4 Days Hanoi Itinerary: A Perfect Getaway Guide

4 Days Hanoi Itinerary: Perfect City Getaway Guide




4 days hanoi itinerary

Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam, home to over 8 million inhabitants. It is also one of the most visited cities in the country, thanks to its diverse array of activities. If you are planning a visit to Hanoi, you are at the right place, as we show you a Hanoi 4 Days Itinerary that is action filled!

Find out where are the best places to go, indulge in delicious Vietnamese food, and have a blast in Hanoi! 

Let’s Zip Up And Go Vietnam!

Why you should visit Hanoi

Hanoi is blessed with great weather, and unlike many SouthEast Asian countries, it experiences 4 seasons, which means you do not need to bear with the crazy humidity or high temperatures if you don’t wish to! 

Weather aside, Hanoi is unique thanks to its long history. People have settled here since prehistoric times, and although it was colonised by the French, it left behind an interesting mix of Eastern and Western architecture begging to be explored. 

Centuries of rule by different dynasties have made Hanoi more intriguing, and it is worthwhile to understand how they influenced the capital.

Whether you are a food lover or not, you will appreciate the incredibly diverse Vietnamese cuisine, from banh mi to pho ga and egg coffee to coconut coffee. Not a moment is boring when you are here in Hanoi.

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Hanoi Itinerary Overview: Save A Copy!

Here is what 4 days in Hanoi looks like. Be sure to save a copy below to take it with your offline!

  • Day 1: Hoa Lo Prison, St Joseph’s Cathedral, Dong Xuan Market, Hoan Kiem Lake, Water Puppet Show, The Huc Bridge, Ngoc Son Temple
  • Day 2: Museum of Ethnology, Long Bien Bridge, Hanoi Ancient House, Bach Ma Temple, Phung Hung Mural Street, Hanoi Night Market, Ta Hien Street, Long Bien Night Market
  • Day 3: One Pillar Pagoda, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Ba Dinh Square, Thăng Long Imperial Citadel, Vietnam Military History Museum, Temple of Literature
  • Day 4: West Lake, Tran Quoc Pagoda, Cooking Class

  • Travel Tips: Useful Information
  • Hanoi uses the Vietnamese Dong, VND, and is approximately 23,300 VND to US1.00
  • Do not drink water from the taps. Buy bottled water.
  • 220V, 50Hz AC, Type A, C and F plugs
  • UTC + 7

Things to do in Hanoi: Save to Google Maps

Here is a Google Map that contains all the places covered in this 4 Day Hanoi Itinerary. 

It contains 7 layers, one for each day, one showing the quarters, one showing location of day trips and one showing the recommended accommodation. Depending on your interest, you can mix and match to make up 2 days in Hanoi or any other combination.

How to use: Take note you will have to be signed in to your Google Account. 

  • Click on the image below. The map will appear in a new window.
  • Once you have opened up the map, it will be saved to your account automatically.
  • Make sure to do this step so that you can easily refer back to the locations even when you are offline.
  • Next time, simply open up Google Maps again and find this map under “Your Places” –> “Maps”.

Expert tip: Be sure to download offline maps in Google Maps when you have an internet connection. You might not have data or access to WiFi, and the offline version will come in super handy.

Hanoi Itinerary: Day 1, French Quarter (Hoan Kiem)

Hoa Lo Prison Relic

hoa lo prison relic hanoi vietnam
Entrance to Hoa Lo Prison

During the French occupation of Vietnam, there were several uprisings and rebellions. The French needed to suppress those actions, and during this process, built several new prisons to accommodate the arrests. 

One such prison was Hoa Lo Prison, built in 1896. It was significant as it was one of the largest prisons the French ever constructed, and it took the site of a famous pottery village. The prison went on to house lots of revolutionaries, and some escaped and continued to fight for independence. 

The prison became a school of sorts to spread the message of revolution, and has a deep impact on Vietnam’s history.

Today, a part of the prison has been transformed into a historical relic, and you should visit to learn the sacrifices made by these patriots. 

