Leisure activities in Hanoi for solo expats, couples or families

Things to in Hanoi alone, with your partner or with friends
Updated 2023-11-17 18:49

At first glance, the Hanoi Old Quarter is overwhelming. A pool of bodies, young and old, loud music, and people cheering beers, mixed with the aromas of street food and the bright lights of scooters parked everywhere. If you are exploring alone or with your family, the first look may cause you to stumble and run back to the safety of your hotel. 

Hanoi is an incredibly diverse city and offers something for practically every palette. Exploring the Old Quarter has pros and cons, but there are also many more things to do to make memories in this vibrant city. Keep reading to get the low down on some of the most inspiring and interesting places to visit and things to do.


Keep your wits about you when traveling at night and use Grab rather than local taxis to avoid tourist traps and scams.

Eating out in Hanoi

Sampling as many street food vendors as possible is one of the best ways of integrating yourself with this exciting city. Taste the freshness in ingredients and see the pride on local store owners' faces as you take the first bite. The Old Quarter has streets dedicated to certain foods, meaning you might need to be rolled back to your hotel if you spend a day sampling everything available. Here are a few recommendations in and around Old Quarter:

Chicken Street Hanoi: the name says it all, but go here for amazing fried and grilled chicken served with ice-cold beer. You can find this on Ly Van Phuc Street.

Bun Cha Street: Definitely one of the dishes Hanoi is known for. Head to Hang Quat Street and choose any stall you wish.

Bít Tết: Not many tourists head here for the essential Vietnamese fry-up. A sizzling plate of flank steak, a fried egg, and crinkle-cut fries covered in gravy in a pure treat for breakfast. Explore Hoe Nhai Street, which is a little outside the old quarter but definitely worth it.

Landmarks to explore in Hanoi

For a remarkable experience of that east-meets-west feeling, a stroll around Hoan Kiem Lake will take an hour or two. Another Hanoi must-see is the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre, which is also great if you're moving with kids. The vogueish West Lake (Tay Ho) guarantees some ample walking space, with over 17km of tantalizing shoreline. On Hang Dao Street, you will find a night market, which is the perfect place to get your hands on some local souvenirs for family and friends. If you have the chance to pop into the French Quarter, be sure to drop by the Opera House for some mesmerizing snaps and stunning performances.

The best things to do with friends and family in Hanoi

The Old Quarter is the ideal place to spend the evening getting tanked up on cheap beer before proceeding to dive into some of Hanoi's best nightclubs. Hidden gems like Birdcage are popular among the locals and expats, but for some of the finest electronic music in Hanoi, Savage (located in Tay Ho) has been at the top of the charts for several years. This remarkable establishment welcomes you with a classy, loungey warm-up area. Once you've got a few drinks down, make your way into the other room for an intimate, deep set provided by one of Hanoi's finest. Although street food vendors are scattered around the city, one of the best places for Western-style comfort food is Puku Cafe, which is open 24 hours a day.

Aeon Mall and the Vincom Centres are also fantastic days out with family or friends. Whether you are looking to shop until you drop, watch a recent movie, play bowling, or kill some time in a games arcade, these complexes have you covered.

Leisure options for couples in Hanoi

Nothing says 'I love you' like a beautiful, fresh bouquet of flowers. Quang Ba Flower Market is the best place to take a partner and is a feast for the senses. From a rainbow of colors to the sweet perfume of fresh flowers, the appearance of Quang Ba Flower Market is somewhat gritty but will offer a rustic, magical experience for lovers.

If you have a Hanoi Bucket List, this item should most certainly be ticked off during your stay. Peak times are between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m., so this would be a perfect detour after a night on the tiles with your better half.

Useful link:

Where to eat in Hanoi Old Quarter: TOP 12 places for worthy culinary tours

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