UPDATED MARCH 2020
Visiting Hanoi and looking for a Hanoi travel itinerary ? Look no further! Our Hanoi itinerary for 2 days is the perfect little guide to help you check out this city and get a taste of Vietnam. All the things to see in Hanoi. Keep reading to find out Everything you need to know to plan a trip and how to make the best use of your 2 days in Hanoi.
Before proceeding i want to state that this is not a sponsored post. Everything is our honest opinion ! Enjoy!
48 hours in Hanoi is enough time to spend in this city if you are visiting Vietnam only for a week. In this Hanoi itinerary 2 days, i have listed all the things to do in Hanoi if you are in the city for only 48 hours. We followed this exact Hanoi itinerary during our 2 days in Hanoi and were pretty happy with it. For more Vietnam trip planning, make sure to check out all our posts on Vietnam including the travel budget for Vietnam.
HANOI ITINERARY FOR 2 DAYS
HANOI TRAVEL GUIDE
Hanoi is the Asia we all dreamed of: vibrant, atmospheric, pulsating and exotic. Visiting Hanoi serves as the perfect introduction to Vietnam beacause it is filled with history and culture at every step and easily co exists side by side with the modern contraptions of the 21st century. Hanoi works it’s charm on everyone and made us feel alive. It is not just the capital but the historic heart of the country.
To describe Hanoi in one word – it’s CRAZY!!! The combination of chaos and crowds can be pretty overwhelming (not a problem for us Indians tho (!) used to our own crowds and chaos!) There are zillions of motorbikes running around without any sense of traffic. In addition you have street vendors, cyclos and people running around and this can lead to perfect disaster. Yet, somehow it all works!
Experiencing this chaos of Hanoi was one of the highlights of our Vietnam trip apart from the Halong bay cruise (one of the most romantic places we have ever visited)and taking in the picturesque charm of Hoi an. If you are planning a trip to Halong Bay (as you should!), make sure to check out our complete Halong Bay cruise guide for all the information and special tips you need to know before booking a cruise.
Still undecided on Hanoi? Here are 7 quick reasons that will convince you to spend at least 2 days in Hanoi.
7 REASONS YOU HAVE TO VISIT HANOI
- We loved the vibrant and eclectic atmosphere on the streets that is unique only to Hanoi.
- Friendly locals who were always ready to help us and pose for pictures.
- Some of the most delicious food on the planet ! And a very special drink (see below!!)
- Extremely budget friendly catering to all categories of travelers.
- Hanoi is the nearest getaway to Ha long city and Ha long bay. So it is very convenient to include both places in one visit.
- Plenty of history and culture to keep you engrossed in your few days there.
- No language issues as English is widely spoken and understood. (Also French!)
DID YOU KNOW: Hanoi has had many different names throughout the centuries and one of them is Thang Long (City of the soaring dragon)!
IS 2 DAYS IN HANOI ENOUGH?
How many days in Hanoi should you spend? Well ideally i would suggest 3 days. 2 days is never enough for any place, let alone a major city like Hanoi. But if you are visiting Vietnam only for 7-10 days, this is the best option. 2 days in Hanoi will let you have a taste of the chaos and craziness and will also give you enough time to see the main sights of the city.
We spent 2 days following this Hanoi itinerary and were happy with what we were able to see. I wont say its very relaxing, but it was not too rushed either. To sum up, we were able to visit the sights we wanted to and spend sufficient time in each.
WHERE TO STAY IN HANOI
For this Hanoi itinerary, it is best for you to stay near Hoan Kiem lake. The lake is actually a pretty good area to stay in Hanoi because it has plenty of budget and mid range hotels which offer wonderful service. The lake, the water puppet theatre and the old quarters are at walking distance and other sites are just a short taxi ride away. This area is a bit more quieter and less cramped compared to the old quarters.
For more upscale hotels, choose the French quarters where some hotels offer views of the iconic St Joseph’s cathedral. We choose to stay in Hanoi Emerald Waters Trendy Hotel, a good 3* option near the lake and I can vouch for their service.
