For a big city Hanoi is such a great city to go walking around. I found in Ho Chi Minh City, that I couldn’t really do this as much. Besides walking around the main attractions like Ho Chi Minh Square and the market. In Hanoi I absolutely loved just taking walks all over the city. Sometimes I found myself walking 30 -40 min at a time, sometimes more. I especially love walking around cities , because this way, you get to see so much more if a city. Instead of just seeing it flash before your eyes in a taxi, or on a motorbike. Here are the places I walked around while I was here. All these places are walkable, depending on how much you like to walk.
Hanoi’s old quarter
The first place and the probably the most interesting place to walk around, is of course the old quarter. There is so much going on here. Not only a place for tourists to shop for souvenirs, but it’s a big place of business for the locals. There are areas where it is a street of tourist shops and restaurants and then other streets are just full of local trading shops for locals. It is really interesting to take a look around both parts. Even though I found old town to be quite a maze and it just seemed never ending . It just seemed every where I turned, my eyes fell on something completely new and Interesting.
The local markets are always an interesting part of Vietnam. So when In the old quarter, don’t just stick to the tourist shops. Take a wander around the more local areas as well, such as these markets. Even in the small narrow streets of the main roads. You will find people selling there goods at the front of their shops. It really gives you an extra insight into daily life in Vietnam.
Hoàn Kiếm Lake
Just around the corner from the old quarter is Hoàn Kiếm Lake. This is a nice peaceful location, away crazy streets of the old quarter. It’s actucally quite a big lake, so if you have time, I suggest taking a walk all the way around the lake. You can stop by the Red bridge as well, and take in the views from the middle there. Morning time it was pretty quiet, so if you are looking for a more peaceful walk around there, then go between 8 – 10am.
Hanoi Opera house
The Hanoi opera house, located a short distance walk from the lake and the old quarter. It is a really beautiful building to come and see. Another piece of French architecture, that you will see all over Vietnam. Also around this area, you will find a nice little shopping district, with some higher end shops. If you feel like a splurge whilst here and it also makes for a nice little walk down some new streets.
West Lake (Hồ Tây)
Although West Lake is a bit further out of the main tourist area, it is definitely worth making the visit over there. If you don’t feel like making the walk there. You can easily hop in a taxi, it shouldn’t cost you to much to get there. Or you could even walk there and then take a taxi back. I opted to walk over to the lake and was treated to a nice walk there. In the second photo above, is taken from the area leading up to the lake. It was such a beautifully peaceful place to walk around. Getting to the lake itself was even better. I took the walk around the lake, until I reached the Trấn Quốc Pagoda. Which is very beautiful against the backdrop of the lake. I waited around to catch the sunset here and grabbed an Uber bike back.
Hanoi car free weekends
A really great idea, that a lot of big cities are adapting now, are car free weekends. Where they shut down some of the busy streets downtown to all traffic. This is done to promote walking and cycling around the cities instead at the weekends. It’s even better when you get to enjoy free live music being played on the roads to promote this. It was also cool seeing families and kids playing in the streets, with footballs and Frisbees etc. So I really enjoyed being able to walk freely around these streets for the day, without worrying about the crazy Vietnamese traffic. If you are ever in Hanoi at the weekends, go wander around downtown and you may see some cool things happening.
I always encourage people to walk around a place as much as they can. Because you never know what you will find around the next corner. You will discover more about the local culture this way, by just walking by people going about their daily lives. You may even find something amazing, that you won’t read about in Trip Advisor. I definitely loved walking around Hanoi though. I think it may have become my favourite, out of the ones I visited in Vietnam. Will definitely be back here.