4 Day Guide to Hanoi: what to see and do

Well hello to you my reader chums! The bustling city of Hanoi is crazy, busy and Vietnam's incredibly interesting capital. On my South East Asia trip, it was the last stop and I wouldn't change it for the world. Hanoi isn't everyone's cup of tea but once you get over how manic and loud it is, you'll weirdly fall in love with the hustle and bustle. If you're on a short or slightly longer trip to Hanoi, here is everything you should get up to.

I definitely don't think you need a full 4 days in the city, however, it's a great place for day trips and offers you the opportunity to settle into the city if you're there for a longer amount of time. Here is my guide to 4 days in Hanoi.

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Day 1 - Explore and soak up the city of Hanoi

Every single city has a different vibe and something unique to the next that I always think it's good to have a day with no set plans. On the first day in Hanoi, I arrived in the afternoon and spent my time getting a feel of the place as day turned into night. My first impression of the city was very loud and hectic and I didn't really like it initially. However, as I mooched around, the vibe came somewhat addictive and filled my adrenalin. It was weird and wild, and I loved that. Things got extra busy in the evening when the bars came to life and the millions of restaurants opened with outdoor seating. It was an electric atmosphere and I found a mixture of locals and tourists revelling in it.

4 Day Guide to Hanoi: what to see and do

The two main districts and areas of Hanoi are Ba Dinh and Hanoi Old Quarter. The Ba Dinh is the place where you'll pretty much find all the sightseeing attractions, historical monuments, and famous sights. It's also a great hub for dining and shopping. The Old Quarter is located near the Hoan Kiem Lake and packed with different temples and the major commercial district. This is the place to find all the food and major shop chains and a great place to get souvenirs.

Day 2 - Sightseeing  

As Vietnam's capital, there are a lot of different sights to see on your trip to the city. Although it's not essential to see them, it gave me an insight into the city's history and allowed me to learn more about the place I was staying in. There are a few different sights that you could probably do it over 2 days but I managed to squeeze it all into one.

4 Day Guide to Hanoi: what to see and do

Mausoleum - Located in Ba Dinh Square, the Mausoleum is one of the most visited attractions in the city. The Mausoleum is the resting place of Vietnam's most popular leader. It's only open on certain days and is constantly busy that you should be aware of before you make your visit. The entry is free.

Temple of Literature - There's no doubt that Asia is filled with temples and I saw many on my trip. The Temple of Literature wasn't exactly what I expected as I thought it would be a library, however, it was really interesting to walk around. The temple was surrounded by beautiful grounds and I learned it was a place where people actually used to learn so that's where the name comes in. The entry fee was around a £1 or 2.

4 Day Guide to Hanoi: what to see and do

Hoa Lo Prison Museum - On my entire 10 days in Vietnam, I learned an incredible amount about the Vietnam War and the tragedies which occurred during that period. It was eye-opening and also really sad to read about. The prison museum shared what went on on the political side of Vietnam and the political prisoners they held there and what went on during their time incarcerated. It was really scary reading the treatment they were given in the prison but also learning what prisoners got up to. The museum is bigger than expected especially for the very cheap entry fee (around the equivalent of £1-2).

4 Day Guide to Hanoi: what to see and do

War Museum - For more information about the Vietnam War and the weapons used, this is the museum to go for. I was really shocked at how huge this museum actually was when I got there and how much I learned from it. I was able to see all the leftover weapons and read about the tragedies that went on.

All these sights are within a 10-30 minute walk to each other. If you want to do them all, it's best to map out a route to go the quickest way about it.

Day 3- Day trip to Halong Bay 

The day trip to Halong Bay was still one of my favourite days on my entire trip to Vietnam. It brought my love of the beach and Vietnam together and I would highly recommend visiting Halong Bay to every single person. I took a day trip from Hanoi to Halong Bay but you can easily stay there for a day or two as it's a beautiful area to explore.

I booked the tour at our hotel but there was a load of local travel agencies to book day trips or excursions. On the day of the tour, I got picked up from our hotel around 8am and it was a 3-hour journey by coach to the boating dock. Once I got on the boat, I sat down in groups of six and had a lovely Vietnam inspired feast packed with seafood, meat, and rice. Despite the cloudy weather, it was beautiful bobbing along the waters of the bay. The first stop was Hang Sung Sot which were some large caves. To get into the caves, we had to walk up quite a few steps but it was worth it as the view from the bay was insane. The caves inside were also really interesting as they were full of ancient rocks. When we got back on the boat, the tour guide prepared us for our next activity - kayaking. I was hesitant about kayaking but I'm so happy I did it. It was honestly so surreal kayaking through Halong Bay and soaking up the beauty of the place. Kayaking was so peaceful and it was really cool paddling under a cave through the bay. It also gave myself the opportunity to face my fear of open water and I'm so proud I did it.

4 Day Guide to Hanoi: what to see and do

4 Day Guide to Hanoi: what to see and do

The last stop on our day trip was to Titop Island. When we arrived, the tour guide gave us the option to climb to the viewpoint or go for a swim in the bay. I decided to go up the viewpoint and despite the long climb in the heat, it was worth it. The view was something of a postcard and I still can't believe it to this day. From the top, we could see thousands of different islands and clear blue waters. After that stop, I went back on the boat and had a sunset party. The guide gave us a selection of wine, fruit, and biscuits - and it was the perfect end to a perfect day.

4 Day Guide to Hanoi: what to see and do

4 Day Guide to Hanoi: what to see and do

4 Day Guide to Hanoi: what to see and do

If you are going to do a day trip here, I would recommend doing it in the middle of your trip to Hanoi so you can have a chill day the day after as it's a long day.

Day 4 - Take in the city's best bits

Hanoi is one of those cities where you can spend hours mooching around, whether that's looking into the shops, people watching, or soaking up the hustle and bustle. As day 4 was my last ever day in Vietnam and I was knackered from the day before, I made it a pretty chill and 'soak up the best bits' kind of day.

4 Day Guide to Hanoi: what to see and do

Train street - Train street is one of the coolest things to come across in Hanoi. It's an open railway track which you would have seen a million photos of on Instagram. The track has a train that passes through it only a few times in the day that for the most part, it becomes a hub for picture taking and grabbing a snack along with the few cafes that sit right next to the track. It's the most bizarre thing to experience but you have to do it!

4 Day Guide to Hanoi: what to see and do

Hoan Kiem Lake - For a little bit of serenity in the midst of Hanoi's hustle and bustle, take a stroll around the Hoan Kiem Lake. It's a pretty huge lake and nearby it is temples, cafes and other things to see that it'll be more than just a lake walk. It's also incredibly relaxing and a chance to shade yourself under the trees from the sun.

Where to stay 

On my 4 day trip, I stayed at the Hanoi Golden Hotel. This hotel actually has two very similar names as one is a hotel and the other is a hostel, under the same chain. If you go to the hostel like I did by accident, they can navigate you to the hotel which is only about a 5-minute walk away. This hotel was in the perfect location in Hanoi as I was near to all the hustle and bustle and close enough to the attractions. The city is bustling with many other hostels or hotels if you'd like a cheaper/luxurious option.

I hope you enjoyed this Hanoi post. When are you planning to visit the city?

Thank you for reading <3


  1. I loved my trip to Vietnam and I can't wait to go back and see more of the country :)

    Shannon x

    1. Glad you had the best trip! I'd love to go back xx


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