Hoan Kiem, where modernity meets times gone by, forms part of the Old Quarter and emanates the life and soul of Hanoi. Whether you are living in Hanoi or simply a traveler staying here for a short while, the Hoan Kiem District in Hanoi is an area you don’t want to miss out on.
What to Know about the Hoan Kiem District
Hoan Kiem District is the business and tourist hotspot in Hanoi
Shopping: Dong Xuan Market, Trang Tien Plaza
Nightlife: The Old Quarter Night Market, Ta Hien Street, bars and pubs
Location on Google Maps
The Hoan Kiem District in Hanoi, adjacent to Hai Ba Trung and Ba Dinh District, is a business and tourist hot-spot. Many tradespeople are living and selling their wares on the maze of narrow streets that form one of the most popular known areas in Hanoi, namely the Old Quarter.
As a center for arts and crafts, you will find paintings, ornaments, and even hand-crafted instruments to purchase during your stay. There is a mass of restaurants and cafes to discover, from the very high-end down to street food stores with the cheapest food and drink you will find.
From Noi Bai International Airport, a preferred means of transport is a taxi or a Grab taxi. If you are traveling to Hoan Kiem District from within Hanoi, you can use ride-hailing apps to hop in a car or on the back of a bike to travel for a cheap fare.
You can also check with your hotel or airlines (Vietnam Airlines, Vietjet, JetStar) as they may have a transfer service from the airport.
An alternative means of transport is the bus service running throughout the city. The 86 bus runs from the arrivals terminal and will take you into the Hoan Kiem District in Hanoi.
Fee: VND 30,000/ticket
Operation time: 6:20 AM - 10:50 PM
Frequency: 1 bus every 25 - 30 minutes
Travel time: roughly 1h30mins
Stations in Hoan Kiem District: Hang Tre Street, Hanoi City Post Office, 59 Ly Thuong Kiet
Look for your bus tickets here
There is a wide range of hotels and hostels available to book in the Hoan Kiem District in Hanoi (especially around the Old Quarter area) to cater to the booming travel and tourism brought in throughout the year.
Or search for room availability and pricing below
Besides the Turtle Tower, make sure to stop other attractions around the local to explore the past of Hanoi
Hoan Kiem Lake and the surrounding area is steeped in history but has a distinctly modern twist. The centuries-old lake is surrounded by designer shopping outlets as well as bars, cafes, and restaurants. You can enjoy the scenic space surrounding the lake and spend a whole afternoon here window shopping, relaxing in a café or having lunch by the lake.
Relax by the Hoan Kiem Lake at any time of day
The roads around the lake are closed each weekend so you can have a leisure walk to enjoy this beautiful part of the Hoan Kiem District in Hanoi.
A vibrant pedestrian area full of street vendors, street food, pubs, and cafes
Since this is a highly touristic area, watch out for pickpockets and snatch thieves. Some items sold here are slightly more overpriced compared to local shops.
A-thousand-year-old intertwining streets with ancient attractions, cultural traits, and street foods. You can easily spend a whole day exploring the wonders of the area. See our Walking Guide in the Old Quarter for more details.
Timeless architectural structures will take you back to life in Hanoi centuries ago
St Joseph’s Cathedral is a Roman Catholic church is the oldest church in Hanoi, characterized by a statue of the Virgin Mary, adorned in a crown and holding the baby Jesus, standing just outside. The gothic-style building is illuminated by lights in the evenings and open to members of the public to visit.
St. Joseph’s Cathedral - a popular attraction in Hoan Kiem
From 8 AM – 11 AM and 2 PM – 5 PM from Monday to Friday
From 8 AM – 11 AM and 2 PM – 5 PM on Saturday
From 7 AM – 10 AM and 3 PM – 9 PM on Sunday
5 AM and 6 AM from Monday to Friday
6 PM on Saturday
5 AM, 7 AM, 9 AM, 11 AM, 4 PM, 6 PM and 8 PM on Sunday.
Address: 40 Nha Chung, Hoan Kiem District
Entrance fee: Free
Hoa Lo Prison, also famous for its satirical name ‘Hanoi Hilton’, was built in the late 1800s. Although much of the prison was destroyed, what remains has been converted into a museum where you can have a chilling insight into Vietnam's war scenes.
The haunting exhibitions at Hoa Lo Prison
Opening hours: 8 AM – 5 PM daily
Address: 1 Hoa Lo, Tran Hung Dao, Hoan Kiem District
Entrance fee: VND 30,000 (children visit for free)
The Museum of Vietnamese Women offers a sneak-peak into the history and cuts of life of the Vietnamese women across the country
Opening hours: 8 AM - 5 PM daily
Address: 36 Ly Thuong Kiet, Hang Bai, Hoan Kiem District
Entrance ticket: VND 30,000/adult; free for kids under 10 years old
Located right across the Hoan Kiem Lake is the Thang Long Water Puppet Theater. There are multiple shows per day, and tickets are always sold-out, especially during peak traveling season, so you may want to book a ticket 1 day in advance.
