A local riding a cyclo in the Old Quarter of Hanoi

5 Days in Hanoi: Ultimate Itinerary Guide

Are you planning a trip to Vietnam’s capital? This ultimate 5 day Hanoi itinerary includes everything you need for your trip: the sites you must visit, day trips, restaurants to try, where to stay, and more!

I had the pleasure of spending one month in Hanoi. During this time, I got to know the city quite well. I explored the different areas of the city, visited all the main attractions, and ate my way through a plethora of restaurants.

For those who adore experiencing and seeing different cultures, Hanoi stands out more than anywhere in Vietnam in terms of cultural experience. One of many reasons why I fell in love with this city is that.

With so much to share, I’ve compiled this complete itinerary for Hanoi. Here’s how to spend 5 days in Hanoi! For those who plan to spend 4 days in Hanoi, I suggest you choose one of the two listed day trips!

How Many Days in Hanoi

Before you pack your bags and get ready to visit Hanoi, I’m sure you’ll be debating how long you need to visit Hanoi.

It’s best to spend at least four days in Hanoi, ideally five or six. There’s just so much to do in Hanoi and northern Vietnam!

If you’re visiting Hanoi on a tight schedule, feel free to take the best of this five-day travel guide and make your own!

Day 1: Old Quarter, Hoan Kiem Lake & Beer Street

Morning

Start your first morning in Hanoi in the best way possible: with a steaming hot bowl of Pho at one of the best Pho restaurants in the city.

There’s no better way to start your day in Hanoi. Pho’s origins are in Hanoi, so one can’t and shouldn’t visit Hanoi without trying at least one bowl of Pho.

After breakfast, head to the Old Quarter and walk around exploring the chaotic charm. The streets in the Old Quarter are like no other, walking around you’ll find garment shops, local restaurants, street stalls and much more.

Make sure to look both ways before walking the street and watch out; scooter and foot traffic can be pretty hectic in the Old Quarter, especially after the later hours of the day.

Exploring the Old Quarter in the morning will give you a chance to see more of the authentic side to Hanoi’s Old Quarter, as the day goes on, tourist crowds increase and it gets busier.

a picturesque street with nice buildings and locals walking by in Hanoi

Afternoon

You’ve done some exploring, and your appetite is hungry again. It’s time for some delicious lunch. I recommend grabbing a Banh Mi sandwich from one of the many places I recommend below!

Now that you’ve had some lunch, time to take a leisurely stroll around the famous Hoan Kiem Lake. As you’re walking around, keep an eye out for the ancient structures and the picturesque lake views!

By the way, I highly recommend visiting Hoan Kiem Lake a second time and experiencing it during the evening another day. The atmosphere around the lake is quite different during the day and night.

On Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights, the street surrounding Hoan Kiem Lake is closed off, and a huge market is open for locals and visitors to explore; it’s a must-experience!

Evening

As evening comes around, I’m sure you’ll want to take a small break and head to one of the many excellent Hanoi cafes to try some of the many Hanoi coffee creations; I recommend trying salt and egg coffee!

Then, make your way to wherever you choose to have dinner. After dinner, it’s time to experience the city’s famous Beer Street!

Here, you’ll find countless bars and pubs along a dense street only for pedestrians. It’s the perfect place to have a seat, order a few drinks, and try a few local dishes as you people-watch—just like a Hanoi local!

Don’t be out too late; you’ve got a packed day full of adventure on your second day in Hanoi!

several locals and tourist dining and drinking in the Beer Street in Hanoi

Day 2: Day Trip to Ha Long Bay & St Joseph Cathedral

Morning

Get ready for a day full of adventure as you join others on a Ha Long Bay tour for the day. Book the morning tour so you can have some free time when you return to the city!

Once you’re picked up, sit back and relax for about 2 hours as you journey to the famous stunning bay!

As you cruise into Ha Long Bay, you’ll be surrounded by thousands of towering limestone cliffs, emerald waters, and plenty of remarkable greenery; a trip to Hanoi without visiting Ha Long Bay is an incomplete trip to Hanoi!

Afternoon

Time for some lunch on a boat and some amazing views as you continue to sail through the beautiful bay.

After lunch, you’ll visit Titop Island, where you can go swimming, climb, and experience stunning panoramic views of the entire Ha Long Bay!

Shortly after, it’s time to do some kayaking on the bay on your own as you explore!

aerial shot of towering limestones on a local riding her boat in Halong Bay, Vietnam

Evening

As evening comes around, it’s time to make your way back to Hanoi from the bay. Sit back and relax for the two-hour drive back to the city!

