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Hanoi , the capital of Vietnam, and also its second largest city, is a fascinating blend of East and West, with Chinese influence from centuries of dominance, and French je ne sais quoi from its colonial past. It was largely unspoiled by the modern architecture of the 1970s and 80s, and is now undergoing a rapid transformation that makes it a rising star in Southeast Asia.
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Points of Interest in Hanoi
- Air Force Museum - Bảo Tàng Không Quân, Truong Chinh St (Southwest of city centre). There's a decent collection of a UH-1 helicopter, Soviet-built MiG fighters, a huge Mi-6 helicopter and other aircraft. Unfortunately they've been exposed to the elements for some time and local children climb over them.
- Army Museum - Bảo Tàng Quân Đội, Dien Bien Phu St. 08:00-11:30, 13:00-16:30, closed on M and F. Vietnam's military history extends back some two millennia, and this museum covers it on four buildings. Item descriptions on museum exhibits are in Vietnamese, French and English. On display outside are the ubiquitous MiG-21 jet fighter, T-54 tank and many bombs and articles captured in the Indochina and Vietnam wars. The flag tower is also on the museum site. 30,000 dong, additional 20,000 dong to take pictures (rarely enforced).
- Fine Arts Museum - Bảo Tàng Mỹ Thuật, 66 Nguyen Thai Hoc St. Tu-Su, 09:15-17:00. Only party-approved art is shown here and there is no information in English and only little in Vietnamese. But it is an interesting museum at any rate, with pieces such as the wonderful pictures of soldiers on boats depicted on prehistoric bronze drums, Buddhist art, and revolutionary art of the 20th century wars. Also some interesting silk paintings. 20,000 dong.
- Hanoi Museum - Bảo tàng Hà Nội, Pham Hung St, Cau Giay District.
- Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. 08:00-23:00. Closed M & F. Last entrance 22:15. The city down south may have his name, but only Hanoi has the man himself, entombed in distinctly Lenin-esque fashion. Against his wishes, but that's how it goes. No talking, revealing clothing (shorts should be knee length and no exposed shoulders), or other signs of disrespect allowed while viewing; photos are allowed only from outside, in the grand Ba Dinh Square. Purses are allowed into the tomb, but expect them to be searched by several bored soldiers along the way. Left luggage is handled in a complicated scheme: there is an office near the street for large bags, with separate windows for Vietnamese and foreigners, and a further office for cameras, which will be transported to a third office right outside the exit of the mausoleum. Items checked in at the first office, however, will stay there. Note that the mausoleum is closed for a couple months around the end of the year, when the body is taken abroad for maintenance. Free.
- Ho Chi Minh Museum, 19 Ngoc Ha St, Ba Dinh, ☎ +84 4 846-3572, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 08:00-11:30, 14:00-16:00, closed M and F afternoons. This gleaming white museum and its gloriously ham-handed iconography is the perfect chaser to the solemnity of the mausoleum. The building, completed in 1990, is intended to evoke a white lotus. Some photos and old letters are on display on the second floor, but the main exhibition space is on the third floor. It includes cars crashing through walls to represent the chaos of post-war American capitalism, soldiers charging around with electric plugs, a cave hideout re-imagined as the inside of Ho Chi Minh's brain, and several other postmodern confections integrated with the main story of the man's life and his country's struggle. One of the more informative museums in Vietnam, and perhaps one of the oddest in the world. Guides are available in English, French, Chinese and Russian. The displays are labeled in English and French. 25,000 dong.
- Ho Chi Minh's Vestige In The Presidential Palace Area, 1 Bach Thao, Ba Dinh, ☎ +84 4 0804 4529. Summer 07:30-11:00, 14:00-16:00. Winter 08:00-11:00, 13:30-16:00, closed M, F afternoons. The exit from the mausoleum takes you right into the grounds of the, uh, vestige, where Ho Chi Minh lived and worked from 1954 until his death in 1969. The nicely landscaped complex includes two of Ho Chi Minh's houses, kept shiny and "as he left them" by the authorities, as well as a garage with two of Ho's "used cars" and a carp-filled pond. The presidential palace is nearby, but it's not always open to visitors. Pamphlets are available in English, Chinese, French and Korean. Guided tours are usually available if you wait. Paying is not enforced unless you are one of the unlucky few to be outed from the crowd. 25,000 dong.
