How To Spend 3 Days in Hanoi

Travel Itinerary

4 ratings

Haz Mapz
Itinerary by: Haz Mapz
a month ago
Traveller
Duration: 3 days

Hanoi is one of the most beautifully hectic cities I have ever been to. Motorbikes on every corner, street food to die for and enough unique culture and fascinating streets to keep you entertained for quite some time. I was lucky enough to call this crazily wonderful city my home for a year, whilst I was teaching English. Nearly every weekend I spent exploring Hanoi, zooming around on my motorbike looking for little spots and discovering everything this city has to offer. In my opinion no visit to Vietnam is complete without a visit to Hanoi. Although some choose to visit the southern city of Ho Chi Minh, personally I think Hanoi is far more intimate and traditional and gives you a real insight into Vietnamese culture. To truly get a feel for this city I would recommend spending a jam packed 3 days in Hanoi. To make your life easier moving around the city, I would recommend renting a motorbike. Not only is it a convenient way to explore, but it’s also an experience, one that will have you feeling like a local in no time. Just wandering around Old Quarter you will find many different motorbike shops where you can rent a bike, but Phung Motorbike is one that is frequently used by tourists. They even have a website (pretty unique for Vietnamese businesses) where you can see the different bikes. Bike rentals within the city are around $5 a day, just the start of the Vietnamese bargains you will receive in Hanoi. A word of warning about riding a bike in Hanoi. It is believed that there are around 5 million bikes in Hanoi alone, and this makes for some hairy riding at times. Here are a few tips for first time riders in the city: drive slowly, use your horn to let people know what you’re doing (it’s not a sign of frustration in Vietnam), and watch out for people not using their mirrors, hand waving and hand signals are common instead of indicating. If, understandably, you are a little worried about riding around Hanoi on a bike, of course you can walk or you can download the Grab ride hailing app. Grab is a really helpful app just like Uber, but your ride will come in the form of a motorbike rather than a car. A fun and very affordable way to move around. The summer/ monsoon season in Vietnam is between May and September, I highly recommend avoiding visiting Hanoi during this time. The heavy rains will impede your ability to move around the city and put a dampener (pun intended) on things. February to April and September to November are two ideal times of the year to visit, providing weather that’s not too hot and humid and clear skies. Photo credits: All photos were taken by the author Haz Mapz, unless otherwise stated.

Day 1

Old Quarter, Manic Motorbikes & Famous Vietnamese Food

Day one of this itinerary is based around Hanoi's Old Quarter and the surrounding area, a perfect place to start to get you used to the busy traffic and life of the locals.
09:00
Wander the Streets of Old Quarter
Hàng Ngang, Hàng Đào, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội 100000, Vietnam
Old Quarter is an area of Hanoi with 76 streets, all with their unique quirks. Whilst in Old Quarter you can enjoy some cheap, market style shopping with each street uniquely dedicated to a different product. This was one of my favourite things about day-to-day life in Vietnam and an easy way to describe where you want to meet someone. “Oh, hey I am on shoe street, where are you?”, “I am on sewing street, just around the corner”. The reason for these dedicated trade streets is because in 1010, Vietnamese Emperor Ly Thai To moved his royal workings to the newly named capital Hanoi. As this transition took place many tradesmen followed and set up shop on the old streets. Each group of tradesmen set up their location on a specific street and therefore the tradition stuck. Highly handy for shopping I will have you know! To explore Old Quarter, I would strongly recommend ditching the bike and exploring on foot. Loose yourself in the craziness! Keep your eyes peeled, look high, look low and be sure to check down every little alley, Hanoi is a city of surprises.
Article By: Haz Mapz

