Temple of Literature, Hanoi

Where to stay

  • Golden Sun Moment Hotel, 15 Hang Can St, Hoan Kiem District; +84 4 3923 1508; www.goldensunhotel.com/moment. A cozy boutique hotel located in Hanoi’s Old Quarter, with friendly staff who can arrange city tours for you.
  • Hanoi Backpackers Hostel, 48 Ngo Huyen, Hoan Kiem District; +84 4 3828 5372. Mingle with fellow travelers at this “party” hostel, which organizes pub crawls and walking tours.
  • Hanoi Bluebell Hotel, 41 Ngo Huyen, Hoan Kiem District; +84 4 3938 2398; www.hanoibluebellhotel.com. This budget hotel, which was recently refurbished, offers guests modern amenities like LCD TVs and free WiFi.
  • Hanoi Victory Hotel, No 3 Hang Quat St, Hoan Kiem District; +84 4 9142 5803; hanoivictoryhotel.com. A boutique three-star hotel just a few minutes’ walk from Hoan Kiem Lake.
  • Hotel De L’Opera Hanoi – MGallery Collection29 Trang Tien St, Hoan Kiem District; +84 4 6282 5555; www.hoteldelopera.com.Located in the old-meets-new district of the French Quarter, this hotel blends colonial architecture with theatrical splendor to appeal to style-conscious travelers. It has 107 lavishly decorated rooms and suites, and the domed courtyard dotted with canopied daybeds is a real standout.
  • Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi, 15 Ngo Quyen St, Hoan Kiem District; +84 4 3826 6919; www.sofitel.com. This luxe, storied hotel has seen dignitaries and glitterati sleep under its roof. It’s an exercise in colonial grandeur, with a classic white facade and stately wood paneling.

Where to eat

  • Banh Mi 25, 25 Hang Ca St; +84 97 766 8895. No trip to Vietnam is complete without trying the local specialty, banh mi. This stall serves up some of the best sandwiches in town, in flavors like roast pork and honey chicken. Every order comes with a free iced tea and a banana.
  • Café Giang, 39 Nguyen Huu Huan; www.giangcafehanoi.com. Enjoy a cup of the best ca phe trung (egg coffee, where egg yolks are beaten into coffee) in Hanoi.
  • Café Nhac Xua, 43 Lo Duc; +84 91 875 99 38; facebook.com/nhacxuahanoi. Enjoy light bites at this retro, open-fronted café. piled high with assorted old sound systems and hi-fi stereos.
  • Cha Ca La Vong, 14 Cha Ca, Hoan Kiem District; +84 4 3825 3929. Head to this century-old restaurant for its eponymous dish – essentially a medley of fish, turmeric, dill, shrimp paste, fish sauce, chillies and noodles.
  • Green Tangerine, 48 Hang Be, Hang Bac, Hoan Kiem District. A charming restaurant converted from a 1928 heritage house, serving up French fare like snakehead fish with passionfruit sauce and duck liver mousse.
  • Hanoi Social Club, 6 Ngo Hoi Vu, Hoan Kiem District; +84 4 3938 2117; facebook.com/TheHanoiSocialClub. An cosmopolitan café serving up sandwiches, pastas, burgers and good coffee. It also hosts regular gigs.
  • Highlands Coffee, various locations, including 51B Xuan Dieu St, Quang An Ward, Tay Ho District; +84 4 3719 1857; www.highlandscoffee.com.vn. Tired from all that sightseeing? Perk yourself up with a strong and aromatic cup of joe at this homegrown coffee chain.
  • Highway4, 5 Hang Tre, Ly Thai To, Hoan Kiem District; +84 4 3926 4200; highway4.com. Order sour fish soup and catfish spring rolls for an authentic Vietnamese meal.
  • New Day Restaurant, 72 Ma May, Hang Buom, Hoan Kiem District; +84 4 4828 0315; newdayrestaurant.com. Try the deep fried Hanoi spring rolls and fried rice with seafood at this top-rated restaurant.
  • Noodle and Roll Restaurant; 39C Ly Quoc Su, Hoan Kiem District; +84 9 3662 2981. Must-tries include the bun cha (vermicelli noodles with grilled pork) and bahn mi (Vietnamese sandwich).
  • Pho Suong, 24 Ngo Trung Yen, Hang Bac, Hoan Kiem District. Serves up perfect bowls of pho: clear broth, clean taste and tender beef.
  • Pots’n Pans, 57 Bui Thi Xuan, Hai Ba Trung; +84 4 3944 0204; potsnpans.vn. Eat for a good cause at this culinary training center for disadvantaged teenagers. The grilled chicken sate skewers, beef carpaccio, duck with orange sauce and crème brulee are among the must-tries.
  • Quan An Ngon, 18 Phan Boi Chau St; +84 4 3942 8162, ngonhanoi.com.vn. A tourist favorite, with a wide and varied menu of Vietnamese fare – from banh xeo (savory fried pancake) to hot pot.
  • Reng Reng Café, 3 Phung Hung, Hang Ma, Hoan Kiem District. This hole-in-the-wall joint serves cups of local coffee out of a small wooden van. It uses beans that are sourced from a family farm in the Central Highlands city of Dalat.
  • SixtySix Restaurant, 66 Hang Bo, Hoan Kiem District; +84 4 3266 8888. This stylish restaurant serves up Vietnamese-French fusion fare, such as grilled tiger prawns with plum sauce.
  • Street Food. Contact Hanoi Street Food Tour (+84 9 6696 0188; www.hanoistreetfoodtour.com) to enjoy a smorgasbord of delicious street eats in the company of an English-speaking tour guide. Available during lunch and dinner.
  • Tadioto, 24B Tong Dan; www.tadioto.com. An uber-cool cool bar and art gallery with an excellent drink list. The bar also doubles up as an events space, hosting the occasional concert and reading.
  • The Unicorn, 2A Hang Than; +84 90 488 62 66. Don’t miss the signature Pho cocktail at his pub, which is decked out like a boho camping site.