- Museum of Ethnology - Bao Tang Dan Toc Hoc Vietnam, Nguyen Van Huyen St, Cau Giay District (Bus 14 from Hoan Kiem Lake - ask the conductor when to stop, and take a 500 m walk towards the museum (backtrack a little from the bus stop, and when you see a large street perpendicular to the street that you dropped off, take that street and walk down the street until you see the Museum of Ethnology to your left). Bus 38 goes from right outside the Temple of Literature to the street the museum is on.). Tu-Su 08:30-17:30. Addresses mainly the culture and ritual practices of the various ethnic groups in the whole of Vietnam. One of the key attractions of the museum is the open-air exhibition, which has houses of some ethnic groups, which even comes with inhabitants in costumes. The museum features actual explanations of the exhibits in Vietnamese, French and English. There is an excellent cafe on the premises. 25,000 dong for foreigners.
- Museum of the Vietnamese Revolution -Bảo tàng Cách mạng Việt Nam, 25 Tong Dan St (and 216 Tran Quang Khai St. Tu-Su 08:00-11:45, 13:30-16:15. This museum gives a very informed and detailed account of the Vietnamese struggle against first the French (starting in 1858—on the first floor), then against the Americans, ending on 30 Apr 1975 (on the ground floor). It is housed in a colonial French building which was completed in 1932. The building, designed by the architect Ernest Hébrard is considered as a successful blend between the colonial French architecture and traditional Vietnamese architecture, called Indochina architecture. He created double-walls and balconies for a natural ventilation system and protection from sunshine. 10,000 dong.
- National Museum of Vietnamese History -Bảo tàng Lịch sử Việt Nam, 1 Trang Tien St. 08:00-11:30, 13:30-16:30. This is a collection from Vietnamese history from about 1,000 years back until 1945. Many antiques. 15,000 dong, students 8,000 dong and under 15, 2,000 dong. 15,000 dong for a camera/30,000 dong for a video.
- One-Pillar Pagoda (Tucked away between the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and Museum). Travellers find this either charming and lovely or utterly pointless, depending on how many tour groups are crammed into the small grounds at the time of their visit. Free.
- Vietnamese Women's Museum - Bảo Tàng Phụ nữ Việt Nam, 36 Ly Thuong Kiet St, Hoan Kiem District (Central Hanoi, 1 km south of Hoan Kiem Lake), ☎ +84 4 3825 9938, fax: 84 4 3825 9129, e-mail: info@email@example.com. Tu-Su 08:00-16:30. This often overlooked museum has recently benefited from an extensive renovation of its permanent exhibitions. The modernised interior is well laid out with information in Vietnamese, English and French, and contains a huge amount of information on the fearsome female heroines of Vietnamese history. There are also exhibitions on the rituals and traditions surrounding women in family, as well as a beautifully presented collection of intricate hand-made ethnic costumes. A highlight is the regularly updated special exhibitions on a diverse range of subjects, from contemporary issues such as single mothers and street vendors to traditional medicine and Mother Goddess worship. English language tours are available on request. 30,000 dong.
- Hoan Kiem Lake. A pleasant park in the centre of town, an easy walk from anywhere in the Old Quarter. It's the locals' favorite leisure spot, and a great place to watch people practicing tai chi in the morning or to sit and read in the afternoon. Hoan Kiem means "returned sword", and the name comes from a legend in which King Le Loi was given a magical sword by the gods, which he used to drive out the invading Chinese. Later, while boating on the lake, he encountered a giant turtle, which grabbed the sword and carried it down to its depths, returning it to the gods from whom it had come. (You can see a version of the legend at the Water Puppet Theatre) Rumour has it the giant turtles still inhabit the lake.
- Ho Tay - West Lake (Northwest of the city). Mostly a residential hub of the well-to-do. Hotel Intercontinental and Hanoi Sheraton are on this lakefront. The shores are occupied by numerous fishers.
- Lenin Statue & Park (Dien Bien Phu St, across from the Army Museum). One can always feel the diversity and liveliness of Hanoi there. In the morning, there are low-energy aerobics class for elders and aerobics class for the young in the morning. During the day, one can enjoy the tranquility in the park since everybody is either at work or in school. In the afternoon, it becomes a playground for children and students as well as for soccer teams and badminton players.
- Ly Thai To Statue & Park. The park faces Hoan Kiem lake with a beautiful view of the busy Hang Bai St and the serenity of the willows on the bank of the lake. Many locals view this mini-park as their favourite place because it is a symbol of the integration of modernity and tradition. One might encounter a group of youths practicing hip-hop and break dancing while at the same time seeing a three-generation family enjoying a walk in the park.
- Bach Ma Temple, 76 Hang Buom St, Hoan Kiem District. Time: the 12th to the 13th day of the second lunar month. Objects of worship: Bach Ma God (the symbol of God of sun), Long Do God (the god defends the east), confer a title of “Thang Long Capital of Nation royal tutelary god". Xuan Nguu presenting rite.
