My tefl Blog

Top things to see and do when teaching English in Hanoi

In an effort to conceal just how jealous we are at anyone heading off for an adventure teaching English in Hanoi; buzzing, brilliant, sleepless Hanoi, we’ll just wax lyrical about some of the awesome things that make the capital of Nam’ such a downright great place to be. From historic mausoleums to enticing coffee shops, there’s plenty!


teaching English in Hanoi
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum | © JRF/myTEFL


Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum


Although the revered “Father of the Revolution”, Ho Chi Minh, requested that he be cremated with just a small memorial, it simply wasn’t to be. By the time of his death on September 2nd, 1969, he was one of the most totemic figures in world politics, credited with wresting control of Indochina from the French and Americans over a long and protracted conflict. The result is this striking and Brutalist tomb that stands tall in the midst of Hanoi. You might even spot the streams of pilgrims queuing each morning to catch a glimpse of the leader’s entombed body within.



teaching English in Hanoi
Ho Chi Minh in the Ho Chi Minh Museum | © JRF/myTEFL


Ho Chi Minh Museum


Carrying on the Ho Chi Minh theme is the large Ho Chi Minh Museum, which looms over the mausoleum and the cherry-lined walkways of central Hanoi. The exhibits here chronicle the tumultuous years of the First Indochina War and the Vietnam War, with particular attention paid to the role of Vietnam‘s first Prime Minister throughout the struggles. Letters, photographs, manuscripts, and original documents help you trace his remarkable life, even if there’s a distinct edge of propaganda still imbuing the collections.



teaching English in Hanoi
Hoàn Kiếm Lake | © JRF/myTEFL


Walk around Hoàn Kiếm Lake


While Ho Chi Minh City is a metropolis of skyscrapers and parks, Hanoi prefers waters and rivers. The great Red River cuts through its heart, but it’s Hoàn Kiếm Lake that really draws the Instagramming crowd. Try to arrive early at this large stretch of blue in the middle of the city. The small hours often see an eerie and mysterious mist gathering between the blossom trees. Spots of particular interest are the Turtle Tower, a carved turret of snaking dragons and age-stained alcoves that rises straight from the surface, and the Temple of the Jade Mountain, which can be reached over an arched red-painted bridge.



teaching English in Hanoi
A man in the Hanoi Old Quarter | © JRF/myTEFL


Get lost in the Old Quarter


One of the great joys of Hanoi is its Old Quarter. Some will stick to their tourist map, but we’d recommend going off piste and simply wandering the wild and energetic streets to your heart’s content. There’s loads to get stuck into, from rows of haggling hawkers with stacked mounds of T-shirts and knock-off electronics to pungent pho houses and shady BBQ restaurants. At night, the whole western end of the area turns into Hanoi’s nightlife hub, where backpackers and other expats teaching English in Hanoi gather to imbibe the evening away.



teaching English in Hanoi
West Lake, Hanoi | © Damien Dempsey/Flickr


West Lake


The anchor of the Tay Ho District just to the north of Hanoi’s thrumming Old Quarter is the beautiful West Lake. It’s the largest body of water within city limits, with a circumference of over 10 miles in total. The upshot is that the leafy paths here make a great escape from the energy of the metropolis’s heart, offering sprawling botanical gardens laden with orchids and palm blooms. Those teaching English in Hanoi will also want to pass this way to catch a glimpse of the slender Tran Quoc Pagoda – it dates from the 6th century and is considered one of the most beautiful in the whole country. 


teaching English in Hanoi
Cafe in Hanoi | © JRF/myTEFL


Go café hopping


No matter if you’re looking for a quiet spot to get lost in a book or a place to plan your next bout of lessons, the cafés of Hanoi are sure to have you covered. Yep, anyone teaching English in Hanoi is bound to find plenty in the way of charming, bohemian drinking spots in this bustling town. They dot the area north of the Old Quarter or hide in high-rise blocks overlooking the mirror-like lakes. What’s more, local drinks like the Vietnamese egg coffee and the locally-grown Robusta brew provide all the fuel needed to get you through those weekend marking sessions.  



If you’re currently teaching English in Hanoi, or have recently returned, we’d love to hear any additions to this list you might have. Alternatively, if you’re ready to get TEFL qualified and exploring the Old Quarter, be sure to check out our courses page.

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