Hanoi, Vietnam

12 Free Things To Do in Hanoi, Vietnam

Vietnam is one of the most beautiful places to visit. Most tourists acknowledge that it is more affordable to tour Vietnam than most places around the world. While visiting Vietnam, Hanoi is one of the most toured cities. Hanoi is extremely busy and always crowded due to tourists. It is known for its unique architecture and deep culture with a little bit of influence from Chinese, Southeast Asian and French. There are many free things to do in Hanoi so you can visit without breaking the bank.

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Photo by Jason O’Cathain

The best time to visit Vietnam is during the autumn and spring seasons. Autumn season falls in September, October, and November while spring falls within March and April. During this period the weather is warmer with no extreme temperatures of cold and hot periods.  It is also important to be aware that Vietnam is known to be a conservative country so while packing for your trip, carry light clothes but make sure to dress conservatively.  The locals highly respect their religious backgrounds.

Hanoi is beautiful and has a lot of tourist attractions that one gets to experience. The good news is that there are activities in Hanoi that one can engage in without spending a single penny. These are things that will give you a unique and memorable experience of Hanoi city. These ranges from beautiful lake views to great performances along the streets, leisurely walks and even interacting with the locals as you enjoy their traditional foods and drinks. Hanoi will give you an amazing experience if you are willing to explore. Here are a few things you can do in Hanoi with absolutely nothing;

1. A walk around Hoan Kiem Lake

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Afbeelding van Nguyen Do via Pixabay

Hoan Kiem lake is one of the lakes in Vietnam that holds part of the culture in Hanoi. A stroll around this lake gives one a unique experience as you get to experience the beautiful sunset along its shores. People just come here to chill and appreciate nature. Around the lake, you may also catch a dazzling theatrical performance on certain days. This is a must-go for any tourist.

2. Get a glimpse of the night market in Hanoi

At night, the streets in Hanoi are filled with market stalls with various items on sale. The night market is usually livelier every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The markets have beautiful arts, handicrafts, lots of counterfeit goods, drinks and amazing cheap food. This is an awesome experience as you will get to know the nightlife in Hanoi.

3. Enjoy street performances and the local parks

Zumba is popular in Hanoi, especially during the morning hours. You can enjoy such performance as the locals dance to some great music. A visit to the local parks may reward you with performances from local musicians or young dancers getting their groove. Outdoor sports are also very common with games such as badminton, football, skateboarding or roller skating been played. The locals love when guests join them, so do not hesitate to take part if you wish too and create lifetime memories in Hanoi streets. Street performers are one of the most fun free things to see in Hanoi.

4. Visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

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Photo by Ajay Karpur on Unsplash

This is one of the most visited places in Hanoi. It is believed that Uncle Ho’s remains were kept here and that is the reason for its name. it is part of the great culture in Hanoi. Despite the fact that getting into the mausoleum might cost you money, one can just enjoy the beautiful views outside. A walk outside the mausoleum showcases well kept and manicured gardens with over 250 species of flowers obtained from all over Vietnam. There are also smartly dressed guards who watch over the mausoleum and have a change in their routine that is absolutely impressive. Most people come here early in the morning to do their work out routine and yo will also witness a lot of Tai Chi.

5. The Long Bien Bridge

This is a 100-year-old bridge that helps in crossing the Red River. It is an iron bridge that is iconic as it survived the Vietnam- American war several years ago. The views here while crossing are amazing and one can shop for fresh grocery from the sellers on the sides. You may also decide to catch the sunset from this historic bridge that has witnessed better days.

6. Explore the temples and pagodas

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Photo by Anh Hoang on Unsplash

Vietnam is known for its richness in religion. It is covered with temples and Hanoi is not an exception. The city is full of beautiful temples which have been built for worship. You will get to witness the locals praying or paying their respects in the temples. Hanoi has both old and new temples with some being tiny and others extremely massive.

7. Explore Old Quarter

Take the chance to walk around the Old Quarter. This place is filled with numerous things for a tourist. You may decide to explore the cool cafes and bars or appreciate its rich culture of artefacts. There are numerous places to try the local food and drinks. Get away from the main areas and explore the streets inside. This will give you a wonderful experience of the nightlife in Vietnam.

8. Visit Don Xuan Market

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Photo by Jack Young on Unsplash

This is the largest indoor market in Hanoi. It is a 4 story building market with everything in it.  

Don Xuan Market is a wholesale market that sells items in bulk. The market is always packed with sellers. Visiting the market is one of the free things to do in Hanoi, though you’ll have to use money to purchase anything inside.

9. Check out the Quang Ba flower market

This is one of the best places in Hanoi and it is absolutely free. It is known as the headquarters of flowers in Hanoi. Retailers buy flowers in this market before taking them to be sold in other parts in Hanoi. The flower market is open throughout the year and mostly the sales begin at around 2 p.m and run the entire night. Expect to also meet several food hawkers who sell local foods to keep the people in the market going. Quang Ba flower market is always filled with numerous colours and wonderful scents from the flowers. This is one of the most fun free things to do in Hanoi.

10. Stroll around West Lake

It is one of the biggest freshwater lakes in the northern part of Vietnam. This may be a good way to spend your evening as the views are beautiful. The area around is filled with temples and some amazing eateries with delicious meals. This is one of the best free things to do in Hanoi if you want to witness breathtaking views.

11. Get an experience of Train Street

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Photo by Silver Ringvee on Unsplash

This is a street within the Old Quarter. It is situated between Le Duan and Kham Tien.  It has train tracks where numerous activities take place. Twice every day, the activities are stopped. The tracks are cleared so that the bullet train can pass. It is a thrilling experience if you get a chance to see the train pass.

12. Exploration of the French Quarter and get a chance to view Citadel

The Thang Long Imperial Citadel is located at the center of the French Quarter. A visit to this place will have you learning more about the history of Vietnam while appreciating the marvelous architecture that the building has. The French Quarter is also filled with beautiful French buildings along the Phan Dinh Phung Street which you will absolutely love.


And that concludes the best free things to do in Hanoi!

Exploring Hanoi does not have to be expensive. All these activities will give you that memorable experience that you will forever treasure. Visiting this places also gives you a great chance of meeting locals who will even help you discover more places to explore. Oh, be ready to teach the locals your language because they are ever curious and willing to learn something new. Getting lost in between the streets of Hanoi are what will cause that thrill that you may be looking for. The next time you visit Vietnam and specifically Hanoi; do not relent to try out the above things. For the first time visitors in Hanoi, well I hope you have got an idea of how to make the most of your trip while saving a few bucks. 


Meet the Guest Author: Catalin

Catalin is the author behind the travel blog, Travel Trained. Keep up with Catalin’s adventures on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and YouTube.


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