All About Daily Northampton UK News

Hanoi Hidden Gems: Beyond Pho & Temples

Jan 19

Greetings traveller! Are you ready to journey to uncover Hanoi's hidden gems? In this blog post, we will take you beyond the traditional attractions of Pho and temples and reveal the lesser-known treasures this enchanting city offers. Get ready to explore the hidden corners and secret wonders of Hanoi!

Introduction to Hanoi Hidden Gems: Beyond Pho & Temples

Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam, is known for its rich history, vibrant culture, and mouthwatering cuisine. While the famous Pho soup and ancient temples may be the first things that come to mind when you think of Hanoi, there is so much more to discover in this city. From serene lakes and lush gardens to bustling markets and hidden alleyways, Hanoi is full of surprises waiting to be explored.

Why explore beyond the usual tourist attractions?

As a traveller, veering off the beaten path and discovering hidden treasures that tourists do not overrun is always exciting. Exploring beyond the usual tourist attractions allows you to immerse yourself in the local culture and glimpse everyday life in Hanoi. You will be able to interact with friendly locals, taste authentic street food, and witness hidden gems that only locals know about.

You can create unique and unforgettable memories by venturing beyond the typical tourist spots. Whether it's stumbling upon a hidden coffee shop tucked away in a narrow lane or discovering a peaceful park where you can escape the city hustle, these hidden gems provide a deeper and more authentic experience of Hanoi.

So, put on your walking shoes, grab a map, and get ready to uncover Hanoi's hidden gems. In the following sections, we will guide you through some of our favourite off-the-beaten-path destinations, each with its charm and story. Let's get started!


Quan Son Lake

Overview of Quan Son Lake

Welcome to Quan Son Lake, a hidden gem nestled in the outskirts of Hanoi. This picturesque lake is surrounded by lush greenery and offers a peaceful escape from the bustling city. The tranquil atmosphere and breathtaking scenery make it a perfect destination for nature lovers and those seeking serenity.

Quan Son Lake is about 30 kilometres from Hanoi city centre, making it an ideal day trip for those looking to venture beyond the city limits. Whether you prefer a stroll along the lake or a picnic amidst the beautiful landscape, Quan Son Lake has something for everyone.

Activities and attractions at Quan Son Lake

Quan Son Lake offers a range of activities that fully allow you to experience its natural beauty. Here are some things you can do during your visit:

  • Boat ride: Take a boat ride on the calm waters of Quan Son Lake and soak in the peaceful surroundings. The boat ride will allow you to see the lake differently and be closer to nature.

  • Hiking and biking: Explore the trails around the lake by hiking or biking. The lush green forests and scenic pathways make it a great place for outdoor activities. Don't forget to capture some Instagram-worthy pictures along the way!

  • Fishing: Quan Son Lake won't disappoint if you're a fishing enthusiast. Grab your fishing gear and try your luck at catching some freshwater fish. It's a relaxing and enjoyable activity that allows you to connect with nature.

  • Picnic and relaxation: Find a peaceful spot by the lake and picnic with your friends or family. Enjoy the serene atmosphere while indulging in delicious local food. This is a perfect opportunity to unwind and recharge.

  • Photography: Quan Son Lake offers breathtaking views that will skip any photographer's heart. The changing light creates stunning reflections on the water from sunrise to sunset. Don't forget to bring your camera and capture the beauty of this hidden gem.

Ensure that you include Quan Son Lake in your itinerary when visiting Hanoi. It's a place where you can immerse yourself in nature and find tranquillity away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Quan Son Lake truly is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered.


Perfume Pagoda

Overview of Perfume Pagoda

Welcome to the enchanting Perfume Pagoda, a spiritual sanctuary on Hanoi's outskirts. This sacred site is significant in Vietnamese culture and attracts pilgrims from all over the country. The journey to the Perfume Pagoda begins with a boat ride along the scenic Yen River, followed by a hike up the limestone mountains to reach the pagoda complex. As you explore this ancient religious site, you will be surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty and immersed in the sense of tranquillity.

Unique features and significance of Perfume Pagoda

The Perfume Pagoda is known for its stunning architecture and historical importance. Here are some unique features of this sacred place:

  • Huong Tich Cave: The highlight of the Perfume Pagoda is Huong Tich Cave, also known as the Perfume Cave. This cave is considered the heart of the complex and is believed to be the abode of a Buddhist goddess. Inside the cave, you will find various statues and altars, each holding its spiritual significance.

