Hanoi, Viet Nam Guide - - Hotels, Restaurants, Nightlife - Classic Travel
Don’t be fooled, Ho Chi Minh no longer rules this capital city, no matter how lively he looks in his post at the mausoleum. Hanoi has been reinvented: evolving from the infamous seat of Communist activity during the Vietnam War to a bustling city with an international art scene and an impressive gastronomical contribution. In this exciting city, with its echoes of French architectural influence, the street scene is in sharp contrast to the calming waters of the lakes that punctuate the Hanoi landscape. The chaotic crowds and the jam-packed bikes and mopeds all but carry you in their powerful traffic—but watch out, street lights and traffic signals are noticeably absent. Go with the flow, however, and you are sure to enjoy a modern metropolis renowned for its masterly fine-art photographs, its delectable cuisine, and the crisp lines of a personally tailored suit.
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1 Trang Tien St
Tel. +84 04.565.1807
Stepping into the Opera House practically transports you to Paris. An example of French influence in Vietnam, the Opera House is the perfect place to take in the music of Hanoi. Schedules change frequently, so check the website or call for ticket information.
Temple of Literature
Quoc Tu Giam St
An example of traditional Vietnamese architecture, the Temple of Literature is considered Hanoi’s first university. The many courtyards and gardens are best seen with help from a guide.
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
Hung Vuong St
Long lines await you at Ho Chi Minh’s final resting place, so make sure you get there early or find a guide with private access. Once inside, you’re shuttled around the former leader’s body for an often under 10 minute tour. Hours are variable and the building is closed Mondays and Fridays, so be sure to check with your concierge before setting out.
EZ Cooking Class
15 Bich Cau St.
Tel. +84 91.359.6767
Impress your friends with your newfound Vietnamese cooking skills. The class includes a trip to the local market with your English-speaking chef to pick up your fresh ingredients. Then head back to the kitchen to cook traditional dishes and enjoy the fruits of your labor for lunch.
135 Nghi Tam
Tel. +84 04.719.4745
In the spirit of do-it-yourself Vietnam, plan a visit to Cay Son to learn how to create lacquer works or attend painting workshops. If you’re less of a hands-on person, you can also relax in Cay Son’s beautiful gardens and watch the experts practice their trade. It’s a museum, workshop and gallery all under one roof—the perfect one-stop shop for all your lacquer needs.
Hop in a two-seater cyclo and get into the mix. For just two US dollars an hour, these pedicabs will take you around the city by way of the crowded, lively streets.
19 Ngo Van So St
A recent addition to the Hanoi dining scene, La Verticale is headed by 5 Stars Diamond chef Didier Corlou. Corlou's classical French training combined with his years of residence in Vietnam work to produce one of the best French-Vietnamese fusion restaurants in all of Hanoi. Set in a restored 1930s French villa, this bistro is the ultimate in haute cuisine.
1A Xuan Dieu St
Tel. +84 04.719.8000
Vine offers a combination of traditional Vietnamese cuisine with familiar international fare, but the real draw is the wine. As the name suggests, wine is the star of this restaurant with the best cellar in Hanoi. You can even arrange for a personal wine tasting experience complete with a special menu and a choice of over 1,000 bottles.
1 Ba Trieu St
Tel. +84 04.934.8577
The new “it” restaurant in Hanoi, Bobby Chinn offers a few different dining experiences. Enjoy a relaxing dinner with a view of Hoan Kiem Lake, take a seat at the big, open bar at the entrance while listening to the sounds of local jazz or indulge amidst the silk curtains in the intimate corners in the back. The chef combines California, French and Vietnamese flavors in an eclectic menu that relies on local, organic produce.
48 Hang Be
Tel. +84 04.825.1286
In the center of the Old Quarter, but set back from the busy streets, the Green Tangerine is the perfect place to take a break from the hustle of the city in an air conditioned dining room. The diverse menu focuses on French-Asian cuisine centered on fresh Vietnamese spices.
15 Ngo Quyen St
Tel. +84 04.826.0926
Set in the iconic Metropole hotel, Le Beaulieu is a must for Sunday Brunch. Reservations are recommended as its becoming increasingly popular among Hanoi residents and tourists alike.
59 Ly Thai To St
Tel. +84 04.824.6950
This chic, little bistro with bright décor and a romantic feel serves up traditional Vietnamese dishes. You can cozy up in a corner with your partner while sampling their seafood-focused fare.
Cha Ca La Vong
14 Cha Ca St
Tel. +84 04.825.3929
Although you won’t necessarily get service with a smile, you will definitely get an authentic taste of Vietnamese cuisine. The one meal on the menu, Cha Ca, is a combination of grilled fish, cold noodles, scallion, peanuts and herbs. Although you don’t have a lot of choice (drinks include just beer or water) the menu has remained the same for over 100 years, so they must be doing something right.
19 Phan Chu Trinh
Tel. +84 04.824.0926
Grab a meal in this stylishly decorated French colonial villa that serves up traditional Vietnamese food. Make sure to reserve a seat in the downstairs dining room, where there will be music to accompany your meal. Be for warned, traditional fare does not necessarily mean traditional music—tunes from The Godfather have made an appearance on the set list.
7 Nguyen Khac Nhu
Tel. +84 04.927.2349
One of, if not the, best contemporary art gallery in Hanoi, Art Vietnam has recently expanded its collection to include three floors of video, photography, painting and sculpture. Director Suzanne Lecht is world renowned for fusing the traditional with the avant-garde to showcase the cutting edge art of Vietnam today.
