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A Budget Backpacker's Dream: 15+ Free Things to do in Hanoi

Updated: 6 days ago

We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again Hanoi is one of our favorite cities in Northern Vietnam! And while we’ve covered the best things to do in Hanoi before, this time we’ve compiled a guide for the budget backpackers. So here are 15+ free things to do in Hanoi! 


15+ Free Things to do in Hanoi

Stay at Bong Hanoi Hostel


Okay, first and foremost you need somewhere to stay, right?! And what better way to kickstart your Hanoi adventure than by staying at the best hostel in town.


Situated in the Old Quarter, Bong Hanoi Hostel has super friendly staff, comfortable beds with privacy curtains, hot showers, free breakfast, good WIFI, and a communal area. Here is some more information about our Hanoi Hostel.


It's really the perfect base for exploring all the free things that Hanoi has to offer. But in addition our helpful staff can set you up with tours throughout the rest of Northern Vietnam so you can sit back and relax for the rest of your trip, with a customized itinerary all planned out. Click to find out more about the types of tours we offer!


Address: 2 Phố Thanh Hà Hanoi

Opening Hours: 24/7

Estimated Price: From 200,000 VND per night (prices may vary)


Stay at Bong Hanoi Hostel when exploring Hanoi
Our friendly staff at Bong Hanoi Hostel

Discover 15+ Free Things to do in Hanoi


1. Explore the Old Quarter


The Old Quarter is a maze of 36 ancient streets, each named after the trade that was traditionally practiced there. It's a compact, busy area filled with shops, cafes, and street food vendors. 

You might think exploring the streets would be boring, but you're in Hanoi so think again! There is always something happening from random street concerts to children wanting to practice English with you. Its a fun free way to spend an afternoon.


Address: Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi

Opening Hours: Always open


Wander the old town as one of 15+ Free Things to do in Hanoi

2. Tour the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum


The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum houses the embalmed body of Ho Chi Minh, the revered leader of Vietnam. It’s a place of pilgrimage for many Vietnamese. Why not take a free visit and pay your respects to this revolutionary leader?


Address: 9 Pho Chua Mot Cot Hanoi 11114 Hanoi

Opening Hours: Summer (April to October): 7.30 AM – 10.30 AM / 11:00 AM on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays | Winter (October to April): 8.00 AM – 11.00 AM


3. Discover St. Joseph's Cathedral


Built in 1886, St. Joseph's Cathedral is one of the oldest churches in Hanoi and a beautiful example of French colonial architecture. This Neo-Gothic cathedral remains an active place of worship and is one of the best places to explore in Hanoi. Please note travelers can only visit the cathedral during mass times and must wear formal attire.


Address: 40 Nha Chung street, Hang Trong ward, Hoan Kiem district, Hanoi

Opening Hours: Weekdays: 5:30 AM and 6:15 PM | Saturday: 6:00 PM | Sunday: 5:00 AM, 7:00 AM, 9:00 AM, 11:00 AM, 4:00 PM, 6:00 PM and 8:00 PM.


Discover St. Joseph's Cathedral as one of 15+ Free Things to do in Hanoi
Discover St. Joseph's Cathedral

4. Relax in the Hanoi Botanical Gardens (Bach Thao Park)


Situated in the peaceful Bach Thao Park, not far from the Old Quarter, Hanoi Botanical Gardens is a great place to escape the city’s hustle and bustle. There are ponds, pathways, benches, beautiful trees, flowers, and shrubs, and shaded picnic areas.  Pick up some street food goodies, grab a few Bong Hostel tour brochures, and head there for a relaxing afternoon figuring out where you're going to head next!


Address: Entrance on Hoang Hoa Tham Rd. Hanoi 10000

Opening Hours: Daily 6:00 AM – 9:00 PM


5. (Window?) Shop at Dong Xuan Market


Dong Xuan Market is Hanoi’s largest indoor market, offering a wide range of goods, from fresh produce to clothing and souvenirs. It’s a great place to experience the local hustle and bustle and put those haggling skills to the test! While we aren't suggesting you'll get anything for free---you can't be that good at haggling!---you can always window-shop!