Start time: 9 am
Address: 1 Hoả Lò, Trần Hưng Đạo, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam
Getting here: By taxi or Grab, or walk from your hotel
Fee: 30,000 VND
Opening hours: 8 am – 5 pm daily
Recommended Time To Spend: 1 hour

St. Joseph’s Cathedral

vietnam hanoi St joseph cathedral
St Joseph’s Cathedral in Hanoi

When you visit St Joseph Cathedral, you will be surprised by how well preserved it is, considering that Hanoi was previously the site of fierce battles during the war. Either that, or you will notice its similarity with the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, which it drew inspiration from. 

The neo-Gothic cathedral was built in 1886, and in fact was made of wood in its original design. Over the years it received significant rebuilt and restoration, and today looms over an open plaza where most tourists will be taking selfies. 

Its facade is stunning, with its twin towers and lovely stained glass windows. Inside, it is worth a visit too. While the outside undoubtably took its looks from European influences, you will be able to see how the locals shaped the interiors, especially with the use of red and yellow.

The area around Big Cathedral, Old Cathedral or Hanoi Cathedral, whichever way you choose to call it, is now very popular among the young crowd, and you should take some time to explore its interesting range of boutiques and restaurants. 

Start time: 10 am
Address: 40 Nhà Chung, Hàng Trống, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội 100000, Vietnam
Getting here: Less than 10 minutes walk from Hoa Lo Prison
Fee: Free
Opening hours:
Mass Timings
Weekday: 5:30 am & 6:15 pm
Saturday: 6:00 pm
Sunday: 5:00 am, 7:00 am, 9:00 am, 11:00 am, 4:00 pm, 6:00 pm and 8:00 pm
Recommended Time To Spend: 30 minutes

Dong Xuan Market

dong xuan market hanoi vietnam
Outside Dong Xuan Market

This is one of the oldest markets in Vietnam, maybe even SouthEast Asia, as it was built in 1889. The design is also very distinct, not for its elaborate facade but rather, it is Soviet styled. Not too many of the buildings in Hanoi looks like this anymore.

As Hanoi’s largest indoor market, there is a ton of items you can get your hands on. Whether you are shopping for fruits or vegetables, or just browsing for cute souvenirs to bring home, this is the place to be. 

The Dong Xuan market is integral to the locals, and it is a great spot to observe local culture and behaviour. 

On the ground floor, check out how the people haggle with the fresh food sellers, either bargaining over the freshest fishes or meats. Something we don’t fancy though it the availability of pets here. They are obviously unregulated and unsanitary. Stay away from this.

If you need to get a quick and cheap shopping fix, head upstairs to search for a bargain. The four stories of Dong Xuan is an amazing way to spend a couple of hours. 

Start time: 11 am
Address: Hoàn Kiếm Lake, Hang Trong, Hoàn Kiếm, Hanoi, Vietnam
Getting here: Less than 5 minutes walk from Old Cathedral
Fee: Free
Opening hours: 6 am – 7 pm daily
Recommended Time To Spend: min 1 hour

Hoan Kiem Lake

Sunset at Hoan Kiem Lake Hanoi

Hoan Kiem Lake means Lake of the Restored Sword, and there’s a story behind that. 

Legend has it that Le Loi, a Vietnamese hero who fought the Chinese successfully, found a sword that helped him tremendously in his campaigns. Later, the gods claimed back the sword through a golden turtle.

Today, you won’t see any sword wielding heroes here, but Hoan Kiem Lake is a perfect place to take a walk amidst the hustle and bustle of Hanoi. 

Take a stroll from here towards the North West side of the lake. Along the way, you get to catch a glimpse of the lives of the locals here, as they go about their businesses. 

Lunch time is pretty busy, as the tour groups arrive but there is enough space for everyone. 

If you are here during June or July, this is one of the best spots to see the leaves changing colours.

