Huc Bridge. Image commons.wikimedia.org

In Autumn, Hanoi enchants guests with its exotic beauty expressed in every ancient corner, street filled with falling leaves and the cool ambiance or tranquil lakes. Autumn is also the best season to visit the capital.

Text by: Linh Giang. Photos: Piero Hanoi

hoan kiem lake hanoi travel guide autumn

ANCIENT RELICS

1. Hanoi Old Quarter

Hanoi Old Quarter is a famous attraction of the capital cty. It is crowded with ancient structures with the continuous sound of pedlars echoed.

hanoi old quarter 1 hanoi travel guide autumn

hanoi old quarter 2 hanoi travel guide autumn

street vendor hanoi old quarter 2 hanoi travel guide autumn

hanoi old quarter 2 hanoi travel guide autumn

hanoi old quarter 2 hanoi travel guide autumn

huc bridge hanoi old quarter 3 hanoi travel guide autumn 6

street vendor hanoi old quarter 2 hanoi travel guide autumn

street vendor hanoi old quarter 2 hanoi travel guide autumn

hanoi old quarter 3 hanoi travel guide autumn 8

street vendor hanoi old quarter 2 hanoi travel guide autumn

In 13th century, Hanoi featured 36 streets. Until now, it is a collection of 50 streets, which have been named interestingly after their trading products of local people such as Hang Gai (silk) selling silk and Hang Hom (coffin) seling coffins.

Walking around the Old Quarter is an exciting experience of many guests. Most of streets are connected with each other. In the past, houses in the quarter were built in tubes with only one or two floors and wooden stairs. Today, it stands more buildings with average height.

See more Hanoi attractions here.

2. Hanoi Ancient Citadel

hanoi ancient citadel 2

hanoi ancient citadel 2

hanoi ancient citadel 2

hanoi ancient citadel 2

Hanoi Ancient Citadel is connected closely with Thang Long capital – Hanoi in the past. This is a huge architectural structure built by dynasties in different historic periods and has become one of the most important relics in Vietnam. The relic is now preserved its Bac Mon gate (Northern Gate), Hau Lau palace, Kinh Thien ground floor, Doan Mon Gate and Flagpole. Hanoi ancient citadel was recognized as a world’s heritage by UNESCO.

See more Hanoi attractions here.

3. Temple of Literature

Temple of Literature of hanoi 3

Temple of Literature of hanoi 2

Temple of Literature of hanoi 3

About 2km from Sword Lake in the West, the structure was sophisticatedly built with 5 yards designed in a tranquil, separate space within the capital city. Built by King Ly Thanh Tong in 1070, it is one of several temples in Vietnam which are dedicated to Confucius, sages and scholars. The Vietnam’s first national university was also founded here in 1076. At present, it remains 82 stelaes of doctors.

See more Hanoi attractions here.

TYPICAL ARCHITECTURAL STRUCTURES

4. Hanoi Opera House

Hanoi Opera House

Situated in the centre of Hanoi, at the crossroad of Trang Tien – Phan Chu Trinh – Ly Thai To – Le Thanh Tong, near Sword lake and Vietnam Museum of History, this structure is a small version of Paris Opera House, built from 1901 – 1911. This is one of cultural centres of the capital, where takes place cultural activities, artistic performances, concerts and more.

See more Hanoi attractions here.

5. Saint Joseph Cathedral

Saint Joseph Cathedral hanoi 2

Saint Joseph Cathedral hanoi 2

Built on a high ground, which used to be the tower foot of Bao Thien at the time of King Ly Thanh Tong (1054 – 1072), Saint Joseph Cathedral was inaugurated on Christmas in 1887. The cathedral features two bell-towers of 30m with stone pillars at four corners. On its top stands a stone cross. The church was designed in the neo-gothic style. It holds several masses throughout the day and is usually crowded on weekends and religious holidays.

See more Hanoi attractions here.

6. The University of Hanoi

The University of Hanoi

Located at 19 Le Thanh Tong, the university before August Revolution was Indochina University built by French architect Ernest Hébrard in 1926. The university of Hanoi, founded in 1956, trained many basic sciences and then, it became one of three universities that formed Vietnam National University.

7. Ancient house at 87 Ma May

Ancient house at 87 Ma May 2

Ancient house at 87 Ma May 2

Ancient house at 87 Ma May 2

Built in early 19th century, the house has been undergoing many upheavals of society, but it also remains its ancient architecture. Before 1945, its owner is a famous businessman of rice in Hanoi. After 1945, he sold the house for a rich Chinese family, who ran businessness and make up medicines. However, the new owner only stayed here in 10 years and then moved to Southern Vietnam and left the house empty for a period of time. Until 1999, the house was repaired and preserved by local government. At present, the house is an attractive destination for both domestic and international guests. It reappears the panoramic picture of daily life and crowded trade of ancient Hanoi – 36 streets.