Address: 15 Cau Dong Street, Dong Xuan Ward, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi

Opening Hours: Daily 6:00 AM – 6:00 PM


6. Ride Over the Long Bien Bridge


Designed by Gustave Eiffel and opened in 1902, Long Bien Bridge is a symbol of Hanoi’s resilience. Walking across this historic bridge or taking a grab bike for the bants, offers stunning views of the Red River.


Address: Ngoc Thuy Ward, Long Bien District, Hanoi

Opening Hours: Always open


Discover Long Bien Bridge as one of 15+ Free Things to do in Hanoi
Ride over Long Bien Bridge

7. Discover the One Pillar Pagoda


Built in 1049, the One Pillar Pagoda is one of Hanoi’s most iconic landmarks. This unique structure is built on a single stone pillar and designed to resemble a lotus flower.

 

Address: Ong Ich Khiem Street, Ngoc Ha, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi.

Opening Hours: Daily 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Dress code: Wear full-length clothes to respect the native culture.


8. Wander Through Lenin Park


Lenin Park, also known as Thong Nhat Park, is a large and lush green space in the heart of Hanoi. The park features a large lake, walking paths, and plenty of shaded areas. It's a perfect place to relax, take a leisurely stroll, or people-watch—something we particularly enjoy doing from the front of our Bong Ha Giang hostel


Address: Tran Nhan Tong, Le Duan, Hai Ba Trung District, Hanoi

Opening Hours: Always open


9. Visit West Lake


West Lake, Hanoi’s largest lake (and quite possibly our favorite!), is a popular spot for locals, expats, and tourists. It’s surrounded by upscale neighborhoods, temples, and restaurants. This is the perfect place to go if you’re craving some western dishes. But it also has some trendy local spots too!


Address: Tay Ho District, Hanoi

Opening Hours: Always open


Visit West Lake as one of 15+ Free Things to do in Hanoi
Visit West Lake

10. Explore the Quang Ba Flower Market


The Quang Ba Flower Market is a bustling wholesale flower market that operates throughout the night. Visit early in the morning to see a colourful and fragrant array of flowers and experience the busy atmosphere.  


Address: 236 Au Co Street, Quang An Ward, Tay Ho District, Hanoi

Opening Hours: Daily 11:00 PM – 6:00 AM


11. Walk Through the Hanoi Ceramic Mosaic Mural


The Hanoi Ceramic Mosaic Mural, recognized by the Guinness World Records as the world's largest ceramic mosaic and by UNESCO as the world’s longest ceramic road, stretches for nearly 4 kilometers along the Red River dike. 


It was created in 2008, in celebration of Thang Long-Hanoi’s 1000 years anniversary and depicts Vietnam's history, culture, and art. It was a contribution of 20 national and 15 foreign artists, over 100 local artists as well as 500 citizens in the country. 


Address: Yen Phu Street, Tay Ho District, Hanoi

Opening Hours: Always open


12. Watch the Train come through Hanoi Train Street


Hanoi Train Street is a narrow street where trains pass just inches away from the seats outside the shops and houses. It’s an Instagram-worthy spot not to be missed and is free to enter—you just have to purchase a drink! 


Address: 224 Le Duan, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi

Opening Hours: Always open, trains pass several times a day


Watch the train come through hanoi train street as one of 15+ Free Things to do in Hanoi
Watch the Train come through Hanoi Train Street

13. Witness the Hanoi Weekend Night Market


Held within Hanoi Old Quarter, from Hang Dao Street to Dong Xuan Market’s gate, every weekend, the Hanoi Weekend Night Market is considered one of the best things to do in Hanoi for first time tourists. Around the market there are often lots of music performances and random street entertainment, which is free to watch.


Address: Hang Dao Street, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi

Opening Hours: Friday – Sunday: 6:00 PM – 00:00 AM


14.  Appreciate the Architecture in the French Quarter


The French Quarter in Hanoi is known for its wide boulevards, colonial architecture, and upscale shops and restaurants. Walking through this area gives you a glimpse into the city's colonial past, with beautiful buildings like the Hanoi Opera House and various embassies.