Start time: 12 pm
Address: Hàng Trống, Hoàn Kiếm, Hanoi 100000, Vietnam
Getting here: Right next to Dong Xuan Market
Fee: Free
Opening hours: 24 hours daily
Recommended Time To Spend: 1 hour

Thang Long Water Puppet Show

Watching a water puppet show is one of those popular tourist activities in Hanoi, but definitely worth a go to witness an almost lost art. 

This art form goes all the way back to the 11th century, when villagers kept themselves entertained as their rice fields became flooded. They would stand in the paddy fields and performed shows using puppets, hence giving it its name. 

An orchestra accompanies this simple but entertaining act, and you should try to get seats as close to the stage as possible, for the crowds can really swell up.

Get Skip-the-line and VIP Tickets here!

Start time: 3 pm
Address: 57B Đinh Tiên Hoàng, Hàng Bạc, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội 100000, Vietnam
Getting here: Walk along Hoan Kiem Lake for 10 minutes
Fee: From 213,000 VND
Opening hours: 3 pm – 9 pm daily
Recommended Time To Spend: 1 hour

The Huc Bridge

the huc bridge at night
The Huc Bridge at night

Staying on the shores of the Hoan Kiem Lake, make your way to The Huc Bridge that links the mainland to Ngoc Son Temple. 

If you have seen photographs of Hanoi, it is quite likely that this iconic bridge has come up. 

It translates to “the place where morning sunlight rests”, and this simple bright red arched bridge has a deep meaning to the country. It is where the material transitions to the spiritual world, represented by the Ngoc Son Temple.

Start time: 4.15 pm
Address: Cầu Thê Húc, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam
Getting here: 3 minutes walk from Water Puppet Theatre
Fee: Free
Opening hours: 24 hours daily
Recommended Time To Spend: 10 minutes

Ngoc Son Temple (Temple of the Jade Mountain)

Entrance to Ngoc Son Temple
Entrance to Ngoc Son Temple

This is the most visited temple in the whole of Vietnam, and we guess it is due to its location and fascinating history behind it. It has a classic Vietnamese style, and has a long and complicated past. 

Located on a small island on the lake, many locals often come here to pray for good fortune or better health, amongst many other reasons. 

Although it is crowded, there is a sense of tranquility, and on this island, you will also find a 300 year old banyan tree, a giant turtle related to the legend of Le Loi, as well as beautiful views across the lake. 

Start time: 4.30 pm
Address: Đinh Tiên Hoàng, Hàng Trống, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội 100000, Vietnam
Getting here: Across The Huc Bridge
Fee: 30,000 VND
Opening hours: 8 am – 5 pm
Recommended Time To Spend: 30 minutes

2 Days Hanoi Itinerary: Old Quarter

Vietnam Museum of Ethnology

Vietnam Museum of Ethnology
Vietnam Museum of Ethnology

Start the second day of your Hanoi itinerary by taking a taxi or Grab to the outskirts of Hanoi. 

In the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, you can learn about the incredibly diverse ethnic groups spread around the country, some 54 different ones. 

As a research centre, this is the best place to see the way of life of the different groups of people in Vietnam, through exhibits that covers religion, everyday objects, traditional houses and so much more. 

Some of the groups that you will learn about includes Viet, Tho, H’Mong-Dao, Ngai, Mon-Khmer, Cham and Khmer, demonstrating the diversity that Vietnam has, a real melting pot of cultures. 

Especially of interest to us were the outdoor exhibits, which traditional houses built on stilts among the lush greenery.

Start time: 9 am
Address: Nguyễn Văn Huyên, Quan Hoa, Cầu Giấy, Hà Nội 100000, Vietnam
Getting here: By taxi or Grab from your hotel
Fee: 40,000 VND
Opening hours: 8 am – 5.30 pm daily except Mondays
Recommended Time To Spend: 1.5 hours

Long Bien Bridge

Hanoi Long Bien Bridge

Make your way back to the city, as the rest of the day revolves around the Old Quarter of Hanoi. Ask your driver to alight you at Long Bien Bridge, the first ever steel bridge of Hanoi. 

Again, this architecture has close ties with the French, as it was designed by the same person who came up with the Eiffel Tower, Gustave Eiffel.

