7 Free Things To Do in Hanoi – Vietnam’s Capital City

Free things to do in Hanoi, Vietnam

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      Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, is a famous place for visitors from all over the world. This city is well-known for its traditional and modern beauty together with tasty foods. Once you arrive in Hanoi you should try Pho and Vietnamese Glutinous Rice Doughnut. We are certain you’ll love them!

      In today’s article, we list the top places to go and free things to do in Hanoi, Vietnam. Scroll down to get more information.

      Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum (Lăng Chủ Tịch HồChí Minh)

      Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is the final resting place of President Ho Chi Minh. The building for this mausoleum began on September 2, 1973 and it was inaugurated on August 29, 1975. In front of Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is Ba Dinh Square (Quảng trường Ba Đình) which is the place where President Ho Chi Minh read the Declarations of Dependence on September 2, 1945.

      People in all regions of Vietnam contributed materials to build the Mausoleum as a way to present their honor of Uncle Ho. Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is nowadays an attractive destination for both domestic and international tourists. About fifteen thousand people visit the Mausoleum weekly, and even more on holiday and national anniversaries.

      Near Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum are One-Pillar Pagoda and Ho Chi Minh Museum. One-Pillar Pagoda was built in 1049 under the Ly Dynasty. Throughout history, this pagoda was restored to become a symbol of Hanoi.

      Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum for Free things to do in Hanoi, Vietnam

      Sword Lake (Hồ Hoàn Kiếm, Hồ Gươm)

      Sword Lake or Hoan Kiem Lake is also a must-see place in Hanoi. Hoan Kiem Lake is located in central Hanoi, so it attracts many tourists thanks to convenient transportation.

      In the past, this lake was called Luc Thuy Lake (Hồ Lục Thủy) or Thuy Quan Lake (Hồ Thủy Quân) because it was a place where the marines would practice. The name Hoan Kiem Lake appeared in the 15th century when King Ly Thai To (Vua Lý Thái Tổ) gave the sword back to the God Turtle after defeating The Minh Invaders.

      Once you arrive in Hoan Kiem Lake, you will see a pretty red bridge made from wood called The Huc Bridge (Cầu Thê Húc) and a temple on an island in the north of this lake called Ngoc Son Temple (Đền Ngọc Sơn). These are the symbols of traditional culture in Hanoi.

      From the Huc Bridge, you can witness the elegant beauty of Hanoi through vivid blue water and enjoy the intense beauty of Ngoc Son Temple.

      Sword lake for Free things to do in Hanoi, Vietnam

      Long Bien Bridge (Cầu Long Biên)

      Long Bien Bridge is the oldest steel bridge in Vietnam, connecting the Hoan Kiem and Long Bien district of Hanoi. This bridge was built by French architects and was originally the longest bridge in Asia with a total length of 1.68 kilometers.

      During the Vietnam War, Long Bien bridge was bombarded heavily, and only some parts of it survived. Nowadays, together with Chuong Duong Bridge (Cầu Chương Dương), Thanh Tri Bridge (Cầu Thanh Trì), Thang Long Bridge (Cầu Thăng Long), and Vinh Tuy Bridge (Câu Vĩnh Tuy), Long Bien Bridge becomes a symbol of Hanoi.

      Now, most vehicles are diverted to the other four bridges, and Long Bien Bridge is for pedestrians, bicycles, motorbikes, and trains only. This makes it a perfect place to take photos quickly and safely.

      Long Bien Bridge for Free things to do in Hanoi, Vietnam

      West Lake (Hồ Tây)

      West Lake is not as famous as Hoan Kiem Lake, but is still a place worth seeing in Hanoi. You don’t have to pay for anything when you arrive here, a good pair of shoes to walk around this lake is the only thing you need to prepare for.

      This is the biggest freshwater lake in the North of Vietnam, so it attracts many tourists daily. If you can afford it, grab a cafe and watch the sunset – it’s spectacular and super romantic!

      West Lake for Free things to do in Hanoi, Vietnam
      📷 Aviva West

      Hanoi Night Market (Chợ Đêm Hà Nội)

      This is a unique cultural activity in Hanoi and in Northern Vietnam. Local people go to the market in the early morning or late evening – meaning the markets during these times are at their busiest and most exciting.

      The Visiting Hanoi night market is an excellent way for you to explore Vietnamese traditional culture plus try some new and delicious local food. You can also find everything you’d find in a modern supermarket or shopping malls, in these night markets and for cheap too. Perfect for people on a budget.

