With its rich history, vibrant culture, and diverse landscapes, Hanoi is a must-visit destination for any Vietnam travel enthusiast. While there are many ways to explore this city’s charm, nothing compares to the experience of a Hanoi walking tour. Read on to find some of the most popular walking tours in Hanoi, along with its key attractions, for an unforgettable Hanoi travel adventure.
1. What’s interesting about Hanoi walking tours?
Hanoi, with its millennia-old history, holds a myriad of enchanting stories within its streets. To immerse yourself in the essence of the Vietnam capital, you should definitely embark on a Hanoi walking tour.
As you wander through its streets, you will come across ancient temples, colonial architecture, bustling markets, serene lakes, etc. Every step reveals a new layer of the city's rich history and culture, leaving you in awe.
The walking tour also leads you through hidden alleyways that may be less accessible by other means of transportation. These hidden gems unfold tucked-away temples, traditional workshops, and intriguing historical anecdotes, through which you can delve deeper into the city's secrets.
Moreover, exploring Hanoi on foot allows you to fully embrace the city's rhythm. You can pause at street food stalls to savor delectable Vietnamese dishes, engage in conversations with friendly vendors, and observe the daily routines that might otherwise go unnoticed from the window of a vehicle.
2. The most popular Hanoi walking tour and its highlights
The Hanoi Old Quarter walking tour is the most renowned walking tour, in which the story of Hanoi is clearly conveyed. This tour takes you to cultural heritage sites and architectural wonders that have shaped the city over centuries, with some notable ones being:
2.1. Hoan Kiem Lake
- Location: Hang Trong Ward, Hoan Kiem District
Hoan Kiem Lake is a prominent highlight of any Hanoi walking tour. It is attached to the legend of King Le Thai To (1385 - 1433), who received a holy sword from the Sea God to defeat invaders.
One day, when the King was cruising on the lake, a turtle surfaced and asked for the sword that the Sea God had lent him. The turtle then took the sword and disappeared into the depths of the lake. This led to the name of Hoan Kiem, "Lake of the Returned Sword," or Sword Lake. While remaining mystical, the legend has enhanced the charm of Hoan Kiem Lake, captivating visitors to explore.
Besides its significant spiritual role for the Vietnamese people, Hoan Kiem Lake is also a gathering and entertaining spot for locals and tourists alike. Located amidst the bustling cityscape, this lake offers a peaceful escape for visitors of all ages. Flocks of people come here for exercise and recreational activities every day.
2.2. Ngoc Son Temple - An essential stop on any Hanoi walking tour
- Location: Dinh Tien Hoang Street, Hoan Kiem District
Located on a small island on Hoan Kiem Lake lies Ngoc Son Temple, which is accessible via the red wooden The Huc Bridge.
Built in the 19th century, this temple is dedicated to Van Xuong De Quan (Wenchang Dijun), a Taoist deity of dignity and good fortune, and general Tran Hung Dao (1228-1300), a highly respected Vietnamese military leader. For many locals, it is a sacred site to pray for luck and peace of mind. It is also an ideal site to admire the beauty of Hoan Kiem Lake from a new point of view.
When you are here, don’t forget to go inside the temple and witness the glass cabinet housing the preserved bodies of two big turtles that once lived in Hoan Kiem Lake. These turtles hold significant cultural and historical importance in Vietnam, particularly in relation to the legend of the lake's mystical turtle.
2.3. Bach Ma Temple
- Location: 76 Hang Buom Street, Hoan Kiem District
A Hanoi walking tour would be incomplete without a visit to Bach Ma Temple, the oldest temple in Hanoi, dating back to the 9th century. It is dedicated to a white horse, which is said to guide King Ly Thai To to where to build the citadel in Thang Long (Hanoi nowadays).
Seen from outside, the temple appears to be an 8-roof communal house adorned with antique designs. As you pass through the wonderful old wooden doors, you will see a statue of the legendary white horse and a beautiful red-lacquered funeral palanquin.
