Hanoi Off the Beaten Track: Discover Hanoi’s Lesser-Known Attractions with the Young Generation

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Huan Phu

Last Updated: December 8, 2023

Hanoi is known by many tourists and travelers as a fascinating destination to visit. The city is full of tourist attractions such as different history museums, authentic local dishes, cafes, French-Indochina architecture, and peaceful temples. However, Hanoi has changed a lot. This article will take you on an authentic trip exploring the most popular places among the young Hanoi generation of today.

The Thong Nhat Park

Even though Hanoians have a busy city life, many of them keep the habit of going to the parks in the mornings and afternoons. Going to the parks in the early mornings is one of the ways for them to relax and get closer to nature.

Thong Nhat Park (Lenin Park) which was built more than 60 years ago is one of the biggest parks in the city. Even though Thong Nhat Park is located in the very center of Hanoi, the park has a peaceful vibe with many green areas and a large lake. While walking around the park, you might completely forget that you live in the second largest city of Vietnam.

Visiting Thong Nhat Park in the morning, you might see locals participating in activities such as running, walking, fishing, and doing martial arts. This is one of the favorite and most known places for Hanoians to prepare for a new day, relax after a day at work, get closer to nature, and spend time on working on their health and fitness. Going to Thong Nhat park can be listed as one of the morning routines of Hanoians. Thong Nhat Park is a recommended place for people who want to see a different Hanoi in the new age.

The Phan Dinh Phung street

Many of the streets in Hanoi have a deep meaning to the local people. Wandering around the streets of the city is a common thing to do for every Hanoian. Besides the old quarters, Phan Dinh Phung street is one of the most beautiful and romantic streets of the city.

The street is famous for the green dracontomelum trees. The old trees cover the road densely, making the air in the area fresh and pleasant. It is common for Vietnamese women to come here to take photos wearing “ao dai” as the street is a very symbolic part of the capital city. Every autumn, the street is painted with the orange color from the falling orange leaves. Many Hanoians visit the street during this time to enjoy the beautiful scenery.  

The Phan Dinh Phung street is also famous as the prestigious Phan Dinh Phung high school is located there. This school is considered one of the best and the oldest public high schools in Hanoi. It is very common to see young Vietnamese in this area. Young students in their uniforms will make you think about the young ambitious Vietnamese generation and their craving for knowledge and studying. Around Phan Dinh Phung street there are also many interesting local street food joints worth trying out, for example around Phan Dinh Phung.

Crossing the street, you can witness the amazing French-Indochina architecture. The red and yellow colors of the buildings are the main characteristic of true Hanoi architecture. The architecture reminds people of something in-between, old and new in the middle of the city. The Phan Dinh Phung street is located in the Ba Dinh area, close to Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Presidential Palace, Cua Bac Citadel, and other government offices.

A get-away trip to Ecopark in Hung Yen

The young people in Hanoi also like to discover new places outside of the city as well. Ecopark is an urban township development on the outskirts of Hanoi, in Hung Yen Province. The area is surrounded by green areas with green trees, flowers, rivers, and lakes. Ecopark helps Hanoians to escape from concrete blocks, noise, and the smog of the city.  

The area is not too rural yet very modern and peaceful. The place is suitable for a holiday trip.  Ecopark also has many places with stunning viewpoints for tourists to take in the views of the city, watch the sunset, and take memorable photos.

A day trip to Ba Vi

Ba Vi is an incredible destination on the outskirts of Hanoi that not so many people know. The district is only one hour drive away from the center of Hanoi. It is a famous place for Hanoians to go on a day trip with friends or family. The district was once a province but in 2008, the small province became one the 17th district of Hanoi. Ba Vi attracts tourists from Hanoi because of the location close to the city, beautiful nature, and interesting food culture. 

In Ba Vi, you can visit Ba Vi National Park, take a ride to Ba Vi Hill, enjoy beautiful green homestays, try out local specialties such as veal, milk products, hill chickens, and wild boars. It is an amazing destination for people who love nature and want to explore a new destination.

The Summit Lounge rooftop bar in Ho Tay (West Lake)

Rooftop cafes have become more and more popular in Hanoi in recent years due to the fast expansion of the city. Even though many new businesses have appeared with good services and locations, cafes, and bars around Ho Tay (the West Lake), the Summit Lounge rooftop bar has remained the favorite destination to Hanoians. The reason for this might be a good location. In addition, it is said that Hanoians are hard to change their preferences and interests and they like sticking to their old places.

The Summit Lounge is one of the most popular rooftop bars among the locals. Around the area, you can watch the romantic sunset on the West Lake, enjoy the view of the busy city at the end of the day while having a few drinks with friends. 

Sunset in Ho Tay (West lake)

The best way to enjoy a relaxing afternoon in Hanoi is to take a walk around West Lake. It only takes around 30 minutes to go around the lake, but you will have the best sunset view in the city. Many Vietnamese locals often go for exercise, walking, or running by the lake in the afternoon. The lake attracts many couples for its romantic views, fresh air, and green trees. West Lake is a great place to spend your afternoon with different activities.