What to do

  • Anh Duy Lacquer, 25 Hang Trong. Lacquerware is a cottage industry in Hanoi, but it can be hard to spot a good item. Head here to purchase quality pieces that won’t crack after a few uses.
  • Ba Dinh Square, Hung Vuong, Dien Bien, Ba Dinh District. Rise early and head down to the site of Ho Chi Minh’s 1945 declaration of independence to catch a glimpse of the daily flag-raising ceremony.
  • Chula, 24 Ly Quoc Su; www.chulafashion.com. Browse and buy fashionable apparel in vivid colors and geometric designs – all inspired by cultural identities, architecture and photography.
  • Flower villages. Head to villages like Dam and Tay Tuu to visit their beautiful flower farms, which make for a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of the city
  • Halong Bay Tour, www.halongbaytours.com. Take a day trip to Halong Bay and marvel at its ethereal limestone pillars and islets. You can choose to take a private tour, led by an English-speaking guide.
  • Hanoi Cinematheque, 22 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem District. A far cry from your standard movie theatre, this private film club charges a membership fee in exchange for entry, and screens everything from Vietnamese classics to 1930s cinema and award-winning art-house movies.
  • Hanoi Cooking Centre, 44 Chau Long; +84 4 3715 0088; hanoicookingcentre.com. There’s a variety of classes on offer here, from the Hanoi and the Northern Highlands cooking class to the vegetarian tofu cooking class.
  • Hanoi Cyclo Tours, hanoicyclotours.com. Tour the city in style on a cycle, or cycle rickshaw. You’ll be whisked to attractions like the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Old Quarter and Long Bien Bridge.
  • Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Hung Vuong, Dien Bien, Ba Dinh District; +84 4 3845 5128. This marble edifice – a must-visit landmark – is where national hero Ho Chi Minh is embalmed. Do remember to abide by the dress code – no short skirts and tank tops are permitted.
  • Hoa Lo Prison, 1 Hoa Lo St, Phu Khanh Village, Hoan Kiem District; +84 4 824 6358. The grounds of the infamous prison still houses relics such as a French guillotine, which was used to behead Vietnamese revolutionaries.
  • Hoan Kiem Lake. While away a peaceful hour or two lazing by the lake. On weekends, you’ll find numerous couples taking their pre-nuptial photos.
  • Long Bien Island. Once the site of a flourishing village, the island is now home to a wide cross-section of rural life, bimming with corn and banana trees, vegetable gardens and makeshift stilt houses. Take a stroll along the heavily bombed Long Bien Bridge to get to the island.
  • Manzi, 14 Phan Huy Ich, Ba Dinh District. This cross between a bar, café, exhibition space, art shop and multimedia venue is festooned both with vintage pieces and edgy contemporary artwork by emerging artists.
  • Night Market, Dao Hang Ngang Hang, Hang Duong, Phuong 14, Dong Xuan, Hoan Kiem. Prepare to haggle at this market, which is open on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. You’ll find the usual mix of street food, trinkets and fashion accessories.
  • Old Quarter. A microcosm of Hanoi where remnants of the past collide head on with the booming capitalism of today. Take a ramble through the twisting maze of 36 streets, each named after the wares they purvey.
  • Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre, 57B Dinh Tien Hoang, Hoan Kiem District; +84 4 3936 4335, thanglongwaterpuppet.org. Watch a fun and entertaining water puppet show for an insight into Vietnamese culture.
  • Temple of Literature, Quoc Tu Giam St, Dong Da District. This temple, which is dedicated to Confucius, also honors Vietnam’s high-ranking scholars. Students often visit the temple before their exams to pray for good luck.
  • Walking tour. Contact Hanoi Free Tour Guides (Tel: +84 974 596 895; hanoifreetourguides.com/en), a non-profit organization that conducts free tours of the city.
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