      The best night markets to experience in Hanoi are Dong Xuan Market (Chợ Đồng Xuân), Hanoi Weekend Night Market in Hang Dao Street (Hoan Kiem district), Cho Hom Market (Chợ Hôm), and Quang Ba Flower Market (Chợ Hoa Quảng Bá).

      Bustling Hanoi night market for Free things to do in Hanoi, Vietnam

      Temples and Pagodas Around Hanoi

      Vietnam is a country of Buddhism, so temples and pagodas appear everywhere in Hanoi and throughout Vietnam, and they hardly ever require an entrance fee.

      They are often the quietest places in Hanoi during the day. Therefore, if you do not like the crowds of the city, you can go to temples and pagodas in Hanoi to enjoy some peace and quiet. However, in festivals such as Tet, Buddha’s Birthday, or Mid-Autumn Festival, the atmosphere here is entirely different. It is vibrant and loud with traditional music, fireworks displays, dance performances, and prayer ceremonies.

      In Hanoi, head to Ngoc Son Temple (Đền Ngọc Sơn), Bach Ma Temple (Đền Bạch Mã), Tran Quoc Pagoda (Chùa Trấn Quốc), The Perfume Pagoda (Chùa Hương), etc.

      Temple in Hanoi for Free things to do in Hanoi, Vietnam

      DIY Food Tour At Old Quarters

      If you are fed up with luxurious restaurant prices, try some street foods on the pavement during your trip to Vietnam. The Vietnamese Old Quarters are famous for their many delicious street foods. Try the Vietnamese grilled meat vermicelli (bún chả), Hanoi noodle soup (phở), fried spring rolls (nem rán), rolled noodle (phở cuốn) and Hanoi sandwiches (bánh mì Hà Nội), corn, vermicelli served with tofu and shrimp paste (bún đậu mắm tôm).

      These foods are all famous and never out of date for visitors all over the world. Even in far-flung countries such as Australia and Russia, there are Hanoi sandwich and noodle stores.

      Though buying food at these markets is not free – it’s extremely cheap. But if you have $0, it’s free to walk around and look.

      Food tour at Old Quarter for Free things to do in Hanoi, Vietnam

      Budget Transportation in Hanoi

      In Hanoi, there are a variety of transport options to take you from one place to another. These are:

      Walk to enjoy the distinctive features of Hanoi capital from the ground level. Walking, especially in the early morning or evening, gives you a unique experience of a modern city during a quiet atmosphere.

      Hire a motorbike or bicycle. Hanoi city is not huge, so you can hire a motorbike or bicycle to go places. If you choose a bicycle, head to romantic and peaceful streets such as Phan Dinh Phung street (Đường Phan Đình Phùng), Hoang Dieu street (Đường Hoàng Diệu), Nguyen Tri Phuong street (Đường Nguyễn Tri Phương). These streets are less crowded, so you can both ride a bike and take photos. Cycling around West Lake and enjoying the cold weather here in the early morning will make for an unforgettable memory – we highly recommend doing this!

      Hire a pedicab to visit Old Quarters. Pedicab is the most popular and convenient way to explore the Old Quarters. Pedicabs in Hanoi offer you quite low prices because they are managed by the local authority, which dictates cost.

      City streets of Hanoi for Free things to do in Hanoi, Vietnam

      Above we have listed some information about free activities in Hanoi for you to enjoy. But there are also a few other famous tourist attractions such as Bat Trang Pottery Village (Làng gốm sứ Bát Tràng), Royal City and Times City you could check out too if you have enough time!

      READ: 10 Free Things to do in Hong Kong

      Have you ever been to Hanoi? If so, feel free share with us your experience by commenting below. If you haven’t, we hope that our information is useful to you and you enjoy your time there. Thanks for reading.


      I am Emily Pham. I was born in Vietnam – a country with many unknown beaches, historic sites, and tourist attractions. Understanding that Vietnam nowadays is a famous destination, I establish the blog site vina.com with the purpose of introducing the elegant beauty of Vietnam to friends around the world. If you are planning a trip to Vietnam, our blog will provide you with essential information on where to go and what to do in our country.

      READ: 12 Culture-rich Free Things to Do in Bangkok, Thailand

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      Categories: Cheap Travel, Contributed, Vietnam
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