Hanoi’s Treasures: 5 Places You Simply Have to Visit

Hoan Kiem Lake

Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam, is a bustling metropolis that offers visitors a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. With so many ancient temples, bustling markets, and parks, it can be challenging for many to decide where to begin their travel exploration.

Tran Quoc Pagoda

Tran Quoc Pagoda
Tran Quoc Pagoda

Tran Quoc Pagoda was built in the 6th century during the reign of Emperor Ly Nam De. Originally constructed on the banks of the Red River, it was later moved to its current location on a small island in West Lake. The pagoda has undergone numerous renovations over the centuries, but it has remained an essential spiritual and cultural center in Vietnam.

Have you ever seen a 7 story tower that’s so stunning you can see it from afar? Well, that’s exactly what you’ll get at the Tran Quoc Pagoda. The tower is simply amazing and each level is adorned with intricate carvings that will leave you in awe.

But that’s not all. You can take a stroll through the tranquil gardens and immerse yourself in the serene atmosphere. Don’t forget to admire the lotus ponds which are a sight to behold! And if you’re lucky, you might get to listen to the soothing sound of chanting monks.

When visiting Tran Quoc Pagoda, it’s important to dress appropriately and respectfully. Anyone entering should wear clothing that covers their shoulders and knees. We should also be mindful of the monks and other worshippers and avoid taking photos during prayer rituals.

Temple of Literature

The Temple of Literature, also known as Van Mieu. This stunning monument is a true gem of Vietnamese architecture and a testament to the country’s rich cultural heritage. It was built in 1070 as a tribute to Confucius and other scholars, and is one of the oldest and most well-preserved monuments in Hanoi.

Temple of Literature
Temple of Literature

The temple is a feast for the eyes, with intricate designs and decorations that are sure to leave you in awe. But that’s not all – the peaceful gardens are perfect for a leisurely stroll and to soak up the tranquil atmosphere. Plus, the onsite museum offers a great opportunity to learn about Vietnam’s educational and literary history.

As you enter the pagoda, you will be struck by the sense of tranquility that pervades the grounds. The main pagoda structure, which is adorned with intricate carvings and decorations, is situated next to a peaceful lake. The surrounding gardens are filled with beautiful bonsai trees, flowers, and statues, making it a perfect place to take a leisurely stroll.

Hanoi Train Street

Hanoi Train Street
Hanoi Train Street

One of the most unique attractions in Hanoi is the train street, which is located in the city’s Old Quarter. This narrow street is lined with houses and shops, a train passes through the middle of it, just inches away from the buildings.

The train street was originally built in the late 19th century during the French colonial era as a means of transporting goods and materials across the city. Over time, the street became a residential area, and people started living in the houses built along the railway tracks.

Today, the train street is a popular spot for both locals and tourists, who come to watch the spectacle of the train passing through the narrow street. Here, you can also enjoy a coffee or snack at one of the many cafes that line the street while waiting for the train to pass.

However, due to its increasing popularity, the local authorities have had to impose strict regulations to ensure the safety of both visitors and residents when necessary, and the restriction will be lifted accordingly.

St. Joseph Cathedral Church

St. Joseph Cathedral Church
St. Joseph Cathedral Church

Located in the heart of Hanoi’s Old Quarter, St. Joseph Cathedral Church is one of the most iconic landmarks in Hanoi and is considered a symbol of French colonial architecture. The church was built between 1886 and 1887 and was modeled after Notre Dame de Paris. Many admire the church’s intricate design, stained glass windows, and towering spires, which are an impressive sight to behold.

You can attend mass at the church or simply take a stroll through its peaceful grounds. The church is also a popular spot for photographers, who come to capture the stunning architecture and intricate details of the building.

Hoan Kiem Lake and Ngoc Son Temple

Ngoc Son Temple
Ngoc Son Temple
Huc Bridge, Hanoi
Huc Bridge

Among the many attractions, Hoan Kiem Lake stands out as one of the most iconic landmarks in the heart of the city. Although you may find dead fishes in the lake, it is surrounded by lush green trees, providing a peaceful respite from the hectic pace of the city.

