Travelling Homebody - Instagram photography Hanoi

My insider guide to the 20 best photography spots to Instagram Hanoi

I have been in Hanoi for nearly three years and it is a vibrant, bustling city brimming with unique photography opportunities for the passionate Instagrammer. There is a delightful mix of old and new Hanoi that makes it such a fascinating place to explore travel photography: architecture, street life, history. Even if you sit in a café or rooftop bar and people watch, you are guaranteed amazing pics — and with free WiFi everywhere in Hanoi, you can upload to your Instagram account on the go. And if you’re super keen, there’s a Hanoi Photography Group on Facebook you can join for all kinds of inspiration, including weekly challenges.




So without further ado, here are my picks for my top 10 photography locations in Hanoi for memorable, stunning and beautiful photos while you are in this wonderful city — and with a Google Map so you don’t get lost!

Nhat Tan Bridge

The drive from Noi Bai International Airport, which is some 30km from central Hanoi, is an excellent introduction to the city. You’ll see large urban developments and rice paddies all sandwiched together in something like a jigsaw. To get to Hanoi from the airport, you have to cross the Red River via Nhat Tan Bridge, a magnificent piece of modern engineering (and contrasts sharply with Long Bien Bridge below), opened in 2015. Cross at night, and you’ll witness a stunning light show.

Location: Vo Chi Cong Road, Tay Ho District, Hanoi
Cost: Free
Best time to go: Any time, but night is best for the lights
Photo credit: Signify
Insider tip: Catch the 86 bus from the airport. It’s cheap, reliable and has free wifi!

Travelling Homebody - Instagram photography Hanoi

Abandoned housing developments

If you like urban decay, you’ll love the abandoned housing developments that pepper Hanoi’s streetscape. These are the remnants of projects that ran out of money or customers to buy, or both. You can easily explore the eery setting, which makes one feel like a zombie apocalypse has occurred. Be alert for signs of the undead! And be careful!

Location: Sen Ho Tay, Tay Ho District, Hanoi
Cost: Free
Best time to go: Any time, but probably during the day for safety reasons
Photo credit: Southeast Asia Backpackers
Insider tip: Join the Hanoi Photography Facebook group for more locations.

Travelling Homebody - Instagram photography Hanoi

Thong Nhat Park

Located in Dong Da district, south of the Old Quarter, is a the peaceful Thong Nhat Park (also called Lenin Park, not to be confused with Lenin Park in Hoan Kiem district). Built in 1958, the park attracts joggers, families and friends to this 50ha space. You can take a ride on the toy train, stop at one of the cafes for an ice cream or coffee, and people watch to your heart’s content. With the large shady trees, the light is perfect for photography. And once you are finished with the park, wander around the area. Dong Da (and it neighbour, Hai Ba Trung) district has lots of interesting French architecture.

Location: 354A Le Duan, Dong Da District, Hanoi
Cost: Small entrance fee
Best time to go: Early morning
Photo credit: Vietnam Travel Guide
Insider tip: And once you are finished with the park, wander around the area for beautiful photos of French villas.

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Travelling Homebody - Instagram photography Hanoi

Pan Pacific Hotel

The Pan Pacific — one of a handful of luxury hotels in Hanoi — not only has a fabulous roof top bar, located on the 20th floor of the hotel, but also one of the best views across the city. And it’s spectacular at night. You can get a feel for how vibrant the city is with a breathtaking vista across West Lake, Truc Bach and Ba Dinh areas.  A little pricier than your average bar, the customer service is exemplary, so I think it’s worth it.

Location: 1 Thanh Nien Road, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi
Cost: The price of drinks and snacks
Best time to go: Evening, just before sunset
Photo credit:
Booking.com
Insider tip: Across from the hotel is Yen Phu street — a great spot for “slice of life” street photography.

Lotte Observation Deck

Unlike the Pan Pacific, the Observation Deck, on the 65th floor of the Lotte Centre, which opened in 2014, takes in all of Hanoi with sweeping panoramas across the city from a height of 267 metres. Not for those with a fear of heights is the glass floor of the two photo zones, which allows you an unobstructed view of the street below.