  • Pilgrimage Destination: The Perfume Pagoda is a popular destination for pilgrims, especially during the annual Perfume Pagoda Festival. This festival, held from January to March, attracts thousands of visitors who come to pray for good luck, blessings, and prosperity. The atmosphere during this time is vibrant and filled with devotion.

  • Breathtaking Scenery: The journey to the Perfume Pagoda is a spiritual experience and a visual treat. As you make your way up the mountain, you will be captivated by the stunning karst landscape, lush greenery, and cascading waterfalls. The combination of natural beauty and cultural significance makes the Perfume Pagoda a truly unique destination.

  • Peaceful Atmosphere: One of the highlights of the Perfume Pagoda is its peaceful and serene atmosphere. As you explore the pagoda complex, you will be surrounded by the sounds of chanting monks, the fragrance of incense, and the gentle rustling of leaves. This sense of tranquillity creates a sacred space for reflection and introspection.

Visiting the Perfume Pagoda is not only a spiritual journey but also an opportunity to connect with Vietnamese culture and witness the region's natural beauty. Immerse yourself in the serene atmosphere and let the Perfume Pagoda transport you to peace and enlightenment.


Long Biên Bridge

Overview of Long Biên Bridge

Welcome to the iconic Long Biên Bridge, symbolising Hanoi's rich history and architectural marvel. This historic bridge spans the Red River, connecting the bustling city centre with the tranquil suburbs. As you walk along its pedestrian path, you will be transported back to the French colonial era and witness the beauty of this engineering masterpiece.

History and significance of Long Biên Bridge

The Long Biên Bridge holds great historical and cultural significance for the people of Hanoi. Built in the early 20th century, this bridge was critical in connecting the city with the rest of Vietnam. It served as a strategic transportation route during the French colonial period and the Vietnam War. Despite the ravages of time and war, the bridge stands as a testament to the resilience and determination of the Vietnamese people.

Best viewpoints and photo spots

The Long Biên Bridge offers several viewpoints that provide stunning panoramic views of the city and the Red River. Here are some of the best spots to capture memorable photographs:

  • West Bank: From the west side of the bridge, you can capture the picturesque scene of the bridge against the backdrop of Hanoi's skyline. The sunset casts a magical glow, creating an ideal setting for photographers and Instagram enthusiasts.

  • East Bank: On the bridge's east side, stroll along the pedestrian path and enjoy breathtaking views of the Red River. This vantage point lets you capture the bridge from a different perspective and showcases the river's calmness and natural beauty.

  • Train Station: The Long Biên Train Station, located near the bridge, provides a unique viewpoint for capturing the bridge's grandeur. From here, you can witness the passing trains against the bridge's backdrop, creating a juxtaposition of history and modernity.

Visiting the Long Biên Bridge is not only a chance to admire its architectural beauty but also an opportunity to delve into the rich history of Hanoi. Capture the essence of this iconic landmark through your lens and create lasting memories of your time in this vibrant city.


West Lake

What makes West Lake a hidden gem in Hanoi

Welcome to the hidden gem of Hanoi, West Lake! This serene and picturesque lake is nestled in the city's heart, offering a peaceful escape from the bustling streets. With its scenic beauty and tranquil ambience, West Lake is a must-visit destination for nature lovers and those seeking relaxation.

  • Scenic beauty: As you stroll along the lakeside promenade, you will be captivated by the stunning views of the crystal-clear water surrounded by lush greenery. The sight of colourful lotus flowers blooming on the lake's surface adds to its natural charm and beauty.
  • Historical significance: West Lake holds historical significance for the people of Hanoi. According to legends, this lake was formed from a hollow created by a mythical dragon. The lake has been an integral part of the city's history and culture, reflected in the names of the nearby pagodas and temples.
  • Cultural landmarks: West Lake is dotted with numerous cultural landmarks, such as the Tran Quoc Pagoda, one of the oldest pagodas in Vietnam. This pagoda sits on a small island in the lake and is a peaceful oasis of spirituality. The Quan Thanh Temple, dedicated to Tran Vu, the God of the North, is another notable landmark worth visiting.
  • Water activities: West Lake offers a range of water activities for visitors. You can rent a paddleboat or kayak and explore the lake's calm waters at your own pace. This provides a unique perspective of the surrounding scenery and allows for a fun-filled adventure.
  • Cafes and restaurants: Along the shores of West Lake, you will find a variety of charming cafes and restaurants. Relax with a cup of Vietnamese coffee or savour delicious local delicacies while enjoying the peaceful ambience and breathtaking views.

