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HanoiHeart of Vietnam

Visit Vietnam’s capital city and you’ll find the streets alive with food, culture, history and friendly locals. French-inspired buildings shelter street vendors below, cooking fresh bun cha.

Scooters jostle for position, winding in and out of narrow laneways and life is played out on the street in a world of wonder and intrigue.

For visitors, Hanoi has it all and locals readily welcome visitors to discover the city for themselves.

Phoebe Lee
is a travel writer, blogger and YouTuber. Follow her adventures on Instagram, be inspired by fun videos on YouTube and read practical guides on her blog, Little Grey Box.


Strolling along the busy streets of Hanoi you can’t help notice the big smiles of the locals. Say hello, offer a smile and you’ll get one right back, the kind of easy welcome that makes you feel instantly at peace and relaxed.

The locals of Hanoi are great hosts, making visitors feel welcome in their home and part of the city itself.

Visit Hoan Kiem Lake on weekends when the surrounding streets are turned into pedestrian-only zones and you’ll find the area packed with locals playing traditional Vietnamese folk games. Join in the fun of jump rope, stilt walking, tug of war and Mandarin Square Capturing. Visitors are welcome to join in and play, experiencing the warm, welcoming and friendly nature of Hanoi locals first-hand and coming away with unforgettable travel memories.

Old World Culture

Hanoi offers a wealth of old-world culture waiting to be discovered. Stroll the chaotic streets of the Old Quarter and you’ll discover a tangled, sprawling mass of winding streets alive with sounds and smells. The constant thrum of scooters, the crackle of cooking food and chatter of locals form the pulse of the city.

Dig a little deeper, past streetwise merchants selling modern day desirables, and you’ll find artisans preserving Hanoi’s history and culture through handicrafts like ceramic, pottery, silver and bronze making. Discover talented creators painting stunning artworks and creating traditional silk garments like the Ao Dai, a tight-fitting silk tunic worn over long flowing pants.

Wander through the ethereal Temple of Literature, the site of Vietnam’s first University and a tribute to Confucius and his disciples. Explore the banks of Hoan Kiem Lake to catch the older generation practicing Tai Chi, playing chess under the shade of a tree and exchanging gossip.

Food and local flavours

To experience Hanoi is to experience the food. The combination of flavours is perfection, capturing the ideal balance between salty, sweet, sour, bitter and spicy.

Wander the streets and stop when a smell takes your fancy, pulling up a plastic chair with the locals.

Dive into a bowl of beef Pho for breakfast and perfectly grilled pork Bun Cha for lunch. Discover the unique combination of French and Vietnamese by feasting on Banh Mi, stuffed with pork belly, fish cakes, meatballs and more.

Start each day at a local cafe, sipping on Vietnamese iced coffee, Ca Phe Da, while the streets come alive outside. You’ll find restaurants serving unforgettable meals at ridiculous prices, like the tasting menu at Madame Hien or anything and everything on the menu at Anh Tuyet’s, a favourite of Anthony Bourdain. The flavours of food in Hanoi reflect the city itself - vibrant, bold, spicy and so appealing, you just want more.

Modern Culture

In addition to its old-world charm, Hanoi provides a taste of modern culture too. Take a stroll through the French Quarter where the streets are wider and high-end hotels, boutique shops and fancy restaurants take center stage.

French-style villas, left behind after the occupation, line the streets and house some of the finest restaurants in Hanoi. You’ll uncover luxurious cafes serving decadent cakes and sweet treats. Take a stroll along Hang Hanh, near Hoan Kiem Lake, and take advantage of the cafe culture.

But there’s more to Hanoi’s modern culture, just wander the streets near Hoan Kiem Lake and you’ll find trendy restaurants and cafes, business-savvy locals selling the latest must-have sneakers and a world of electronics previously unseen.