Hanoi’s Best Bucket List: Your Ultimate Guide to Enjoying Hanoi to the Fullest

Are you looking for a fun and special bucket list with awesome things to do in Hanoi? If you’re seeking for what activities, must-dos and some out of the box list of things to do, you’re in the right place!

Hanoi has so much to offer to everyone. From the top tourist attractions and monuments to very particular things and places. I created this list from my personal experiences and complied the ones that are most interesting!

The bucket list below is to help you get an idea of what kind of fun you can have in Hanoi. You can go through the list, tick the ones you’re tempted to try. 

I really hope you’ll have a blast here in Hanoi with this bucket list.

Hanoi Bucket List

Try All the Amazing Hanoian Dishes

Cha Ca Thang Long - must try food in hanoi
Grilled fish Cha Ca is a top Hanoian dish

I know this one has to be on the list for all the foodies like me. Hanoi has a vast range of delicious local dishes to offer for everyone. I think the list can be endless. I want you to make your trip in Hanoi super efficient in terms of food selection. So check out this Complete Hanoi Food Guide for Foodies. It’s a list of most recommended dishes as well as some really fun dishes for you to try. 

Tour around in a cyclo

Cyclo Hanoi Vietnam
Your little getaway on a cyclo (source: 123RF)

If Thailand has the world-famous tuk tuk, Hanoi has its red cyclos. I know the biggest frustration for foreigners is surviving to walk past all the motorbikes. So a ride on a cyclo will save you from the hassle!

Go for a night out in Ta Hien Beer Street

Ta Hien Beer Street Weekend
Weekend vibe at Ta Hien street

Hanoi’s famous Beer street cannot be missed if you’re here. It is the hub and centre of locals and foreigners to hang out. I like to have a drink at Beer Street from time to time to feel this very Hanoian and Old Quarter vibe.

Go Clubbing in the Old Quarter

Opera nightclub hanoi
Out for a dance in Hanoi (source: the Opera Night club)

I know going clubbing is on party-goers’ top bucket list in every travel destination. So if you’re into partying, Hanoi does have some places for you! Check out some of the best places for a dance out in the Old Quarter, Hanoi here

Drive a Motorbike or Take a Grab ride

Family on motorbike - Staffan Scherz
You can join the locals for a ride (photo by: Staffan Scherz)

This one can be a tough one for some. But I personally love driving around with a motorbike. I was scared at first too, but I got used to it soon and I really enjoy it! If riding a motorbike is not your thing, you can take a motorbike taxi via Grab or Be apps for an experience.

Visit Night Market on weekends

Dong Xuan Night market on weekends
Walking street for weekend night market in Old Quarter

Hanoi opens Night Market on weekends (Friday – Sunday) from 7pm. There are lots of street vendors selling a whole lot of stuff and street food. I love visiting the Night Market to join the weekend vibe. You can go shopping for some souvenirs to bring back home too. 

Take a stroll around Hoan Kiem lake

Hoan Kiem Lake Night View from Cau Go
Hoan Kiem lake at night

The legendary Hoan Kiem lake is a perfect place for a stroll. It’s peaceful and beautiful. I love going for a walk here especially in the evening to enjoy the night scenery. And every weekend, most parts of road around Hoan Kiem lake is closed for walking street! Lots of fun activities are going on during the weekends, so be sure to check it out. 

Explore under Long Bien bridge

Forest under long bien bridge
Forest under Long Bien bridge to explore

Here’s a fun one – an adventure under Long Bien bridge. I’ve been there to explore the farms and even discovered a secret(?) “nude beach club” spot! I know there are tour groups going here on a motorbike or a bicycle, but you can go on your own by foot if you’d like. Check this link for more details. 

Have Vietnamese BBQ under railway bridge

Vietnamese BBQ Gam Cau

Here’s my favourite place for Vietnamese BBQ. It’s under the railway bridge and definitely one of the top local dining experiences you can get here. I recommend this not only for the unique atmosphere, but also for the food itself. I can say it’s my top must do list in Hanoi. 

