Ultimate Hanoi itinerary : Travel to Vietnam’s capital city

Hanoi, Vietnam Itinerary

Do you plan a trip to Hanoi, Vietnam? I am going to provide you with everything you need to know to build the perfect Hanoi itinerary from 3 days to 17 days, including things to do, suggested itinerary, accommodation, food, and transportation advice.

Hanoi Eco Tour team wrote it in this April during the Corona Virus outbreak in Vietnam. All itinerary options are based on my experiences after 10 years working as an English-speaking guide in Vietnam and 20 years living in Hanoi as a local.

 I have combined all itinerary options to make it the ultimate version for itinerary planning, which provides you with rewarding experiences that you can expect

I know many people like you are looking for a detailed Hanoi itinerary to plan your own Hanoi trip. I don’t follow the suggestions from anyone because  I have guided thousands of tourists in Hanoi for over 10 years so I know the city and its surroundings at its best.

I have spent hours writing this article with latest information and the best travel route. On the hand, we do offer FREE itinerary planning which helps you build a perfect Hanoi trip.  

I hope this article is helpful to you

Is Hanoi worth a visit?

Hanoi is a great place, known as the top place to visit in Vietnam, with beautiful French colonial buildings, great local food, friendly locals, safe and rich history to learn.

How to get to Hanoi from the airport?

There is a lot of ways to get to the city center of Hanoi airport by shuttle bus, taxi or private car

By shuttle bus :

The most affordable way to get to the city center is to take a bus. I recommend bus no 86 which costs around 35k per person and takes you to the Old Quarter of Hanoi. You’d better ask the staff which bus stop to get off in order to get to your hotel easily. 

By taxi

There are many taxi companies to choose from, I recommend Mai Linh, Airport Taxi and Taxi Group. The ride usually costs around 350k ($17 USD) per way.

By private car

If you are traveling in a group of 2 people, traveling by private, arranged by the hotel where you are staying in Hanoi, is the best way. Please keep in mind that all drivers have to wait outside the lobby. They hold a welcome board with your name on it. 

Best time to visit Hanoi

In my opinion, the best time to visit Hanoi is either in the autumn from September to early November because it is not too hot or cold, and there is not much rain. On the other hand, Hanoi is pretty hot during the summertime from May to late July, the average temperature is about 37 degrees Celsius which makes you sweat whilst walking around the city.  If you are fine with the high heat, travel to further places in the Northern Part od Vietnam such as Sapa, and Ha Giang, with more pleasant weather to escape from the heat of Hanoi.

From my personal experience, most of the visitors choose to visit Hanoi during the wintertime from November to February or March and April is considered as the spring because they want to stay away from their cold winter because Hanoi is still much warmer than their home country. If I have a choice, March and April will be preferable because the spring is less cold than the winter

Riding a bike or scooter maybe not be a good idea due to the high traffic volume in a city like Hanoi. You find it difficult to cross the street, even ride around, especially during the rush hour from 6 am to 9 am or 4 pm to 7 pm, the traffic is crazy with millions of scooters, cars, and electric bikes on the road

How to travel around Hanoi

Most of the tourist hot spots in Hanoi are within walking distance. You can easily get around the city by walking. A walking tour with a slow pace of travel is an ideal thing to do. But taking a GRAB taxi is more enjoyable and affordable for further attractions or in bad weather conditions such as rain, hot and humid. 

The main public transport in Hanoi is the local bus but I don’t think it is convenient for you to get to these tourist attractions because you may have to walk long distances to the bus stop. Alternatively, the HOP ON and HOP OFF buses take you to city landmarks. The ticket costs around $15 USD per person. 

If you want a unique experience, taking a rickshaw ride is another good idea. With $25 USD per day, including tips, you can get to most of the well-known tourist places in the city except further sites such as the Museum of Ethnology, B52 lake etc…

How is about wifi in Hanoi?