- Ngoc Son Temple. Extends out into the lake, with small but attractive grounds, displays on Vietnamese history and, more memorably, displays on the giant turtles, including a mummified specimen. 20,000 dong.
- Temple of Literature - Văn Miếu, Quoc Tu Giam St (South of the Mausoleum). The Temple of Literature was founded in 1070 and established as the country's first university six years later. The courtyard features stone tablets, each mounted on the back of a tortoise, inscribed with the names of graduates. 20,000 dong.
- B-52 Lake (Huu Tiep Lake), Ngoc Ha Precinct, Ba Dinh District. Until 19 Dec 1972, this was just a small brackish pond just off Hoang Hoa Tham St, about 1 km west of the mausoleum. On that day, in a twisted retelling of the Hoan Kiem legend, Vietnamese anti-aircraft guns (possibly with the help of flying turtles) retook the enemy's eight-engine, 100-ton sword and sent it too, to the shallow bottom of the lake, where it remains today.
- Downed Aircraft Memorial (Along Thanh Nien St on Truc Bach Lake). A stone plaque commemorating the shooting down of a U.S. Navy (not "USAF" as depicted) aircraft in 1967. Read the Vietnamese script and you can pick out the name of John McCain, one of the airmen.
- Hoa Lo Prison (Hanoi Hilton), 1 Hoa Lo, Hoan Kiem. 08:30-11:30, 13:30-16:30. This prison was built by the French at the turn of the 20th century, in classical French prison design. This is where the French imprisoned and executed Vietnamese freedom fighters. Now a museum (2/3 of the prison was torn down to make way for the Hanoi Towers), the museum exhibits the brutal French colonial regime and the struggle of the Vietnamese people against imperialism in chilling detail. The prison was also known as the "Hanoi Hilton" during the Vietnam War as it held American POWs. Little emphasis is given to this period however, and the exhibits shown can be frustratingly skewed in propaganda, choosing to show solely propaganda photos of prisoners being treated well and playing basketball, playing chess and other staged events. They claim to have John McCain's flight suit from when his plane was shot down. 20,000 dong.
The Tet holiday (Lunar New Year) is in the spring. Flowers are most beautiful during this time of the year. The weather warms up, with occasional light rain during the week. Locals believe that these light rains bring prosperity and luck in the new year.
Summer, on the other hand, borders on intolerable. The heat alone would be alright, but it's coupled with oppressive humidity. At this time, visitors should be wary of mosquitoes as they abound. Hanoi has a perfect climate for the proliferation of insects.
There is something unique about Hanoi’s autumn. The weather is perfect, with less humidity in the air. The temperature drops, allowing people a chance to flaunt their sweaters and jackets. There is a species of tree "cay hoa sua" which only flowers in autumn. The flower has a very distinct odour. If you visit Hanoi during the fall, ask locals about this tree and where you might sniff its distinct aroma.
Winter can be uncomfortable because it is not only cold, but also humid. Winter in Hanoi feels even colder than it is because Vietnamese houses lack central heating. Many houses have no heating at all.
January is a drizzly month, and it may rain for one or two days or all week long.
- August Movie Theater (Rap Thang 8) (n Hang Bai St, 5 min away from Trang Tien Plaza and the commercial area, such as Pho Hue, Hai Ba Trung and Trang Tien St). 35,000-60,000 dong.
- Megastar, 191 Ba Trieu (On the 6th floor of the Vincom City Towers). The movies are relatively new, perhaps one or two months later than in the US. The movies are not dubbed although there are subtitles so both non-Vietnamese speakers and locals can enjoy them. 60,000-200,000 dong depending on the movie and show time.
- EZ Cooking Class, 49 Lane, 49 Huynh Thuc Khang St.
- Hanoi Cooking Centre, 44 Chau Long St (close to Truc Bac lake), ☎ +84 4 3715 0088. Cooking school, retail outlet and beautiful court yard cafe with an excellent menu of Asian and western favourites. Hands-on cooking classes and short courses in a relaxed atmosphere.
- Hidden Hanoi, 137 Nghi Tam Rd (aka Duong An Duong Vuong), Tay Ho (On the bund road in the Tay Ho District), e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Hidden Hanoi runs walking tours and cooking classes. There are many options including the 1 hr walking tour of the local market, followed by the 3 hr cooking class. Cooking class menus change daily, and there are other walking tours available. They also run language classes, and there is a dance school in the same building. USD50 per person.
- Vietnam Culinary School, e-mail: email@example.com. Fully equipped facilities to learn Vietnamese cooking. A typical day will commence with a visit to the morning market. Accompanied by an instructor, you will learn to select and buy Vietnamese ingredients for your personal cooking lesson. The class will be followed by a meal in a delightful restaurant sampling your own cooking as well as traditional Vietnamese dishes.