Take a snapshot of train passing by

Laika Cafe Hanoi Train Railway - wecheckin
Train view with a Vietnamese coffee (source: Laika Cafe)

Train Street used to be one of the top tourist attractions of Hanoi because people could stand right by the railway and capture the train pass by. But it was closed permanently due to safety reasons. I see that it’s still possible to sneak in for a snapshot of the railway, but instead of sneaking in, you can go to Laika coffee shop. From here, you can see the railway bridge from your seat (just like in the photo above). 

Have dinner at a bia hoi

Bia Hoi draught beer
A cold glass of draught Hanoi beer for less than $1

For a very local experience, bia hoi can’t be missed! It’s one of my go to places for a good dinner and fresh cold draught beer. Usually a glass of Hanoi draught beer is about 11,000VND (less than $1). I like bia hoi because not only can you get this cheap beer, but also some yummy local dishes. 

Try exotic & challenging local dishes

Half-hatched quail eggs - Trung Cut Lon
Are you up for trying some half-hatched quail eggs?

Maybe you’re in for a little food challenge? I listed some of the exotic and somewhat challenging local foods in Hanoi in the Complete Hanoi Food Guide. If you feel tempted, go check out the foodie bucket list for Hanoi. 

Take a stroll in a local park

Stroll at Thong Nhat Park
Peaceful walk in a park is super healing

One of my top suggestions is to go for a stroll in a local park. Hanoi is a city of lakes and there are some amazing parks like Thong Nhat park (a.k.a Union Park). I truly enjoy my time at this park for a walk or jog. It’s a time of some real healing. 

Visit a local neighbourhood

Ho Ba Mau lake - Train Passing
Local people fishing at the lake

If you want a true glimpse of Vietnamese lifestyle, you can visit a local neighbourhood. Get out of Old Quarter and you can take a sneak peek of the genuine and ordinary days of locals. I personally love this one because I’m very passionate about learning local experiences and lives. That’s why visiting local areas is one of my travel bucket list.

Visit a rooftop bar

JW Marvel Hotel Rooftop Bar - view
Fancy a drink with a view from rooftop like this?

It may not be a huge thing yet, but there are increasing number of rooftop bars popping up everywhere in the Old Quarter. I enjoy exploring new bars with different views of town. If you’re up for a drink at a rooftop place, check out the Top 5 Rooftop Bars in Old Quarter

Visit a Vietnamese Speakeasy bar

Beeznees Bar Hanoi Speakeasy
What about a Vietnamese version of speakeasy? (source: Beezness bar)

Here’s another one for bar lovers. I have periodic needs to quench my thirst for wine. And I found this speakeasy bar a great place for that. Maybe you can go check out this Bee’Znees bar for a Vietnamese version of speakeasy. 

Get lost in small alleys

Hanoi Alley street
Let's wander around and stumble upon hidden alleys (photo by: Raphael Rivest)

I think we can get carried away with a busy schedule when travelling. That’s why I enjoy and deliberately get lost when I travel. Subsequently, sometimes aimlessly wandering around can be the most relaxing and memorable times of a trip. So why not loosen yourself and allow yourself to stumble upon some hidden alleys?

Join a marathon in West Lake

weekly open running event west lake

Here’s one for runners! There’s a weekly running event to run around the biggest lake in Hanoi – West Lake. You can check out their Facebook page for more information. 

Visit book street

Dinh Le street bookshop indoor shot

I love visiting bookstores – even for no reason. I just love the calm atmosphere and to scan through books. Or maybe you’re in need of a new book. If you’re into book shops like me, you can go to the book street on Dinh Le near Hoan Kiem lake. 

Make a local friend

Oc Ong Thu Hang Bac - Kenh14
Your local friend can take you to real local places like this grandpa's mobile restaurant (source: Kenh14)

Best way to get to know about Vietnam, its people and culture is probably to talk with a local. I get the most insights and local suggestions from my Vietnamese friends. They are the ones who can show you the local spots and explain you about their culture. You can book a tour with a local guide or post on Hanoi Massive Community page on Facebook for a meet up. I believe there are always people willing to show you around their city. 

Help Hanoi’s Homeless

Help Hanoi's Homeless
What about a hand to help the homeless? (source: VietnamNet)

What about an act of kindness on your trip? For instance, you can join this awesome group called “Help Hanoi’s Homeless“. They organise a weekly event to meet up and go around together to provide items for the homeless around the city. There are plenty of ways to help the homeless, so you can go check out their Facebook page for more information. It could be an absolutely wonderful bucket list for Hanoi to share your love!