Once you’re back and freshened up, head over to St. Joseph’s Cathedral, one of the most stunning pieces of architecture in Hanoi, built by the French. Day or night, this church is one of the most picturesque spots in the city!

Around the church, you’ll find many shops to explore, especially for souvenirs, and quite a few local restaurants. I highly recommend trying Banh My Mama, this woman has the best Banh Mi street cart in the city! She’s right by the church, too. Be prepared to line up!

the stunning St Joseph Cathedral church in Hanoi during the evening time

Day 3: HCMC Mausoleum, Tran Quoc Pagoda, Hanoi Train Street & Hanoi Opera House

Morning

Alright, it’s Day 3 already in Vietnam’s capital. Get ready for a day of exciting adventures around Hanoi!

You’ll start your day visiting the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, also known as Uncle Ho. He is the most important man in Vietnam’s history due to his unification of the South and North.

Explore the remarkable compound, learn more about Ho Chi Minh’s significance, and see the presidential palace.

Remember to dress appropriately—shorts or sleeveless shirts aren’t allowed. If you’d like to skip the crowds, come earlier. It’s open 7 AM to 5 PM daily and is free to visit.

Afternoon

As early afternoon comes around make your way over to the famous Tran Quoc Pagoda, arguably the most significant and beautiful pagoda in Hanoi! This ancient Buddhist temple sits along the stunning West Lake and is the oldest temple in Hanoi.

Take your time exploring the compound and the beautiful West Lake. Alright, time for lunch, i’m sure you’re hungry after all that walking, head over to Pho Cuon 31, a popular restaurant just steps away from the Tran Quoc Pagoda! They’ve got pho, summer rolls, fried foods and more!

Let the afternoon adventures continue. It’s time to visit and experience the famous Train Street, one of Hanoi’s most popular attractions. You’ve most likely seen this attraction posted online before!

train tracks and many businesses on the side at Train Street in Hanoi

Hanoi’s Train Street is a narrow residential lane where a railway track runs directly through the neighborhood. Trains pass just inches from homes and cafes, creating a unique and photogenic urban spectacle.

There are many different cafes to choose from to sit at and enjoy the passing train. The original cafe is Railway Tuan Cafe, but you can choose any of them. They all offer a view of the train going by. I went to Mincolin Coffee, and the host was lovely!

Here are some tips to know before visiting Train Street. It’s best to message the cafe you choose to visit on Google or Whatsapp so you can ask them what times the train will be coming that day and book a spot to be seated. This assures you will experience the train when visiting!

Lastly, watch out for scammers at the Train Street, they’ll tell you must pay to enter the train street, or that their police, etc. Organize your visit with a cafe owner and stay in touch with them regarding your visit!

train passing by up close at the famous Train Street in Hanoi, Vietnam

Evening

As the sun sets in Hanoi, it’s time to eat some more delicious food, again, refer to my restaurant recommendations below!

Once you’ve had dinner, it’s time to visit the famous Hanoi Opera House, a stunning French colonial building that’s a must-see when in the city, even if you don’t plan to catch a show here!

If there’s a show going on when you visit, I’d recommend you buy some tickets and experience it!

To end of your day in Hanoi, walk down the street from the Hanoi Opera House and you’ll find Kem Trang Tien, a legendary icecream shop that’s been around since 1958. Visiting many times myself, I could see why they’ve been around so long, their icecream is light, creamy and delicious!

Once you’ve had some ice cream, continue walking to Hoan Kiem Lake and experience the lake’s evening atmosphere. Many locals and visitors come here at sunset; it’s stunning!

the stunning lit up Opera House in Hanoi, built during the French colonial era

Day 4: Day Trip to Ninh Binh

Morning

Are you ready for an action-packed Ninh Binh day tour? Your day starts off early with a departure before 8, refer to your tour detail for accurate timing.

The drive to Ninh Binh from Hanoi takes around 90 minutes. Make sure to glance out your window; the stunning nature really builds up in anticipation before you get to Ninh Binh!

Ninh Binh honestly feels like you’ve stepped into an alternate-timed reality. The greenery, caves, unique ancient temples, and the mountainous range are hard to put into words; you’ve got to understand what I mean when you visit!

If you’re visiting Hanoi for less than five days and you’re undecided between Ha Long Bay and Ninh Binh, I recommend you go to Ninh Binh!