- No Name, 88 Hang Buom St. If you want to do some mild weight training on a budget. Locals apparently pay 130,000 dong/month. Be aware, however, that the gym is in very poor condition. The floor is hazardous and no one will spot you while benching so ensure your last rep you are able to place the bar back or go with a friend. The front of the gym is full of scooters and the rear wall has pictures of Uncle Ho exercising. Drinks are 10,000 dong. 30,000 dong per visit.
- SF Salon and Spa, 30 Cua Dong | Hoan Kiem, ☎ +84 4 926 2032. Nice, not too expensive spa with a range of services, including massages, manicures/pedicures, facials. They will pay for your one-way cab fare to the spa. Friendly staff.
- VietClimb, So 40 Ngo 76 An Duong, ☎ +84 9 1454 8903. Daily except M, 14:00-22:00. 200 m² climbing surface, a 50 m² café & terrace to chill out, and a climbing pro-shop. Also a great place for finding out where to climb immediately outside of Hanoi.
- Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre, 57 Dinh Tien Hoang St (Across the street from Hoan Kiem Lake), ☎ +84 4 824 9494, fax: +84 4 824 5117. A visit to the water puppet theater is a real highlight of a trip to Hanoi. Live musicians accompany folk legends from Vietnamese history, told with wooden men, women, and dragons, dancing and splashing on the face of the water. The narratives are sung in Vietnamese, but lyrics are available in several languages. Or just ignore the dialogue and narration and focus on the special effects. There are several performances throughout the day. Don't worry about getting wet, but the seats are very small, and visitors with above-average height will have to squirm a bit. 60,000 and 100,000 dong. Camera passes are an extra 15,000 dong.
Since the mid 90s, Vietnamese cuisine has grown in quality and variation, and is now very diverse and most delicious. Most famous remains 'Pho Ga' (chicken noodle soup) or 'Pho Bo'(Beef noodle soup). There are various dishes including chicken, beef, fish and seafood, and there are hundreds, if not thousands, of restaurants nowadays in Hanoi catering to everyone's taste.
In Hanoi, there are hundreds of street restaurants in small kiosks on the sidewalk, with plastic tables and chairs on the pavement. Eating at these restaurants is a great way to experience the local food and culture. It is worth mentioning that food quality, freshness, and hygiene can vary greatly. A bowl of noodle soup goes for 20,000 dong (Jan 2011) and market food stalls offer fruit portions, sausages, donuts, and other eats for 10,000 to 20,000 dong (Jan 2011). Be sure to get your change as a few vendors seem to 'forget' to return it to you, and learn a little Vietnamese because vendors often will not speak any or much English.
The rule of thumb is if the price is expensive, hygiene quality may or may not be OK, but if the price is cheap, definitely hygiene quality is compromised. There seemed to be no regular food Health Department inspector working regularly in the city.
For groceries, there is a large supermarket east of Hoan Kiem Lake (Finimart, 27A Ly Thai To, at Tran Nguyen Han).
Next to Beijing, Hanoi is probably the second in the running to the world's exotic food paradise.
The suburb of Le Mat (aka the Snake Village) has numerous restaurants specializing in cobra foodstuffs. Live cobras are stored on the premises much the same way one would find live lobsters at a Western seafood restaurant. If one orders cobra blood wine from the menu, the waiter will take a live cobra, kill it on the spot, drain the blood into a shot glass of rice wine, and top it off with the cobra's still beating heart for you to gulp down: not for the faint hearted or the ecologically-minded. Le Mat is about ten minutes across the river from the city centre, take Bus 10, 15 or 17 and get off at the large "mega-mall" just beyond Gia Lam station, and walk 500 m down the road at the right of the mall. Cobras are not cheap at around 400,000-1,000,000 dong (USD50+), but one snake becomes a dozen unique dishes, and enough to share between 3-4 people.
A local delicacy in the Hanoi area is dog meat (thịt chó), which is especially popular in the winter. There are a number of dog restaurants in the Tay Ho district. Another exotic regional taste is ca cuong, an extract from the belostomatid, or giant water bug. Just a few drops are added to noodles for the unique aroma.
Be sure to check out the boiled duck fetus eggs sold by peddlers almost everywhere priced at 5,000 dong. This delightful experience consists of the vendor cracking the egg in front of you, and peeling the shell and dropping the contents in a plastic bowl, then garnished with julienned ginger, basil leaf and sprinkled with chili sauce. You can see the severed head and beak of your chick that fell off if you are lucky enough to have your first bite from a different spot.