While many may not remember, the bridge serves as a reminder to many of the older generation of the tenacity and industriousness of the Hanoi people. 

The bridge was bombed several times during the war, but was quickly restored after each attack. 

Start time: 11 am
Address: Cầu Long Biên, Ngọc Thụy, Long Biên, Hà Nội, Vietnam
Getting here: By taxi or Grab from your Ethonology Museum
Fee: Free
Opening hours: 24 hours daily
Recommended Time To Spend: 15 minutes

Hanoi Ancient House (Heritage House)

Hanoi Ancient House

The rest of the day will be covered mainly on foot, as you make your way through the Old Quarter to arrive at the Hanoi Ancient House (Ma May Ancient House). 

It showcases a traditional ancient house of Hanoi, and was constructed somewhere in the late 19th century, which means it is over a hundred years old now. 

As one of the oldest of its kind still surviving, Hanoi Ancient Houses offers an insight into the way of life of Hanoians as well as how they went about their daily lives. It reminds us of one such ancient house we visited in Hoi An too. 

One thing you will notice almost right away is how narrow the house is, which gave rise to the name tube house. It is a common design as taxes back then were determined by the width of your house, which meant houses were mostly long and narrow!

Now you know!

Ancient Weaving Machine at Heritage House
Ancient Weaving Machine at Heritage House

Start time: 11.30 am
Address: 87 Phố Mã Mây, Hàng Buồm, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam
Getting here: 10 minutes walk from Long Bien Bridge
Fee: 10,000 VND
Opening hours: 8 am – 12 pm, 1.30 pm – 8 pm daily
Recommended Time To Spend: 1 hour

Bach Ma Temple

Bach Ma Temple White Horse Statue

There are no lack of temples to visit in Vietnam, and Bach Ma is one of the oldest you can find in the country. This Buddhist temple is an important place of worship for the locals, drawing them through the beautiful ancient wooden gates. 

Once inside the temple, a large statue of a white horse greets you. The horse is symbolic of story of how the temple’s location was chosen. According to legend, a white horse was instrumental in helping the King decide on building the temple here.

Explore the area around the temple for lunch afterwards!

Start time: 12.45 pm
Address: 76 Hàng Buồm, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam
Getting here: 5 minutes walk from Heritage House
Fee: Free
Opening hours: 7 am – 11 am, 2 pm – 5 pm daily
Recommended Time To Spend: 30 minutes

Phung Hung Mural Street

Street Art at Phung Hung Mural Street Hanoi
Street Art at Phung Hung Mural Street Hanoi

Not too long ago, Phung Hung Street was actually an undesirable area, home to trash and filth. It underwent a series of upgrades and clean ups, with the walls being replaced by murals. 

These murals are being painted by artists from both Vietnam and Korea, which also signified the cooperation and friendship between these 2 countries. 

The paintings mostly show scenes of Hanoi past, from street food vendors to celebration of festivals. It gives you a valuable look into the lives of locals in the past, and contrasts how Hanoi has changed with the times now. 

Come here to take photos of the art on display, but don’t forget to appreciate the stories behind them too. 

Spend the rest of the afternoon wandering around Old Quarter. The side streets and alleys are a joy to discover hidden secrets.

Start time: 3 pm
Address: 27 Phùng Hưng, Hàng Mã, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam
Getting here: 10 minutes walk from Bach Ma Temple
Fee: Free
Opening hours: 24 hours daily
Recommended Time To Spend: 30 minutes

Old Quarter Night Market (Hanoi Night Market)

Night markets are quintessentials in SouthEast Asia. Almost every place you go you can find at least one. Hanoi Night Market does not disappoint, as home to some of the best street food and a lively atmosphere.

When the action comes alive, get yourself ready to discover mouth watering food of all kinds, from the popular pho to having sweet soups on stools streetside. 

There are lots of people vying for your attention, such as the staff from gifts and souvenir shops, as well as the buskers performing traditional folk music or the latest beats. 