Wifi is available almost everywhere with a good signal: in the cafe, restaurants, hotels, and guest houses except on the street. On the other hand, you can also buy a local Simcard with unlimited internet access values at $10 USD. 

How to use this Hanoi itinerary

There are a few options with different duration of time provided in this itinerary

  • Itinerary for 3 days in Hanoi (The fast and furious tour)
  • Itinerary for 5 days in Hanoi (the quick version)
  • Itinerary for 7 days in Hanoi (the perfect version)
  • Itinerary for 9 days in the Hanoi area (the best tour)
  • Itinerary for 17 days in Hanoi (the grand trip)

I also include some travel tips and FAQs before showing you the day-to-day itinerary. To reach the place, you’ll see the top things to do, accommodation, and transport advice. On the other hand, you can also see other day trips to extend your stay in Hanoi.

3 day Hanoi itinerary

This 3-day Hanoi itinerary is suitable for those who have limited time to explore Hanoi, especially for Asian tourists from nearby countries like Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, the Philippines, Hong Kong, and Laos for the weekend trip. It is a rushed itinerary I have to say and the shortest itinerary for Hanoi

  • Day 1 : Hanoi
  • Day 2 : Halong Bay
  • Day 3 : Ninh Binh

Day-to-day itinerary as followings

Day 1 : Hanoi

Hanoi Itinerary -B52 Lake

B52 Lake Hanoi

Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, an awesome place to start your North Vietnam Adventure. You’ll see all aspects that the city has to offer: history, culture, food, architecture, and local living. Some of the attractions that I recommend you see

  • Imperial Citadel
  • Military Museum (closes on Monday and Friday)
  • West Lake includes Tran Quoc Pagoda
  • Ngoc Son Temple is located right at the famous Hoan Kiem Lake
  • Hanoi Old Quarter

Day 2 : Halong Bay day tour

Halong Bay day tour

Heavenly Palace cave in Halong bay – Halong Day Tour

There is a wide range of day trips to Halong bay, only $45 USD including English speaking guide, transport by shuttle bus, lunch with seafood, and an entrance fee. The tour covers a 3.5-hour cruise in Halong Bay, which takes you to visit the famous Heavenly Palace cave, a sampan boat ride around the floating village or kayaking for half an hour.

Alternatively, there is another option for 6 hours of cruising includes a visit to Surprising cave, hiking to the peak of Titov island to see a panoramic view of Halong Bay

If you are a big fan of the off-the-beaten-track, I do recommend the Bai Tu Long cruise day trip with Hanoi Eco Tours from Van Don. You are the only international tourists on the bay, which give you a WOW experience away from crowded places like Hanoi. 

Related: How to choose a the best Lan Ha Bay cruise

How to choose the best cruise for your Halong Bay tour 

Day 3 : Ninh Binh Day trip and evening flight

Boat ride in Tam Coc, Ninh Binh

Amazing Boat ride in Tam Coc, Ninh Binh

Explore the land of King Kong or Halong Bay on land in a day trip, a classic itinerary includes

  • Boat ride in Tam Coc
  • Hoa Lu ancient capital
  • Climbing Mua cave
  • Cycling hidden trails in rural area.

Related: The perfect Ninh Binh itinerary

5 days Hanoi itinerary

Looking for highlights of the Hanoi area, this itinerary is just perfect for you. It covers the top-rated attractions with enough time for a glimpse but less flexible.

To make it more efficient, this itinerary starts and ends in Hanoi.

