Hanoi could be considered a sleeping giant of cultural prowess. With its traditional practices still intact and a slower pace to life allowing for blissful expeditions, the sheer volume of things to do is a very welcome surprise for those expecting a calm visit. The history of Vietnam is one of nuance and is a complex affair, however, by simply walking the streets of Hanoi, the stories of times gone by are palpable.
Vietnam Fine Art Museum
For an extensive crash course on Vietnamese art history, paying a visit to the Vietnam Fine Art Museum is simply essential. Formerly a girl’s school that dates back to the 1930s, this serene setting subtly compliments the impressive nature of the 2,000-plus artworks that are on display. The only thing more impressive than the art itself, is some of the stories behind the artworks. For example, learn about the ‘Gang of Five’, who became renowned internationally for their post-Doi Moi (Communist regime) artworks that broke away from Vietnamese artistic traditions.
Address: 66 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Hanoi
Hanoi Ceramic Mosaic Mural
In such a culturally rich city, it’s to be expected that the streets of Hanoi are filled with exuberant expressions and whimsical displays. Hanoi’s Cermaic Mosaic Mural was completed in 2010 to coincide with the city’s millennial celebrations and stretches for four kilometres. Depicting different periods of Vietnamese history, the vibrant mural softly tells the story of the country’s past while you enjoy the present moment walking the streets of this breathtaking city.
Address: 11 Hàng Vôi, Lý Thái Tổ, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam
Phung Hung Mural Art
Considerably smaller in length than the city’s ceramic mural, but no less impressive, the Phung Hung mural street displays interpretations of Hanoi’s storied past. Walking through this ebullient street you will find images such as Hang Ma street during the Mid-Autumn festival; the Trang Tien Department Store; a street corner in the Old Quarter with street vendors; and a schoolgirl on her way to school. What makes this such an appealing cultural center is the variety of art on offer. There are of course Realist paintings pertinent to Hanoi culture, but also on show are photos, 3D paintings, carvings, and interactive games.
Address: 27 Phùng Hưng, Hàng Mã, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam
Bát Tràng Ceramics Village
If you’re looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of central Hanoi, take a trip to the outskirts where you will find the Bát Tràng Ceramics Village. With a 700-year history in making ceramics, Bát Tràng ceramics are considered to be some of the best-known porcelain products in Vietnam. As well as observing and admiring the ceramics on offer, this immersive experience allows visitors to get directly involved in the making of pottery products.
Address: Bát Tràng, Gia Lâm, Hanoi, Vietnam
Price: Around €20
Nguyen Art Gallery
Nguyen Art Gallery, which translates to Original Art Gallery, is one of Hanoi’s most revered art galleries. Situated in the city center, this gallery boasts a massive collection of high-quality art that spans across many movements and styles. If you take a trip to Nguyen, expect to see landscapes, portraits, still lifes, abstracts, and nude paintings. With its location, you are also surrounded by other pillars of Hanoi culture, such as the city’s Temple of Literature.
Address: 31 Văn Miếu, Đống Đa, Hà Nội, Vietnam