- Bun Cha, 1 Hang Manh, 67 Duong Thanh (Old Quarter near Hang Da Market), ☎ +84 16 9777 6666. 08:00-19:00. Some rate this as one of the best examples of bun cha in Hanoi, and therefore Vietnam (apparently in the south, bun cha is specifically advertised as Hanoi-style). For about 80,000 dong each, you'll get a bowl full of tiny minced-pork rissoles that have been char grilled over an open flame and a massive plate of pork rice paper rolls that have been fried in oil twice. With this you also get a phenomenal dipping sauce (fish sauce, made from sugar, garlic, peppers usually), a massive plate of greens and herbs, more bun (rice noodle) than you can handle, and a bottle of local beer. It's full of locals and not so many tourists, so you can be assured the experience is authentic. Great food, but expect rude service.
- Cafe 69, 69 Ma May St (Opposite Friendly Hotel). Good place to eat Western food in the heart of the Old Quarter, although some travellers find it expensive and the food inferior.
- The Cart Au Trieu, 18 Au Trieu, Hoan Kiem (Au Trieu is the street to the right of St Joseph's Cathedral but The Cart is entered via the backdoor so go down the alleyway and take a left.), ☎ +84 4 3928 7715. 08:00-17:00. Try their pies and pasties. 60,000 dong for a sandwich.
- The Cart Nghi Tam, 8B, Lane 1 Au Co, Nghi Tam Village, Tay Ho (Follow the road between the back doors of the Sheraton and the Intercontinental till it takes a right and The Cart Nghi Tam is just around the corner.), ☎ +84 4 3718 6967. 07:00-19:00. This one is great for an early breakfast or a takeaway coffee. Their bacon baguette with back bacon is a rarity in Hanoi. Try the meat and potato pie or the veggie cheese, onion and potato pasty. 60,000 dong for a sandwich, 45,000 for a Punto Italia latte.
- Com Binh Dan (Hang Bo, several side streets in Old Quarter). 11:00-14:00. Inexpensive, home-cooked Vietnamese meals. 15,000-30,000 dong.
- Com Chay Au Lac, 277 Ngo Van Chuong (Take Le Duan south, past train tracks, turn into alley after #114). Daily, 07:00-20:30. Typical local vegetarian restaurant like you'll find everywhere in Vietnam except Hanoi, located a little off the beaten track in an atmospheric alleyway. 30,000 dong.
- Com Chay Nang Tam Vegetarian Restaurant, 79A Pho Tran Hung Dao (A few streets south of the lake). Lunch and dinner. This excellent restaurant is your best vegetarian option in town and will please both vegetarians and non-vegetarians with its wide range of innovative dishes, which include fake meat dishes. Restaurant is comfortable with good ambiance, and dishes are value-priced. Well worth the short walk out of the old town. 50,000+ dong.
- Dac Kim, 67 Duong Thanh, Hoan Kiem, ☎ +84 16 9777 6666. 08:00-19:00. BBQ pork slices in soup with vermicelli and lots of vegetables. They serve spring rolls too.
- Hebe Cafe, 33 Luong Van Can St (Inside Hanoi Youth Hotel, near Hoan Kiem Lake, in the centre of Old Quarter). Cheap local and Western food. Breakfasts: USD1; pizza: USD2; hot pot: USD8.
- Huy Café & Pizza Inn, 32 Dinh Liet St. Large Italian dinner combo (garlic bread, soup/salad, pizza/pasta, drink). 65,000 dong.
- Joma Bakery Café (Joma), 22 Ly Quoc Su, & 54 To Ngoc Van (Near the cathedral, and west lake). 07:00-21:00. Fair-trade certified, organic coffee prepared by some of the best baristas in town. Add to your smooth cappuccino a sweet-smelling cinnamon bun or a much-loved bagel egger. Everything here is homemade and fresh. Excellent breakfast menu and lunch/dinner options, as well as an array of cakes, cookies, pies and other treats. 20,000-80,000 dong.
- Kem Tràng Tiền, 54 Phố Tràng Tiền. Popular spot for ice cream on a hot day. Beware of motorbikes when entering the establishment, since it is sort of a drive-thru/drive-in ice cream shop. Make sure to try the local cóm or đậu xanh flavours. Ice cream bars 5,000-8,000 dong. Cones are a bit more expensive..
- Papa Joe's Coffee, 112 Cau Go, ☎ +84 4 926 2544. 08:00-23:00. Despite the name, this is actually a real restaurant, with pasta, soup, salads, sandwiches, and pretty good burgers including vegetarian option. Pizzas leave a lot to be desired. Drinks and desserts. The best reason to eat here, though, is the small balcony with a view over the frantic traffic square and the shores of the Hoan Kiem Lake below. 45,000-65,000 dong.
- Pho (On the corner of Nha Chung and Chan Cam). All of the soups and sides include beef (bo) so this isn't for vegetarians. Large bowl of pho: 12,000 dong; Coke or beer: 3,000 dong.
- Pho Tu Lun (Au Trieu), 10 Ly Quoc Su. Many pho varieties. 15,000-30,000 dong.
- Quan An Ngon (Delicious), 18 Phan Boi Chau St. Wide range of choices of dishes from everywhere in Vietnam at very reasonable prices. They have limited seating and many customers, so a wait is certain. Fortunately, they have a large seating area so customers do not have to wait long. They serve both lunch and dinner.
- Quan Bia Minh (Minh's), 7A Dinh Liet (100 m north of the lake), ☎ +84 4 3934 5323. 07:30-23:30. Popular restaurant with lovely casual upstairs terrace, Minh speaks English well and keeps her staff attentive. Variety of Western, vegetarian and Vietnamese food, all reasonably priced.
- Sen (Lotus), 10 Lane 431, Au Co Rd, Tay Ho District (Next to the water park). Buffet-style restaurant. They have a wide range of dishes from many regions in the country. The dishes are divided into stations where customers can order noodles, rice cakes or rice vermicelli. Serves both lunch and dinner.
- Cam Chan Quan, 108 K1 Giang Vo St & Ciputra Entrance, ☎ +84 12 3259 7696. This eatery has 2 outlets. Tne one at Ciputra Estate entrance has staff that speaks English, Chinese, and Vietnamese. A good pit stop for those craving for Asian food upon arrival or before departure, as they are at the mid-point of the city and airport. They serve Asian fare, Singaporean-influenced. Free Wi-Fi. Clean toilets. Try their noodles, it's not the usual pho you see, but a more typically Singaporean . Try the beggar's chicken, savoury fried aubergine, Chinese rice wine hotpot soup. Noodles: 65,000 dong.
- Cha Ca La Vong, 14 Cha Ca St & 107 Nguyen Truong To St. This establishment is so famous, the street is named after it, instead of the other way around. There's only one dish on the (Vietnamese-only) menu, fried fish in grease, but they've been serving it now for five generations. The traditional shrimp paste is now an optional extra. If you really love fish and shrimp, this experience might be for you. Authentic as it may be, it is a total rip-off according to the locals. For the same price, you could eat 3 meals at a decent cafe by the street. 170,000 dong, 1,000 dong charge per napkin.
- Ciao Cafe, 2 Hang Bai St. Cosy place for coffee and cake. Not full of cigarette smoke as are other cafes in Hanoi.
- Huong Ly, Ly Thuong Kiet, Hanoi (Close to the Melia Hotel). This is a fantastic bar / restaurant on the ground floor and top floor of a building. Randomly the middle floor is a clothes shop. Fantastic food, serving anything from traditional noodles to salmon steak, beautifully presented and delicious. Friendly staff. 55,000-120,000 dong for a main course.
- Huyen Houng Restaurant, 20 Bao Khanh, ☎ +84 4 828 8430. Choose from a wide variety of seafood dishes (many of which are swimming around in tanks) and other Vietnamese specialities. Friendly staff complements the tasty food. 80,000-120,000 dong.
- Kaiser Kaffee Restaurant, 34A Ba Trieu. Interesting little place which has excellent Vietnamese and Western food.
- Little Hanoi, 21 Pho Hang Gai, ☎ +84 4 928 5333. Upscale cafe serving mainly Westerners in a pleasantly lit restaurant.
- Luala Cafe, 61 Ly Thai To, Hoan Kiem, ☎ +84 4 3936 9899. Luala Cafe is a cafe and restaurant inside the Luala Store, a luxury fashion concept store located in the shopping District. The restaurant offers a variety of gourmet foods, drinks and desserts.
- Mediteraneo (Nha Tho St, between La Salsa and Paris Deli). Authentic Italian food, probably the best you'll get in Hanoi. Prices are steep and portions small.
- Moka Café (Nha Tho St close to the cathedral). Excellent selection of Western and Vietnamese food served in a coffee shop environment.
- Paradieso Restaurant, 7 Nguyen Sieu (Old Quarter), ☎ +84 4 39974861. Small, warm restaurant with both local Vietnamese and Western food. Good quality and affordable prices. You can have traditional Vietnamese food: cha ca, bun cha, pho, nem (spring rolls), also can have very good crepes. All very good quality in a nice decor.
- Paris Deli (Nha Tho St across from Moka Cafe). Offers delicious European fare for hearty appetites.
