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Walking tours in Hanoi: experience a peaceful, time-honored city
Jenna Duong 21:42, 2024/07/02
With beautiful scenery and attractive eateries, Hanoi City is one of Vietnam's tourist hubs and is on many travelers' bucket lists.

To explore the charm of Hanoi, visitors can choose from various modes of transport, including cyclo, electric cars, double-decker buses, self-drive hire cars, and especially walking.

Foot tours or walking tours in the capital offer a relaxing experience, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in a peaceful, medieval Hanoi.

 Visitors to Hanoi may be captivated by simple moments, such as a chilly morning on Phan Dinh Phung Street, as they gaze at the golden rays of sunlight slanting through the leafy canopy of roadside perennial trees. Photo: Chuyen Cua Ha Noi Group

Strolling around for snacks

For many domestic and foreign tourists, Hoan Kiem Lake or Sword Lake is a must-visit place in the city, the most iconic, which boasts unique cultural sites, cuisine and architectural wonders. Since 2016, the area around Hoan Kiem Lake and its surroundings has become a pedestrian zone on weekends, gathering large crowds of travelers.

The walking tour to explore the downtown area on foot is really colorful. During the day, walkers can admire and take pictures of magnificent attractions such as Hanoimoi Newspaper Office, Hanoi Post Office, The Huc Bridge, Ngoc Son Temple or Ba Kieu Temple. This is also an opportunity to sample Hanoi's delicious street food - typically nom bo kho or green papaya salad with dried beef, chim quay or roasted bird, and goi cuon or fresh spring rolls.

 Kem Bo Ho or Hoan Kiem Lake ice cream is not only a Hanoi specialty but also a "symbol" of the capital.

Visitors can also sample Trang Tien ice cream, admire heritage trees around the lake, and visit the Dinh Le - Nguyen Xi book quarter. Every evening from Friday to Sunday, the area features a variety of fascinating outdoor activities, notably street performances: folk music, dancing, water puppetry, land puppetry, and so on.

Every time Ho Chi Minh City resident Crystal Anh travels to Hanoi, she takes a stroll around Sword Lake to breathe in the fresh air, take in the antique beauty and enjoy the street food. "If you come to Hanoi without snapping photos of the Hanoimoi newspaper office, eating Trang Tien ice cream or nom bo kho, you will feel unsatisfied when you leave," she told The Hanoi Times.

A splendid symbol of French architecture of Hanoi: the Hanoi Opera House

Apart from the Hoan Kiem Lake area, Hanoi’s Old Quarter is also a place that a lot of pedestrians choose to explore. If you are a food lover, you shouldn’t miss the food street of Dong Xuan Alley. This small alleyway on the side of Dong Xuan Market sells a diversity of Hanoian delicacies: shrimp cakes, salads, sweet dessert soups, bun cha or rice vermicelli with grilled pork and herbs, bun nem or rice vermicelli with fried spring rolls and herbs, tao pho or sweet tofu pudding, among many others.

Explore interesting architecture

When exploring Hanoi on foot, visitors often plan their own itineraries. However, Hanoi also has relevant tours and routes that bring fresh experiences to pedestrians, such as the ‘French Architecture in the Heart of Hanoi’ walking tour. In around 90 minutes, tourists are guided around the following attractions: Vietnam National Museum of History, Hanoi Opera House, Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi Hotel, Tonkin Palace, Dien Hong Park (colloquially known as Toad Flower Garden). Through vivid explanations and rich, fascinating information, they will get an overall view of the architectural works and styles, as well as the intersection of Vietnamese culture with Western culture in the early twentieth century.

 Tran Nhat Duat aquarium walking bridge is a unique creation that combines both contemporary and traditional Vietnamese elements. Photo: Duy Khanh/ The Hanoi Times

Recently, Hanoi also created a walking path connecting the Old Quarter with the Tran Nhat Duat Footbridge and the creative space of Phuc Tan Ward.

"With a moderate space and a length of nearly 100 meters, we want to introduce the history and role of the Red River in the capital of Hanoi. Especially the bustling activities of people in the Old Quarter in the 13th to 19th centuries, which were related to handicrafts. Second, to spread the message of environmental protection. Thanks to the talent of the artists, the decorative works on the bridge are made of recycled plastic products," said Pham Tuan Long, Chairman of the Hoan Kiem District People's Committee.

 Visitors to legendary Hoan Kiem Lake. Photo: Thanh Huyen Le

Hanoi walking tours are an interesting tourism product, but to become a typical, highly professional one, many factors are needed. Phung Quang Thang, Standing Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Travel Association and Director of Vietnam S.T.I.D Co.Ltd, argued that quality walking tours must include typical destinations that are close to each other and convenient for walking tourists. For example, visitors to the Temple of Literature can go on foot to the Vietnam Fine Arts Museum, and people walking in the Old Quarter or around Hoan Kiem Lake usually want to stop at a reputable restaurant or food stall.

Hanoi is a popular destination for travelers from many countries. At present, the city is focusing on developing various tourism products, with an emphasis on cultural tourism and green or sustainable tourism. The local walking tours will not only help enrich the product mix and enhance the tourist experience, but also promote a healthier, more affordable way of traveling, suitable for visiting the poetic city with lively sidewalks and alleyways.

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