Hanoi has a lot to offer when you fancy doing something a bit different, from a live escape game to spending the afternoon in a chilled cafe, there’s something for everyone. So when you’ve had enough of visiting tourist attractions, here are some great alternative things to do in Hanoi.
Play board games @ The Cube, Truc Bach
This lovely little board game café opened while we were living in Hanoi and once we discovered it we couldn’t keep away! If you are a board games enthusiast or even just want to try a few games this is a brilliant place to visit. The staff are English speaking and happy to teach you any game you want. There are hundreds of games to choose from (mostly free), and they also serve delicious milkshakes and smoothies. You can check it out here.
Eat @ Hanoi Taco Bar
This is such a great place to go when you fancy a change from Vietnamese food. It doesn’t get much better than Mexican food and cocktails served by friendly staff. The prices are reasonable and there are offers including lunch deals and a special cocktail of the day which varies. I highly recommend the tacos and churros!
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Visit a rooftop bar
There are lots to choose from but our favourite was the Summit Lounge at the top of Pan Pacific hotel. Cocktails are pricey (for Hanoi standards) at around 200,000 dong (~£7) each but totally worth it for the incredible view. From there you can see both Truc Bach Lake and West Lake and the causeway between them.
Relax @ To Chim Xanh- Bluebirds’ Nest
This was our all-time favourite café in Hanoi. A relaxing haven nestled amongst houses down a tiny alleyway, it is filled with plants, cushions and books and accompanied by some chilled music. There is also a lovely roof terrace which is great for evenings/ cooler days. It is the perfect place to enjoy a coffee, read and take a break from the chaotic Hanoi streets. Another great option if you are in the old quarter is Nola Café on Ma May street. If you are interested in discovering more ‘hidden’ cafés’ visit Hanoi Hideaway.
Eat street food
Street food is such a big part of Hanoi’s culture you can’t miss out on. Our favourite places to go to were not traditional street food in the sense of sitting on the little plastic stools, but still very cheap options: Pho Cuon 31 (on Truc Bach island) and New Day (in the old quarter). Also if you fancy something a bit more unusual head to Mau Dich 37 where you can eat in an old communist state-run food shop.
Go for a swim @ Thang Loi hotel/ Sao Mai
Two perfect options for when you need to cool off from the Hanoi heat. The pool at Thang Loi is situated right next to West Lake so it’s a great spot to watch the sunset. Sao Mai is a much bigger pool and better if you want to do lengths.
Do a live escape game @ Trap!
This is a fun and challenging way to spend an afternoon. It is also budget friendly at less than £3 per person if I remember correctly. We did this on my birthday and we really enjoyed it. It was quite difficult with just the two of us so I would definitely recommend doing it with a group of friends. There are two options- an Egytian room and a basement room. You can find more information here.
Go book shopping @ Bookworm
This is the place to go if you are looking for a second hand book in English. This place has an amazing selection that spans over two floors and even calls itself the ‘best little bookshop in South East Asia’. Pop in and have a browse, who knows what you could find!
Walk through some beautiful gardens, Tay Ho
We never even knew these gardens existed, until one day we happened to drive past. We couldn’t help but stop and have a look when we saw the field of brightly coloured flowers. It’s such a beautiful area to wander through, it makes you feel like you’re in the Netherlands, surrounded by tulips and windmills. There is a small entrance fee and you can also have a drink while looking out at the gardens. You can find the exact location here.
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