Travel time
0 hours 5 minutes
09:00 - 11:00
Hoan Kiem Lake & Ngoc Son Temple
Hoàn Kiếm Lake, Hang Trong, Hoàn Kiếm, Hanoi, Vietnam
There aren’t many places to escape the bombardment of motorbike horns in Hanoi, but Hoan Kiem Lake provides some tranquillity. Ho Hoan Kiem means Lake of the Restored Sword because legend suggests that Emperor Ly Thai was sent a magic sword from heaven to drive the Chinese away from Vietnam. After the impending war between the Chinese and Vietnamese, a giant golden turtle took the sword and submerged itself in the lake’s waters. Local traffic is banned between 7PM and midnight to ensure that ever so sort after tranquillity. At the lake you can visit the famous Thap Rua Tower, also known as Turtle Tower, built in homage to the sword yielding turtle. Also be sure to walk across Huc Red bridge, which is illuminated at night. It leads to the quaint Ngoc Son Temple or the ‘Jade Mountain Temple’, that sits on a tiny island. Hoan Kiem Lake is located just a short 5 minute ride south of Old Quarter, a perfect place for a spot of lunch and a lakeside stroll.
Article By: Haz Mapz

Travel time
0 hours 10 minutes
09:00 - 11:00
Saint Joseph’s Cathedral
40 Nhà Chung, Hàng Trống, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội 100000, Vietnam
Saint Joseph’s Cathedral or the Big Church as it’s known locally, is located on 40 Nha Chung Street in Hoan Kiem District. A beautiful tree lined street leads you down to this impressive and slightly unusually placed cathedral. Vietnam is a predominately Buddhist country, so a large and imposing Notre-Dame style church in this busy city is surprising and feels quite out of place! This cathedral was built around 120 years ago, when the invading French army oppressed Hanoi. The church is open between 8AM and 5PM and entry is free. This is also a popular spot for Vietnamese couples to take their engagement and wedding photos, so it’s a nice place to watch the photoshoots for a while.
Article By: Haz Mapz

Travel time
0 hours 10 minutes
09:00 - 11:00
Eat Banh Mi
Hàng Ngang, Hàng Đào, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam
Banh Mi is a Vietnamese sandwich, but its far more than just your standard BLT. A warm crispy bread roll, filled with pate, mayonnaise, vegetables, sometimes eggs, plenty of seasoning, ham, beef even chicken and a dollop of delicious but mysterious sauce. Many people suggest trying Banh Mi at the restaurants around Old Quarter, but I implore you, if you take just one piece of advice from this article, let it be this, find the smallest, cheapest looking street stand, with an old lady serving Banh Mi and try it there. I promise you it will be absolutely delicious and most certainly fresh! Photo cred: Van Thanh (@vanthanh2608) on Unsplash
Article By: Haz Mapz

Travel time
0 hours 10 minutes
16:00 - 18:00
Dong Kinh Nghia Thuc Square
7 Đinh Tiên Hoàng, Hàng Trống, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội 110213, Vietnam
Perhaps one of the most famous parts of Hanoi is Old Quarter and it is a great place to explore both on foot and by motorbike. Dong Kinh Nghia Thuc Square is at the heart of this area and is almost comically busy with crazy horn honking traffic. You can watch this crazy onslaught of motorbikes and the occasional car right from the street, but I highly recommend viewing this hectic congestion from either Highlands Coffee or Legend Beer. Whether it’s a coffee in hand or a cold Vietnamese beer they are both great places to watch those wheels whizzing by.
Article By: Haz Mapz

Travel time
0 hours 10 minutes

Day 2

Uncle Ho, Bridges & Beer

Day 2 will allow you to learn about former Vietnamese President Ho Chi Minh, visit an iconic and beautifully rusty bridge, wail at the opera house and enjoying some of Vietnams nightlife at Beer Corner.
09:00 - 11:00
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
2 Hùng Vương, Điện Bàn, Ba Đình, Hà Nội 100000, Vietnam
When I first arrived in Hanoi the first touristy thing, I did was to visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. Located in Ba Dinh Square, this is one of the most popular attractions in Hanoi, for locals and tourists alike. It is the final resting place of Vietnam’s most popular leader, Ho Chi Minh or ‘Uncle Ho’ (as he is colloquially known). To enter you should make sure to dress modestly and hand your bags and cameras over, as there are no photos allowed. Interestingly, if you’re visiting in October Uncle Ho’s embalmed body might not be there. Each year during this month his remains are sent to Russia for maintenance. Admission to the mausoleum is free, however it is strongly encouraged that you make a donation out of respect. Photo cred: Hans Juergen (@hansjuergen) on Unsplash
Article By: Haz Mapz
Standard 0.50 - 5.00 USD

