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Located in northern Vietnam on the banks of the Red River, Hanoi is the nation’s capital and has a population of over 8.1 million people. Founded in 1010 by the first ruler of the Ly Dynasty, Ly Thai To, it was first known as Thang Long, which means rising dragon. The city changed hands several times over the years, with the majority of the time between 1883 to 1945 being run by the French. In fact, it did not become the capital of Vietnam again until after the Viet Minh forces were able to regain control in 1954.
Being such an old city, you can find many ancient ruins, pagodas, and historic buildings and memorials. Because of the lengthy French occupation, the city has two main neighborhoods: the French Quarter and the Old Quarter. You will also notice many French-Colonial areas of the city where you can see incredible works of art and mixtures of French and Chinese handcrafted architecture. There is even a bit of Russian influence.
With such a diverse past, the city has a variety of different cultural sections. For example, the Old Quarter has local trade featuring mostly bamboo, jewelry, and silks. The French Quarter is separated into two areas. The Ba Dinh District is the governmental center with the Presidential Palace and embassies. The Hoan Kiem District has many landmarks like St. Joseph’s Cathedral, National Museum of Vietnamese History, and the Hanoi Opera House. Be sure to visit all the areas of Hanoi so you can get the full cultural experiences.
Nobody wants to have to bring their luggage or work gear from place to place when out on the town. Many of the attractions and museums do not allow them. And enjoying an excursion or meal is more enjoyable hands-free. Bounce has partnered with local businesses in the area where you can safely leave your bags. Download the Bounce app and find the nearest location, book your bags, and drop them off for the day.
Top Things to Do
Hanoi has become a popular tourist attraction, drawing in almost five million visitors per year. In fact, in 2019, Mastercard voted the city as the most visited place in Vietnam. Some people call it the Paris of the East because of the large French influence you can see just about everywhere. Throughout the city, you will also find karaoke bars, theaters, dance clubs, and other local entertainment hotspots. Hanoi is also known for its shopping, cuisine, and excellent museums and galleries.
With over a dozen museums and a plethora of other memorials and galleries, you may have a hard time choosing if you only have one day. Whether you are a local with a day off or are on holiday, we recommend these spots.
Hoa Lo Prison Museum: On the corner of Hai Ba Trung and Hoa Lo, you can visit the former Hoa Lo Prison, which was weirdly nicknamed Hanoi Hilton by the POWs during the Vietnam War. Built in 1896, the ancient building has many exhibits related to the Vietnamese people’s struggles with France. It even has a French guillotine that was used long ago.
Vietnamese Women’s Museum: This interesting museum on Ly Thuong Keit Street near Hoan Keim Lake has hundreds of displays about the roles of Vietnamese women. In fact, there are over 30,000 artifacts to see. You can see a large and beautiful display of jewelry, dresses, and photos with descriptions on each.
Vietnam Museum of Ethnology: Head over to Nguyen Van Huyen to see a fantastic array of permanent exhibits about the ethnology and culture in Vietnam over the years. Start with the Peoples of Vietnam, where you can see the 54 ethnic groups of Vietnam in the Bronze Drum. Visit the collection of 68 Indonesian glass paintings of all types of things, from nature to clowns. They also have an architectural garden and several other exhibits that change regularly.
Hanoi was named one of the top 10 shopping cities in Asia, and once you get out there and start looking around, you will know why. Whether you are trying to find a unique gift for a loved one or just need some basics, find that and more in Hanoi.
Vincom Royal City Megamall: This place is more like a city than a mall. In fact, it has the largest underground mall in Asia along with an ice-skating rink, theaters, food court, and even a waterpark. Located on Nguyen Trai Street near Hoan Kiem Lake, this mall has everything you can think of and much more.
Vietnamese Handicrafts: If you are looking for a one-of-a-kind gift or souvenir for that special someone, hit the shops along Hang Gai, Cau Go, Hang Khai, Hang Ma, and To Tich Streets. You’ll find small shops, kiosks, and street vendors selling their personally made wares as well as fresh local produce and other goodies. Silk and other custom-made clothes are also popular here.
Dong Xuan Market: In the middle of the Old Quarter, Hanoi’s largest traditional market is an indoor/outdoor shopping extravaganza for everything you want. And even things you didn’t know you wanted. From knockoffs for bargain prices, trinkets made by locals, and fresh produce from local farmers, if you cannot find it here, you probably won’t find it anywhere. Except maybe the mall.
When you are dining in Hanoi, you have to try some local cuisine. Whether you want noodle soups, spring rolls, or rice, get it in true Vietnamese fashion. You can also find a large number of French restaurants due to the long French occupation. And, of course, you'll see American, Italian, and Mexican food.
Chim Sao: On Ngo Hue in the northern section of town, you'll find this top-rated Vietnamese cuisine spot. Eat at the tables or go upstairs and sit on the floor as the locals do. Their star fruit and duck, tasty spring rolls, and caramel pork are popular. Try some ground pigeon with shrimp pancakes or eel with lemongrass. Wash it all down with some amazing rice alcohol.
Don’s A Chef’s Bistro: Looking for a burger? You can get one here that tastes just like home. Don’s is the only restaurant in Vietnam to make it on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants. Located on Quang An Road, this cozy and casual bistro offers up everything from local cuisine to steaks and even pizza. Enjoy it all with a mug of beer or rice wine.
Kem Trang Tien: Ice cream is a popular treat in Hanoi, just as it is in America and other countries. Here, you can try unique combinations or flavors like taro or green bean ice cream. Their ice cream must be good because this is where all the locals go. From rice ice cream to special cakes made while you wait, you will love this place.
How much does luggage storage cost in Hanoi?
The price for luggage storage in Hanoi is just $5.90/bag for the entire day.
Where are there luggage storage locations in Hanoi?
There are multiple locations all around Hanoi which can be booked through the Bounce platform including near Ba Vi National Park, Old Quarter, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and many other areas.
Is it safe to store your bags in Hanoi?
Yes. Every bag is tagged with a security seal and comes with the $5,000 Bounce Guarantee. Every location is required to uphold tight security precautions. You may be asked to show ID and you will be required to use a credit card to book through Bounce in advance. With hundreds of thousands of bags stored, you can count on Bounce to handle your baggage in Hanoi.
Are there storage lockers in Hanoi?
Yes. There are storage lockers and many other luggage drop off points in Hanoi. Bounce has multiple locations throughout Hanoi where you can conveniently store your luggage with full security and the $5,000 Bounce Gurantee.
Where are the best places to stay and eat while in Hanoi?
The most popular restaurants to visit are Quan An Ngon, Bún Chả Hương Liên, and Bánh Mì 25. Additionally, the highest ranked hotels within Hanoi are Hanoi Gratitude Hotel, Melia, and Centre Point Hanoi Hotel.
Where are the best parks and nature attractions in Hanoi?
Hanoi offers several scenic parks including Temple of Literature, Hanoi Botanical Gardens, and Park of Reunification.
Where can I find tourist information and guideposts in Hanoi?
You can find local tourist information at Friends Travel Vietnam.
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