  • Day 1 : Hanoi arrival. Motorbike night sights and food tours
  • Day 2 : Hanoi city tour
  • Day 3 : Ninh Binh day trip
  • Day 4-5 : An overnight stay on a cruise on Halong Bay/Bai Tu Long bay/Lan Ha bay

For a detailed day-to-day itinerary, I only focus on Halong Bay overnight cruise because you have seen the itinerary for Hanoi and Ninh Binh in 3 days itinerary above

Halong overnight cruise

Day one

Tung Sau Pearl Farm or Kayaking

Titov island

Squid fishing

Day two

Tai Chi morning class

Sung Sot (Surprising cave)

7 days or 1 week Hanoi itinerary

This 7 days Hanoi itinerary is perfect for a short break in Northern Vietnam, which covers the best tourist attractions in Northern Vietnam including Hanoi, Halong Bay, Sapa. You’ll start and finish in Hanoi 

  • Hanoi : 2 day
  • Halong Bay/Lan La bay/Bai Tu Long Bay : 2 days
  • Sapa trekking : 2 days 1 nights

Day 1 : Arrive in Hanoi. Free and easy

Day 2 : Hanoi city tour 

Day 3 : Halong Bay on an overnight cruise

Day 4 : Halong Bay cruise and back to Hanoi. Take a night train to Sapa

Day 5 : Trekking Sapa : Cat Cat – Y Linh Ho – Lao Chai – Ta Van. Overnight in Ta Van

Day 6 : Ta Van – Giang Ta Chai – Su Pan. Taking a limousine Dcar back to Hanoi.

Day 7 : Wet rice culture tour and  half day then airport transfer

Wet rice growing tour is a unique tour that takes you to rural Hanoi to experience authentic local living through hands-on farming, cycling the hidden village paths, and having homecooked lunch in a local home. This tour is 100% tourist-free. If you are looking for something different from any other popular tours out there, this tour is right for you

9 days Hanoi itinerary: Hanoi, Ninh Binh, Halong, Sapa

For those who want to explore and experience all the must-see places in Northern Vietnam. This is the top Hanoi Itinerary for 9 days. The trip starts and finishes in Hanoi. Those places below I suggest checking out with a suitable amount of time to spend in each destination

  • Hanoi : 3 days
  • Ninh Binh : 1 day
  • Halong/Bai Tu Long/Lan Ha bay : 2 days
  • Sapa : 3 days

Day 1 : Arrival in Hanoi. Half-day city tour. Evening walking food tour

Welcome to Hanoi. Today, you’ll check out some of the historical sites of the capital of Vietnam over 1000 years old, includes

  • Infamous Hanoi Hilton
  • Women Museum
  • B52 Lake

Ready to eat all local food in Hanoi in a walking street food tour around Hanoi Old Quarter and enjoy 7 best dishes with desserts

Day 2 : Hanoi full day trip

Temple of Literature - Hanoi Itineary

Temple of Literature, Hanoi, Vietnam

You’ll see tourist hotspots which Hanoi has to offer includes

  • Museum of Ethnology: Learn in-depth about 54 ethnic groups in Vietnam
  • Ho Chi Minh complex includes the mausoleum, presidential palace, house on stilt, one pillar pagoda
  • Temple of Literature: the first national university of Vietnam
  • The oldest bridge in Hanoi: Long Bien
  • Watching the traditional art form of Vietnam, Water Puppet Show

Tonight, having dinner with authentic Vietnamese food in a local restaurant near the remote Hanoi Westlake, 15-minute drive from Hanoi Old Quarter. What I suggest you to try

  • Pho Cuon  (big rice noodles rolled around beef and green herbs)
  • Pho Chien Phong (deep-fried square rice noodles served over gravy and topped with beef and sauteed green herbs)
  • Banana flower salad
  • Frog leg if you are an adventurous foodie

Expect to pay 400,000VND for two

Day 3 : Ninh Binh day trip

Bai Dinh pagoda - Ninh Binh itinerary

Paroramic view of Bai Dinh pagoda complex

This is a choice of Ninh Binh itinerary which is different from 3 days itinerary above. This trip is good for all type of travellers who want to taste the peaceful countryside of Ninh Binh

Boat ride in the UNESCO site of Trang An

Check out the massive Buddist temple of Bai Dinh

Staying overnight in Tam Coc which is an interesting town surrounded by rural villages

Related: Ninh Binh Travel guide

Day 4 : Ninh Binh to Halong/Bai Tu Long/Lan Ha bay

Taking a bus from Ninh Binh to Halong departs at 7.30 am for an overnight cruise around noon. There are lots of things to do with interesting activities, includes

