Hanoi, The Bustling capital of Vietnam with French colonial buildings, retaining its charm and beauty. Amidst the flurry of motorbikes and throngs of tourists in the old quarters, there are surprisingly many nooks and crannies within Hanoi’s backstreets that will delight you.
If you have done the top Hanoi attractions and are looking for a different Hanoi travel experience or a more authentic way to travel Vietnam, read this blog and try one (or more) of our favorite Hanoi Activities!
1. Breakfast Tour: Good Morning Vietnam!
Goooood Morning Vietnam!!
Before Hanoians start their scooters, and before the mini-stools crowd the sidewalks.. join the fresh morning tour of Hanoi through the little alleyways sampling what Hanoians do best, cook super delicious food. Apart from the normal street food tour, there are special tastes that are perfect if you have them in the early morning. From Pho and Banh-mi’s to egg coffee, take a sip of the fresh atmosphere and stroll around Hanoi’s vibrant Old Quarter to enjoy the best combination of breakfast wonders.
During this breakfast tour, you will also have a chance to observe or join the Tai Chi or Dancing Groups with locals around the lake to see how people welcome dawn in Hanoi.
If you do not feel like getting up early you can also decide to the general streetfood tour which is another one of our favorite Hanoi Activities.
2. Knife Making in Traditional Blacksmith Village
Two blacksmith ancestors of the profession were Nguyen Thuat and Nguyen Thuan who came to this village several hundred years ago, and taught forging techniques to locals. During wars in Vietnam, the village was the main source manufacturing weapons for Vietnamese military. However, when peace returned to Vietnam 40 years ago, the Da Sy people returned to making to agricultural implements such as ploughs, rakes and machinery parts or kitchen implements.
In this knife making workshop, you will go through all processes of making a simple knife. Even though today, blacksmiths are supported by machines, when visiting the village and host’s house, you will learn basic techniques of handmade forging which is traditional and helps bringing better quality products. The host, Mr Hoang Sinh, once considered giving up his craft like others in the village due to the tough economics, but luckily have persevered and after hosting many tourists, he is now a mini-celebrity where the National TV even came to interview him! Don’t miss this chance to learn this dying art and heritage with the master himself!
3. Wooden Stamp Crafting Workshop
You might have noticed the little hole-in-the-wall shops cluttered around the Old Quarters, tended to by a single craftsmen, hunched and dedicatedly carving sophisticated designs on little wooden blocks.
While you can get a custom made stamp at any of these shops around town, what’s more personalized than carving one yourself?! Be it for your personal use or for a friend back home, you can recreate any of the wide array of designs available or bring one yourself. From hello kitty to a portrait of your loved one, the possibilities of creating your own stamp are limitless in this Wooden Stamp Crafting Workshop.
4. Calligraphy Class – A Historical Art Form
A skilled artist and a calligraphy master will take you back in time and present an art that is still revered and respected. Despite the many changes over time, the essence of the art still remains true to the core. The elegance of brush strokes as they define each character is as appealing as art itself.
Join this Vietnamese calligraphy workshop with master Ha Linh Pham to bring home your own customized masterpiece!
5. Conical Hat Workshop (Non La)
The Vietnamese hat, or locally, Non La, is a quintessential Vietnamese icon. Recognizable at one glance, the conical shape of the hat has been in use for centuries, from farmers to laborers to ordinary men and women who use it for the utilitarian purpose it serves – protection from either rain or shine.
If you are already in Vietnam you will have seen these typical Vietnamese hats around everywhere. There are a lot of places to buy them and many people take them back as souvenirs. But why not enjoy the activity of making your own in this Conical Hat Workshop?
6. Fear Factor Challenge Hanoi: Of Blood, Bugs & Baby Eggs
Looking for a bit more of a challenge in your Hanoi activities? Check out the Fear Factor Challenge Hanoi.
After creating this activity in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. The Hanoian challenge introduces a whole new set of fear inducing food that has completely toppled over the food chain, defying the ‘natural order’ of things in a way that is both absurd and exciting.
The tour will take you right through Hanoi to all the local hideaways that serve up some of the most bizarre food. Expect to sample the famous duck fetus, wrestle with ‘muscular’ crickets and devour live worms. The tour will be entirely customized to your preferences and threshold for the bizarre. But nevertheless, it is advisable to bring a lot of culinary prowess 😉
7. Boxing Practice With a Local Master
If the fear factor challenge is a bit too much for you but you are looking for some adventure in your Hanoi Activities. We suggest you to try the Boxing practice with a local master.
Boxing traces its origins several millennia back, but only really developed and perfected since the 16th century by the British fighters, becoming a favorite activity for the likes of the upper and middle classes in England in the renaissance movement.
The 1-hour class is tailored to the individual’s condition and goals combining with a range of martial arts-based boxing exercises. No training on machines, the trainer will always stimulate the spirit of the practitioner! He will encourage you not to give up midway (I might have contemplated that haha). It is a great off the beaten track, Hanoi activity that will make you smile when you look back on it!
In case you have some more time to spend in Hanoi and are interested in trying experiences like Fruitcarving, Kung Fu,or Lacquer Workshops make sure to read about our other Hanoi activities on our Things to do in Hanoi page!