Hanoi is among the most desirable destinations in Southeast Asia. There are so many things things to do in Hanoi in the capital city of Vietnam but you have only 4 days in Hanoi. What would you do to have the best experience while in this charming city. No worry, you have our back, in this article we will cover not only all the best of Hanoi but also the itinerary, map and day trips from Hanoi.
What to expect
Hanoi is among the most desirable destinations in Vietnam. The thousand year old capital city of Vietnam shines with both modernity and age old tradition. Come to Hanoi, you’ll experience ancient traits in Hanoi Old Quarter, the vintage French buildings and the busy markets around town. Hanoi is the city of history, culture and heritage.
To really enjoy the city and discover all of its beauties and stories, I suggest you stay at least two days or ideally 4 days, including day trips from Hanoi to other beautiful destinations like Halong Bay and Ninh Binh.
4 Days in Hanoi – The ultimate Hanoi Itinerary
In the below, we’ll show you the itinerary in which is believed the most suitable and ideal itinerary for a four-day trip in Hanoi.
Day 1: Hanoi City Tour – Old Quarter, French Quarter, Water Puppet Show
Any Hanoi City Tour would take you the most highlighted Hanoi attractions. We suggest you to book a full day tour with a water puppet show included in the evening.
1. Visit Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and Museum
Ho Chi Minh is the most influential and beloved politician in Vietnam history. Come to Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and Museum to not only learn more about Ho Chi Minh and the affection Vietnamese people have shown him but also appreciate the beautiful architecture of the complex.
- Location: 25 Hung Vuong Street, Ba Dinh, Hanoi
- Opening days: Tue, Wed, Thu, Sat, Sun
- Opening hours: morning from 8:00AM – 12:00, afternoon from 14:00 to 16:30
- Admission: 40,000VND
- Dress code: avoid wearing shorts, mini-skirts, sleeveless shirts, tank tops and the like
2. Take a look at one Pillar Pagoda
One-pillar pagoda is the centerpiece of Vietnamese traditional architecture style. The work is absolutely singular and very iconic, related closely with history and legends at the same time. You shouldn’t miss visiting this place.
You can visit the pagoda when visit Ho Chi Minh complex.
3. Enjoy the view of West Lake and Tran Quoc Pagoda
West Lake is the largest lake in Hanoi, offering not only spectacular sunset views but also a lot beautiful religious monuments. Tran Quoc, built 1500 years ago, has a significance role in the religious and spiritual life of Hanoian people.
- Location: Thanh Nien Street
- Admission: free entrance
- Opening hours: 11:00 – 11:30 & 13:00 – 16:00 (Mon – Sat); 7:00 – 16:00 (Sun and holidays)
4. Hang around Hoan Kiem Lake and Ngoc Son Temple
Hoan Kiem Lake or Sword Lake and Ngoc Son Temple together is the most well-known attraction in Hanoi. One reason for that is the close location of the complex to Hanoi Old Quarter. The lake is such a change of landscape after a long hour on the busy roads of Hanoi.
Ngoc Son temple and The Huc Bridge create a solemn sight on the middle of the green lake. The red bridge is exceptionally beautiful at night.
- Ngoc Son temple’s admission: 20,000VND for foreigners
- Opening hours: daily, 7:30 – 17:00
- Dress code: no miniskirts or shorts
5. Discover Hanoi Old Quarter
Hanoi Old Quarter is the heart of the capital city, also the city’s biggest travel hub. This is the place everything happens. Originally, Old Quarter was the trading center of the whole country, with at least 36 crafts guilds assembled.
To this day, Old Quarter still retains its traditional traits in some corner, yet developed into a vibrant, modern and exciting hub with a lot of things to do and enjoy.
6. If you have time, enjoy a water puppet show
Water puppet is one of the oldest folklore art form in Vietnamese culture. It’s well reserved and promoted so you can easily watch. Artisans stand in the waist-deep water using bamboo sticks to control the water puppetry movements. The performances often tell folklore stories and mythical legends of Vietnamese people. If you’re going with kids, you children would love it so much. This is also the top activities in Hanoi on rainy days.