34 Han Thuyen St
Tel. +84 04.933.4000
You’ll be a kid in a candy store if handbags are your thing in Christina Yu’s Ipa-Nima boutique. Pick up one of Yu’s funky designs or create your own, either way you’ll find yourself at the front of the fashion pack. Don’t forget to check out the shoes and jewelry too.
15 Nha To St.
Tel. +84 04.928.8725
The showroom counterpart to the Discovery Diamonds factory allows clients to peruse gems in a variety of designs. Get to the source of Europe’s jewelry and watch trades before your friends.
28 Xuan Dieu St
Tel. +84 04.719.1935
Work with the designers at Velvet Underground to create your own luxurious and unique collection of bed linens and throws. Everything is made locally and hand embroidered, tailor made to fit your personal style.
96 Hang Gai St.
Tel. +84 04.825.4237
This Hanoi institution provides shoppers with a stunning array of Vietnam’s traditional silks. Pick up a ready-to-wear design or bring an idea and have it brought to life by their team of tailors. If you choose the latter, you can bring your favorite shirt, jacket or dress to speed the process along and ensure a perfect it.
Tan My Design
61 Hang Gail Street
Tel. +84 220.127.116.11.54
Here is where local designers show off the their work by taking the styles of the past like mandarin collars and give them a new look by bringing them up the 21st century.
Vietnam Travel Tips
Although we’ve listed a ton of great boutiques, don’t miss the gift stores in luxury hotels—they typically carry higher quality merchandise. Expect to pay a little bit more, but the five-star hotels will generally carry unique pieces, and sometimes they’ll stock high end designers. But keep in mind while you shop, that anything bought must be lugged around for the rest of the trip; try to buy stock items (things you can get all over Vietnam) at your last destination. It’s also a good idea to think ahead and pack an extra bag to carry home all your goodies—you’re going to need it!
Vietnam, though known for its stunning laquerware and captivating black and white photography, is also a great place to get beautiful hand-made clothing. Be sure to bring your favorite item to give the tailor some idea of what you’re looking for to ensure a perfect fit.
It is an extremely smart idea to keep the address and number of your hotel with you at all times; there might be a language barrier and a written confirmation of where you need to go can often bridge the gap.
Visa and Travel Documents
Citizens of some Asian countries are exempt from visas for short-term stays. Japanese citizens may stay for 15 days without a visa, while Singaporeans, Thai and Malaysians are granted 30-day visa waivers. Filipinos may stay 21 days without a visa.
You are able to receive your visa on arrival at HCMC (Saigon), Danang and Hanoi airports if you have your Visa Authorization Letter. Make sure you also have US dollars for the visa fee, passport sized photo and your passport. We’d even recommend stashing the exact change, your passport sized photo, and the letter into an envelope to make everything move a bit faster.
If you do not arrive by air to those specific cities, you must obtain a visa prior to arrival in Vietnam.
Upon entering Vietnam you will be presented with a yellow form that covers customs and immigration. Don’t lose it—you’ll need it to leave the country.
Immunizations are recommended, but consult your physician or healthcare provider:
Diptheria and tetanus
Japanese B Encephalitis
Also, although malaria is still rare, dengue fever is on the increase and commonly contracted by travelers. Make sure to sleep beneath a mosquito net in open-style rooms and always apply repellent. Bring all prescription medication.
At the Airport
Luggage allowances vary airline to airline. Visit the sites below.
Vietnam’s currency, the Vietnam Dong (VND), exchanges at a rate of about 16,500 to the US Dollar.
As the dollar is still valuable in Cambodia (!) we advise bringing a good number of singles ($200) to use as tips. Higher-end restaurants often include service charges in the bill, and although tips are not expected in more casual restaurants and bars, they are appreciated.
Shops are not responsible for damages incurred during shipping, so we recommend purchasing shipping insurance if you chose to ship items home.
Vietnam’s country is +84, and operates on Greenwich meantime +7 hours. (When it’s noon in Vietnam, it’s midnight in New York.)
1 Ba Trieu St
Tel. +84 04.934.8577
This restaurant is also a hip nightspot with cool sounds, great drinks and a relaxed atmosphere.
59 A Ly Thai To St
Tel. +84 04.934.0888
This six-story building decorated in 1920s style is replete with a restaurant, a meeting center, and a rooftop Terrace Bar with a fantastic view of Hanoi. If fresh air entertainment is not your thing, enjoy a quiet glass of wine and a cigar in the Library Bar.
60 Ly Thai To St.
Tel. +84 04.936.5917
Come to this lounge for a cold beer or a decedent cocktail, enjoyed in the shadows of Sinatra’s classic lyrics. With a sleek, modern interior, My Way is a great end to a busy day.
25 Hang Be Street
Tel. +84 (4) 39.26.21.04
Many of Hanoi’s clubs close by 11PM but this is one of the places that just shutters the doors and becomes a sort of speakeasy.
32 Le Thai To
Tel. +84 04.828.8820
Around the corner from Bobby Chinn’s, with a view of Hoan Kiem Lake, Ibox offers live music in a chic interior with a wide variety of desserts, drinks and cigars.
15 Ngo Quyen St.
Tel. +84 04.826.6919
With a romantic vibe and refreshing cocktails, the Bamboo Bar is the place to enjoy a drink poolside. Located in the Hotel Sofitel Metropole, it also has musical entertainment.