Getaway in a hidden gem cafe

Cang Tin Cafe - hidden gem cafe Hanoi
One of my favourite local cafes in Hanoi - Cang Tin cafe

Spend an afternoon or morning at a hidden gem cafe in Hanoi. I love having my little getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city in a cosy cafe. After all, you might need that break too. I’ve got a list of top hidden gem cafes in town for you. 

Try Bun Cha burger

Bun Cha Burger - Pork patty burger with sauce
Best fusion Vietnamese I've ever tried!

While Vietnamese cuisine is fantastic in many aspects, a little twist of fusion food can be added to your bucket list. I tried this Bun Cha burger in Truc Bach lake and it was the best fusion Vietnamese food I’ve ever tried. Therefore it’s definitely a strong recommendation for foodies!

Buy mam tep for souvenir

Mam Tep Duy Anh 1
An adventure into the local residential building

Besides coconut bowls or chopsticks, there’s a local dish you can buy as souvenir. I want to introduce this for two reasons. Firstly, for the food itself as it’s a popular and famous side dish for Vietnamese home meals. Secondly, for where the shop is located. It’s hidden in a local residential building! So if you want to find out about this shop, check out this article

Have coffee on floating cafe

Highland Coffee Truc Bach Floating cafe
Coffee with a view over the lake

I love this Highlands coffee shop floating on Truc Bach lake. While there are tons of coffee shops in town, this is a great place for the beautiful lake view. Go visit this cafe for a relaxing time with Vietnamese coffee with condensed milk – ca phe sua da – a famous local coffee.

Join locals for lime juice by St. Joseph’s Cathedral

tra chanh by st. joseph's cathedral
Local lime juice shop by the St. Joseph's Cathedral

There are lime juice shops right beside the famous St. Joseph’s Cathedral in the French Quarter. You can join the many young locals here for a refreshing cup of lime juice and enjoy the amazing view over the church. Above all, it’s an opportunity to experience squat-sitting on a low plastic chair – the Vietnamese style.

Visit a local market

Dong Xuan Local Market Spices 1
World of local and tropical ingredients near Dong Xuan market

A local market is another best option for joining the locals out for grocery shopping. For example, you can visit the outdoor market around Dong Xuan market to explore local and tropical ingredients. Be sure to check out seasonal fruits to try!

Join an expat event

Fab Eventor Event

Hanoi is home to a huge expat community. With many foreigners living in West lake area, there are regular events to bring together expats and locals there. If you want to mingle with expats, locals and join a fun event while in Hanoi, you can check out different events organised by Fab-Eventor.

Learn Vietnamese

Speak vietnamese - Udemy
Say Xin Chao instead of Hello in Vietnam (photo: Udemy)

Saying some simple phrases like xin chao (meaning hello) and cam on (meaning thank you) can really make the locals happy. In other words, little bit of effort from you can go a long way making your trip even more memorable. I know this from my experience that every time I say a word or a sentence in Vietnamese, they’re so happy and really appreciate the effort. So maybe you could learn very simple phrases to practise while you’re in Vietnam.

Join a free walking tour

old quarter view hanoi hostel outside

One of the perks of staying in a hostel in Old Town is that a lot of them offer free walking tours. I know Old Quarter View Hanoi hostel does for sure. They organise a tour to explore in and around the area for their guests. Hence, if you’re staying in a hostel or even a hotel, ask the reception if they have any free walking tour. 

Try shuttlecock kicking

shuttlecock kicking vietnam
It's a national sports (source: Viet Vision Travel)

You can see people playing shuttlecock kicking in every park and near Hoan Kiem lake during the weekends. It’s a popular national sports for all ages. I am still amazed at how high their average level of shuttlecock kicking is. That’s why I enjoy watching and admiring the locals play and do all the awesome poses to save a kick. You can join them for a try and see how many times you can kick in a row!

So that was a complete list of my top suggestions for your bucket list in Hanoi. With some of these on the list, I hope you’ll be able to bring back home some fun and special memories back home.

For Vietnam bucket list ideas, you can check out the Ultimate Vietnam Bucket List from Culture Trip. And if you have any personal experience or suggestions you’d like to share, I’d love to hear them so comment down below!

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