Afternoon

Throughout the morning and afternoon, you’ll experience a boat trip on the Tam Coc River, hike a mountain to reach panoramic views, visit the rice fields and a Vietnamese village, and much more!

For lunch, you’ll enjoy a Vietnamese set lunch menu at a bungalow by the Tam Coc River. Visiting Ninh Binh is a must-do; it’s quite a unique experience!

Evening

You’ll return to Hanoi in the late evening, around 8:30 – 9:00 PM. Depending on how tired you are, you can either head back to your hotel to rest or head out for some late dinner in the Old Quarter, preferably somewhere with a street-side view.

Enjoy your meal as you people-watch the charm of the Old Quarters!

locals riding through the water with towering limestones and temples in the background, in Ninh Binh, Vietnam

Day 5: National Museum, Food Tour, & Dong Xuan Market

Morning & Afternoon

It’s your last day in this beautiful historic city; after a long day yesterday, it’s time to take things slow for your final day in Hanoi!

Begin your day with some breakfast at one of the many excellent restaurants I’ve highlighted, and shortly after, make your way to the Vietnam National Museum of History.

The museum is open from 8 AM to 12 PM in the morning, and 1:30 to 5 PM, and the entrance is only around $2 US!

Housed in a remarkable French colonial building, this museum showcases many interests, from history to mid-20th-century artifacts, facts about Vietnam’s history, and much more!

Once you’ve explored the museum, take the afternoon to relax, considering how jam-packed your day was yesterday, or explore another one of the city’s attractions!

Evening

As your last evening in Hanoi comes around, what better way to end things in the city than attending a fun Hanoi Street Food Tour?

Your evening of exploration and eating will start at 6:00 PM; in a small group, you’ll explore the Old Quarter with a local guide as they show you 10 different delicious food stands to try!

This is an excellent way for you to try a few of the foods in Hanoi you may have missed through your few days in Hanoi!

For those who prefer not to attend a street food tour, visit one of the many excellent restaurants I’ve shared below!

Where to Stay in Hanoi

Consider the area you’d prefer to stay in. Are you someone who prefers to be in the heart of a city’s action or prefers a more laidback local area with nearby access?

Below I’ve shared with you the top areas in Hanoi for first timer visitors and hotel recommendations for each area!

Old Quarter is the most central area in Hanoi. Staying here means you’ll have quick access to other areas and be in the center of the city’s hustle and bustle. It’s the best area in Hanoi for first-time visitors looking to experience Hanoi to the fullest during their stay!

  • La Siesta Classic Ma May / A top-ranked 4-star hotel located in the heart of the Old Quarter, near many attractions, shopping, and restaurants.
  • Bonsella Hotel / A highly-rated 3-star hotel nestled in the heart of Hanoi’s Old Quarter, within walking distance of popular attractions, and restaurants.
  • Old Quarter View Hostel / A budget-friendly hostel offering comfortable rooms, a rooftop terrace, and close to attractions and nightlife.

French Quarter is known for its colonial architecture and upscale ambiance. It’s less crowded than the Old Quarter but still centrally located.

  • Capella Hanoi / A luxe 5-star boutique hotel located in the historic Opera District, offering opulent rooms inspired by 1920s design, and personalized service.
  • Thăng Long Opera / A 4-star hotel in Hanoi’s French Quarter, offering modern amenities and easy access to cultural attractions and the Hanoi Opera House.
several designer stores in the French Quarters of Hanoi

Tay Ho District (West Lake area) is an upscale neighborhood popular with expats. It offers a more relaxed atmosphere with scenic lake views and trendy cafes.

  • InterContinental Hanoi Westlake / A 5-star luxury resort on the shore of West Lake, offering stunning views and world-class amenities.
  • The Hanoi Club Hotel / Mid-range 4-star hotel with lake views, recreational facilities, and easy access to local attractions.

Hai Ba Trung is a modern, less touristy area of Hanoi, offering a glimpse into local life. It’s about 10 minute taxi to Old Quarter, ideal for visitors who prefer a quieter less touristsy atmosphere area.

  • Eden Hotel Hanoi / A 3-star hotel offering comfortable rooms and a rooftop restaurant with city views, convenient access to Trang Tien Plaza and the Old Quarter.
  • Nesta Boutique Hotel / A 3-star hotel featuring modern decor and a rooftop terrace, located about 10 minutes’ drive from Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and the Old Quarter.
a woman selling goods from her bicycle in Hanoi city

Where to Eat in Hanoi

As mentioned, I spent a month in Hanoi, and being the foodie I am, trying the best of the food Hanoi offers was at the top of my list!