Day 2: Cooking Class & Street Food Tour
If in the first day, you were too busing visiting places then the second day is perfect to be spent appreciating Vietnam cuisine by taking a Hanoi street food tour.
A cooking class only lasts for a half day, and finish at the right time for lunch so you can enjoy all the dishes you just made.
Cooking class will starts with a market tour where guests will experience buying for the ingredients. Visiting a local market will give you so much insight into how the daily life of Vietnamese people goes by. It’s such a vibrant, vivid sight of a wet market in Southeast Asia.
The chef will give you detail instruction and introduction of the dishes you about to learn. All the dishes are the most iconic and famous Vietnamese dishes like Banh Xeo, Spring Rolls, Banh Mi…. You’ll enjoy all the dishes you made for lunch.
In the afternoon, your street food tour will start from Hanoi Old Quarter – the paradise of Hanoi street food. Even the famous chef Anthony Bourdain lost his way finding the best dishes of Hanoi here.
The first dish is the famous Banh Cuon (steam rice paper rolls) which is just the quintessence of Hanoi cuisine. You’ll see the local chef demonstrating the skills of making this dish. Stop next at a barbeque stalls to taste the savory grilled meat. Your last stop is at the city’s most famous ice-cream parlour – Trang Tien.
Day 3: Visit handicraft village and Hanoi night market
This day will give you further insight of Hanoi in general. If you want to take a breather outside of the crowded Hanoi, take a short trip to just outside Hanoi to enjoy the tranquil countryside.
Bat Trang Pottery and Ceramic Village is the best choice for a half-day trip out of Hanoi. With the history of seven centuries, Bat Trang has a culture of making pottery and ceramics on its own.
Bat Trang ceramics products were preferred in many countries like Japan, Chinese and Western countries. Come to Bat Trang, not only that you’ll see the beautiful pieces of ceramic products, you can also try your hands on making your own pottery product at some of the stores here.
Back to the city for a trip to the night market in Hanoi. The three most famous and worthiest night markets to visit in Hanoi are:
Old Quarter Night Market
- Location: Hang Dao to Hang Giay Street
- Opening hours: 18:00 to midnight every Fri, Sat, Sun
Long Bien Night Market
- Location: near Long Bien Bridge
- Opening hours: 23:00 to early next morning every day
Quang Ba Flower Night Market
- Location: 236 Au Co Street
- Opening hours: night time to early next morning
Day 4: Hanoi Day Trips
Thanks for its central location, Hanoi is the base to travel to many other famous destinations in northern Vietnam. Within its closest proximity, Ninh Binh and Halong Bay are the most popular destinations and can be visited within day. Other closers attractions in Hanoi like Ba Vi National Park and Perfume Pagoda are also considered attractive sites for a Hanoi day trip.
Option 1: Hanoi – Ninh Binh
Ninh Binh is just breathtaking destination and it’s only 2 hours driving south of Hanoi. As a mixed world heritage for both cultural and natural values, there’re a lot of things to do in Ninh Binh. A day trip from Hanoi to Ninh Binh will take you to see the most beautiful landscape of limestone mountains on river in Vietnam.
Hang Mua in recent year has been known as the most wonderful viewpoint in northern Vietnam. Trang An and Tam Coc need no elaboration on their beauties.
In the morning you will enjoy a boat ride in Trang An or Tam Coc which is about 2 hours long. After lunch, you’ll visit one of these sites: Hang Mua, Bai Dinh pagoda or Phat Diem Cathedral.
>> See more in our Hanoi – Ninh Binh Itinerary
Option 2: Hanoi – Halong Bay Day Cruise
For a basic 4-hour cruise, you’ll be visiting Hon Trong Mai, Incense Burner, Stone Dog, Thien Cung Cave and Dau Go Grotto. It’s a short but surely an exciting trip.
*For a more perfect option, including Hanoi, Halong and Ninh Binh in just 4 days, see our best itinerary:
If you find one day is too rushing, a 2-day-1-night overnight cruise would be a fantastic option for you. Take a look at our best Halong cruise collection: