Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Alternative Hanoi Bucket List // 20 Things to do After all Those Temples and Museums

People seem to think that Hanoi is one of the more boring cities of Vietnam.

The main tourist attractions in Hanoi are the Water Puppet Theatre, Hoan Kiem Lake, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Temple of Literature, Ngoc Son Temple, Tran Quoc Pagoda, The Women's Museum, the Museum of Ethnology, the Fine Arts Museum. None of these things really take that long, and lets face it, temples and museums (as beautiful as they are) can get boring really quickly. 

Tourists come for a week and 'run out of things to do'. Friends of mine said "We planned to stay for a week but we've kinda done everything so I think we might head down to Hoi An early".

Expats say that they have nothing to do in their free time.

Well, whether you're on your own, in a group, rich, or poor, I hope that I have some alternative ideas for you to try out next time you're stuck with nothing to do!


At Hanoi Club Driving Range you can hit 100 balls into Westlake for VND100,000.

Similarly, at Thanh Loi Driving Range, you can pay VND100,000 for unlimited balls for an hour.

Alternatively, if you actually wanted to play golf, there is a course out at Long Bien right near Aeon Mall. It's about a 25 minute drive from Truc Bach Lake. The 27 hole course is open every day, and each game comes with a free set lunch and drink.

Head to the tippy top of Hanoi

Photo by Kiersten Sanvidge. Instagram account in the photo. Website: http://www.actuallyitskiersten.com/
The tallest tower in Hanoi, and all of Vietnam, the Landmark 72 Tower (also known as the Keagnam Tower) has a lounge up the top with amazing views of Hanoi from 72 floors up.

The second tallest tower in Hanoi is the Lotte Tower on the corner of Lieu Giai and Dao Tan street. The lounge offers a 360 degree view of Hanoi and is open in both day and night time. The lounge its self is free to enter, and if you are wanting to explore the observation deck, it will cost only VND130,000 (night time).

Playing Pool

Who doesn't love a good pool sesh? Even if you're not great at it, it's still fun to gather a bunch of friends and relax by a pool table. There's a bunch of places to play pool all around Hanoi, near any game places, in some parks, in bars, just ask around for one near you.
The places are usually air conditioned, so it's perfect for a summers day or evening activity. The area usually runs from VND50,000-VND120,000 per hour.

Swimming Pool

Photo by Kiersten Sanvidge. Instagram account in the photo. Website: http://www.actuallyitskiersten.com/
While we're talking about pool, why not spend a hot day by the poolside with a view of the lake. Thanh Loi pool offers day passes for VND80,000, along with a quiet peaceful atmosphere and a great view of the lake at sunset!

Xom Tau Cafe

One of the coolest cafe's I've found so far is the Xom Tau cafe that's located on the train tracks that connects Vietnam's major cities. These train tracks are home to many, and hide some well kept secrets, one of them being this very cafe where you sit and drink just a meter or two from the train as it roars by. Oh did I mention, the drinks are cheap as all get out! Find it along the tracks at Kham Thien street. Park your bike at the end (or get the taxi to drop you there), walk along the tracks, and you won't miss it!

Take a Walk Before 6am

It's a simply magical time of the day, with so much energy and peaceful commotion. If you can, pop by a well known market or lake, and enjoy watching people set up, exercise, and start their daily routine at this magical time.

Go to a Park at Peak Hour

Similarly to walking around early in the morning, it's equally, but in a different way, magical to take a stroll in a park in the early evening between 4:30pm and 8pm. It's simply magical to be immersed in this culture and honestly inspiring to be around so many people of all ages, stories, statuses, and more. The energy here is insane.

Here's a photo that I took at my local park. I just had to include it!

Learn Vietnamese

Physiological studies show that learning another language can have significant positive affects on your brains cognitive functions. Not to mention the mental benefits of learning something new, and using your brain in different ways.

Whether you are planning to be here for six months, one year, or ten, I think it's so important to make an effort to learn at least a conversational level of the language. There's so many ways to go about it these days. You can spend money on lessons, do language exchange meet ups with Vietnamese locals, or even learn from YouTube.