Address: 58B Dinh Tien Hoang, Hang Bac, Hoan Kiem District
Opening hours: 8:30 AM - 8:30 PM
Price: VND 60,000/ticket
Hanoi Opera House began construction in 1901, and after falling into disrepair in the late 20th Century, renovations took place between 1995 and 1997 to restore this cultural monument to its former glory. The architecture mixes influences from ancient Greece, Paris, and Hanoi itself.
Hanoi Opera House - A magnificent display of modern architecture
Even if you don’t intend to see a show, the magnificent building is well worth a visit, and it’s a location within the August Revolution Square makes the Opera House a significant part of Vietnam’s recent history.
Check their website for upcoming shows and ticket booking.
Alongside indulging your appetite in the many cafes and restaurants in the Hoan Kiem District in Hanoi, you can try your hand at cooking Vietnamese recipes by signing up for one of the authentic cooking classes available in this popular area.
Address: 15 Cau Dong, Dong Xuan, Hoan Kiem District
Opening hours: 8 AM - 6 PM
As the most bustling trading spot in the heart of Hanoi, Dong Xuan Market is where you can go on a shopping spree for local merchandise and even bring home some souvenirs.
Head to the South of the market into a small alley to have a taste of the local snacks!
Address: 23K Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem District
Opening hours: 9:30 AM - 9:30 PM
Trang Tien Plaza is one of the best shopping malls in Hanoi, with designer clothing from Dior, Chanel, Burberry, and many more famous fashion brands.
Shop to your heart’s content at Trang Tien Plaza
Other than that, in the tourist hotspot of Hoan Kiem Lake, there are numerous souvenir and clothing shops in the vicinity. Chances are most of the items are overpriced, but you can strike a pretty good deal if you know how to bargain.
Hawkers are also abundant in the Old Quarter, with their colorful baskets of Hanoi fruits and flowers. It is delightful to capture a few pictures of them, or buy some pieces for yourself. However, they might get annoyed if you don't accept paying their price or end up not buying from them.
Flowers and fruits vendors at the Old Quarter
Google Maps location
When the night comes, Hoan Kiem District puts on a different look: not as noisy and crowded, but still remains its dynamic energy. Head to the night market to shop for knock-off designer brands and taste the local favorite late evening's snacks.
Google Maps location
Style: Backpacker, clubbing
What to expect: Ta Hien, also known by its nickname ‘beer street’ is a maze of different streets lined with bars and clubs of all kind; sports bars, rooftop bars, bars which double up as restaurants, and bars which open up as clubs where you can dance the night away to contemporary club music.
The beer here is super cheap and this neon-lit backpackers paradise is just as enjoyable for older tourists as it is for students – the area is safe, and taxis run 24/7 for such low prices that you can easily make your way home after an unforgettable night.
The streets of Ta Hien have a party atmosphere most evenings
Try some tasty bia hoi, a locally brewed beer traditional to Vietnam
Binh Minh’s Jazz Club
Style: Traditional jazz club with live music, serving food and drink
What to expect: In this dim-lit and smoky bar, you will be able to while away your evening listening to live jazz music in an ambient setting. Although the clouds of cigar smoke may not be to everyone’s taste, this club has a nostalgic and soulful vibe that will charm many jazz and blues enthusiasts.
Address: 1 Trang Tien, Phan Chu Trinh, Hoan Kiem District
Opening hours: 5 PM - 12 AM
Style: Drinking, sports, casual
What to expect: This cool and ambient cocktail bar has all the charisma and charm you need for a relaxed and memorable night out in the Hoan Kiem District in Hanoi. You will find a collection of all the spirits you could want with a healthy selection of cocktails and other tantalizing drinks to enjoy the evening with family or friends.
Visit the Polite Pub for a social evening of cocktails and music
Style: Bar, pub, live music
What to expect: At Rockstore Hanoi, you will be able to enjoy live music in a crowded bar with reasonably priced beer and good pub food. This place has a grungy vibe but is a great chill-out spot in the afternoon, becoming more lively in the evenings.
Pho is a soulful dish of Vietnamese soup. The main ingredients are a big helping of broth with rice noodles, and often some fresh herbs and strips of beef. Pho 10 Ly Quoc Su is a popular place for tourists and locals, so head here for some of the best-tasting pho in Hanoi.
If you are a coffee enthusiast, you will find great joy around the Hoan Kiem District in Hanoi. Plentiful cafes and coffee shops to be found by the intrepid traveler.
Check out: Best Egg Coffee in Hanoi
Vietnam’s famous egg coffee - a mix of bitter and sweet flavors
The Hoan Kiem District in Hanoi is a must-see for anyone visiting this beautiful city. There are many great hotels and hostels, bars and nightlife plus many cultural experiences in the area too. Memories here will last you a lifetime and you will be able to spend hours exploring and discovering the secrets of Hoan Kiem for yourself.
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© Written by Lucy for itourvn.com