Hanoi Sightseeing: the Best Tours
Planning a trip to Hanoi can be daunting with the sheer size of activities available and articles on the internet listing dos and don’ts while in Vietnam. Never fear though, for we have compiled an exceptional list of tried and tested, authentic experiences for even the most seasoned traveler to approve of.
Whether you’re interested in the culture and history unique to the area, are a gourmet foodie looking to sample the local cuisine, or an active enthusiast on the search for the best jogging trail, we’ve got you covered!
Hanoi History and Culture Tours
Hanoi is a treasure trove of culture and history, offering travelers an intoxicating blend of ancient traditions and modern development all at once. Founded in 1010, Hanoi was the capital of the country until 1802 when the Nguyen Dynasty moved all affairs to Hue in central Vietnam.
The French are largely responsible for bringing the seat of power back to Hanoi, where it has remained ever since. This impact can be seen in the wide, tree-lined boulevards of Ba Dinh District and old French villas covered with bougainvillea vines hidden throughout the city.
Besides just walking around and soaking up the atmosphere, we recommend to choose at least one museum and combine it with a sightseeing tour to dive into the fascinating culture of the region.
- City sightseeing tours – There’s no better way to soak up the atmosphere of Hanoi than to join a sightseeing tour through the Old Quarter, French Quarter, and West Lake district. While the most popular way for travelers to explore is with a guide and by foot, to truly experience Hanoi as a local, why not catch a ride on the back of a Vespa? A licensed and trusted guide will zip through small alleys and past major attractions to give you a truly unforgettable experience.
- Vietnamese Women’s Museum – Listed among Asia’s top 25 must-visit museums, the Vietnamese Women’s Museum is a tribute to the history of women in Vietnam. There are also in-depth exhibitions on women in tribal cultures, women’s role during times of war, and how society functions in modern times.
- Vietnam Museum of Ethnology – This acclaimed museum and research center dedicated to the 54 diverse ethnic groups of Vietnam has a carefully curated collection of tribal art, clothing, jewelry, and full-sized replica houses in their large garden. All displays are clearly labeled in English, Vietnamese, and French, while anthropology guides available at the main entrance can share even more knowledge with you. This is an especially excellent stop before heading to the northern mountains and seeing ethnic minority villages in person.
- Vietnam National Museum of History – Housing over 200,000 pieces from Vietnamese history, 19 of which are considered national treasures, the Vietnam National Museum of history is the go-to place for history buffs. The exhibits range from showcasing materials from the early Paleolithic Age up through the mid-nineteenth century.
Food Tours in Hanoi
One of the best ways to learn about a country is through their cuisine, and Hanoi is chock-full of some of the world’s most sumptuous dishes. Dishes like the national icon, pho, the intricately balanced flavors of cha ca, the crisp fresh pho cuon spring rolls, and the smoky charcoal grilled bun cha can all be sampled and savored on a trip to the city in a variety of different ways.
- Street food tour – These types of guided tours take you deep into the Old Quarter to local haunts and favorites, giving you a taste of what makes Hanoian cuisine so exemplary. Expect to taste a variety of dishes to get a well-rounded idea of what makes the city tick. The best tours explore on foot or by motorbike.
- Cooking classes – Are you into hands-on discovery? Join a cooking class with trained chefs and learn how to prepare the very best Vietnamese food on your own. Options include barbeque, spring rolls, vegetarian, coastal Vietnamese dishes, traditional northern Vietnamese cuisine, and Hanoian street food menus.
- Homestay dinner – Cultural exchange has never been more fun. This type of activity involves preparing a meal and then enjoying it together with a local family. Sometimes the families are traditional, with more than 3 generations living together in one home, while other times, more modern with just the nuclear family living in one home. Either way, the homestay dinner is a fascinating look into the authentic lifestyle of Vietnamese families.