GETTING AROUND IN HANOI
Hanoi does not have a subway which kinda makes public transportation tricky. We choose the taxi as our preferred transport option here because most sightseeing locations were a short taxi ride away and cost around 50-70000 VND from the lake. Just ask your hotel to call one for you and check if they will go by meter.
Taking the bus here can be trickier as you have to know the exact bus numbers and routes to catch one. Cyclos run around in the Old Quarters and offer hourly tours. Then there are the infamous motorbike taxis ‘Xe om’ where you ride pillion while the driver roars through the traffic. Bargain and fix the price before hopping onto one!
WHAT TO EAT IN HANOI : 5 MUST TRY DISHES
Now the most important reason to visit to visit Vietnam: the FOOD !!! Vietnamese food is very very delicious and was one of the highlights of our trip. Each region of Vietnam has their own unique specialties and Hanoi was no different. We loved checking out the local stalls, sitting in the plastic tables on the street and eating with other locals. Here are 5 of the must try dishes from Hanoi.
- PHO: The most iconic dish of Vietnam, Pho originated from Northern Vietnam and is famous all over the world today. It is basically a rich and sweet broth consisting of rice noodles, meat and various herbs. Pho is found in every street corner and is had from morning to night. Some of the best places to sample Pho in Hanoi include Pho Gia Truyen (49 Bát Đàn, Hà Nội, Vietnam) and Pho Thin (located at Dinh Tien Hoang Street). The cost is approx 0.5-1 USD.
- BUN CHA: Another favourite of ours, Bun cha (or Vietnamese meatballs !) is said to have originated from Hanoi too. The dish is grilled pork served with rice noodles, herbs and a dipping sauce. One of the best places to try some Bun cha is Huong Lien where President Obama and Anthony Bourdain tried out some too! But get ready to queue for 15 minutes and shell out more than other local stalls. Location: 24 Lê Văn Hưu, Phan Chu Trinh, Hai Bà Trưng. Price around 4-5 USD.
3. CHA CA: Can you believe there is an entire street dedicated to this Hanoi speciality in the Old quarters? This is a traditional fish dish, marinated in turmeric and fried on the table with herbs. The best two places to try this dish are Cha ca Anh vu (116 K1 Giang Vo, Ba Dinh) and Cha ca La Vong (14 Cha Ca Street, Hoan Kiem). Cost around 5 USD.
4. XOI XEO : Vietnamese sticky rice with fried shallots and mung bean. This one is a budget staple that is filling as well as delicious. Recommended spot to try: Xoi Yen (35B Nguyễn Hữu Huân, Hàng Bạc, Hoàn Kiem).
5. EGG COFFEE : This weird concotion is a Hanoi must have ! Black coffee topped with a creamy foam made up of egg yolk and condensed milk. Try at Giang Cafe and Cafe Pho co (11 Hàng Gai, Hàng Trống, Hoàn Kiếm).
5 TIPS YOU SHOULD KNOW BEFORE VISITING HANOI
- Embrace the chaos and go with the flow. For non South east Asians, Hanoi might be too overwhelming but give it a chance and it will grow on you.
- Avoid taxis totally. There are plenty of scams especially at the airport. Suggest you to use Grab/Uber and public transportation. In case you do use a taxi make sure it runs on meter. In fact, confirm this before getting on it.
- Carry the hotel address card with you to show around to taxi/ grab drivers. This way you do not face any issue while trying to explain the location. Also remember to grab a local street/tourist map from the reception desk.
- Get your currency exchanged at the airport. We found the airport to have a fair exchange rate compared to the currency centers outside in the city and in the hotels.
- Try the local street food to get a feel of authentic cuisine. We never had an upset tummy in our time there.
HANOI ITINERARY FOR 2 DAYS / 48 HOURS IN HANOI
It is never possible to see everything in only 2 days so you have to pick and choose. The best thing about Hanoi is that most of the main spots are pretty close to each other making the sightseeing relatively easy, despite the lack of a subway system.