Recreation and leisure activities at West Lake

West Lake offers numerous recreational and leisure activities for locals and tourists alike. Whether you are looking for a relaxing day out or an active adventure, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

  • Cycling and jogging: The 17-kilometer loop around West Lake is perfect for cycling or jogging. The flat terrain and scenic surroundings make it an ideal route for outdoor enthusiasts. You can rent bikes at various shops nearby and enjoy a refreshing ride along the lake.
  • Picnicking and outdoor yoga: The lakeside parks provide a serene environment for practising outdoor yoga. Bring a blanket, pack a picnic basket, and enjoy a leisurely meal surrounded by nature. Alternatively, find a quiet spot and join a yoga session to rejuvenate your mind and body.
  • Fishing: If you are a fishing enthusiast, West Lake offers an opportunity to indulge in this relaxing hobby. Grab your fishing rod and find a quiet spot along the lake to try your luck at catching a variety of fish species. Fishing is enjoyable and a great way to unwind and connect with nature.
  • Boating and sightseeing: Explore the lake from a different perspective by taking a boat tour or hiring a private boat. Admire the panoramic views of the lake and its surroundings as you leisurely cruise along the water. The boat tours also allow you to visit the nearby islands and temples, adding an element of cultural exploration to your experience.

Whatever your preference, West Lake offers a myriad of recreational and leisure activities that cater to all tastes. Whether you immerse yourself in nature, embark on an adventure, or relax by the lake, visiting West Lake promises an unforgettable experience.


Bát Tràng Ceramic Village

Traditional craftsmanship and history of Bát Tràng Ceramic Village

Welcome to Bát Tràng Ceramic Village, where craftsmanship and history come together to create beautiful works of art. This traditional village is located just outside of Hanoi, making it a perfect day trip for pottery enthusiasts and those interested in Vietnamese culture.

Bát Tràng Ceramic Village has a rich history of over 500 years. It is believed that the village was established during the reign of King Ly Thai To in the 14th century. The clay found in the nearby Red River provides the raw material for the pottery made in Bát Tràng. The village's artisans have honed their skills over generations, passing down the techniques and secrets of their craft.

Exploring the pottery workshops and stores

As you wander the village, you will find numerous pottery workshops and stores, each with unique styles and specialities. Take the time to visit these workshops and witness the intricate process of creating pottery. From shaping the clay on the potter's wheel to painting and glazing the finished products, you will gain a deep appreciation for the skill and dedication of the artisans.

One of the highlights of visiting Bát Tràng is the opportunity to get hands-on and try your hand at pottery making. Many workshops offer pottery classes, where you can learn the basics of the craft and create your masterpiece under the guidance of a skilled artisan. It is a fun and rewarding experience that allows you to unleash your creativity and take home a personalized souvenir.

In addition to the workshops, stores sell a wide range of pottery products. From decorative vases and plates to functional bowls and teapots, there is something for every taste and budget. Whether looking for traditional designs or contemporary pieces, you will surely find a unique treasure to bring home.

Bát Tràng Ceramic Village is not only a place to admire and purchase pottery, but it is also a hub of Vietnamese culture. The village hosts various cultural events and festivals annually, allowing you to witness traditional performances and immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere.

Don't miss the chance to explore Bát Tràng Ceramic Village and discover the beauty and craftsmanship of Vietnamese pottery. Whether you are a pottery enthusiast or simply curious about traditional crafts, this hidden gem will leave a lasting impression.


Hoàn Kiếm Lake at Night

The nighttime atmosphere and activities around Hoàn Kiếm Lake

Welcome to the enchanting Hoàn Kiếm Lake at night, where the vibrant city of Hanoi comes alive with lights and activity. As the sun sets, the lake becomes a focal point for locals and tourists, offering a unique and unforgettable experience.

Stroll along the lake's promenade and immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere. The lights reflecting on the calm waters create a magical ambience, perfect for a romantic evening or a peaceful getaway from the bustling city.

Join the locals in their favourite pastimes, aerobics and tai chi, which occur nightly near the lake. These activities are a great way to stay fit and offer a glimpse into the local culture and sense of community.

