to get a deeper insight about the daily lives of the locals in the city.
Buy Silken Souvenirs at Van Phuc Silk Village
Instead of buying branded backpacks with questionable authenticity, why not visit the traditional silk weavers of Van Phuc Village and shop for genuine silk creations there?
The village, which looks like it was frozen in time, produces export-quality silk fabrics using traditional and modern looms. Within the village, you’ll find shops with families selling their creations at reasonable prices. Aside from the shopping, guests are also welcome to visit traditional weavers who are still using their old looms to demonstrate how silk is made into threads and woven to form fabrics.
Learn the Art of Calligraphy
Since the Chinese first brought the art of calligraphy to the country, Vietnam has embraced this tradition that culminates every year during the Lunar New Year. At this time, people from all over the country congregate at the Temple of Literature to ask for blessings from Confucian scholars who transcribe verses artfully on red paper. This art form is so popular that the city holds an annual Calligraphy Festival during the lunar holidays to showcase the creations of the country’s top calligraphists or “ong do.”
If you’re interested in learning more about Vietnamese calligraphy, you are free to enroll in any of the classes available in the city. Just make sure that the classes are offered in English so that you’ll better understand the lessons and instructions. Also, you can visit Dan Nang city, one of Vietnam’s top economic hot spots.
Hike the Slopes of Sapa and Lao Cai
Had enough of Hanoi’s traffic? You can head over to the lush green paddy fields, forested mountains, and stunning waterfalls of Sapa and Lao Cai. To get there, you can travel in luxury via the Victoria Express, a quintessential train straight out of the golden age of Indochina railroad travel.
Along the hiking trails, you’ll enter villages and might be lucky enough to interact with the Black H’mong, the Red Dao, and the Tay ethnic minorities, who have settled all over the trails. Get to know their rituals, cultures, and traditions while enjoying the mountain views and refreshing falls along the way.
Go on a Craft Beer Tour
There is no doubt that beer is Vietnam’s national alcoholic beverage of choice. And it’s only fitting that Hanoi is the place to go for some artisanal beer creations.
Check out the latest alcoholic concoctions at different bars around the city, and order a sampler of their most popular beer flavors. Some of the most recommended places are iBiero Craft Beer Station, Westlake Station, Pizza Belga, and the Fat Pig.
Hanoi is a city that’s full of hidden gems for travelers to experience and explore. Be pleasantly surprised by its quirks, and get ready to fall in love with its unique character as revealed through these unexpected things-to-do in the city.