- Pepperoni's (Near the Hang Gai end of Nha Chung). Part of a small international chain of pizza restaurants. Locally run, they do regular special offers such as free desserts, eat-all-you-can buffets and loyalty schemes, whereby collecting tokens with each take-out entitles you to a free pizza. Pizzas, burgers, ice cream and apple crumble. Pizzas: 65,000+ dong.
- La Salsa (In Nha Tho St near the church in Old Town, just across the street from Moka Cafe). French food and expat hang-out.
- Tamarind Café, Ma May 80 (Old Quarter), ☎ +84 4 926 0580. Has a menu full of inventive vegetarian dishes, lots of fresh juices, and a relaxed, stylish interior. Don't come here if you're hungry though, as the portions aren't very big and it's a tad pricey.
- Tan My Design Cafe, 61 Hang Gai, ☎ +84 4 3938 1451. One of the Hanoi's best shops for fashion where you can also get nice Asian and Western foods in the cozy ambiance.
- Restaurant Bobby Chinn, 77 Xuan Dieu St, Tay Ho,, ☎ +84 4 3718 5988. An amazing restaurant with the trademark green pea pods as the logo. Without a doubt, one of the more hip dining experiences of Hanoi. The interior alone is worth a look, while the menu is delightfully eclectic.
- Don's Bistro, 16/27 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Ha Noi, ☎ +84 4 3719 2460, fax: +84 4 3719 5998, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 08:00-23:00. Multi-concept establishment serving classic and innovative international cuisine, including Vietnamese favourites, with indoor and outdoor settings. Don's houses 2 restaurants: one with a cigar den, wine cellar and rotating art gallery as well as a rooftop Skyline Oyster Bar featuring live oysters and live nightly music. The first floor is geared for more casual dining, serving pho, cocktails, coffee, fresh baked goods, wood-fired pizzas, shisha.
- Green Tangerine, 48 Hang Be (A few steps from Hang Be St), ☎ 84 4 825-1286. Excellent French restaurant offering rich and delicious French food with both an à la carte selection and a set menu. Popular with expats.
- La Restaurant & Bar, 25 Ly Quoc Su (Near St. Joseph's Cathedral in the old quarter), ☎ +84 4 928 8933, +84 9 1322 1971. This elegant, air conditioned restaurant has a choice of delicious Western and Vietnamese dishes. While the selection of vegetarian dishes is somewhat restricted, the food is excellent, if pricey by Hanoi standards. "La" will definitely satisfy longings for quality food after weeks of eating on the street. 300,000 dong for a meal and drinks.
- Ly Club, 4 Le Phung Hieu, Hoan Kiem, ☎ +84 4 39363069, e-mail: email@example.com. 11:00-23:00. Top-notch Vietnamese and European cuisine in a French colonial mansion. On the expensive side for Hanoi, but the atmosphere and quality of food make up for it. A pianist alternates with the piped music.
- Pane e Vino Italian Restaurant and Wine Shop, 3 Nguyen Khac Can & 98 Hang Trong (100 m from Hoan Kiem Lake), ☎ +84 4 3826 9080, +84 4 3928 6329. Fully air-con. Serves a wide range of traditional regional Italian dishes. An extensive wine list with Italian wines from Veneto, Tuscany, Puglia, Sicilia, and Piedmont. Friendly service. A great place to relax and get recover after a long walking and shopping day. Drop in for a chat and a complimentary digestivo with the manager.
- Pots 'n Pans Restaurant, 57 Bui Thi Xuan St, Hai Ba Trung District (Follow Ba Trieu St south from Hoan Kiem Lake 5 min), ☎ +84 4 3944 0204, fax: +84 4 3944 6599, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 11:30-late. Vietnamese food with international flair. Fine dining and lounge bar brought to you by a group of former street kids from Hanoi’s own KOTO Training Programme, now rising stars of the Vietnamese food scene. Happy hour 7 days from 17:00-19:00.
- Press Club, 59 A Ly Thai To St, ☎ +84 4 3972 0888, fax: +84 4 3934 0899, e-mail: email@example.com. Fine dining with Western cuisine and a good selection of wines. 70 seat restaurant, private wine room for 12 and another cosy private room for 4. A combination of old and contemporary features with a classically trained chef.
Bia Hơi is abundant in the streets of the Old Quarter. At the crossing of Ta Hien and Luong Ngoc Quyen five separate venues fill up with travellers in the evenings, but you can get more local atmosphere on some of the side streets.
Hanoi is a lively city on the weekends, but the Old Quarter closes relatively early (at midnight) on weekdays, so you might want to start your night early. Other places outside the Old Quarter stay open later and vary in closing times. Local young people gather around the cathedral located in Ly Quoc Su to have lemon ice tea (tra chanh) and sunflower seeds in street bars. After dark it gets quite crowded.