Travel time
0 hours 10 minutes
09:00 - 11:00
Cau Long Biên Bridge
Trần Nhật Duật, Phúc xá, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội 100000, Vietnam
I love this bridge, it's my absolute favourite bridge in Vietnam. Is it weird to have a favourite bridge? The Long Bien bridge crosses over the Red River from the northeast of Hanoi. Filled with bikes crossing into Hanoi this is a great bridge for photo taking and watch the morning and evening traffic. The bridge was built in 1899 and its rusty steel structure looks almost skeletal. You can also pop onto Banana Island right next to the bridge, and find spectacular views of, you guessed it, banana trees…and the rusty bridge above!
Article By: Haz Mapz

Travel time
0 hours 10 minutes
11:00 - 14:00
Try Nem Lui Hue
Hàng Ngang, Hàng Đào, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam
Ah Nem Lui Hue, how I miss my favourite Vietnamese food. There are a few different elements to this dish. Firstly, you are provided with thin circular rice paper, which acts as the wrap to hold the filling together. Then you sit and wait a short while as your thin sausage shaped pork sticks roast on the barbeque. An assortment of vegetables, cucumber, onions, lettuce, and grated carrots are served in coloured plastic bowls and then you’re ready to start. Simply fill up your rice wrap with pork and vegetables and then wrap them up tight, pull out the stick and then…voila, you have Nem Lui Hue, ready to dip into another one of Vietnam’s deliciously mysterious sauces. Photo cred: sontung57 on Pixabay
Article By: Haz Mapz
Standard 2.00 - 5.00 USD

Travel time
0 hours 10 minutes
14:00 - 14:45
Hanoi Opera House
01 Tràng Tiền, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội 100000, Vietnam
Built in 1911 by the then occupying French, the Hanoi Opera House is heavily influenced by French architecture, with typically French style domes, pillars, and shutters. Located in Trang Tien, it’s the biggest theatre in Vietnam. Although tours of the opera house are not offered, unless you go to a show that is, visiting from the outside is still a great option, especially at night when everything is lit up!
Article By: Haz Mapz

Travel time
0 hours 15 minutes
18:00 - 23:00
Beer Corner
Lương Ngọc Quyến & Tạ Hiện, Hàng Buồm, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam
Perhaps the most famous aspect of Hanoi’s night life is beer corner, where you can try Vietnam’s super cheap draught beer, bia hơi. Beer corner is the point at which several bar lined streets meet and by evening time people permeate the corner seated on precarious plastic stools enjoying a plentiful supply of beer. A note here about plastic stools. It is the opinion of many expats living in Vietnam, that if there are plastic stools placed outside a restaurant the food will almost certainly be delicious. To some it may look cheap and a little sketchy but for those in the know, you’ll be sure to have a good experience. Although bia hơi is a pretty weak beer by western standards, you can get a tall glass for VND 10,000, that’s just USD 0.44. So, start your night at beer corner and span out later ins search of your next party spot. Photo cred: Frida Aguilar Estrada (@fridaae29) on Unsplash
Article By: Haz Mapz

