Spend 2 days in Hanoi and Vietnam’s capital is sure to leave you spellbound. Laid out around a series of attractive lakes, Hanoi is not your average capital. Here, Chinese pagodas can be spied from French-built cathedrals and modern skyscrapers, and historic temples face communist-era monuments. Ancient and modern collide – successfully – like nowhere else, creating an extraordinary array of sights, sounds, smells and tastes. This is what to do with 2 days in Hanoi.
If you’re flying in, you’ll want to know how to get from Hanoi airport before seeing the main attractions. Getting to Hanoi from Ho Chi Minh City is also a simple process. Likewise, exploring Hanoi independently is easy enough. However, getting under the skin of a destination leads to a much more fulfilling experience all around. And one that will live long after the ‘which temple was this again?’ conversations start back home. So start as you mean to go on by choosing our full-day Insider Hanoi City Tour. You’ll cover much of what this wonderful city has to offer with the help of an expert guide. You’ll explore everything from sixth-century Buddhist pagodas to the grand mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh, one of modern Vietnam’s most important figures.
You’ll be dropped back in central Hanoi before sunset. This means you have enough time to get an alternative take on the Vietnamese capital by joining our Hanoi Street Food Tour. By doing so you’ll delve into the markets that operate long into the night. They provide not just raw ingredients, but also some of the country’s most famous dishes. Now’s your chance to try pho as it should be prepared while enjoying the buzz of the Old Quarter. Of course, if food is your thing, you could instead opt for our much more comprehensive 12 Day Flavors of Vietnam Tour. This takes in cooking classes in Hanoi, as well as Hue, Hoi An, and Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon).
For many, a stroll among Hanoi’s food bazaars is enough. Alternatively, you could head to a couple of the best bars in Hanoi. But if these options aren’t you, turn your attention instead to the Water Puppet Theater for the rest of the evening. Unique to northern Vietnam, it sees puppets act out age-old stories over a pool of water. Their actions are accompanied by a live orchestra of drums, bamboo flutes and bells.
When it comes to where to lay your head, there’s an excellent range of hotels in Hanoi. Among our top picks are the Soleil Boutique Hotel and the Lotte Hotel. Both combine excellent locations with a good choice of facilities.
Morning & Afternoon
You’ll want the whole of day two for our Ba Vi Village Eco Tour. Once picked up from your hotel, you’ll be whisked as quickly as the capital’s infamous traffic allows to dramatic landscapes. They sit protected by Ba Vi National Park, an area of stunning rivers and mountains. Do like the locals and jump onto a bike to explore small villages surrounded by paddy fields. Then try your hand at the ancient art of tea picking. Finally, you’ll be able to soak tired feet in an herbal bath used for centuries by the Muong.
Alternatively, you could combine the region’s natural beauty and intriguing history in our Ninh Binh, Tam Coc, Dancing Cave & Hoa Lu Tour. Taking in Ninh Binh from Ngoa Long Mountain, you’ll continue to the UNESCO World Heritage Site Tam Coc. Here the river disappears into natural caves and where you’ll find the Dancing Cave. So named because kings would enjoy the dancing of their female subjects here, you’ll see it from an authentic sampan. But your day won’t end before you’ve also discovered Hoa Lu, the country’s capital a staggering thousand years ago.
These are also destinations that feature in our 15 Day Vietnam Wellness and Yoga Tour. It combines northern Vietnam’s most celebrated sites with time focusing on the art and practice of yoga.
Head back to Hanoi’s Old Quarter, where a thriving bar and nightclub scene has developed around Hoan Kiem Lake. They range from simple spots where everyday Vietnamese share a drink with friends to exclusive clubs with packed dance floors. Most technically shut down by midnight, when the low plastic stools covering side roads start to be packed away.
2 Heady Days in Hanoi
Hanoi is a city for all the senses. From ancient landmarks to tasty street food, it is a capital that doesn’t disappoint. With 2 days in Hanoi, you can explore multiple strands of Vietnamese life, before heading to stunning landscapes slightly further away. So be sure to check out all our tours in Hanoi. For more on the country’s culture, head to our Vietnamese Culture Guide, and save worrying about accidentally offending your hosts.