Tieng Viet Oi offers both in class, and online videos to help you to learn Vietnamese. In my opinion, they are the best in Hanoi for learning the northern accent. 

There's no excuse these days to learn a bit of Vietnamese. It may be difficult, but so is any language. Vietnamese people make such an effort to speak English, lets give our brains some exercise and return the favor.

Ice Skating

For VND150,000 an hour you can grab yourself a pair of skates, and ice skate long Royal Cities 3000m@ ice rink. Located on Nguyen Trai street, its giant white structure is impossible to miss. But just incase you do, here it is on the map.

Rock Climbing

VietClimb has amazing rock climbing walls right in Tay Ho! Starting from 70k, you can go and have a fun and challenging time on these walls. For more info, check out the website or facebook page


Galaxy Hunter Paintball Club is a great option for anyone who doesn't have many concerns for safety, but prioritizes fun. Located at 310 Nguyen Van Cu street in Long Bien, guests can hire bullets and gloves in packages for various prices. Check out the website for more details.


Sunny day and you're not sure what to do? Why not take a short trip out of the cities centre by motorbike. Many of the lakes just outside of the city offer fishing rod and bate hire. Grab some snacks and drinks, and have a relaxing time in the fresh air by one of the many lakes that this city and its outer suburbs has to offer.

Explore the Lanes

I know, I know. How is this something to do?! I always think that 'exploring the lanes' is a boring thing to do, but every time that I get lost and end up down random lanes, I am surprised and amazed by the energy of the places. Last time this happened, I found what is now one of my favorite bars down in Dong Da, and it's walking distance from my house! There's definitely great things to find in the little lanes.

Borrow a Camera for a Day

Something different to do, challenge yourself to become a photographer for a day. This website lets you borrow camera for amounts of time for all different prices. Although if you don't know any Vietnamese, you may need to get someone to help you to navigate the site! Go and have fun, see what things you can see when you have a nice camera in your hand. 

Try a Food You've Never Tried Before

Mam Tom, Egg Coffee, Trung Vit Lon, etc. Try something new. Make an experience about it. If you write or run a blog like me, it could make for good writing material!

Check out an Art Gallery

There's a lot of art galleries in Hanoi, all of which are easily googleable, but one that I will talk about is L'Espace (only because I have actually been here). At the moment, they are running an exhibition called Gesture of Memories by Florian Nguyen, a French-Vietnamese artist. The free-to-view exhibition will be running until June 4th, so hurry! I wrote about it for Word magazine, check that out here.

Art Sessions

Hanoi is a very artsy city. If you're into it, there's a few art lessons/sessions around.

Hanoi Life Drawing Society does life drawing sessions for just VND200,000. They meet each Thursday at The Painters Studio and each Tuesday at The Art Room downstairs from Hanoi Rocks City.

Or, check out Tipsy Art on Facebook. For step-by-step instructions on paintings, you can come learn and create. Nothing is needed, all supplies are provided, just 2-3 hours of your time, and good energy!
Art lessons are 400k each, and are located in the Old Quarter. Check out the page for more details!

Another artsy-group that's going on is the Live Poets Society. They meet every week on Thursdays at around 12pm at Clickspace. Using prompts and bouncing off each others ideas, the group creates poetry together that is both therapeutic to the soul and sometimes post worthy!

Grab a drink or have a picnic by the lake

Wherever you are in Hanoi, there's a lake or a park near you. Grab some friends, some drinks and snacks, some music, and you're set for the day! If you just have a little time to spare, there's plenty of places around West Lake and others for you to stop and get a Tra Da while you take in the scenery.

The Water Park

The days are getting longer and hotter! When you find that you have a spare day, head on over to the water park. It's VND120,000 for the day, and includes water slides, a ferris wheel, a lazy river, tightropes, a wave pool, a roller coaster or two, and more!

Improv Comedy Classes

The Rotten Grapes is now doing improv comedy classes on Mondays and Saturdays from June 2017. You can learn more about it here and watch some videos on their Facebook page. 


There you have it! 20 things that you can do in Hanoi that aren't all typical things to do! Let me know, have I left any good ones out?! Comment below if I have and I will happily add them to the list!

Check out my last post → Getting Waxed in Hanoi

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