It doesn’t receive as many overnight guests as the old quarter, but Hanoi’s Hoan Kiem District is still a popular place for foreign tourists to spend time. Fewer budget hotels are found here, with most of the accommodation in Hoan Kiem District in the five-star range. For those booking rooms here, Hoan Kiem Lake is only a short walk away, but crowds are light.
The French Quarter is in this part of the city. Strolling this grid of colonial-era streets leads to the Hanoi Opera House, a scaled-down replica of the Palais Garnier in Paris. Nearby, Hao Lo Prison was built by the French and then used by the North Vietnamese to house American prisoners of war. The Revoution Museum is also in the French Quarter.
Even outside of the French Quarter, walking tours of the district are rewarding. They can be booked through hotels in Hoan Kiem District, or tourists can set out on their own and see what they discover. Generally, walkers can start from the Southern Gate (at the north of this district) and head south to the Friendship Culture Palace. Locally known as Dau Xao (Cung Van Hoa Huu Nghi Viet Xo), this complex was a gift from the Soviet Union and is sometimes used as a performance venue.
Accessed by the Hanoi Railway Station, Hoan Kiem District is easy to get to. Aside from leisure tourists, the train also serves medical tourists in Hanoi for treatment at Viet Duc Hospital.