Journey To Discover Interesting Hanoi At The Weekend


A weekend in Hanoi isn’t nearly enough time in Vietnam’s atmospheric but chaotic capital, one of our favourite cities in Southeast Asia – but a weekend is better than nothing. Here’s how to spend it…

If you only have a weekend in Hanoi you’re going to want to cram as much in as possible so it has to be well planned. This is how to do it but note that it’s a very personal itinerary of Hanoi – these are the things we love to do and places we like to go in Hanoi.

Journey To Discover Interesting Hanoi At The Weekend
Photo by Adam Jones
This is not an itinerary comprised of the latest openings that might close in a year – some of the restaurants and cafes have been around for decades, the sights for centuries, and the experiences for many years, all tried and tested – but it is an itinerary that will give you a taste of this wonderful but at times infuriating city.

I started off my first day by walking through Hanoi’s Old Quarter, admiring the old colonial French architecture.

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Photo by Bex Walton
My first stop was to try a Hanoi speciality: an iced coffee topped with a whipped egg from Cafe Pho Co, with beautiful views of Hoan Kiem lake after walking through their very-Vietnamese courtyard:

Hanoi is a very walkable and compact city, with most sites available within 30 minutes on foot from the Old Quarter. The Ho Chi Minh Museum is definitely a must-visit while in Hanoi, if for no other reason to see the “different” way that the Vietnam War is seen through Vietnamese eyes:

Aside from the history and culture, why does one come to Hanoi? For the food! I decided to be a bit adventurous and go on a walking street food tour, where a guide took us to 6 different places to try local dishes. This was stuff you may not find on your own, and even if you could, there was no English written or spoken anywhere in these places. This tour was a great way to sample many dishes that I may never have found or known to order.

The next day, I saw a chilling piece of history within the Hoa Lo Prison, aka the “Hanoi Hilton”, which also is a must-visit while in Hanoi:

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Photo by collect on the internet
Following the prison was a 20 minute walk to Bun Cha Huong Lien restaurant, made famous by President Obama’s visit with Anthony Bourdain in the spring of 2016, where the former President now has a combo named in his honor. The combo is tasty, filling, and cost just under $4 USD:

And of course, no trip to Hanoi is complete without a steaming hot $1 bowl of pho from a street stall.

On my way back to my hotel on my final night in Hanoi, I caught Hoan Kiem Lake lit up at night.

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Photo by pxhere
If you get a chance to spend a couple of days in Hanoi, definitely do so. It’s a very lively city with an extremely interesting history, not to mention 3-star hotels for $25 and full meals for $1. Two or three days in Hanoi will be days well spent!