Travel time
0 hours 10 minutes

Day 3

Exploring a Little Further Afield

Take a lovely motorbike ride to Tay Ho District to enjoy the beautiful flower valley as well as a sizeable lake. By night time you can take a drive to a rather colourful friendship bridge.
09:00 - 11:00
Tay Ho
Tây Hồ, Hanoi, Vietnam
Tay Ho District is located in West Lake. This large body of water has a 17km circumference. Walk or ride around the lake and you will discover a plethora of night clubs, restaurants, and cafes for you to enjoy. Tay Ho is just a 15 minute drive from Hanoi's Old Quarter. If you are craving western food after trying all those new Vietnamese dishes, then this is the perfect spot. Enjoy a juicy burger at 'Chops Tay Ho', curry at 'Rasm Indian Cuisine' or a barbecue at 'The Fat Pig'. Then after your meal enjoy a beautiful sunset in the more refreshing evening shade, right next to the lake.
Article By: Haz Mapz

Travel time
0 hours 15 minutes
09:00 - 11:00
Ho Tay Flower Valley
Thung lũng hoa hồ Tây, Ngã 3 Phố Nhật Chiêu, Nhật Tân, Tây Hồ, Hà Nội, Vietnam
Located in the West Lake area of Tay Ho, the flower valley has in recent years become a popular tourist spot. Known in Vietnamese as Thung Lung Hao Ho Tay this place is filled with a variety of flowers in an array of colours and is a great place to take photos. There is even a windmill that you can climb up to see the flowers from above. If time permits, I advise going during the week as this place can get very busy with selfie takers. Between September and March, the flowers are blooming so that’s the best time to visit. There is a small entrance fee of VND 80,000 around USD 3.50.
Article By: Haz Mapz
Standard 3.50 USD

Travel time
0 hours 10 minutes
09:00 - 11:00
Hanoi Train Street
5 Trần Phú, Cửa Đông, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội 100000, Vietnam
Located between Le Duan and Khan Tien Street on Ngo 224 Le Duan street in Hanoi’s Old Quarter, train street is a narrow residential street where twice a day a train noisily passes through just inches away from the residential buildings. Whilst you’re there you can pop into Railway Hanoi, the first coffee shop on Hanoi train street and enjoy a Vietnamese egg coffee as you wait for the train to pass by.
Article By: Haz Mapz

Travel time
0 hours 15 minutes
19:00 - 20:00
Nhật Tân Bridge
Nhat Tan Bridge, cầu, Phú Thượng, Tây Hồ, Hà Nội, Vietnam
The Nhật Tân Bridge is a beautiful rainbow coloured bridge, with each triangular arch changing colour in an impressive fashion. Also known as the Vietnam – Japan Friendship Bridge and connecting Hanoi with Noi Bai International Airport this bridge is best viewed at night and is a perfect spot for a time-lapse video of the flashing colours.
Article By: Haz Mapz

Travel time
0 hours 10 minutes
Privacy: public
About the author

Since 2017 I have been living and travelling around the world. I have lived in Canada, China, Vietnam, and now Zambia. I have also visited around 25 countries on 5 continents. Having worked as an ESL teacher in China and Vietnam for over 3 1/2 years I am now pursuing my PhD in tourism in Zambia. I love photography, learning about new cultures and meeting new people from all over the world.

Jemma Cardy
Wow!
a month ago
Such a detailed article I'm so impressed! I wasn't sure about Hanoi but after reading this it's changed my mind and I'll definitely be adding it to my itinerary when I travel Vietnam! Thanks for the amazing content, will for sure use this on my travels as a guide :)

3 people found this helpful


Chiara Costi
Really good article to know more about Hanoi
a month ago
Very well written and easy to read with lots of details. Makes me want to go to Hanoi right now!

3 people found this helpful


Lynn Jaques
Great Hanoi Article
a month ago
Great comprehensive review thank you, always nice to read reviews from people who have lived there. Will be adding to our itinerary!

3 people found this helpful


Blake Beaumont
Detailed and inspiring!
a month ago
What a fantastic guide to Hanoi, can’t wait to experience it for myself. More guides like this please 👌

1 person found this helpful


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