Here’s a tip for you: Keep your stomachs empty for Hang Buom Street, where the best food can be found. 

Start time: 8 pm
Address: Hàng Đào, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội 100000, Vietnam
Getting here: Easily walkable within Old Quarter
Fee: Free
Opening hours: Friday – Sunday, 8 pm till late
Recommended Time To Spend: For as long as you’re having fun!

Ta Hien Street + Legend Beer Rooftop Bar

Hanoi Legend Beer
Hanoi Legend Beer

With your stomachs filled with yummy food, we now turn your attention to a local favourite: Beer, or more specifically Bia Hoi. 

Make your way to Ta Hien Street (Beer Street Hanoi) to get a taste of the world’s cheapest draft beer, choosing a seat at one of the stools in Beer Corner. 

It gets crowded and noisy quickly, so consider moving on to Legend Beer rooftop bar to have a drink or two, while soaking in the best night views of Hoan Kiem Lake.

Start time: 10 pm
Address: 27 Phùng Hưng, Hàng Mã, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam
Getting here: 5 minutes walk from Hanoi Night Market
Fee: From 5,000 VND for a Bia Hoi
Opening hours: from 6 pm onwards
Recommended Time To Spend: For as long as you’re having fun!

Long Bien Night Market

Reserved for the true night owls, Long Bien Night Market is one of the most unique expereines you can have in Hanoi. It is Northern Vietnam’s biggest wet market, and it comes alive in the wee hours of the morning. 

From 1 am on, produce from all over the region comes here, and it becomes madness! A crazy wholesale market like you have never seen before. 

Coming here gives you a truly special experience of how these guys conduct business. There are so much going on, and everywhere you turn you will see something you have probably never seen before. 

The place is just an explosion of colours and smells, and the noise. Epic. 

Start time: 1 am
Address: Số 189 Hồng Hà, Phúc xá, Ba Đình, Hà Nội 119121, Vietnam
Getting here: 15 minutes walk from Legend Beer, or take a taxi or Grab
Fee: Free
Opening hours: from 1 am
Recommended Time To Spend: 1 hour

Hanoi Itinerary: Day 3

One Pillar Pagoda

One Pillar Pagoda

This historic Buddhist temple is quite a peculiar one as well, rising from a pond with the support of one big pillar, unlike most traditional ways of building. 

It was done on purpose though, as the temple was designed to look like a lotus sprouting out of the water. 

The One Pillar Pagoda has its history traced back over a thousand years, and it is a miracle the tiny temple is still standing as it withstood numerous wars. 

Maybe that is one of the reasons why this temple is highly revered by the Vietnamese, coming from across the country to pay respects to Quan Am, the deity whose effigy lays inside.

Start time: 9 am
Address: Chùa Một Cột, Đội Cấn, Ba Đình, Hà Nội 100000, Vietnam
Getting here: By taxi or Grab, or walk from your hotel
Fee: Free
Opening hours: 8 am – 5 pm daily
Recommended Time To Spend: 15 minutes

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum/Complex

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

As most visitors would probably know, Ho Chi Minh was a hero to the country, leading it to independence and subsequently served as its prime minister as well as president. 

When he died in 1969, his intentions were to be cremated but the people in power at that time decided to preserve his body instead. It thus kickstarted an amazing journey to get Russian experts to come into the country to do the job, all this while the Vietnam War was ongoing.

It is amazing how the body never got into the hands of the Americans, which would have become a bargaining chip. 

When the peace agreement was finally signed, Uncle Ho’s embalmed body was finally laid to rest the mausoleum. 

His body now lies in a clear glass coffin, where visitors can “view” or pay respects. You will be shuffled into the building and have a chance to walk pass it. The lines are long, but it won’t take long as it doesn’t stop moving. 

Tip: Start as early in the morning as possible and do not try to take any photos!