At the center of the lake, you can find the Ngoc Son Temple, a beautiful structure built on a small island. This 18th-century temple was constructed to honor the legendary scholar Van Xuong and is a significant spiritual site for many Vietnamese people.

As you cross the bridge to enter the temple, you will be struck by the stunning natural beauty surrounding the temple. The calm waters of the lake and the tranquil atmosphere make this an ideal spot for meditation and reflection.

Once inside the temple, you can learn about the history and culture of the region. The temple houses many artifacts, calligraphies and treasures, including a preserved giant turtle, which is considered a sacred symbol in Vietnamese culture.

It is worth noting that there is an entrance fee of 30k VND per person to visit the Ngoc Son Temple. This fee helps to maintain and preserve this historic and significant landmark for future generations to enjoy.


  1. The Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi: Located in the heart of Hanoi’s French Quarter, this iconic hotel combines French colonial elegance with modern luxury. Enjoy opulent rooms, exquisite dining options, and world-class service.
  2. JW Marriott Hotel Hanoi: Set in a stunning lakeside location, this luxury hotel offers spacious and beautifully designed rooms, a range of dining options, a rooftop pool, and a rejuvenating spa.
  3. InterContinental Hanoi Westlake: Situated on the peaceful shores of Hanoi’s West Lake, this resort-style hotel provides a tranquil oasis in the bustling city. With luxurious rooms, scenic views, multiple dining venues, and a serene spa, it offers a perfect retreat.
  4. Sheraton Hanoi Hotel: Situated on the banks of the West Lake, this contemporary hotel offers spacious rooms with lake or city views, a variety of dining choices, a fitness center, and a luxurious spa for ultimate relaxation.
  5. Mövenpick Hotel Hanoi: Nestled in Hanoi’s business district, this stylish hotel boasts well-appointed rooms, a rooftop bar with panoramic city views, a fitness center, and a spa. It also offers easy access to major attractions.
  6. Apricot Hotel: A boutique hotel with a unique blend of modern luxury and Vietnamese artistry. Located near Hoan Kiem Lake, it features elegantly designed rooms, a rooftop pool, a fine dining restaurant, and an extensive art collection.
  7. Pan Pacific Hanoi: Situated near the Old Quarter, this luxurious hotel offers spacious rooms with city views, multiple dining options, a rooftop bar, a fitness center, and a spa for a comfortable and indulgent stay.
  8. Hanoi Daewoo Hotel: Known for its grandeur and sophistication, this hotel offers luxurious rooms, exquisite dining options, an outdoor pool, a fitness center, and a spa. It is conveniently located near attractions and business centers.
  9. Hotel de l’Opera Hanoi: Inspired by the iconic Hanoi Opera House, this boutique hotel features elegant rooms, a rooftop terrace, a spa, and a renowned restaurant. Its central location allows easy access to popular landmarks.

List of Budget stays in Hanoi

  1. Hanoi Golden Holiday Hotel: This budget-friendly hotel offers comfortable rooms, a convenient location in Hanoi’s Old Quarter, and friendly staff. It’s a great option for travelers on a budget.
  2. Hanoi Backpackers Hostel: Known for its vibrant atmosphere and social activities, this hostel provides dormitory-style accommodation and private rooms. It’s a popular choice among backpackers looking for an affordable and lively stay.
  3. Little Hanoi Hostel: Situated in the heart of the Old Quarter, this cozy hostel offers budget-friendly dormitory beds and private rooms. It provides a friendly atmosphere, helpful staff, and easy access to Hanoi’s attractions.
  4. Hanoi Old Quarter Homestay: Offering budget accommodation in a traditional Vietnamese house, this homestay provides a unique cultural experience. Guests can stay in simple yet comfortable rooms and interact with the friendly hosts.

These are just a few of the many incredible attractions that Hanoi has to offer. I’d personally recommend a 2-3 day stay to explore the city to its fullest. With its rich cultural heritage and bustling markets, Hanoi offers a unique blend of old-world charm and modern vibrancy. As you wander through ancient temples and gaze at the city’s stunning natural beauty, you’ll be captivated by the energy and spirit of the people who call Hanoi home.

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