There are also numerous altars with exquisite engravings, along with precious artifacts such as paintings, imperial decrees, ancient weapons, stone stelae, metal bells, and palankeens, displayed inside the temple.
2.4. Ma May Ancient House
- Location: No. 87 Ma May Street, Hoan Kiem District
Ma May Ancient House is another name that should be added on your itinerary. It vividly portrays the daily life of Hanoi's people from bygone eras and showcases the charm of traditional Vietnamese architecture.
Built in the 19th century, this house boasts a unique tubular design, narrow yet deep. Its rooms, mezzanines, and courtyards were meticulously crafted to meet the needs and convenience of its residents. Notably, the courtyard stands out as a special feature, basking in natural light and designed as a beautiful small garden. Here, you can also find many antiques, furniture, and artifacts that have been preserved since the old days.
2.5. O Quan Chuong - A must-see landmark on every Hanoi walking tour
- Location: O Quan Chuong Street, Hoan Kiem District
If you are a history enthusiast or eager to connect with the city's past, O Quan Chuong (Quan Chuong Gate) is an unmissable spot. Built in the 18th century, it is currently the only remaining gate of the old Hanoi Citadel.
O Quan Chuong features traditional Vietnamese architectural elements: an imposing structure, an arched entrance, and intricate brickwork. As you walk through the gate, you will feel transported back in time, as its weathered facade exudes a sense of resilience and history.
2.6. St. Joseph's Cathedral
- Location: 40 Nha Chung Street, Hoan Kiem District
St. Joseph's Cathedral, the oldest church in Hanoi, is the next recommended destination during your Hanoi walking tour. Having gone through two fierce wars, this cathedral still miraculously stands intact and has witnessed many ups and downs in the capital city.
The unique architecture of St. Joseph's Cathedral further adds to its appeal. Here, you will find a neo-Gothic masterpiece that offers a striking contrast to the city’s traditional architecture. From outside, the cathedral looks majestic, with a stone cross, a big clock, a statue of Mother Maria, and two square bell towers. Its interior is equally impressive, with colorful, tall glass windows, high domes, and numerous pictures of Jesus Christ all around.
The atmosphere here is also serene, providing you with a peaceful respite from the bustling streets of Hanoi.
2.7. Hanoi Opera House
- Location: No. 1 Trang Tien Street, Hoan Kiem District
Hanoi Opera House, an architectural gem in the classical European style, awaits your visit during your Hanoi walking tour. Constructed between 1901 and 1911, it was the most luxurious academic art space in Indochina at the time.
The opera house covers an area of some 2,600 square meters. Its facade is a true marvel, adorned with many steps, elegant columns, and intricate wrought iron details. Inside, the opulence continues with a lavish interior featuring chandeliers, frescoes, and red velvet seats. It is the city's premier venue for important meetings, conferences, and high artistic performances by international and domestic art groups.
2.8. Dong Xuan Market - A vibrant gem on any Hanoi walking tour
- Location: No. 15, Cau Dong Street, Hoan Kiem District
Whether you follow a free walking tour in Hanoi, a self-guided walking tour Hanoi, or a paid walking tour, Dong Xuan Market is an essential destination. Established in 1889, it is the largest indoor market in Hanoi.
As you step inside, you will be greeted by a sensory overload of sights, sounds, and scents. The market offers everything from clothing and electronics to fresh produce and local street food. When you happen to be here, don’t forget to delight your taste buds with some famous dishes, including rib and cartilage porridge (chao suon sun), mango and beef jerky salad (goi xoai kho bo), bamboo stick-grilled pork with noodles (bun cha que tre), and crispy shrimp cake (banh tom).
>>> Check out the guide for what to do in Hanoi for 3 days for your best visit!