For this Hanoi itinerary we included all the spots that we felt were essential to give you a feel of the real Hanoi experience: cultural sites, chaotic streets and little oases of calm too. These are ‘must sees’ in our opinion ! Of course you can tweak according to your convenience and choice, but i am very proud of this little 2 days Hanoi itinerary that i had put together during our visit. I truly believe it is the best Hanoi Itinerary for 2 days !
I have also listed below other Hanoi itineraries for different time durations: Hanoi itinerary for 1 day, Hanoi in 3 days and for 5 days as well. If you are visiting Hanoi for that duration, scroll below and take a look to find one that suits you !
WHAT TO DO IN HANOI IN 2 DAYS
- Chances are that you are gonna land mid-morning. So, make your way to your hotel (preferably situated near Hoan Kiem lake/ Old Quarters) and check in. By the time you get refreshed and have lunch, it will be early afternoon.
- Head to the “TEMPLE OF LITERATURE”– a short taxi ride from the lake and have a look at this famous temple dedicated to Confucius and his 4 chief scholars. Even today, students come here to pray before their exams.
- Entrance Ticket: 50,000 VND/PP ; Audio guides available
- Timings: Open 8.30-11.30 AM / 13.30-16.30 PM (Closed on Monday/national holidays)
- Dress Code: Cover up your shoulders and knees
Fun Tip: Check out the quirky charms sold within the temple premises, promising everything from exam luck to safe pregnancies!
- On your way back, check out the IMPERIAL CITADEL from outside (a UNESCO heritage site like Ancient Town in Hoi An and the temples of Angkor).
- If you want a taste of museums, check out the HOA LO PRISON MUSEUM and get a dose of Vietnamese propaganda about the American invasion.
- Entrance Ticket: 30,000 VND/PP
- Timings: 8AM-5PM everyday
- By this time, it will be evening. Make your way to the FRENCH QUARTERS and check out the architecture of famous sites such as St JOSEPH’S CATHEDRAL AND HANOI OPERA HOUSE. Have a taste of the famous bakery/dessert delicacies at one of the French influenced bakeries situated here.
- Your last stop of the day is THANG LONG WATER PUPPET THEATER situated near Hoan Kiem lake lake. Catch a show of this famous cultural attraction and check out the nearby shops for puppet souvenirs. Also take a look at the brightly lit lake at night and end with dinner at any of the restaurants near the lake/old quarters.
- Show tickets: 100,000 VND/PP
- Timings: Multiple shows daily
- Wake up early and head over to HOAN KIEM LAKE , where dozens of groups start their morning with Tai chi and aerobics.
- Check out the little Buddhist temple, NGOC SON TEMPLE, which lies on the northern end of the lake in its own little island and is connected to the shore by a scarlet bridge. This bridge is one of the enduring symbols of Hanoi so make sure to click a picture atop this. The temple is one of the few oasis of calm in the bustling city. So go early and soak in the serene atmosphere.
- Entrance Ticket: 30,000 VND/PP
- Timings: 8 AM-5 PM
- From here, catch a taxi to HO CHI MINH COMPLEX (approx 50,000 VND) which houses the Ho chi minh museum, the One pillar pagoda, the House on Stilts( where Ho chi minh once used to live) as well as the Ho chi minh mausoleum with his preserved body up for viewing. ( If you are into that kinda thing and harbor neutral feelings on the whole Communist issue)
- Entrance Ticket: Museum 40,000 VND/PP ; Stilt House 40,000 VND/pp; one pillar pagoda and mausoleum free
- Timings: Mausoleum: Monday closed/ Tuesday-Thursday( 7.30-10.30) and Sat/Sun (7.30-10.30) Museum: Monday and Friday closed/ Tues-Thurs and Sat-Sun (8-12 noon and 14-16.30)
Flashpacker Tip: Long queues line up for viewing the embalmed body in the first hour of the day. You can easily finish checking out a couple of other stuff within the complex before lining up. It is best to line up an hour before the closing time, by then the crowds have usually thinned out.
