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Hanoi is the capital city of Vietnam and a very different experience to that which you'll find in Ho Chi Minh City. This northern, and most cosmopolitan, city was less affected by the war while some cultural influences from China are noticeable. It's an excellent base to explore Hanoi's interesting and traditional countryside, or for a trip to Halong Bay.

Good for
  • History Buff
  • Shopping Fanatic
  • Art and Architecture Lover
  • Nature Lover
  • Foodie
  • Peace and Quiet Seeker
  • Trendsetter
  • Like a Local

12 Places

7 City Tips

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Map

12 Places

Day 1

Halong Bay

Destinations

Cuc Phuong National Park

Hoa Sua Training Restaurant - Le Croissant

Restaurants

Thang Long Water Puppet Theater

Theatres

Day 2

Duong Lam Ancient Village

Historic Sites

Thanh Chuong Viet Palace

Parks

Street Food Tours Hanoi

Food Tours

Hoa Lo Prison

Historic Sites, History Museums

Hoa Lu temples of the Dinh & Le Dynasties

Points of Interest & Landmarks

Day 3

Lake of the Restored Sword (Hoan Kiem Lake)

Bodies of Water

Phu Tay Ho

Religious Sites

Mai Chau

Destinations

George K's City Tips

  • For rickshaws, tuk-tuks, motos, and all taxis in Asia, always bargain first and make sure that you agree on the price before you start the service.
  • Vietnam doesn’t have a specific rule on tipping. It is up to you how much you tip, but generally a tip is not expected.
  • Prices of goods in supermarkets, pharmacies, restaurants, hotels, official transport, basic commodity shops, and so on, are usually fixed.
  • Always ask for permission before you take someone’s photo, and don't photograph anything to do with the military.
  • Dress modestly when visiting temples and pagodas, and don't swim naked or topless in public.
  • It's polite to use both hands to pass things and to not pass anything over someone’s head.
  • Please don’t litter, and remember that actually picking up rubbish sets a good example for Vietnamese youths.
    Day 1
  • Halong Bay
    Destinations
    See more photos
    George K Says:

    Escape from the busy capital and take a short cruise to the Gulf of Tonkin, and visit its labyrinth of 1,600 spectacular islands and breathtaking limestone pinnacles. This designated World Heritage Site is a place of outstanding scenic beauty and a must on every Vietnam visit. There are numerous outlets offering short cruises of Halong Bay including transfers (3-4 hours) to Halong Harbor. On board a traditional junk boat you will be able to see the greatest of Halong’s wonders, visit some caves, swim in forgotten bays, and explore some of the islands.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Must See
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Take a short kayak paddle to a floating fishing community to experience a different way of life.
    Plan to stay:
    More than 3 hours
    • Halong Bay
  • Cuc Phuong National Park
    See more photos
    George K Says:

    The Cuc Phuong National Park is 120km southwest of Hanoi. It’s the oldest National Park in Vietnam, and boasts enchanting scenery, a rich eco-system, and valuable archaeological vestiges. I would suggest an overnight stay — on the first day, visiting the Endangered Primates Rescue Center and, after lunch, check in for one night at the National Park Head Quarter’s Guesthouse. In the afternoon, discover the Park’s flora and fauna, and visit the 1,000 year-old sequoia tree, and the cave of Prehistoric Man. After breakfast, leave the Cuc Phuong to visit Kenh Ga — take a boat trip along Hoang Long River through rice fields and karsts limestone mountains and enjoy the beauty of this natural landscape. Later you can visit Kenh Ga Hot spring and Van Trinh Cave, before returning to Hanoi after lunch.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Must See
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Weekends can be busy with Vietnamese families.
    Plan to stay:
    More than 3 hours
    • Cuc Phuong National Park
  • Save
    Hoa Sua Training Restaurant - Le Croissant
    Restaurants (French, Vietnamese)
    George K Says:

    An alternative to Cuc Phuong National Park is to head back to Hanoi in the afternoon and join a special cooking class at the Hoa Sua Cooking School, or The Hoa Sua restaurant - part of a training school where disadvantaged Vietnamese children and teens are educated in cooking and restaurant skills. The cooking teachers bring their excellent skills to you in a fun environment and they speak good English. After your class, you can taste the dishes you have prepared.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Must See
    • Trendsetter
    • Hidden Gems
    Tips
    • The teacher may be able to take you on a visit to a local market in central Hanoi to choose the ingredients.
    Plan to stay:
    More than 3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #0 of 0 restaurants in
    • They moved to No 2- Hang Chuoi Street 30/03/2015
    • Experiential food 28/02/2015
    • Hoa Sua Training Restaurant - Le Croissant
    Address:
    21 Ha Hoi
    Hanoi
    Vietnam
    Phone:
    04. 39.43.67.07
    Price range:
    0 $ - 10 $
    Other:
  • Save
    Thang Long Water Puppet Theater
    Theatres
    See more photos
    George K Says:

    The art of water puppetry is a North Vietnamese tradition which originated in the villages of the Red River Delta area, and dates back to the 11th century. The shows here are performed in a waist-deep pool, and the puppets are made out of wood, and then lacquered. Under the water large rods support the puppets, which are used by the puppeteer hidden behind a screen. The puppets appear to perform over the water depicting traditional legends and historical tales.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • There are regular puppet shows every afternoon with a morning show on a Sunday.
    From the community
    Ranked #13 of 225 things to do in Hanoi
    • Interesting but not spectacular. Go here as part of other activities 31/07/2015
    • Great show 30/07/2015
    • Thang Long Water Puppet Theater
    Address:
    57B Dinh Tien Hoang
    Hanoi
    Vietnam
    Phone:
    84 04 8249494
    Other:
  • Day 2
  • Save
    Duong Lam Ancient Village
    Historic Sites
    See more photos
    George K Says:

    Take a drive to Duong Lam’s ancient village, 50km west of Hanoi on the north Red River Delta. In this typical rural village you will find some well-preserved hundred-year-old houses. Visit the hamlet of Mong Phu, with its intact village entrance gate and temple. Experience Vietnamese farming life and stop at the two biggest ancient houses, built 200-400 years ago. Continue to Ngo Quyen and the Phung Hung Temple and Mia Pagoda, built in the 15th century and featuring a collection of 287 statues of various materials, before you head back to Hanoi.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • History Buff
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Try to hire a bicycle, as cycling around the sights is easy.
    Plan to stay:
    More than 3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #28 of 225 things to do in Hanoi
    Certificate of Excellence 2014Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Charming 01/07/2015
    • Visit before too late 25/06/2015
    • Duong Lam Ancient Village
    Address:
    Son Tay
    Hanoi 10000
    Vietnam
  • Save
    Thanh Chuong Viet Palace
    Parks
    See more photos
    George K Says:

    Thanh Chuong Palace is a 50-minute drive from Hanoi and is the home and studio of one of the most celebrated painters in Vietnam. Explore Thanh Chuong's studio, filled with antiques the artist has painstakingly collected over the course of his life. Ceramics, statues, art, and sculptures fill the awe-inspiring ‘House of the Auspicious Clouds.' Surrounding the structure is a perfectly-preserved 100-year old stilt house from the Muong hill tribe, a simple earthen house, and other antique structures, which offer fascinating insight into Vietnam's cultural legacy.

    Good for
    • History Buff
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • During special events, the Thanh Chuong Viet Palace will host traditional songs, water pottery, and Vietnamese opera.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #46 of 225 things to do in Hanoi
    Certificate of Excellence 2014Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Modern artist at work 21/04/2015
    • Surprisingly good 09/04/2015
    • Thanh Chuong Viet Palace
    Address:
    Hien Ninh commune - Day Dieu slope - Keo Ca dam Soc Son town
    Hanoi
    Vietnam
    Phone:
    +84 (04) 3991 2970
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    8:30 - 11:00
    Other:
  • Save
    Street Food Tours Hanoi
    Food Tours
    George K Says:

    Walk through the Old Quarter, past the old O Quan Chuong east gate to Thanh Ha wet market. Along the way you will find many delicacies and strange food items on display — this busy market is crammed full with Vietnamese culture. Continue through to Dong Xuan market to sample some local treats, such as 'pho tiu' and 'bun dau,' or stroll up ‘food alley’ to see other dishes on offer. Continue to Hang Than Street to see the ceremonial cake stalls and taste French-influenced desserts before you return back to the Old Quarter, via Hang Cot Street, to check out the specially treated seasonal fruits.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Must See
    • Like a Local
    Tips
    • Stop at one of the Old Quarter's busiest coffee shops for a well-earned sit down and coffee.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #58 of 74 Food & Drink in Hanoi
    • Awesome Food 28/03/2015
    • Great night with excellent tour guide 09/01/2015
    • Street Food Tours Hanoi
    Address:
    24 Au Trieu Street
    Hoan Kiem
    Hanoi 0084
    Vietnam
    Phone:
    +84 168 766 5555
    Price range:
    13 $ - 13 $
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    6:00 - 11:00
    Other:
  • Save
    Hoa Lo Prison
    Historic Sites, History Museums
    See more photos
    George K Says:

    This prison was used by French colonists during the Vietnam America war for political prisoners. Most of the prison was demolished in the mid 1990s; however a small portion remains and is now a museum. Whilst the museum depicts that the inmates were well treated, memoirs and journals from past inmates suggest otherwise. Take a haunting tour through the museum, which amongst many artifacts, shows the interrogation room and guillotine room!