Start time: 9.30 am
Address: 2 Hùng Vương, Điện Bàn, Ba Đình, Hà Nội 100000, Vietnam
Getting here: Less than 5 minutes walk from One Pillar Pagoda
Fee: Free
Opening hours: Tuesday – Thursday, 7.30 am – 10.30 am; Saturday and Sunday, 7.30 am – 11 am
Recommended Time To Spend: 30 minutes depending on queue

Ba Dinh Square

There is hardly a place in Hanoi that is as momentous as Ba Dinh Square, for it is here where independence for Vietnam was declared. Not to mention, the Ho Chi Minh complex is here too, the final resting place of a true Vietnamese hero. 

As the largest square in Vietnam, Ba Dinh is a way for the locals to remember its achievements, as well as a solemn reminder of its difficult past. 

While there is not much activity going on in the day, which is great, at night families turn up to gather on the fringes and chat the evening away. 

Start time: 10 am
Address: Hùng Vương, Điện Bàn, Ba Đình, Hà Nội 118708, Vietnam
Getting here: Right where mausoleum is
Fee: Free
Opening hours: 24 hours daily
Recommended Time To Spend: 30 minutes

Thăng Long Imperial Citadel

Thang Long Imperial Citadel
Thang Long Imperial Citadel

One of eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Vietnam, the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long is an impressive fortress that served numerous rulers for nearly 1300 years. 

Its history is fascinating, home to the military, royal family and political establishment. Although large parts of it were destroyed, what remains have been carefully restored and preserved, including the iconic Hanoi Flag Tower. This is a largely forgotten attraction, which means less crowds!

While visiting the citadel, be sure to enter the D67 bunkers that were dug during the Vietnam War. It is pretty amazing to see the actual rooms that were used by military commanders during that period!

Start time: 10.45 am
Address: 19C Hoàng Diệu, Điện Bàn, Ba Đình, Hà Nội 100000, Vietnam
Getting here: 10 minutes walk from Ba Dinh Square
Fee: 30,000 VND
Opening hours: 8 am – 5 pm daily except Mondays
Recommended Time To Spend: 1 hour

Vietnam Military History Museum

Vietnam Military History Museum
Vietnam Military History Museum

War played a big part of Vietnam’s history, and it is here that the memories are captured. Originally built to showcase the First Indochina War where the French were driven out of the country. 

A new section was later built to include the American War, as the Vietnam War is known here. 

Various exhibits are found inside the museum, but there is a also a large outdoor section that displays items such as airplanes, tanks and rockets that were used during that time. 

As the headquarters of the Army Museum system, the facility is rather poorly maintained, but still provides a good understanding of the events that occurred. 

Head for lunch after this!

Start time: 12 pm
Address: 28A Điện Biên Phủ, Điện Bàn, Ba Đình, Hà Nội, Vietnam
Getting here: 5 minutes walk from Thang Long Imperial Citadel
Fee: 30,000 VND + 20,000 VND to include use of cameras
Opening hours: Tuesday – Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, 8 am – 11.30 am and 1 pm – 4.30 pm
Recommended Time To Spend: 1 hour

Temple of Literature

Hanoi Temple of Literature
Temple of Literature

As one of the top cultural sites in Hanoi, the Temple of Literature served as the first university of Vietnam over 1000 years ago. It was originally built to worship Confucius the great philosopher, and later modified to become a school. 

The main attractions here are the 5 courtyards, which differs in style. Starting from Đại Trung Môn, and ending at the grounds of the Imperial Academy, they represent the 5 elements, namely Earth, Metal, Wood, Water and Fire. 

Along the way, there are lots of opportunities to look at symbols that were important during those times, such as the phoenix, dragon and the carp. 

The Temple of Literature is a holy place, so do keep your voices down while visiting and be respectful at all times!

Spend the rest of the day exploring the rest of the French Quarter. 

Start time: 3 pm
Address: 58 Quốc Tử Giám, Văn Miếu, Đống Đa, Hà Nội 100000, Vietnam
Getting here: 15 minutes walk from Military Museum
Fee: 30,000 VND
Opening hours: April to October, 7.30 am – 5.30 pm daily; November to March, 8 am – 5 pm daily
Recommended Time To Spend: 1 hour

Hanoi Itinerary: Day 4

West Lake

Today is the last day, and let’s take it slow. 

