Off the beaten path places in Hanoi – 6 alternative attractions
About big and famous cities like Hanoi you will find countless blog posts. In each one of them, the same attractions are mentioned: the museums, temples, night markets, etc. Because these places are so famous they are overcrowded by international and local tourists. Among the main touristic attractions, there are a few that are really worth seeing (I wrote about them here) but some of them can definitely be skipped and replaced by some off the beaten path places in Hanoi. Here are 6 alternative things to do in Vietnam’s capital:
What will you find in this article?
#1 ISLAND ON THE TRUC BACH LAKE
Island on the Truc Bach Lake – the perfect place to escape the crowds of tourists and the chaos of Hanoi’s streets. You can freely move there through the streets without fearing for your life or health. Take a walk through the narrow streets of the island or follow the path next to the lake on the edge of the island. On the way, you will find a lot of interesting restaurants with authentic Vietnamese food. It seems that this place is famous among young Vietnamese people because a lot of them meet with their friends there.
On the island there are a few restaurants serving a traditional North-Vietnamese dish called Pho Cuon, meaning pho rolls. It’s beef with salad, onion and coriander rolled in hot rice paper and served with sour and spicy sauce. We tried this one in Phở Cuốn Hưng Bền and I have to admit I miss this taste a lot… You can order Pho Cuon also without meat. I don’t remember the exact price but in comparison to other restaurants in Hanoi, it was super cheap.
#2 STREET WITH MURALS
Street with murals – called Phố Bích Họa Phùng Hưng in Vietnamese. It’s a long street next to a train line, which is located on a platform. On the walls of it, there are murals showing the everyday life of Vietnamese people. The paintings are really beautiful so it’s definitely worth seeing them. There are almost no tourists there so it can surely be called an off the beaten path place in Hanoi and it’s also a perfect destination for an evening walk because the murals are illuminated at night. For example, if you go to the main night market in Hanoi and you will walk all the way to its end, you will be only a few blocks away from the murals.
#3 SADHU VEGETARIAN RESTAURANT
Sadhu Vegetarian Restaurant – I will never forget my visit to this restaurant. This is definitely the best vegetarian restaurant I’ve been to in my whole life. I would describe it as an experience rather than a normal dinner – that’s why for me it’s an off the beaten path attraction of Hanoi.
Why is this place so remarkable? Mainly because of the exceptionally tasty and beautifully served food. They are specializing in Asian fusion kitchen. All dishes are vegetarian and a lot of them are also vegan. The food there is quite sophisticated, with a lot of different kinds of mushrooms and Vietnamese dishes prepared in a modern way. Moreover, the plates are amazingly decorated with fresh flowers, which you can also eat!
However, the best thing about this place is that there is a menu with more than 20 pages of photos showing different dishes, which you can order without limit. Sadhu is an all you can eat a la carte restaurant – with every order you can choose several small dishes from the menu. There are so many of them that even when sharing them with another person you will most probably not manage to try them all – we didn’t. Most of the dishes were super tasty, although it has to be said that one has to be open to new tastes to enjoy it.
It’s also worth mentioning that the restaurant is rather an elegant one. From the outside as well as from the inside the building made a very good impression on me. The interior is a mixture of colonial elegance and natural austerity. The staff is dressed very elegantly and they are super nice, although they seem sometimes a little bit unprofessional, because some of them are not speaking English well. In the evening there are a lot of people there so make sure you booked a table or go there during lunchtime. The price is around 250.000 Dong per person for the all you can eat menu but drinks and pho soups are not included.
#4 STREET WITH FRENCH FRIES
Street with French fries – next to our guesthouse in Hanoi there was a narrow street on which in almost every building there was a small restaurant. In front of them, directly on the street French fires and sometimes meat was fried in deep oil. Apparently, this is one of the local specialities of northern Vietnam. You can visit this place for a small snack and a well-deserved rest while discovering the Old Quarter.
#5 TRANG TIEN PLAZA
Trang Tien Plaza – it’s an exclusive shopping centre next to Hoan Kiem Lake. If after spending a few hours in the city you can’t stand the heat, noise and chaos hide behind the walls of this quiet and cool building. Inside there are a lot of very expensive shops and the interior is impressing with luxury and splendour. It can definitely be compared to Harrods. Inside there is AC and there are toilets, so you can rest a bit and watch the life of rich Vietnamese people.
#6 BOTANIC GARDEN
Botanical garden – if after your visit to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum you will have enough courageous and super optimistic communistic slogans about the fighting spirit you can clear your head in a nice park next door. This place is a real oasis of peace in Hanoi. You can relax on a bench, read a book, go for a walk, watch Vietnamese children playing. There are some monkeys in cages, fishes in a pond and different kinds of birds flying around. In the whole garden, we were the only tourists, so it has to be an off the beaten path place in Hanoi 😉 There is a small entry fee.
GOOGLE MAPS HANOI
On the map below you will find all the interesting places in Hanoi. It will help you to plan your stay and sightseeing in the city. You will find inside it both the tourist attractions as well as the off the beaten path places in Hanoi and some restaurants that I visited and can recommend. By clicking on the star you can save it in your Google Maps Account under Your Places and use it later while travelling. Enjoy!