Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam, throbs with vibrant energy. It’s a city where old meets new in chaotic yet endearing fashion – tall, gleaming skyscrapers jostle with graceful colonial buildings as Vespas speed by at a frantic pace through its tree-lined streets. And in the midst of all this frenzy, time seems to suddenly stand still as you savor the rich flavors of the legendary Vietnamese dish pho.
So what do you do when you have three days in Hanoi to make the most of this mesmerizing city? We have put together this guide that details things to do in three days in Hanoi, which will help you experience its sights, sounds and flavors.
Day 1: Experience the popular attractions of Hanoi
One of the best ways to learn about a city is to head out on a city tour – on foot! Discover some of Hanoi’s most iconic landmarks, such as the tranquil Hoan Kiem Lake with the iconic Nga Son Temple or Temple of the Jade Mountain at its center. Another must-visit is the Old Quarter, the historic heart of Hanoi, which provides an insight into the culture and traditions of this ancient city. Walk through the fascinating warren of back alleys, dotted with traces of French and Chinese architecture, the famous ’36 streets of 36 wares’ filled with stalls selling the work of local artisans and traders. Savor a spot of quintessential Vietnamese coffee, and if you want a taste of authentic local food, we recommend Home Hanoi in the Old Quarter, housed in a French colonial mansion. Our restaurant guide to Hanoi has more details on where you can eat in the city.
You can go out and explore Hanoi at any time – morning, evening or night. No matter when you do, Hanoi’s attractions will have you charmed. In case walking isn’t your cup of tea, you could opt for a cycling tour instead and pedal past some of Hanoi’s landmarks.
A must-do in during your three days in Hanoi is to head out on vintage Vespa and experience the city like a local, including weaving in and out of the traffic! We recommend traveling with a local guide whose unique insights will help you enhance your experience of the atmospheric Old Quarter, including savoring the fresh tastes of Vietnamese cuisine. Enjoy unique aperitifs and snacks like infused rice wine and buffalo jerky as well as Bun Cha or the iconic rice noodles with grilled pork meatballs.
Make your three days in Hanoi truly memorable by learning how to wrap the popular Pho Cuon or fresh and fragrant rice noodle rolls. End the evening in the Hanoi Opera House district with a unique experience – listening to tunes from 1930s jazz fused with traditional Vietnamese music at popular nightlife spots such as the Binh Minh’s Jazz Club.
Day 2: See a different side of Hanoi
Don’t let your three days in Hanoi be only about its popular attractions. Opt for a change of pace on your second day, for a quieter, more intimate glimpse of the region. Drive to the outskirts of Hanoi, through verdant countryside and beautiful flower fields, and make your way to one of its many villages known for rich flower harvests. You can chat with the farmers, do some light work with them, and see how they spend the better part of the day. Your vacation should have a mix of the popular as well as offbeat experiences of Vietnam to allow you to truly understand the country.
Head to the Hanoi Opera House to witness a marvelous depiction of Northern Vietnam’s village life. The Hanoi Opera House is bound to leave you mesmerized with its stunning French neoclassical design. Equally fascinating is the performance that you will see: a mix of conventional as well as contemporary artistic traditions are used to depict various village activities, accompanied by live music. You will also see artists dexterously juggle ancestral bamboo props as they use them to tell musical stories.
DAY 3: Hanoi on a cyclos
Spend the third day of your Hanoi sojourn by taking a deeper look at the city’s history on a cyclos, or a quaint cycle rickshaw. Learn about Ho Chi Minh, the revolutionary leader, visit the country’s oldest Buddhist Temple, the Tran Quoc Pagoda, as well as the beautiful Taoist temple, Quan Thanh. Other attractions that provide a glimpse into Vietnam’s storied history include the architecturally stunning Temple of Literature, as well as the ‘Hanoi Hilton’ or Hoa Lo Prison. Time permitting, you can end your Hanoi sojourn by watching the traditional water puppet performance at a public theater.
We recommend staying within or near the Old Quarter so that you enjoy close proximity to the major landmarks of Hanoi.
Essence Hanoi Hotel & Spa (Mid-range)
Located in the historic Old Quarter of Hanoi, Essence Hanoi Hotel & Spa is close to prominent attractions such as Hang Ngang Hang Dao Street and the Museum of Independence. After a busy day of exploring, you can unwind in the hotel spa. And, if you aren’t in the mood to head out for a bite, savor delicious Vietnamese food at the inhouse restaurant.
Movenpick Hotel Hanoi (Upmarket)
Conveniently located in downtown Hanoi, just five minutes from the Old Quarter, Movenpick Hotel combines quintessential French luxury with a host of modern comforts. The hotel offers a plush sauna and massage center that are perfect for those tired muscles! You can enjoy Vietnamese as well as continental flavors at the sleek restaurant.
How to get to Hanoi: The Noi Bai Hanoi International Airport is well connected with airlines such as Qantas, Lufthansa, Emirates, American, Etihad and Air China among others operating flights to and from Hanoi. You can reach Hanoi via flights from cities such as Los Angeles, New York, Washington DC, London, Sydney and Melbourne. Most airlines offer connecting flight options. Our Vietnam Travel Guide has more tips on how to plan your Vietnam vacation.
When to visit Hanoi: Spring and Fall are the best times to visit Hanoi, when the weather is mild, with pleasant temperatures. Our Best Time to Visit Vietnam guide has more details to help you plan your trip.
Expert Tip: Hanoi is just one of the many cities you should visit in Vietnam – our Things To Do in Vietnam guide lists some more unmissable experiences in this fascinating South Asian country, including how you can plan a culinary journey through Vietnam! We offer several vacation packages to Vietnam that you can easily customize as per your tastes and preferences.
Head to Vietnam for a truly mesmerizing time!
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