  • Kayaking
  • Swimming (only available in Halong bay and Lan Ha Bay)
  • Tai Chi class depending on the cruise
  • Visiting limestone caves (Only in Halong bay and Bai Tu Long bay)
  • Cooking demonstration
  • Squid fishing
  • Sunset party with free wine, fresh fruits depending on the cruise
  • Cycling Viet Hai village (only available for Lan Ha bay cruise)
  • Snorkelling (only in Lan Ha Bay)

Day 5 : The cruise trip

After the cruising trip, you’ll head back Hanoi before taking an overnight train to Sapa

Day 6 : Cat Cat – Y Linh Ho – Lao Chai – Ta Van

Trekking Sapa

Trekking Sapa in Buffalo Trail

You’ll stunning view of the valley in the Sapa area with impressive terraced paddy fields, meet locals along the way. This is a hard trek I have to say with 17 kilometres or 5.5 to 6 hour trekking. Having lunch in some local restaurants in Lao Chai village. Tonight, staying overnight in a homestay in Ta Van village. +

You can also take a bath in the nearby stream in the village during the summer time to cool off.

Day 7 : Ta Van – Giang Ta Chai – Su Pan – Sapa

Just a short trek for 6 kilometres through the bamboo forest to arrive Giang Ta Chai village. Keep walking to Su Pan. There are a few local restaurants to have simple Vietnamese lunch. Later, taking a taxi to Sapa, expect to pay 150k for two.

Spending the night to walk around the town, having a cup of coffee at Cong Café and having authentic Vietnamese food in some local restaurant in Thach Son street or a delight dinner at Good Morning view restaurant

Day 8 : Cable car ride of Fansipan and see Silver Waterfall

Fansipan cable car

Muong Hoa valley

Fansipan is really busy at the weekend. So I suggest leaving the hotel around 7.30 am for the cable car ride, spending 3.5 hour for the trip. And take another 1 hour to check out Silver Waterfall before heading the town for lunch and taking a shower. If you still have some free time, do some shopping in the town, and properly buy some FAKE North Face Jacket. Be ready to take the bus back to Hanoi at 3.30 pm

Alternatively, you can also see the amazing Bac Ha Sunday market which is 3 hour’s drive from Sapa on a group guided tour departing from Sapa. After the tour, ask the guide to drop you off in Lao Cai for taking a bus back to Hanoi. Don’t forget to check out in the morning and bring all of your luggage on the bus. I do think this tour is suitable for those who travel on a private guided tour with a private transfer. 

Day 9 : Your departure

If your flight out in the evening, then I suggest a half-day trip to see Kim Lan pottery village which is an off-the-beaten-path destination to learn the art of making pottery by visiting local workshops unexplored by tourists. For sure, not many locals, even hotel staff know this village. You can only do it by taking a guided tour. I often have some Bia Hoi in a local restaurant in Kim Lan village.  

17 days Hanoi itinerary

This itinerary for those who like adventure travel and off travel beaten track to explore remote regions in North Vietnam and check out its highlights. A motorbike ride is a perfect way to follow this itinerary

  • Day 1 : Hanoi
  • Days 2 – 3 : Ba Be lake
  • Days 4 – 5 : Cao Bang and Ban Gioc Waterfall
  • Days 6-9 : Cao Bang – Pac Bo – Meo Vac – Ha Giang
  • Days 10 – 13 : Ha Giang – Sapa – Hanoi
  • Day 14 : Ninh Binh
  • Days  15-16 : NInh Binh – Halong – Hanoi
  • Day 17 : Your departure

Ba Be lake 2 days

Ba Be lake

Ba Be lake boat trip

Ba Be lake is my favorite place in North East region to start your adventure. 

