Vietnamese culture Hanoi

Visitors who know Vietnam only as a theatre of war are in for a treat when they explore the richness of Vietnamese culture. From the colourful festivals, both national and local, to the subtle flavours of Vietnamese cuisine, the distinctive sounds of traditional music and the flamboyant dress of the ethnic minorities, there is much to discover in this intriguing country.

A good place to begin is in Hanoi’s museums, where you can learn about the country’s complex history and the cultural influences from lands near and not so near that have shaped its culture. Art lovers should not miss the chance to take in works by both traditional and modern painters at the Museum of Fine Art and at the city’s commercial art galleries.

Art, music and dance

Catch a performance of traditional Vietnamese dance accompanied by music played on traditional instruments which are rarely experienced by Westerners outside of Hanoi...more

Etiquette

Learn how to behave in the presence of Vietnamese and how to avoid causing offence during social situations with our guide to the dos and don’ts of polite Hanoi society...more

Festivals

Join in the merriment of a Vietnamese festival, from the annual Tet celebration to a local temple fair. The Vietnamese love to let their hair down so check out what’s going on...more

Museums and galleries

Get a crash course in Vietnamese history and culture at the city’s many museums and galleries which contain eye-opening collections detailing the city's turbulent past...more

Hanoi culture guide - ancient capital of Vietnam

There are also opportunities to listen to traditional music and watch traditional dance present themselves at some of the city’s more upmarket restaurants (particularly in top hotels) and occasionally at the Opera House.

Vietnamese festivals, whether they be local or national, are always joyful and colourful occasions, when the people dress in their best and are always ready to sing and dance. For this reason it’s worth checking out what festivals will take place during your stay and make a point of attending. Don’t forget your camera as your friends back home will probably not believe your stories of the wild times you have witnessed.

Apart from your images, you’ll probably want to take home some memento of your stay, and in Hanoi’s shops you will find plenty of options, from conical hats and water puppets to silk scarves and purses embroidered with motifs of the ethnic minorities. So leave a little room in your bag in which to stash your slice of Vietnamese culture.

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