Location: 54 Lieu Giai Street, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi
Cost: Adults are VND230,000
Best time to go: Any time, but evenings for stunning long exposure photography
Photo credit: Alexis Jetstets
Insider tip: There is a 50% discount on the entrance fee between 9AM-10AM and 10PM-11PM.

Railway tracks

Generally railway tracks are off limits, but not in Vietnam: there are many Hanoians who live right next to the line. People live their lives with trains passing by within a metre of houses, shops and cafes, making for wonderful photos. You can walk on the tracks, but for your safety be aware of trains! There are no warnings and they do not stop, so you’ll need to be alert.

Location: Ngo 224 Le Duan Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
Best time to go: Any time, but watch out for trains!
Cost: Free
Photo credit: Truly Traveled
Insider tip: do a workshop at the Zo Project, dedicated to keeping traditional paper-making alive.

Long Bien Bridge

The oldest bridge in Hanoi, Long Bien Bridge was built by the French in 1899 and crosses the Red River to connect Hoan Kiem and Long Bien. The steel bridge is quite dilapidated, which makes it so interesting to photograph. Traffic includes motor cycles, bicycles and pedestrians. And trains. You can access the tracks at Long Bien Station for stunning photos of trains approaching and departing, especially at sunrise or sunset. And walking across the bridge is fine. The footpaths are quite roomy, which is unlike most of Hanoi! Underneath the bridge is the Long Bien Market, which supplies most of the restaurants and cafes and smaller markets in Hanoi.

Location: Yen Phu Road, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
Best time to go: Evening, just before sunset, or early morning to see the market
Cost: Free
Photo credit: Travel Hanoi
Insider tip: The train comes into Long Bien station at 6PM for awesome photo opportunities!

Dong Xuan Market

While inside Dong Xuan Market is interesting in and of itself — it was also built by the French in 1899 — spend some time outside the market for “slice of life” pictures of Vietnamese going about their daily lives. Vendors occupy any space on the street they can, as well as peddling their wares from bicycles. Conical hats and pyjamas are the uniform. And there’s also iconic architecture to keep an eye out for. The night market is quite near Dong Xuan and you’ll be able to pick up lots of different kinds of cheap and cheerful products.

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Location: Hang Khoai Street, Hoan Kiem District
Best time to go: Any time
Cost: Free
Photo credit: Vietnam Tour
Insider tip: Visit the night market for all kinds of cheap and cheerful products. Be prepared to bargain!

Alleys of the Old Quarter

The Old Quarter of Hanoi consists of 36 streets, named for the products they sell. The beating heart of Hanoi, wandering around the Old Quarter and getting lost is an exquisite experience. Duck into winding alleys and discover ancient pagodas, run down French villas, street food vendors and tiny cafés. If you are lucky enough to be in Hanoi on the weekend, Hoan Kiem Lake is a walking street, and you are guaranteed gorgeous pictures of Vietnamese families spending time together.

Location: Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi. Actually: anywhere in Hanoi!
Best time to go: Any time
Cost: Free
Photo credit: Magtzer
Insider tip: Don’t be afraid to stop for street food. If there are lots of locals eating or buying from there, it’s safe!

Travelling Homebody - Instagram photography Hanoi

Hoan Kiem Lake

The heart of Old Quarter, Hoan Kiem Lake holds special significance for Hanoians. A 15th century legend has it that a nobleman who fought the Chinese was gifted with a magic sword by a turtle who lived in the lake, which aided his victory. The turtle later appeared to the emperor who was boating in the lake and asked for the sword to be returned. The emperor built a tower in the lake to commemorate the event, and it can still be seen to this day.

Location: Hoan Kiem district (you can’t miss it)!
Best time to go: on the weekend, when the area is a walking street
Cost: Free
Photo credit: Hanoi Hotels
Insider tip: Don’t be surprised if you are approached by young Vietnamese, keen to try out their English skills.

