This 3-day Hanoi itinerary explores the traditional city in northern Vietnam. If you are traveling to Vietnam, this guide is for you! There is so much to do, see, and eat, so get ready for a busy few days!
There is so much to do in Vietnam. Like so so much. I didn't realize until we chose the country as part of our honeymoon destination (along with Singapore!). We went during September, which was a great month to go. It was pretty hot but from what the locals said, it wasn't as hot as it can get during other months. Plus it wasn't rainy season so with the exception of a few days, it didn't rain much!
Our 3-day Hanoi itinerary:
- First, we grabbed egg coffee at Cafe Giang (the FIRST thing we did, of course!) then a quick breakfast at our hotel before heading to Halong Bay (~2 hour drive from the city)
- Next, we boarded a 2-day, 1-night cruise on Halong Bay, which included multiple courses for lunch and dinner, bamboo boat tour through a cave, swimming in the bay, happy hour, and a cooking class
- To start the day, we had light breakfast on board before kayaking on the bay
- After kayaking, we enjoyed a full brunch before leaving the boat and heading back to the city
- Next, we took a couple of hours to relax (this is very underrated! I highly recommend including some relaxation time in any vacation itinerary, even just for a couple of hours)
- We ended the night with an awesome food tour with a local food guide (shoutout to Chris with Ha Food Tours!)
Day 3 (lots of walking!)
- First, we had to grab coffee and breakfast to start the day (we went to Banh Cuon Thanh Van and got the banh cuon. It was SO good! They're rice rolls filled with minced pork and mushroom, topped with fried onions. Absolutely delicious!)
- Then we walked around the city (and got another coffee at Cong Ca Phe) to hit sights we knew weren't on our walking tour that afternoon (Temple of Literature, Memorial of Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, and Tran Quoc Pagoda)
- After walking around, we got banh mi sandwiches from Banh Mi 25 for lunch
- Then, we did a "Highlights & Hidden Gems with Locals: Best of Hanoi" walking tour to see many sites around the city like Dong Xuan Market, Bach Ma Temple, Ta Hien Street, Hang Bac Temple, Hoan Kiem District Library, Hoa Lo Prison, Ngoc Son Temple, and St. Joseph's Cathedral
- Lastly, we had dinner at Bun Cha Ta Hanoi (it was so so good! Bun cha was one of my favorite dishes while there - it's vermicelli noodles, spring rolls, pork patties, and fresh greens that you dip in a dipping sauce)
*This day was definitely a lot of walking and could easily be split up in to 2 or 3 days, depending on how much you want to see and how much relaxation time you want.
Halong Bay Cruise
This was actually one of my favorite parts of our whole trip, including Ho Chi Minh and Singapore. The scenery was unbelievably beautiful! We did our cruise through Peony Cruises, which I highly recommend.
The service was great and excursions were fun. From kayaking to a bamboo boat tour to swimming in the bay to a spring roll cooking class, it was definitely a highlight of the trip! Equally important, the food was fantastic.
If you're traveling to Hanoi, I highly highly highly recommend doing a Halong Bay tour, even for the day! Spending the night was nice because it's about a 2 hour drive from the city, so doing it in one day would make it a long one but still worth it.
Tours in Hanoi
There are so many types of tours you can do when visiting Vietnam. For a 3-day Hanoi itinerary, I'd recommend the following tours:
- Walking tour (this is the best way to see the city, in my opinion)
- Food tour (another must! It was so helpful and interesting to walk around with a local who knew the city, cuisine, and history)
- Halong Bay cruise (relaxing and beautiful sights you won't forget)
- Scooter tour (we didn't do one of these but there are options to do one. If you haven't heard, the motorbikes in Vietnam are everywhere! And the driving can be a little erratic but we could honestly cross the street with our eyes closed and not get hit, it was crazy!)
3-Day Hanoi Itinerary: Where to Stay
There are many areas in Hanoi. Here is what I found from doing research, including where we stayed!
- Hoan Kiem District/Old Quarter (where we stayed!) - French influence, bustling streets, cafes/bars, great for first-timers, within walking distance to most sites
- We stayed at La Sinfonia del Rey and it was a fantastic experience! The staff was extremely attentive and helpful, the room was nice, and they even organized our boat cruise and food tour for us! I definitely recommend this hotel.
- Tay Ho - this is a newer area by the lake with stylish cafes and restaurants
- Ba Dinh - a more quiet and relaxing area within walking distance to most tourist attractions
- Dong Da - close to a lot of cultural sights and full of local cafes and street food (get the mango salad!)
- Hai Ba Trung - if you want a full immersion in Vietnamese culture, this is the area for you (very little English is spoken from what I read!)
- Truc Bach - good for tourists because it's close to the city center but a more calm vibe than some of the other areas
3-Day Hanoi Itinerary: What to Eat
Based on research I did prior to the trip, here are foods/dishes that were listed as must-tries!
- Banh mi - a classic Vietnamese sandwich; a light baguette filled with meats and veggies
- Ca phe trung - egg coffee; Vietnamese coffee topped with whipped egg yolks that you stir into the coffee (it may sound strange to you but it was a lot like tiramisu minus the chocolate! It was delicious)
- Bun cha - like I mentioned above, bun cha is vermicelli noodles, spring rolls, pork patties, and fresh greens that you dip in a dipping sauce. Definitely one of my favorites!
- Banh cuon - eaten for breakfast; steamed rice rolls filled with minced pork and mushrooms and topped with crispy onions. Amazing!
- Cha ca - grilled turmeric-marinated catfish with dill
- Che - sweet dessert soup (could be hot or cold) topped with ginger
Other Recommended Restaurants in Hanoi
As a result of doing hours of research, I created a list of restaurants that were continually recommended. We weren't able to make it to all of them in this 3-day Hanoi itinerary but the ones we were able to go to, they were outstanding!
- Banh Mi 25
- Pho Gia Truyen Bat Dan
- Bun Cha Dac Kim
- Bun Cha 74 Hang Quat
- Banh Cuon Ba Xuan
- Bun Bo Nam Bo Bach Phuong
- Quan Goc Da - get the banh goi (empanada filled with pork, mushroom, glass noodles, and quail egg)
- Xoi Yen - get xoi xeo (stick rice topped with mung bean and friend shallots)
A Trip to Hanoi, Vietnam
We had a wonderful time in Hanoi and I hope you enjoy this itinerary as much as we did living it 🙂 If you're heading to Vietnam, feel free to comment below; I'd love to chat about your plans and help in any way!
Other Cities to Explore Nearby
- Ho Chi Minh City - a short flight from Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh city is a big city in the south of Vietnam. It's a little more Westernized than Hanoi but still packed with Vietnamese culture, delicious food, and wonderful excursions!
- Singapore - less than 2 hours by plane, Singapore is a bustling city full of culture. It’s very diverse with neighborhoods like Little India, Kampang Glam, and Chinatown, the food is out of this world.