    Good for
    • Must See
    • History Buff
    Tips
    • If you are into history, you may want to read up on biographies and publications to compare to your museum visit.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #11 of 225 things to do in Hanoi
    Certificate of Excellence 2014Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Fascinating visit 31/07/2015
    • Not to be Missed 31/07/2015
    • Hoa Lo Prison
    Address:
    1 Hoa Lo St
    Phu Khanh village, Hoan Kiem
    Hanoi 10000
    Vietnam
    Phone:
    04-824-6358
    Other:
  • Save
    Hoa Lu temples of the Dinh & Le Dynasties
    Points of Interest & Landmarks
    See more photos
    George K Says:

    If you'd prefer an out-of-town itinerary for day 2, depart in the early morning and take a two-hour drive through rural countryside to Hoa Lu, Vietnam's first capital. Mount your bike and cycle to the Dinh and Le temples dedicated to King Dinh Tien Hoang and King Le Dai Hanh (968-1009). Continue cycling for one hour to Tam Coc through stunning limestone karst valleys surrounded by picturesque fields and villages. Have lunch at a local restaurant before boarding a sampan for a short cruise to see the enormous limestone karsts jutting out from the green rice fields giving rise to Tam Coc's other name, 'Ha Long on Land.' Disembark and after a short cycle reach the Bich Dong Pagoda on nearby Ngu Nhac Mountain, dating back to 1428. Late in the afternoon return back to Hanoi.

    Good for
    • Like a Local
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Depending on the day of the month, you may visit Mai Chau Market and Van Village in the same day too.
    Plan to stay:
    More than 3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #10 of 18 things to do in Ninh Binh
    • Really nice!!! 25/07/2015
    • Not touristy - a big plus 19/07/2015
    • Hoa Lu temples of the Dinh & Le Dynasties
    Address:
    Hoa Lu
    Ninh Binh
    Vietnam
  • Day 3
  • Save
    Lake of the Restored Sword (Hoan Kiem Lake)
    Bodies of Water
    See more photos
    George K Says:

    Integrate yourself with the locals one morning by starting early (around 6am) and make sure to take your camera as it's the perfect time for photography lovers. Start from the Nghi Tam Flower Market — one of the few remaining ones in Hanoi — where you will see the beginning of a working day and the many activities of the market. Remember to check out the traditional signification of each kind of flower. Continue to downtown Hanoi, watch the locals doing their morning exercises lakeside, and finish with a pleasant walk and a coffee near Hoan Kiem Lake.

    Good for
    • Hidden Gems
    • Like a Local
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Join the locals for a bit of Tai Chi or some morning exercises.
    Plan to stay:
    More than 3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #9 of 225 things to do in Hanoi
    Certificate of Excellence 2014Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • It's a lake 31/07/2015
    • Escape from the city clutter 31/07/2015
    • Lake of the Restored Sword (Hoan Kiem Lake)
  • Save
    Phu Tay Ho
    Religious Sites
    See more photos
    George K Says:

    Take a pleasant drive through typical Vietnamese countryside 25km southwest of Hanoi to the Tay Pagoda. The pagoda is dedicated to the famous 12th-century Buddhist Master Tu Dao Hanh. Besides its unique structure and serene atmosphere, over 100 statues fill the prayer halls, as well as two 15th-century bridges, and an outdoor water puppet stage. Continue to Tay Phuong Pagoda (20 minutes by road); famous for its valuable collection of 18 Arhat statues coated with lacquer, a Tay Son era masterpiece dating back to 17-18th century.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Hidden Gems
    • History Buff
    Tips
    • Try to combine your visit with Ba Vi National Park.
    Plan to stay:
    More than 3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #121 of 225 things to do in Hanoi
    • 『 Worth Visiting 』 06/06/2015
    • Nice to sit and reflect 18/01/2015
    • Phu Tay Ho
    Address:
    Dang Thai Mai
    Hanoi
    Vietnam
  • Mai Chau
    Destinations
    See more photos
    George K Says:

    Got one final night to play with? Make an overnight trip to Mai Chau to enjoy gorgeous scenery dotted with limestone mountains and vibrant rice paddies. Stop en-route in the small villages of Thai, H’Mong, and Dao people. Descend on a steep mountain road into the stunning valley of Mai Chau and reach the quaint village to spend the night at a home-stay to experience the rich culture and tradition of the Thai people. The next morning, hire a bike for two hours of easy cycling through the verdant rice paddies and the villages of Chieng Sai, Na Phin, Nhot of the ethnic minority people. After lunch return to Hanoi.

    Good for
    • Like a Local
    • History Buff
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Depending on the day of the month, you may visit Mai Chau Market and Van Village in the same day.
    Plan to stay:
    More than 3 hours
    • Mai Chau
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