Truc Bach Lake is opposite West Lake. After enjoying the sunset over West Lake, you can explore true local food culture of Hanoi in the areas around Truc Bach Lake. The alleys close to the lake are full of small restaurants that I bet not so many tourists know.

Pho Thin

“Pho Thin” has long been a famous name for the Pho noodle soup among Hanoians. Walking in the streets of Hanoi you might notice many restaurants named Pho Thin. However, not many people know that there are only two original stores of Pho Thin. The two stores are owned by two different owners, with two different styles of cooking and both of them are separate businesses. The first “Pho Thin” is located next to Hoan Kiem Lake at 61 Dinh Tien Hoang and the other is located at 13 Lo Duc street. The coincidence of the names derives from the fact that both owners have the first name “Thin”.

Both of the restaurants have been operating for a long time, even more than 50 years. “Pho Thin” in Hoan Kiem lake has been serving customers for up to 70 years. If you have time, try both places. The contrasting way of cooking between the two famous restaurants has been the key factor to attract customers.

If the Pho Thin in Dinh Tien Hoang street keeps the original taste of Pho Hanoi with clear water and slim slice of beef, Pho Thin 13 Lo Duc has changed the taste by stir-frying the beef with onions before mixing it with the soup. Pho Thin Dinh Tien Hoang represents more of a traditional Pho dish while Pho Thin 13 Lo Duc has an international taste.  

Pho Thin 13 Lo Duc also has restaurants in Japan and Australia while the other place only has one location. In Hanoi “Pho” is normally eaten as breakfast or lunch. It is recommended to eat the soup during the daytime so that the water of the soup has the best quality (a long time for cooking the soup creates the sediment, making the soup less clear).

If you are a fan of the famous “Pho” noodle soup, the two “Pho Thin” restaurants are must-visit places before leaving this amazing city.

Hanoi’s traditional street barber stores

Everywhere in the narrow streets of Hanoi, you can come across Hanoi street barbers and their stalls. The price to have a haircut at these street hair salons is around 1 dollar to 4 dollars (20,000 vnd to 80,000 vnd).

These street hair barbers are usually retired men or ex-military personnel who work to support their families or just simply to keep themselves busy.

Even though traditional hair barbers only earn a little from the work, most of them are happy with their work and have been doing the job for many years.

With the fast development of professional hair salons across the city, the street barbers do not have as many customers as before, however, the older generation of Hanoi still prefers going to these traditional hair salons.

It can be said that the street barbers of Hanoi are artists who love their work while helping to keep an image of Hanoi the same as in the old days.  

The Long Bien Bridge

Life in Hanoi is not only about bustling streets, high buildings, and all the conveniences. Hanoi has many people from other cities in Vietnam who come to try to make a living in the city. Long Bien Bridge is a place in Hanoi that you must visit to see a comprehensive view of people from different classes living in Hanoi.

The Long Bien Bridge was built in 1899-1902 and opened to the public in 1903. The bridge connects two districts of Hanoi: Hoan Kiem and Long Bien. Together with other attractions such as The Turtle Tower, O Quan Chuong Gate, the One Pillar Pagoda, and Thang Long Imperial Citadel, the Thang Long Bridge is regarded as a symbol of the capital city.

The bridge plays an important role in the economy and history of Hanoi. In the old days, it was the only bridge which connected Hanoi and Hai Phong and was mainly used to exchange goods. Times have changed and today four other bridges span the Red River to support the industrial development of the city as well as to decongest the traffic. However, even today the bridge still carries trains and people commuting to work every day. Long Bien Bridge has printed its image in the heart of every Hanoian and many visitors of the city.

Life around the Long Bien bridge is different from other parts of Hanoi. In contrast to the bustling life of the city beyond, people living near the bridge are normally poor workers. The people who live here do all kinds of jobs just to make a living and be able to stay in Hanoi.

Many people living under the bridge work as scrap collectors, gathering scraps and sell at a higher price for little money, some carry their goods to A market close by, others try to help trains carry their luggage to earn a little.

The Long Bien Bridge speaks the truth of the city that there are still so many people in this capital city who live in poor conditions without getting noticed. The city is developing fast, yet people have forgotten that there are people still living there, in bad conditions.

The Long Bien bridge tells the story of Hanoi as it has been there for more than a century. The bridge witnessed the ups and downs of the city. During wartime, America tried multiple times to destroy the bridge, but it was rebuilt every time by Hanoians to support the war. The bridge is a symbol of the desire for freedom, dreams, and better life of Hanoians.

The Long Bien Bridge is an emblem that connects the new and old Hanoi, tells the stories of different citizens, and reminds people to be grateful for life.

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Huan Phu
Editor at Vietnam Is Awesome
Unearthing untold stories in the heart of Vietnam. Your eyes to the unseen, your voice to the unheard. Exploring the rich tapestry of this nation, one headline at a time. Join me on this journalistic journey!

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