Secret Hanoi – Lesser Known Attractions – Here’s Everything You Could Be Missing Out

Incredible, amazing, authentic, wonderful etc. are all the words you must exclaim once you visit these following destinations which no tour guide brochures will tell you! Here are the 10 hidden secret destinations in Hanoi that you should not miss. They are the 10 places that bring you the most authentic travel experience.

Photo credit: The Quang Do | Hanoi Railway village

1. Tràng Tiền Lane

The gorgeous Sword Lake and the beauty of the old quarter seem to overwhelm almost all the locals and tourists that they hardly notice a small lovely lane hidden inside the quarter. Many of us – young girls and boys love to call this lane the supermarket one, as it offers you nearly all the must-try street foods in Hanoi, with such a well-known stand serving Bún đậu mắm tôm - tofu & shrimp paste noodles and a sweet bakery shop just as its name “Floating butter cake” – “Bánh bơ bồng bềnh” at the end of the lane. Abandoning itself from the noisy, crowded streets outside, “Tràng Tiền Lane” is not only an escape from the bustle Hanoi but also a paradise for food lovers. The lane is busiest at noon when the well-dressed employees of all modern offices nearby swarm here, sit on cheap plastic chairs, let their hair down after hard working hours.

Address: Tràng Tiền Lane, Hoàn Kiếm District, Hanoi

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2. Hang Dau’s Water tower

You may mistake this construction for a prison, which is built in the form of a closed cylinder with worn out and tall wall giving people a feeling of sorrow. It is, however, one of the oldest water towers of Hanoi, officially out of order in 1960 after 66 years providing fresh water for the city. Constructed in 1894, even before Long Bien bridge, the 1.250 m3 water tower is popular with Hanoians for many generations, becomes a beholder of all the capital’s changes. In 2010, Hang Dau’s Water tower experienced a reformation but remains its outlook and most of the internal systems till today.

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Address: Hàng Đậu St, Hoàn Kiếm District, Hanoi

3. Đinh Cafe

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Housed in an ancient French villa, this coffee shop is a time machine taking you back to the old days of Hanoi!

If you are a coffee lover and want to visit Hanoi's Oldest coffee shops like Dinh Cafe, you should read our previous article: 

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4. Long Biên Market

Bustle, crowded, hurried – it is what you will find in the early morning shift of Long Bien market. As almost all the people of the city are sleeping soundly, merchants from different regions arrive in the market, start a day by loading cartons of fruits and seafood, bargaining, selling and packaging goods. In the usual cold misty weather of Hanoi from midnight to about 4 am, the market is always wet, the paths are slippery, and the atmosphere is the blend of many smells also noises. It is, therefore, highly recommended that you wear boots and not stop for too long at any stands or take photos without permission as you will get scolded by the Vietnamese that you hardly make sense!

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Address: Hồng Hà, Phúc Xá, Ba Đình, Hanoi

5. Railway village

The most vibrant but odd way to understand how part of the Hanoi people lives! This railway starts all the way from Hanoi Railway Station to a lot of streets in Hanoi. If you are in the Old Quarter, you can see a part of the railway village above Gam Cau Street, Phung Hung. To learn more about this village, visit our previous article here

Photo by Minh Nguyen

6. Bird Cafe

Raising pet birds is quite popular in Vietnam – you come across cages everywhere, beautiful, old, vintage-looking bird cages, with gorgeous little-feathered creatures sitting inside. Enjoying the enchanting voice of such lovely birds while sipping a cup of dark coffee or a condensed milk iced one is the perfect way to start a day for many lots of bird lovers. Lying by Thiền Quang lake, which was once called Halais lake, this bird cafe needs no signboard but serves dozens of drinkers each day. People come here, bring along their birds, turn the cafe into a meeting spot for all bird lovers and somehow an amazing concert every morning! All kinds of birds but mainly the white-eye ones with beautiful voices seem to sing a blended melody, just like a natural masterpiece standing out in the bustle, crowded city life. The cafe opens daily but is busiest on weekends between 8 am to 10 am. Do come by to experience the two most local habits of Hanoi people which you could hardly find elsewhere!

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Address: T-section Trần Bình Trọng – Thiền Quang St, Hai Bà Trưng district, Hanoi

7. Red River Rock – Nhật Tân Flower Garden

Wet tropical climate gives Hanoi a unique biodiversity with dozens of kinds of flowers that blossom all year round regarding four distinct seasons. About 30 minutes driving from downtown Hanoi, the Red river rock, and Nhật Tân flower garden are the best spots to experience the natural beauty of the city. From November to the end of the year, the rapeseed garden of “Bai da song Hong” turns itself into a spectacular sea of bright yellow. Depending on the time of year, you can also enjoy a wide variety of seasonal flowers such as roses, cosmos, sunflowers or Cortaderia Selloana flower with fresh color of white. Well-known for its tradition of growing peach blossoms, Nhật Tân flower garden transfers into a sea of punch and magenta by the early January in the lunar month, with all the flowers bloom fully to greet a happy new year!

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Address: 264 Lane, Âu Cơ St, Tây Hồ district, Hanoi

Price: 40.000 – 50.000 VND/adult, 30.000VND/child

8. Lệ Mật Village

8 kilometers to the Northeast, “Lệ Mật” is an old village that took its name from a legend passed down for about 9 centuries up to now. In the dynasty of king “Lý Nhân Tông” (1128), there was a strong and brave man with extraordinary skills in catching snakes and aquatic monsters. The legend told that one day, as the princess was cruising on Thiên Đức river (part of Đuống river today), an ogre in the shape of snake attacked her and disappeared. Grieving for his daughter’s death, the king announced to award whoever bringing back her body to him. After fighting bravely against the monster, the young man defeated it. He, however, asked for nothing but a land for his people to settle up. Since then, the village was set up and keeps the tradition of raising snakes till nowadays. Moreover, “Lệ Mật” has many unique constructions such as pagodas, temples, gates and lots of grand trees; delicacies all from the snake, varying from stirred, fried to grilled. The village’s festival is held annually on 23/3 in the lunar month, which is April in the solar month.

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Address: Lệ Mật village, Việt Hưng, Long Biên District, Hanoi

9. Al Noor Mosque

Situated on a quiet street of the old quarter, Al Noor Mosque-the Enlightening is just like a marble castle in the city’s heart! Built in 1885 by the Indian community from Bombay (now Mumbai, India), the masjid was designed in the typical Islamic style, with a dome, the curved doors, and the pinnacle, and officially put into use 5 years later as the only place for believers in northern Vietnam. There are 5 prayer times a day: Fajr: 04:55 AM; Sunrise: 06:12 AM; Dhuhr: 11:44 AM; Asr: 2:52 PM; Maghrib: 5:14 PM; Isha: 6:27 PM and a holy Friday. Muslims can pray anywhere providing that it is a clean place rather than at the mosque, but on Friday, they do come here to perform their holy pray. Although the grids of the masjid can be closed between prayers hours, you can enter into the premises by the small door located at the left of the main entrance and bear in mind some rules and tips to have a lovely visit without disrespecting the etiquette.

A few things to remember when you come here:

- Remove your shoes before you enter the mosque. The children should remove their shoes too.

- Don’t wear short or sleeveless clothes; women should wear a headscarf or if you do not have one, just ask for it.

- After entering the mosque, wait silently outside until the prayer hours end or go to sit quickly at the back of the mosque, behind the group. Just remember that men cannot sit behind women. And women should sit with the other women.

There are some few more rules but don’t worry, just follow all the above, be quiet and keep the place tidy that you will break no rules!

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Address:12 Hàng Lược St, Hoàn Kiếm District, Hanoi

10. Binh Minh Jazz Club

Binh Minh Jazz Club's owner is a well-known Vietnamese saxophonist Quyen Van Minh. He opened up this place for people who love jazz or simply want to learn more about jazz. It is located behind Hanoi Opera House, so it might not be too difficult for you to find. It offers local and international live jazz, good foods, and drinks.

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Address: No.1 Trang Tien Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi

If you find any other secret spots in Hanoi, please feel free to share with us via comment below or email to! Big love! 

20 thoughts on “Secret Hanoi – Lesser Known Attractions – Here’s Everything You Could Be Missing Out”

  1. It’s funny how they’re lesser known spots but you know so well and provide so many helpful details. I am particularly in love with Trang Tien Lane and Railway village, for its food and special structure, respectively. Hope to visit them someday!

  2. So many of these places I never would have thought to even look at. The water tower is interesting, I love history like that and how it’s helped people. The Bird Cafe sounds like a lovely, noise place to people watch!

  3. All these attractions are definitely worth visiting. I’ve been to some of them and they look so fantastic indeed! Thanks for sharing!

  4. I have visited most of these places. Do not forget to visit these destinations guys. They are truly beautiful!! The photos that you took also look artistic and vintage. Thanks for writing this article

  5. I have never thought about visiting Vietnam but after reading your post I really would like to. Your pictures are amazing, and I felt like I was right there with you! Thank you for sharing such wonderful spots that I wouldn’t be able to see or find otherwise.

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