See more Hanoi attractions here.

8. O Quan Chuong

O Quan Chuong hanoi

O Quan Chuong, also known as Dong Ha Mon (East Gate) is situated at Hang Chieu street, near the Red River Dyke. This is one of five famous gates of Hanoi, along with O Cau Giay, O Cau Den, O Cho Dua and O Dong Mac. According to Xua & Nay (Past & Present) magazine, after occupying Hanoi, the French damaged all of these gates and some parts of the dyke to enlarge the territory of Hanoi. Until now, only one gate is remained in Hanoi, O Quan Chuong. After Hanoi’s 1000th anniversary, O Quan Chuong was repaired by local government.

See more Hanoi attractions here.

9. Hoa Lo prison

Hoa Lo prison

Located in Hoa Lo street, Hoa Lo prison was built by the French in 1896. It used to imprison 2000 polictical prisoners, in which nearly 100 was broken out of jail successfully. Hoa Lo prison is now holding many precious documents and has become a famous attraction in the capital city.

LAKES AND SCENERY

10. Sword Lake (Hoan Kiem Lake)

Located in the centre of Hanoi, Sword Lake enchants its guests with mysterious beauty. According to the legend, emperor Le Loi handed a magic sword called Heaven’s Will which brought him victory in his revolt against the Chinese Ming Dynasty back to the Golden Turtle God (Kim Qui) in the lake. The Turtle Tower (Thap Rua) standing on a small island near the centre of lake is linked to the legend. Walking along the lake in early morning, you can witness the daily life of local people such as taking exercise, walking or playing cheese.

Sword Lake (Hoan Kiem Lake) 2

Sword Lake (Hoan Kiem Lake) 2

Near the northern shore of the lake lies Jade Island on which the Temple of the Jade Mountain (Ngoc Son Temple) stands. The temple honors the 13-century military leader Tran Hung Dao. Jade Island is connected to the shore by the wooden red-painted The Huc Bridge (The Huc, meaning Morning Sunlight Bridge). The temple also displays a stone tortoise, which weighs nearly 250kg.

Huc Bridge. Image commons.wikimedia.org
Huc Bridge. Image commons.wikimedia.org
Turtle tower. Image panoramio.com
Turtle tower. Image panoramio.com
Hoan Kiem lake see from above. Image by bwhere.vn
Hoan Kiem lake see from above. Image by bwhere.vn
Image bank5troi.blogspot.com
Image bank5troi.blogspot.com

You can drop into many cafes nearby to take a rest and sip a cup of coffee while indulging in beautiful scenery. Nha Tron (Round House) café – Four Season Hapro is located nearby the lake.The café is a round kiosh designed as a small bar with chairs and tables around. Most of guests at the café are foreigners, who visit Sword lake. At weekends, families with their kids also drop in to relax and take a rest.

See more Hanoi attractions here.

11. West Lake

West Lake is the largest freshwater lake in Hanoi. It is surrounded by many temples and luxurious villas. Along Xuan Dieu street in the West of the lake, an array of premium Western restaurants, cafes, stores, shops and spas are crowdedly located. In addition, along the West Lake, guests can witness many of the most luxurious villas in Hanoi.

tran quoc pagoda West Lake ho tay 2

tran quoc pagoda West Lake ho tay 2

tran quoc pagodad West Lake

West Lake is a relaxing destination of Hanoians and an ideal place of expatriates.

Among many temples and pagodas, visitors prefer visiting Quan Thanh temple, Tran Quoc and Tay Ho pagodas to not only enjoy refined architecture but also pray for good fortune.

Tay Ho pagoda, located on a peninsula that just in the middle of the West Lake shore, is one of the most sacred places in Hanoi. On the first and 15th day of each lunar month, the pagoda is crowded with people. The scenery is so poetic and tranquil that you should drop by to feel the quiet movement of the land.

sunset at ho tay west lake hanoi yrr

Image filmphotograph.blogspot.com
Image filmphotograph.blogspot.com

EH-Sunset-on-West-Lake-Hanoi-attraction-city-tour vietnam 245

sunset at ho tay west lake hanoi yt

West Lake view from above
West Lake view from above

Tran Quoc at Thanh Nien street is the most ancient pagoda in Vietnam. The pagoda features an ancient stele, which was built in 1639, to be written the foundation of Tran Quoc pagoda. The pagoda was built in the 15th century and repaired in 1842. It also holds bone-ash of eminent monks.