Here are a few places I recommend you try in Hanoi, besides the ones I’ve already included, of course!

Pho Thin Bo Ho — This Michelin-awarded Pho spot is the original Pho location in Hanoi. It doesn’t get more authentic than this place, and yes, they do have the best Pho in Hanoi!

Don Duck Old Quarter Restaurant – Craving some duck? This is your spot. They serve a wide variety of excellent Vietnamese duck dishes!

Bun Bo Nam Bo – Another must-try local favorite, this restaurant serves the best beef salad you’ll ever try; as soon as you approach the restaurant, you see the line of dishes assembled!

Banh Mi 25 – This may be the most famous Banh Mi shop in Hanoi; they serve excellent Banh Mi’s and have a unique variety of sandwiches. You will likely have to wait in line; I recommend coming in the day to avoid less of a line.

Hanoi Bami – From Banh Mi to Bo Ne (a popular Vietnamese breakfast), lemongrass pork, and more; this restaurant is excellent and definitely worth a try!

Lá Lốt Vietnamese Cuisine – When it comes to modern Vietnamese cuisine, this restaurant has perfected it! From perfectly cooked duck breast to a fragrant prawn soup and, of course, what they’re most known for, Bo Cuon La Lot, a fragrant piper lolot leaves in beef!

Mỳ bò Đài Loan – Known for their Taiwanese bowl of soup, the fragrant broth is served with generous chunks of meat; it’s a must-try! This place is a winner when it comes to cheap eats in Hanoi.

Pho 10 Ly Quoc Su — This Pho restaurant is popular amongst both locals and tourists. I highly recommend their rare beef bowl! You’re in Hanoi; of course, I had to add a second Pho restaurant!

You cannot leave Hanoi without having a bowl of Pho and trying Bun Cha with noodles, Banh Mi, and Banh Tom Ho Tay!

For dessert, I highly recommend you try Che, which is a drink/soup like Vietnamese dessert, and there are many versions of it. Go to Che 4 Mua Hang, this place is the most popular in Hanoi for Che!

Getting Around Hanoi

In Hanoi, you won’t find yourself needing to use transportation daily, especially if you decide to stay in the most central locations, such as the Old Quarter and French Quarter. But sometimes, you will need to or want to. Here are the best ways to get around!

To leave Hanoi airport and enter the city, it’s best to use Grab. Make sure you check your driver’s license plate before getting in the Grab car!

  • Grab Taxi or Scooter / Popular ride-sharing app in Southeast Asia.
  • Guided Tours / Most tours offer hotel pick-up & drop off, making it easier for you.
  • Public Bus / Hanoi has a public bus system, but it’s difficult to navigate for non-native speakers
  • Cyclo / This is a three-wheeled bike; you sit in the front, as the driver cycles.

By the way, you can rent a scooter in Hanoi, but it’s not advised. The traffic here is crazy, and even those experienced with driving a scooter will find it difficult!

Best Time to Visit Hanoi

Hanoi can be visited year-round, but its weather varies significantly due to its northern location. Unlike Ho Chi Minh City in southern Vietnam, Hanoi experiences distinct seasons, with some months being quite chilly compared to the rest of Vietnam.

Dry Season: October to March

The dry season in Hanoi is generally considered the best time to visit. Average temperatures range from 17°C (63°F) to 22°C (72°F).

October to December offers pleasant weather with comfortable temperatures and less rainfall. The weather remains mild through March, with gradually warming temperatures as spring approaches. 

Wet Season: April to September

Hanoi’s wet season brings hot and humid weather, with temperatures ranging from 25°C (77°F) to 35°C (95°F), and some days can be slightly overwhelming due to the humidity in the city!

April is a transitional month, and during this time, temperatures begin increasing.

On average, June to August are the hottest and wettest months, with frequent afternoon thunderstorms; you may want to avoid visiting Hanoi through June and August. Moving into September, temperatures begin decreasing!

Final Thoughts

Hanoi offers a unique blend of culture and tradition. Despite some modern attributes, it has maintained its authentic self. While wandering around Hanoi, you’ll sometimes feel like you’ve stepped back in time!

I can confidently say Hanoi is my favorite city in Vietnam to visit. I was fortunate to spend far longer than 5 Days in Hanoi, and I plan to return to Hanoi in the near future. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

a stunning vibrant sunset over Ho Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi, Vietnam

Happy & Safe Travels


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