- After a dose of history, its time to get a taste of the OLD QUARTERS. Spend your afternoon walking around the different streets which are 1000 years old. Each street specializes in a particular item, be it silk, lacquer or shoes and this is the best place to do all your shopping! Pop in at the BACH MA TEMPLE for a quick look.
- Check out the quirky shop which sells old PROPAGANDA POSTERS for a few dollars each. They make an excellent gifting option for family and friends!
- For Dinner, there are 2 options :
- Have dinner at the old quarters itself. Make your way to BEER STREET and sit down at one of the many barbeque places present. Dig in and end with some local Pia hoi (Hanoi beer!)
- Take a taxi to TAY HO LAKE (WEST LAKE) which is the trendy upcoming district of the city, boasting a vibrant pub and restaurant scene.
THE HISTORY OF THE OLD QUARTERS: ‘The Old Quarters’ started as a cluster of artisan workshops in the 13th century under the patronage of the then emperor. Though the original name was ’36 old streets’, there were actually more than 36. Each street housed artisans from the same village who specialized in one particular trade/craft. Many of the streets still have their old religious structures standing today like temples and pagodas. The Old Quarters is the cultural and historical heart of Hanoi and should be included in every Hanoi itinerary.
MORE ITINERARIES FOR HANOI
HANOI ITINERARY 1 DAY
If you only have 1 day in Hanoi, follow this Hanoi 1 day itinerary to make the best use of your time.
- Go straight to the Old Quarters and spend a couple of hours exploring the lanes and tiny shrines like the Bach Ma temple. The Old Quarters is the heart and soul of Hanoi and is not to be missed.
- Then head to the French Quarters and see a totally different face of Hanoi with the stunning French inspired architecture of the Opera House and St Joseph’s cathedral.
- If time permits, catch a water puppet show at Thang Long water puppet theatre, one of the cultural highlights of Vietnam. End with dinner and Hanoi beer at the local street shops near the old quarters or Hoan kiem lake.
HANOI ITINERARY 3 DAYS
With a Hanoi 3 day itinerary, you have plenty of time to explore the city.
- Follow the 2 days in Hanoi itinerary in a more slower and relaxed manner.
- Apart from that, add a visit to the National museum of Vietnamese history which is probably the most important museum in Vietnam.
- If museums are not your jam, head to Tay Ho lake (West Lake) in the suburbs. The lake is 15 kms in circumference with bicycles available to rent and cycle around the beautiful lake. In addition, there are 2 pagodas here, Tay ho and Tran quoc pagodas. Seafood restaurants, cafes, boutiques and luxury hotels are all lined up along one of the strips near the lake.
HANOI ITINERARY 5 DAYS
With 5 days in Hanoi, you can take one trip outside the city from a number of day trips options and get to see the beautiful Vietnamese countryside and scenery.
- Follow the hanoi itinerary for 2 or 3 days (as per your wish).
- Take a trip outside. The top choices for these trips are:
- Halong bay cruise for a minimum of 2 days 1 night
- Ninh Binh, Tam coc and Cuc Phong national park
- Sapa (especially preferable if your are visiting during summer)
HANOI ITINERARY 7 DAYS
If you are among the lucky few who has the time for one week in Hanoi, there are plenty of things to do. For your Hanoi 7 days itinerary:
- Start with the basic 2 day Hanoi itinerary (see above)
- Go off on a 3 days 2 nights cruise in Ha long /Bai tu long bay
- Spend 2 days in Sapa or Ninh Binh/ Tam Coc.
We had a wonderful time in Hanoi and hope this detailed Hanoi itinerary for 2 days will help you a lot in your travel planning. Have you ever been to Hanoi? Share your stories in the comments! If you liked this post, subscribe below and stay connected! For all our posts on Vietnam, Click Here.
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