Quan Thanh temple was built in the Ly dynasty to worship Northern Deity, who symbolized for power through the images of tortoise and snake. The huge statue and bell in the temple made of black bronze, were casted in 1677. The temple is located near Truc Bach lake, in the crossroad of Thanh Nien and Quan Thanh street.

See more Hanoi attractions here.

12. Truc Bach Lake

Truc Bach Lake

Truc Bach lake is separated from West Lake by Thanh Nien street. The lake is surrounded by green plants. In the 18th century, Emperor Trinh built a palace nearby the lake.

West Lake view from above
West Lake view from above
Photo by Ngoc Ha
Photo by Ngoc Ha

Besides, Hanoi also enchants guests with special streets, which are filled with falling leaves, such as Tran Phu, Ngo Quyen (near Metropole hotel), Hoang Dieu, Kim Ma, Dien Bien Phu, Phan Dinh Phung and Nguyen Du.

Further information

Transportation

Noi Bai international airport is the second largest airport in Vietnam, after Tan Son Nhat airport in Saigon. It is located in Soc Son district, about 45km from Hanoi in the Northwest.

There are many airlines linked with Noi Bai airport such as Cathay Pacific, China Airlines, Eva Air, Hong Kong Airlines, Korean Air and Vietnam Airlines.

Other domestic airlines include Vietnam Airlines, Air Mekong or Jetstar Pacific Airlines.

Hanoi also has a convenient railway system to link other provinces throughout the country with the capital city.

cylco hanoi 2

Local transportation

In Hanoi, you can use public vehicles such as bus, taxi, motorbike and car. Visitors can also take a cyclo at reasonable price and tour around the city.

If you stay for a long time in Hanoi, you can rent a bike or a motorbike in the Old Quarter to tour around Hanoi.

hanoi travel guide

Accommodation

Hotels in Hanoi are nearly 5,000. Apart from five-star hotels, you can stay in a boutique hotel with the price of around 1,000,000 VND/night. You can check rates & availability for this hotel on Agoda.com or Booking.com.

In addition, you can stay in one among many hotels in the Old Quarter, where you can start visiting all attracations in Hanoi.

Cuisine

Hanoi is famous for its traditional cuisine with an array of delicious dishes. However, the most famous one is pho (noodle), a symbol of Hanoi.

Guests of the capital also prefer enjoying La Vong fried fish, vermicelli and grilled chopped meat, vermicelli and snail soup, vermicelli with tofu and sauce, Thanh Tri steamed rolled rice pancake, West Lake shrimp cake, green rice flakes, sand-worm pork, dried beef with vegetables, Trang Tien ice cream, boiled snails, roasted chicken legs, Ba Hong pork roll…

com hanoi

Autumn gifts for your friends

Vong village’s green rice flakes

Vong village’s green rice flakes are made of a special kind of glutinous rice. It often appears in early autumn.

Salted fruits at Hang Duong street

In Hang Duong street, there are many famous stores of salted fruits such as Tien Thinh (at 21 Hang Duong), Gia Loi (16 Hang Duong), Gia Thinh (13 Hang Duong) and Hong Lam (11 Hang Duong). In addition, Van Loi store at 38A, Hang Da (Hoan Kiem district) is also famous. The price for this food is from 7,000 – 12,000VND/gram.

water puppet hanoi

Green rice flake cake at Hang Than street

To have a delicious green rice flake cake, green rice flakes must be chosen carefully. Green rice flakes after being made are kept in a jar in order not to be mouldy. However, the best cake is one that is made in autumn and found at Hang Than street. You can buy wonderful green rice fake cake at Nguyen Ninh store at 11 Hang Than. The price is about 5000 – 6000VND/cake.

Silk at Hang Gia – Silk of Van Phuc Silk Village

Some prestigious silk stores at Hang Gai street include: Khai Silk, Cong Silk, Ha Dong Silk, Thao Silk, Le Minh and Tan My. However, you want to buy silk at cheap price, you can visit Van Phuc Silk Village. The most famous store there is Dung Tu. You can visit the silk manufacture to buy silk, priced from 100,000 – 200,000VND/meter.

cylco hanoi 2

Notice

+ If you travel to Hanoi in autumn, you should bring some light clothes with some long-sleeved shirts.

+ You should wear formally without short skirts or shorts when visiting temples and pagodas.

+ You should bring a map when visiting the Old Quarter because streets are quite small and sophisticated.

+ You should bargain when going to market. You are advisable to go shopping in the afternoon.

+ Hanoians do not often go out after 23:00 because streets after 24:00 often unpopulated and stores close.

You also see more Hanoi travel guide at here.

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