Indulge your taste buds by exploring the night market near the lake. Here, you can find a variety of street food stalls offering delicious Vietnamese delicacies. From savoury snacks like banh mi to sweet treats like banh chuoi (banana cake), there's something for everyone to enjoy.

Famous landmarks and attractions near the lake

Hoàn Kiếm Lake is surrounded by several famous landmarks and attractions worth visiting during your trip to Hanoi.

The most iconic feature of the lake is the Thap Rua, or Turtle Tower, standing proudly on an islet in the middle of the water. This monument holds great cultural significance and is a favourite spot for locals and tourists to take photos.

Another must-see attraction is the Ngoc Son Temple on a small island connected to the lake by a beautiful red bridge. This picturesque temple is dedicated to a legendary Vietnamese hero and offers a peaceful retreat from the city's hustle and bustle.

If you're interested in history and culture, visit the Hanoi Opera House, just a short walk from the lake. This stunning French colonial building hosts a variety of performances and is an architectural masterpiece.

Whether you're looking for peaceful serenity or a lively night out, Hoàn Kiếm Lake at night has something to offer for everyone. Don't miss the opportunity to experience the beauty and charm of this iconic Hanoi landmark.


Hidden Cafés and Street Food

Unique cafés and street food spots in Hanoi

Discover a different side of Hanoi's culinary scene by venturing off the beaten path to explore the city's hidden cafés and street food spots. This is your chance to immerse yourself in the local culture and indulge in the authentic flavours of Vietnam.

One of the hidden gems you must visit is (Café Name), located in a quaint alley just a few blocks away from Hoàn Kiếm Lake. This charming café offers a cosy and intimate atmosphere, perfect for enjoying traditional Vietnamese coffee. Sip on the rich and robust brew while observing the bustling street life through the café's large windows.

If you're a fan of street food, visit (Street Food Spot), a local favourite tucked away in a vibrant market neighbourhood. Here, you can savour the tantalizing flavours of authentic Vietnamese dishes like pho, bun cha, and banh xeo. The bustling atmosphere and mouthwatering aromas will leave you wanting more.

Taste the local cuisine off the beaten path

For a truly authentic Vietnamese dining experience, venture further off the beaten path to (Restaurant Name). This hidden gem is known for its delectable local dishes made using traditional cooking techniques and fresh, locally sourced ingredients. From the flavorful cha ca la vong to the delicious nem ran, every dish on the menu is a culinary delight.

If you're feeling adventurous, try (Street Food Specialty) at (Street Food Vendor Name). This unique street food dish is a local favourite and will satisfy your taste buds. The combination of (key ingredients) creates a harmonious blend of flavours that will take your dining experience to new heights.

When exploring Hanoi's hidden cafés and street food spots, be prepared to be amazed by the rich flavours and vibrant atmosphere. Whether you are a coffee enthusiast or a food lover, these hidden gems will leave a lasting impression on your taste buds.


Why Hanoi's hidden gems are worth exploring

Exploring Hanoi's hidden cafés and street food spots offers a unique opportunity to delve into the local culture and experience authentic Vietnamese cuisine. From charming cafés like (Café Name) to bustling street food spots like (Street Food Spot), there is something for every food lover to discover.

The local cuisine, made with fresh and locally sourced ingredients, will tantalize your taste buds with its bold flavours and aromatic dishes. Whether you're a traditional Vietnamese coffee fan or craving street food classics like pho and banh xeo, Hanoi has hidden gems that will satisfy your cravings and leave you wanting more.


Tips for discovering your hidden gems in the city

If you're eager to uncover Hanoi's hidden culinary treasures, here are some tips to help you on your quest:

  • Ask locals for recommendations: Locals are the best source of information about hidden cafés and street food spots. Strike up conversations with friendly locals and ask for their favourite eating spots.
  • Explore off-the-beaten-path neighbourhoods: Venture away from tourist areas to discover neighbourhoods where locals dine. These areas often have hidden gems that the locals cherish.
  • Follow the crowds: If you see a street food vendor with a long line of locals, chances are the food is delicious. Trust the locals and join the queue.
  • Be adventurous: Don't be afraid to try new dishes and flavours. Hanoi's hidden spots often offer unique and lesser-known dishes not in touristy areas.

Following these tips and being open to new experiences will uncover your hidden gems in Hanoi and create unforgettable culinary memories.