Address: Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi

Opening Hours: Always open


15. Stroll Around Hoan Kiem Lake


Hoan Kiem Lake, also known as Sword Lake, is a central landmark in Hanoi. Surrounded by shaded walking paths and benches, it's a popular spot for locals and tourists alike to relax, exercise, and enjoy the view


The Ngoc Son Temple sits on an island in the lake, accessible by a bold red bridge but admission requires a small payment. Read about it in our guide on non-free things to do in Hanoi here: 20+ Best Things to Do in Hanoi to Start your Vietnam Adventure on a High 


Address: Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi

Opening Hours: Always open


Stroll around Hoan Kiem Lake as one of 15+ Free Things to do in Hanoi
Stroll around Hoan Kiem Lake

16. Visit the Bach Ma Temple


One of the oldest temples in Hanoi, Bach Ma Temple is dedicated to a white horse that, according to legend, guided Emperor Ly Thai To to the site of his new capital.


Address: 76 Hang Buom Str., Hoan Kiem Dis., Hanoi

Opening Hours: Daily 08:00 AM – 11:00 AM | 02:00 PM – 08:00 PM

Dress code: Polite, plain and decent; cut-out details are barely acceptable.


17. Experience the Lotte Observation Deck


The Lotte Observation Deck offers stunning panoramic views of Hanoi from the 65th floor of the Lotte Center. While entry to the deck itself may not be free, the building features public areas and shops you can explore without any cost, including a section with great views.


Address: 54 Lieu Giai, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi

Opening Hours: Daily 9:00 AM – 12:00 AM

Estimated Price: Free (entry to public areas)


18. Observe the Crazy Traffic on Hanoi's Streets


If you’ve ever watched a trending reel on Instagram about Vietnam, and Hanoi in particular, then you’ll notice the crazy traffic either as the focus of the video, or in the background! Visitors can find a cool spot to safely observe the swarming scooters, cars, and pedestrians navigating the streets and it really is considered a great free thing to do in the city. 


The organized chaos of the traffic scenes, especially during rush hour or at sunset, give you the unique opportunity to capture the essence of Hanoi's dynamic street life.


Address: Various busy intersections, such as those near Hoan Kiem Lake or in the Old Quarter

Opening Hours: Literally everywhere you turn


One of 15+ Free Things to do in Hanoi
Observe the Crazy Traffic on Hanoi's Streets

Join a Bong Hostel Hanoi City Tour


So now that you have saved plenty of pennies (or dong) by following our top-class guide of 15+ free things to do in Hanoi, you can splash out on a little Bong Hostel city tour!


We have a variety of city tours on offer including street food tours, bicycle tours, and village tours, to make sure you see the best of Hanoi.


15+ Free Things to do in Hanoi
Join a Bong Hostel City Tour

City Tour Details



Duration: 3 hours, includes English guide, 5-8 dishes & drinks.

Start Times: 10:30 AM / 10:45 AM, 5:10 PM / 5:25 PM

Price: 750,000 VND/pax  (1–2 people), 600,000 VND/pax (3–5 people)

Tour Type: Walking group tour



Duration: 3 hours, includes English guide, 5-8 dishes & drinks.

Start Times: 10:30 AM / 10:45 AM, 5:10 PM / 5:25 PM

Price: 1,300,000 VND/pax (1–2 people), 1,200,000 VND/pax (3-5 people)

Tour Type: Motorbike private tour



Duration: 4 hours, includes English guide, bike, driver, 1 meal.

Price: 1,350,000 VND/pax (1–2 people), 1,250,000 VND/pax (3–5 people)

Tour Type: Motorbike private tour



Duration: 4 hours, includes English guide, bicycle, 1 meal, entrance fee.

Price: 1,450,000 VND/pax (1–2 people), 1,250,000 VND/pax (2–5 people)

Tour Type: Private tour



Duration: 4 hours, includes English guide, bicycle, 1 meal, entrance fee.

Price: 1,350,000 VND/pax (1–2 people), 1,250,000 VND/pax (2–5 people)

Tour Type: Private tour


All tours include pick up from Bong Hanoi Hostel. 



15+ Free Things to do in Hanoi
Take a Food Tour with Bong Hanoi Hostel

Our Thoughts on 15+ Free Things to do in Hanoi


Vietnam’s capital city never ceases to amaze with its history, culture, coffees, and art and thankfully for the budget backpackers amongst us, many of those great things to do, are free! 


So when you come to explore them for yourself, don’t forget to stay at Bong Hostel to make the most of your trip, and join one of our city tours for an unforgettable experience!


For more information and bookings, visit Bong Hostel's website.


15+ Free Things to do in Hanoi



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