Spend 2 days exploring beautiful nature, eating authentic Tay ethnic’s food, and cruise along Ba Ba lake is worth doing

Things to do in Ba Be lake

  • Taking a scenic cruise along the Ba Be lake
  • Exploring the magnificent limestone cave of Hua Ma
  • Cycling along the peaceful rural areas
  • Kayaking on Ba Be lake to enjoy the amazing natural beauty
  • Staying with locals in their homestay

Cao Bang and Ban Gioc waterfall 2 days

Heading further North Eastern Vietnam, Cao Bang and Ban Gioc waterfalls offer amazing natural beauty, historical sites, and hearty local food. 

Things to do in Cao Bang

  • Exploring the Nguom Ngao limestone cave with unique rock formation
  • Staying in a homestay in Khuoi Ky village, near Ban Gioc waterfall
  • Learning about Pac Bo historical site 
  • Taking short hike to Truc Lam Buddhist temple
  • Enjoy the stunning view of the well-known Ban Gioc waterfall

Ha Giang : 3 days

Ha giang - Ma Pi leng pass

Ma Pi Leng Pass – Breath-taking view

Ha Giang loop is getting famous among travellers in Vietnam who love adventure travel. Honestly, Ha Giang is one of the poorest provinces in North Eastern region of Vietnam because the locals don’t have much land to plant rice due to most of the areas cover with rocks

Things to do in Ha Giang

  • Drive along the breath-taking of Ma Pi Leng pass
  • Kayaking on the scenic Nho Que river
  • Admiring Twin mountains and Heaven gate in Quan Ba
  • Trekking unique trails, off the beaten track with TOURIST FREE
  • Exploring the UNESCO Global Geopark of Dong Van karst plateau

Sapa 3 days 

What I think, is Sapa one of the most awesome mountain regions in Vietnam. In Sapa, you could trek to remote villages and enjoy the break-taking view of terraced rice paddy fields, and meet local tribes of Hmong, Red Dzao and Dzay who has been living here from generation to generation. 

Top things to do in Sapa

  • Taking a cable car ride to the peak of Indochina’s roof of Fansipan
  • Trekking from villages to villages with a stunning view of mountainous regions and local streams
  • Checking out Bac Ha Sunday market which is the most colourful market in Sapa
  • Buying CHEAP and FAKE Northface jackets in Sapa
  • Staying in a local homestay in Ta Van village

Where to stay in Hanoi

There is a wide range of accommodations in Hanoi to choose from, from homestays, and guest houses to hotels; based on your budget. 

I only list 3 to 5 stars hotels as followings

5 stars hotel

  • Sofitel Metropole Legend
  • Sheraton
  • Intercontinental
  • Hanoi Hilton Opera
  • Apricot (top choice for 5 stars hotel located in Hanoi Old Quarter)
  • Periot Grand boutique hotel (5 stars boutique hotels in Hanoi Old town -newly operated)

4 stars hotel

  • The Lapis
  • Silk path
  • Hanoi Pearl
  • Shinning Central hotel
  • Lasiesta hotel and Spa (94 Ma May) 
  • Dan Vostro
  • Lasieta Premium Hang Be
  • Oriental Jade 
  • O’Gallery Majestic Hotel & Spa

3 stars hotel

  •  Essense hotel
  • Noble Boutique
  • Hanoi Oriental Central Hotel
  • The Chi boutique 

Frequently asked questions when travelling Hanoi and North Vietnam

Is there wifi available in Hanoi?

You can easily access wifi in the restaurant, coffee shops, bars, pubs and hotel. There is no wifi whilst walking on the street

Is this easy to cross the street in Hanoi?

Not for the first time. My advice is to keep walking slowly, don’t run or suddenly stop and keep your eyes on the road, you’ll be fine 

What type of scams in Hanoi?

Shoeshine, doughnut lady or pineapple lady

In conclusion, What is your best places in Northern Vietnam? If you have any concerns or questions about travel planning for a perfect Hanoi itinerary, please leave a comment in the box below or email us at, Hanoi Eco Tour will try my best to assist


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