Start the day off by heading to the West Lake, Hanoi’s largest freshwater lake. It is located in the Tay Ho District, and is often addressed as Tay Ho Lake too. 

There is a wide range of activities available here, as you can take your time to stroll the edges of the lake, or opt to take a boat ride on the waters. 

One such attraction is the Quan Thanh Temple, which is one of Vietnam’s Four Sacred Temples that were built over a thousand years ago. 

While you explore the area surrounding West Lake, there are lots of restaurants and bars for you to take a breather. End your visit at the SouthEastern end where you will see Tran Quoc Pagoda. This area is also excellent for brunch in Hanoi.

Start time: 9 am
Address: West Lake, Tây Hồ, Hanoi, Vietnam
Getting here: By taxi or Grab, or walk from your hotel
Fee: Free
Opening hours: 24 hours daily
Recommended Time To Spend: 1.5 hour

Tran Quoc Pagoda

Tran Quoc Pagoda on West Lake Hanoi
Tran Quoc Pagoda on West Lake Hanoi

This Buddhist Shrine is the oldest in Hanoi, dating back to the 6th century! 

It is set on a small island amidst lush greenery. 

Besides the eleven story pagoda at its center, it is a wonderful place to admire the lake and explore the museum that contains relics from hundreds of years past. 

Although it does get crowded often, and especially during festivals, there is always a sense of tranquility found here. That could very well be the reason it was once named the most beautiful pagoda of the world. 

The rest of the day can be spent relaxing around the area, or consider joining a cooking class! 

Cooking Class

Signing up for a cooking class is an excellent way to learn about the country’s food, and a perfect way to try out delicious Vietnamese food, all made by yourself! 

This tour takes you to a local market to shop for supplies, and the guide shows you insider tips on how to choose the freshest ingredients. 

Upon returning to the cooking studio, you get hands on preparing your lunch or dinner, under the close guidance of a professional instructor. 

You don’t need to worry about logistics as all of that is taken care for you, from picking your up to visiting the market and returning safely. 

All in all, it’s a great experience not to be missed while in Hanoi. 

Join a cooking class!

How many days should I spend in Hanoi?

We think that 4 days is the optimal amount of time to spend in Hanoi, allowing you the freedom to explore at your own pace and visit all the major attractions.

If you are short of time, you can easily turn this itinerary into 3 days by selecting only those that interests you the most.

If you have more time to spare, you can consider taking a day trip. There are several spots that are good options and are easily doable. You can read more about these options down below. 

When is the best time to visit?

Hanoi in general is suitable to visit any time of the year, except maybe August. That is the wettest month of the year, and most visitors stay away.

The best weather occurs during late October to February, but that is also the peak travelling period, meaning more visitors. That said, Hanoi is a really busy city, so you won’t exactly feel the impact, except slightly higher prices for accommodation. 

We visited during late January, and there were nights that dropped to low teens, and the crowds seemed to have gone home. 

Getting to Hanoi

Most visitors will enter the city through Hanoi Noi Bai International Airport.

Located 45 kilometres outside of the city, it usually takes about an hour to get to the center, thanks to its notorious traffic. 

Shuttle bus: There is a shuttle service operated by Vietnam Airlines, and you don’t have to fly with them to use it. Once you arrive, look for signs that will direct you to the counter. They depart every 30 – 45 minutes (yes, time is quite flexible in Hanoi) and takes about 1.5 hours to get to 1 Quang Trung street. 40,000 VND one way.

Public bus: This is the cheapest way to get to the city center, but we don’t recommend it. The journey takes an hour to reach the end station, after which you will need to take a taxi to your destination. 

Taxi: There are lots of taxis lining up outside the terminal and typically costs 300,000 VND to reach the city in an hour or so. Buy a ticket from the stand outside the terminal and wait for yours to come. Take note though, there are many dishonest drivers who will insist on a higher rate upon driving off. 