Tran Quoc Pagoda

The oldest Buddhist temple in Hanoi, Tran Quoc Pagoda is situated on a small island on the south-eastern shore of West Lake. Vietnamese still flock to the pagoda to worship and present offerings, including incense to be burned. During Tet (Lunar New Year) the pagoda is very popular, and people pray at many shrines around the temple. Thanh Nien Road, especially in the morning, is a hive of activity with locals exercising, drinking tea and having a chat. If you are visiting during Tet (Lunar New Year), make sure you actually go inside and mingle with the locals and wish them a chuc mung nam moi or chuc suc khoe!

Location: Thanh Nien Road, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi
Best time to go: Any time, but evenings for stunning long exposure photography
Cost: Free
Photo credit: Travel & Inspiration
Insider tip: Across the road is Truc Bach Lake, made famous by John McCain. Make sure you visit his statue.

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Quang Ba Flower Market

You’ll need to be an early riser to enjoy the best of the flower market — it starts around 2:00AM. But if you’re not, don’t worry, you’ll still be able to take beautiful pictures of this colourful market if you venture there later in the day, although it will be less hectic. Whatever time you go, you’ll be able to take glorious pictures of the huge variety of fresh flowers on sale, as well as buyers and sellers haggling over prices.

Location: Au Co Road, Tay Ho District, Hanoi
Best time to go: Very early in the morning!
Cost: Free
Photo credit: Hanoi Tourist
Insider tip: Hungry? Have a big bowl of pho (noodle soup) for breakfast like the locals do!

The French Quarter

Vietnam was under French rule from 1887-1954, with the French having a major impact on the streetscape of Hanoi. Ba Dinh, also known as the French Quarter (or Ba Dinh district), is where French colonisation is most obvious, although French villas and Gothic buildings, including St Joseph’s Cathedral, can be found all around Hanoi. Wide boulevards and beautiful architecture still characterise the area around Ba Dinh Square, and many embassies are currently located there.

Location: Ba Dinh District, Hanoi
Best time to go: Any time
Cost: Free
Photo credit: AZ Local Trip
Insider tip: The French also impacted food in Hanoi — delicious bakeries and patisseries are everywhere!

West Lake (Ho Tay)

Approximately five kilometres north of the Old Quarter is West Lake, a fresh water lake around 17 kilometres in circumference. While the lake is popular with locals for recreational activities like cycling, fishing, kayaking and tai chi, it’s also a popular spot for photographers, particularly at sunset. Watching the huge red sun sink low in the sky is truly spectacular and a not to be missed experience during your stay in Hanoi.

Location: Tay Ho District, Hanoi
Best time to go: Any time, but evenings for stunning long exposure photography
Cost: Free, but you’ll want to stop for a coffee every so often!
Photo credit: me (taken on my phone)
Insider tip: Rent a bicycle and take a leisurely ride around the lake — it’s a wonderful way to be a part of the city.

Travelling Homebody - top 10 places to Instagram Hanoi

Honourable mentions

Other places of interest to Instagram Hanoi include:

  • Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum – Uncle Ho’s final resting place in Ba Dinh Square. Go around 9PM for the changing of the guard
  • One Pillar Pagoda – Buddhist temple built in 11th Century, and is an iconic landmark in Hanoi
  • Temple of Literature – Vietnam’s oldest university, also built in the 11th Century and a peaceful oasis in a bustling Hanoi
  • Bat Trang Village – a half an hour drive out of Hanoi, Bat Trang pottery village is famous for its ceramics, and is one of many handicraft villages sprinkled around the city
  • Hanoi Mosaic Mural – a 6.5km long mosaic that commemorates 1000 years of Hanoi
  • Ho Tay Water Park – a firm favourite of the locals during summer, attractions include a ferris wheel.
  • Phung Hung Street – A gorgeous wall mural art depicting old Hanoi project funded by UN Habitat, Korea Foundation and the Hoan Kiem People’s Committee.

Your turn…

Have you been to Hanoi? What are your favourite locations for taking pictures?





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2 Comments

  • Camille February 21, 2019 at 11:42 AM

    Excellent list, thank you! I would definitely add Phùng Hưng street 🙂

    Reply
    • Diane Lee February 21, 2019 at 5:08 PM

      Thank you Camille! Consider it added to the list.

      Reply

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