Centred around Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi City Centre is the bustling heartland of the Vietnamese capital. It encompasses the atmospheric Old Quarter and a monumental Gothic Revival cathedral, as well as French colonial buildings that house foreign embassies.
Things to do in Hanoi City Centre
No visit to Hanoi City Centre is complete without a stroll around Hoan Kiem Lake, which legend states is inhabited by a heroic, mythical turtle. A tower honouring the turtle now stands on an island in the centre of the lake while the Temple of the Jade Mountain dominates the lake’s northern shore. The vermillion red Huc Bridge that connects the temple to the shore offers a popular photo op.
On the northern edge of the lake is the Old Quarter of Hanoi, which features 36 streets dedicated to different trades. See silversmiths in action on Hàng Bạc and shop for silk products on Hàng Gai before learning about traditional Vietnamese medicine on Lãn Ông. Once you’ve built up an appetite, you can grab a steaming bowl of phở from one of the street-side stalls.
One of Hanoi City Centre’s most impressive architectural landmarks is St. Joseph’s Cathedral, which was inspired by Paris’s Notre Dame. Constructed in the late 19th century, it was one of the first structures built by the French colonial government and is still an active place of worship today. Gaze up at the 31-metre-high twin towers before stepping inside to admire the cathedral’s elegant stained-glass windows.
Getting around Hanoi City Centre
Hanoi City Centre is around 35 minutes’ drive from Noi Bai International Airport, which has flights to destinations across Asia and the Middle East. The Reunification Express connects Hanoi with Ho Chi Minh City while regional trains travel north-west to Lao Cai. Taxis and cyclos are readily available for getting around Hanoi City Centre.