Check these places out: (The first 5 items' text are taken from Lonely Planet)
(Pictures are mine)
1 Old QuarterDiscover the Asia you dreamed about in the bustling back streets of the Old Quarter
2 Temple of LiteratureStep into history, and a spiritual retreat from the busy streets beyond, at the Temple of Literature
3 Water puppetsEnjoy a giggle at Punch and Judy in a pool, watching the city’s famed
4 Ho Chi Minh’s MausoleumSee ‘Uncle Ho’ in the flesh at Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum
5 Vietnam Museum of EthnologyPiece together the country’s ethnic mosaic at the wonderful Vietnam Museum of Ethnology
When you're at the Old Quarter, try "Bun Cha Hang Manh" Restaurant in No.1 Hang Manh Street - for pork skewers and spring rolls with salad. No ambiance at all (as in 0 for ambiance) but food is good. You sit on small plastic stools. Bring your own chopsticks lest you use the one that have been used and just washed.
For Vietnamese food from different regions go to Quan An Ngon at 18 Phan Boi Chau [Between Ly Thuong Kiet and Hai Ba Trung, one block East of Le Duan.] Think of fastfood dining style. The place gets full so it's good to be there slightly before lunch or dinner so you can get a place. I kept going back here because there were so many choices all in one place.
La Place at 4 Ấu Triệu street. Didn't try this but this is my friend's fav restaurant. They also serve the grilled pork on skewers and noodles but place is cozy and nice according to her. Around that area (St. Joseph Church at the cross between Nha Tho str and Ly Quoc Su streets) are interesting shops too.
"Chim Sao" at 65 Ngõ Huế street. I didn't try this too but she recommends it.
Hanoi Garden at 36 Hàng Mành according to her also serves good vietnamese food.
When you're around the lake, try the cafe's there so you can rest a bit after much walking. Around that area is Fanny's Ice Cream which is a must too. Think of it as a reward for all the walking you've done.
Their well-known fastfood is Pho 24 for a bowl of steaming noodle soup and bread. I tried the one around the lake. Just google address.
Afternoon Tea and Chocolate Buffet & Sunday Buffet at If you are there on a Sunday, you shouldn't miss the Sunday buffet ($50/pax). The spread is not that many like the Sofitel here but the quality of food is superb. Most of it is from France and the presentation is more than stunning. .
Music and Entertainment:
Go to Metropole in the evening for some jazz music and have a scoop of strawberry sorbet and get some drinks.
Try to catch a show or a ballet performance. Then you can have coffee after or before the show at the . coffee house in the grounds of the opera house. You won't miss it.
Right beside the Hanoi Opera House. If you want to listen to a string quartet for free, hang out in the lobby at 5 or . and enjoy the music.
I suggest you check out the Dong Xuan Market (North of the Old Quarter- google the address) first before buying in the small shops at the Old Quarter. I found it to be cheaper here. This is a 3-storey market full of items. Near there is the Paper Shop where I took the nice colorful picture.