Sit on a plastic chair in front of one of the bia hoi (fresh beer) establishments which are invariably situated on the corners of many of Hanoi's Old Quarter streets. This preservative-free light beer is the perfect drink to sip as you watch the city's frenetic bustle. The beer costs less than twenty cents and gives you an excuse to relax and take photos of the passing local characters. Should not be missed. Moreover, once you reach the Old Quarter, you will find that almost every corner is filled with stalls selling pho (Vietnamese noodle) and cafe (the name is not limited only to coffee, but also tea, sweets and grocery items, and even to pho).
On Tô Tich, a small street connecting Hang Quat and Hang Gai, you can help yourself to a refreshing fruit milkshake (sinh tố) at one of the stalls (~7,000 dong).
- Green Lake (Ho Guom Xanh), 32 Le Thai To. A crowded bar with weekly performances by popular local singers. A place for the definitive Vietnamese entertainment scene. Has an 80,000 dong cover charge on the weekends. Seems to combine part live singing with drag performances and a host club.
- Mao's Red Lounge, 30 Ta Hien, Hoan Kiem (Down the street from Tet and Cheeky Quarter). Small, but lively bar in the heart of the Old Quarter. Has two levels, the top floor which is usually packed with Westerners smoking loads of cigarettes. Mao himself is usually in presence, playing all kinds of music from his iPod. Extremely friendly dude who will strike up a conversation with anyone willing to listen. Daily specials and LaRue for about 20,000 dong.
- Minh's Jazz Club, 92 Tran Vu (On the south side of Truc Bach Lake). This longtime institution of the Hanoi music scene is still run by the same Mr. Quyen Van Minh. It is now attached to the Ma Lai Deli and Red Arecas Restaurant. Drinks are still available, but food is from one of the two adjoining restaurants.
- Highlands Coffee (Opposite KFC). On the 3rd floor in a ship-shaped 5 storey building overlooking Hoan Kiem Lake and Vietnam's "Piccadilly Circus". Great spot to relax in scenic location where you can watch all the traffic and pedestrians go about their business below you along their outside balcony or stay inside their comfy air conditioned interior. They also serve food and beer. 45,000 dong.
ATMs are everywhere and cash is king here. There is a transaction limit of 2,000,000 dong. For a higher transaction limit (4,000,000 dong) try the ANZ and Techcombank. Each transaction at the ANZ ATM is 40,000 dong. The Techcombank SE of the Hoa Lo Prison allows transactions of at least 7,000,000 dong. The Citi bank machine in the shopping plaza on Xuan Dieu will dispense 6,000,000. Many places will accept USD. Military Bank (MB) gives 5,000,000 dong with no fee.
- Bookworm Hanoi, 44 Chau Long (Hanoi Cooking Center), ☎ +84 43 715 3711, +84 912 561800. New and used books.
- Cho Hom (The equivalent meaning in English would be "Noon Market" but the translation is not close), Pho Hue. They offer everything here. What it is famous for is the fabric market on the second floor. There are many kiosks selling different types of fabrics ranging from cheap, affordable to best quality with a high price. When shopping, take your time and never rush into buying anything. Sellers often quote a very high initial price that you can bargain down considerably.
- Dong Xuan. Famous for being the market for wholesalers. They have school supplies, stuffed animals, clothing. It is quite an experience to spend some time in the market observing the sellers and buyers.
- Hang Da. A 6-storey building to house the market is currently under construction; all the kiosks are now located in the neighboring area, either on Phung Hung (second-hand clothing), Duong Thanh or Ly Nam De Streets. They offer everything that one can think of, from pets, groceries, prepared foods, to fabrics.
- Night Market. 19:00-. This market gathers on a walking street in the old quarter. Has anything from pirated DVDs to traditional ornaments. Prices are negotiable, but watch out for the "foreigner pricing" which is fairly common.
Contact lens solution is a rare commodity in Vietnam, and many pharmacies don't stock it. The pharmacy at the corner of Trang Tien and Dinh Tien Hoang (southeast corner of Hoan Kiem Lake) may have some in stock.
Money changers are found in most guest houses and banks, and they give bad rates. Don't exchange money from the black market people on the streets. The best place to exchange money is on Ha Trung Rd and Hang Bac where they give good rates. Just walk into the gold shops or jewellery shops and ask them if they change money and ask to see their rates. Ask 5 or more shops to see which gives the best rate. Best rates are at Ha Trung which is 4 to 5 min walk from Hoan Kiem Lake. Jewellery shops will consistently offer a better rate than banks or hotels.
This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Hanoi on Wikivoyage.