3. Other Hanoi walking tours to choose for your itinerary
Besides Hanoi's Old Quarter walking tours, Hanoi free walking tours also offer a variety of choices that can be tailored to your different interests and preferences. Here are a few notable options:
3.1. Hanoi street food walking tour
The Hanoi walking street food tour allows you to enjoy Hanoi's vibrant culinary scene and soak in the bustling atmosphere at markets and food stalls. It is a fantastic opportunity to taste Hanoi street foods such as pho, bun cha, banh mi, cha ca, banh cuon, egg coffee, and more.
3.2. History and culture walking tour
Focused on Hanoi's rich history and culture, this Hanoi walking tour takes you to historical sites and temples. Notable attractions on this tour include the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Ba Dinh Square, Temple of Literature, One Pillar Pagoda, and the Presidential Palace.
3.3. Art and architecture walking tour
This tour will lead you through Hanoi's artistic and architectural wonders, where you will visit museums, art galleries, traditional villages, and iconic landmarks. These may include the Vietnam National Fine Arts Museum, Bat Trang Pottery Village, Van Phuc Silk Village, Tran Quoc Pagoda, But Thap Pagoda, etc.
3.4. Night walking tour
A night walking tour offers an entirely different experience compared to a day tour, as Hanoi nightlife street is illuminated by colorful lights. On this tour, you have the chance to stroll across the elegant Long Bien Bridge, visit vibrant night markets like Hang Ma Street, and explore the nightlife paradise that is Ta Hien Street.
3.5. French Quarter Hanoi walking tour
Hanoi was under French colonial rule for many years, and this tour takes you through the Hanoi French Quarter. Here, you can see some of the most outstanding colonial architecture in the city, including Hanoi Opera House, the Vietnam National Museum of History, St. Joseph's Cathedral, Hoa Lo Prison, etc.
3.6. Hidden gems walking tour
This tour takes you to some of Hanoi’s best-kept secrets. What sets it apart is the opportunity to discover hidden gems and learn about the city from a local perspective. From the enchanting Quang Ba Flower Market and West Lake to Hanoi Train Street, Thang Long Water Puppet Theater, Duong Lam Ancient Village, Thanh Chuong Viet Palace, and Long Bien Morning Market, this Hanoi walking tour unveils a range of lesser-known sites that showcase another perspective of Hanoi.
During your trip to explore the charm of Hanoi, besides its cultural and natural landscapes, you should not also miss out on entertainment attractions like VinKE & Vinpearl Aquarium Times City and VinWonders Hanoi.
At VinKe and Vinpearl Aquarium Times City, you and your loved ones will get the chance to have quality time together, whether it is by discovering the colorful underwater world or partaking in an array of fascinating games. Meanwhile, VinWonders Hanoi offers a fun-filled adventure with exhilarating water slides, wave pools, and a range of water-based attractions available.
When you visit Vietnam, apart from Hanoi, there are many other stunning places that await your exploration. You will not want to miss the stunning beaches of Phu Quoc and Nha Trang, the historical allure of Hoi An, and the magnificent landscapes of Ha Long. Each destination in this S-shaped country embraces its own unique appeal that is well worth a visit.
To optimize your travel experience in Vietnam, it is essential to find comfortable accommodations to relax and recharge your energy. Among the various options available, many travelers opt for the hotels and resorts of Vinpearl. With luxurious rooms and a wide range of amenities, including swimming pools, play areas for kids, bars, gyms, and more, Vinpearl ensures that all your needs are met during your stay.
Also, don’t miss the chance to check out VinWonders, an incredible entertainment complex featuring exciting games and captivating shows. It promises to add an extra layer of enjoyment to your trip.
From the picturesque Hoan Kiem Lake to the bustling Dong Xuan Market, Hanoi walking tours offer travelers an intimate window into the city's soul. No matter if you are a food enthusiast, a history buff, or an architecture admirer, there is a walking tour that is suited for you. So, choose your walking adventure today and let Hanoi's stories unfold step by step!