We all know Hanoi is the historical capital city of Vietnam, home to many international conferences and French-influenced political buildings. But for Hanoi-enthusiasts, just like we are, Hanoi is more than that. One of Hanoi’s strengths are these hidden gems, tucked away in undiscovered corners around the city. These attractions are often overlooked by most travel guides. In this sense, Hanoi is an endless source of hidden little gems, waiting to be found.
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Hanoi Train Tracks
Do you know that there is a residential street in Hanoi which has a speeding train passes through several times a day? Located between Le Duan and Kham Thien street in the Old Quarter, the train tracks are tightly situated right in the middle, where residential houses and local businesses are merely inches away from the train itself, creating a thrilling vibe.
The path along the train tracks starts from the city’s main train station, then traces along the side of the Old Town and bend northwest towards Long Bien bridge. The tracks span for around 2 kilometres. For the first half of the journey, you can walk along, taking pictures, observing the local life or simply sit down and enjoy a cup of Vietnamese coffee next to the railway. The railroads stop once you get to the foot of Long Bien bridge. But a more adventurous mind can climb up the train track to enjoy a unique view from Long Bien bridge.
The train mostly passes by twice a day, but the exact time differs once in a while. We advise you to check the time through local cafes nearby.
CAUTION: Since this is a real train that goes on full speed, it will not stop even if you’re on the way. So be a conscious traveller and don’t risk your life over a silly selfie. Be extra careful and pay close attention to the locals who urge you to stay out of the railway. It’s best that you arrive at the track at least 30 minutes earlier to enjoy the authentic local life and get yourself prepared before the train comes.
Address: 47 Alley 224 Le Duan, Kham Thien, Dong Da, Hanoi
Lotte Tower Observation Deck
About 20 minutes taxi ride from the Old Quarter, you will find Lotte Center. This ao-dai inspired skyscraper is a commercial complex, housing a hotel, various office centres, rooftop bar, and a huge shopping mall on the first few floors. The city’s best views can be observed from the top floor of this landmark – the 65th floor – where there is an observation deck.
Not just simply an observatory with telescopes to view, Lotte Tower Observation Deck is a wonderful attraction full of hidden gems. Once you get to the foot of the tower, where the ticket counters are located, visitors would be greeted with a full-on LED light show with colourful graphics. There is a picturesque experience of Hanoi from the past to the future in the Cinema Zone. After that, you’ll be led to the elevator filled with fantastic lights going upwards as if you’re ascending above the clouds.
This amazing island on the sky also keeps your belly satisfied with a Lotteria restaurant, Angel-in-us cafe and a rooftop bar. Or, if you’re not afraid of heights, reach out to the Sky Walk and experience the vibrant Hanoi from this vantage point! We recommend doing to the observation deck during sunset to see the night taking over and the city starting to light up.
Address: 54 Lieu Giai, Ba Dinh, Hanoi
Fees: 230.000VND (day), 130.000VND (night)
Tran Quoc Pagoda
Among the hidden gems of Hanoi, Tran Quoc Pagoda is regarded as the most ancient one with a history of over 1500 years. Locating on the eastern peninsula of the West Lake, this Buddhist centre is a subtle yet extravagant combination between solemn and beautiful landscape on the peaceful, and quiet ambience of the West Lake.
Tran Quoc Pagoda can be noticed from afar with a highly erected stupa built in the 1990s. Furthermore, this hidden attraction is also a museum, highlighting ancient antiques articulated by the most skilled craftsmen from centuries ago. Among them, the outstanding one is the statue “Thích ca thập niết bàn”, which is evaluated as the most beautiful statue of Vietnam. This makes Tran Quoc Pagoda an indispensable destination for cultural enthusiasts to Vietnam.
Note: As Tran Quoc Pagoda is a religious attraction, make sure to wear proper clothes when visiting this sanctuary.
Address: Thanh Nien, Ba Dinh, Hanoi
Vincom Centre for Contemporary Arts
Vincom Centre for Contemporary Art (VCCA) is another one of the hidden gems in Hanoi. First launched in 2017, VCCA has become the largest and most impressive art and cultural centre in Vietnam. This underground zone beneath Vincom Royal City Mall is a non-profit centre. It also houses many different art pieces, figures, paintings and sculptures made by Vietnamese and international contemporary artists.
The centre holds exhibitions whose themes change frequently, ranging from post-modern to classical ones. They also organize workshops, talkshow, musical events and the likes for art-lovers to indulge. If you have a knack for creativity and are longing for inspirations, this place is a must-visit destination.
Address: R3 – floor B1 – Vincom Megamall Royal City, 72A Nguyen Trai, Hanoi (Closed every Monday)
West Lake Flower Valley
With an area spanning thousands of square meters, West Lake Flower Valley is truly a site worth visiting. Locals have converted it from a lotus pond into an enormous flower garden filled with blossoms blooming almost all year round. As Vietnamese generally loves taking pictures and selfies, this place is highly famous amongst the locals – old and young alike!
From fall to the end of spring (September to March) is when the flowers in this valley bloom the brightest. Yellow sunflower, purple cleome and bright red roses with a touch of fluttering butterflies turn the garden into an alluring piece of art. This makes the flower valley one of Hanoi’s most beautiful hidden gems.
Address: Nhat Chieu, Nhat Tan, Tay Ho, Ha Noi
Tranquil Books & Cafes
If traveling around Hanoi has been stressing you down, then spending time relaxing with a cup of coffee and a book in hand is the perfect getaway. Book cafes have been popular for quite a while in Hanoi, but Tranquil Books & Cafes stands out above all as one of the hidden gems. As its name suggests, the cafe offers true tranquillity and quiet moments for you to slow down and enjoy yourself.
The owner, being a bookworm himself, frequently organize book release events, talk shows and workshops, poetry and music nights. There are seasonal events, such as “Open Mic – Open Hearts”, where you can come up on stage and sing. There are also “Love songs” nights where acoustic singers perform your favourite love songs from the 70s – 80s. If you’re longing for a serene place to indulge yourself with a book, Tranquil Books & Cafes will surely satisfy all your needs.
- 5 Nguyen Quang Bich, Cua Dong, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
- 18B Nguyen Bieu, Quan Thanh, Ba Dinh, Hanoi