Grab: Use this ride hailing service to save yourself a few dollars. You should be looking at 250-300,000 VND for a ride to the city, and the rate is fixed. Take note you will need internet connection to use the app. 

Private transfers: If you want absolute peace of mind, book a private transfer. We prefer this option as we know for sure what to expect and it gets us to our destination directly. It does cost more, but certainly worth the money to sit in comfort on the way to our hotel. 

Book a private transfer here

Getting around Hanoi

This itinerary has been planned in a way that walking will take the bulk of your commute from one place to another. Many of the attractions are located near each other, so walking makes more sense. 

That said, if you need transport, make use of taxis or Grab. They are cheap, plentiful and convenient. 

Budget needed for visiting : How much does it cost each day?

  • Accommodation: US$40, twin sharing
  • Food: US$10, 2 meals, breakfast in hotel
  • Transport: US$4
  • Total per person per day: US$34

Where to stay in Hanoi?

Keith first visited Vietnam in 2006, and remembers that hotels back then seems a tad dodgy and feels like communism hostels (if there is such a thing). But today, things are very different thanks to the explosion of tourism and growth of its economy.

Choices for accommodation are of much higher quality, and are very reasonably priced. High end hotels are accessible too. 

We recommend staying somewhere in Old or French Quarter, as it affords you the best location and allows you to reach the attractions easily. 

Here are our top picks. Be sure to click through to read the reviews and get updated pricing. 

Budget: Trang Trang Boutique Hotel

Mid range: Hanoi La Selva Central Hotel & Spa

Luxury: InterContinental Hanoi WestLake

Day Trips from Hanoi

You can mix up your Hanoi itinerary by including one of these day trips. The most popular has got to be Halong Bay, and you can either do it on your own or hire a guide to take you there and back. 

Here are the options to consider: 

  • Perfume Pagoda
  • Ha Long Bay
  • Ninh Binh
  • Bat Trang Pottery and Ceramic Village

Wanna go further? Consider extending your Vietnam vacation to Da Nang or Phu Quoc!

Small Group Tour to Perfume Pagoda

Day Trip Guide to Halong Bay

2 Days Tour of Ninh Binh

Half day small group to Bat Trang

Guided Tour Options

We typically do not take any tours, preferring to do things our own way. But of course, there are situations where guided tours make sense, whether for convenience or you just prefer something organised. 

Here is a bunch we think you might like. 

Join the Street Food Tour here!

Join the Half Day Tour here!

Logistics before visiting Hanoi Vietnam

Stay connected
Before you travel, make sure to pre-book a mobile router so that you can get access to the internet easily with WiFi. The router can be shared by a few friends, making it super budget friendly. 

Save on currency exchange rates
Stop paying exorbitant rates forever! Make use of TransferWise debit card to get the best rates across the globe. You can also use it to transfer money worldwide for cheap.

Find cheap flights.
Air tickets are usually the bulk of your expenses. Set up an alert and snag cheap fares with Skyscanner.

Find the best accommodation.
Book a place ahead of time to get good rates. Booking.com has transparent fees and excellent rates. 

Handy travel guide.
For the old school kid in you, get a travel guide book and get lost exploring the city.

Your mobile phone can do a pretty good job, but if you need an upgrade, we recommend the Sony A6000 (US) (International)

Travel insurance.
You don’t need us to teach you to be a responsible adult, do you? Get a quote here.

Planned for you activities in Hanoi.
Need a guide to show you and your group around? Lots of operators here to choose from here. You know who they are and how they are reviewed. 

More resources to help you.
All other useful travel resources we use when we book our trips.

Hanoi Itinerary: Is it Worth Visiting?

Hanoi is a great city to visit for a few days, and there are lots of attractions that are diverse for all kinds of travellers. Not forgetting the experience of crossing the crazy streets of Hanoi, and deciphering the maze like alleys, and finding amazing street food!

Whether this is a stop in your Southeast Asia tour or something else, we are sure you will thoroughly enjoy your 4 days in Hanoi!

Have you visited Hanoi? Let us know how your experience was!

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