Planning to visit Vietnam and looking for a Hanoi travel guide? I have prepared an itinerary for 3 days in Hanoi and share other useful tips to make your travels as easy as possible.
Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam and it is one of the most unique places to visit in Asia. The local architecture has been influenced by Chinese and French, yet it has a unique local twist that will overwhelm and charm you simultaneously. This means that there are a lot of beautiful places in Hanoi that you should visit and 3 days is a perfect time to see the most of Vietnamese capital.
Together with an itinerary for 3 days in Hanoi, you will find a lot of useful travel tips and things that you should know before visiting Hanoi. We will cover the best places to stay in Hanoi, the most convenient ways to move around, weather, currency, visa, and much more.
*Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking one of these links, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Is Hanoi worth visiting?
There are several unique things to do in Hanoi and I can safely say that it’s a city like no other.
The local architecture has been influenced by Chinese and French, yet it has a unique local twist that will overwhelm and charm you simultaneously. History lovers will find places to satisfy their curiosity and learn new things due to ancient and modern events that affected Vietnam. While nature lovers can plan easy day trips to see some of the most beautiful places in Vietnam.
The food scene is also another reason to visit the Vietnamese capital. Together with local traditions, you can find a lot of healthy alternatives for very affordable prices. And a lot of options for vegetarians and vegans. Having a cup of Vietnamese coffee or a cold beer is some of the local experiences in Hanoi you can’t miss.
On the other hand, the city tends to be very chaotic, and it’s not so easy to navigate due to its traffic.
Hanoi is definitely not the place for a relaxing weekend but it’s ready to welcome you with glorious architecture, traditional food and coffee, ancient temples, and unique experiences. So yes, Hanoi is worth visiting and this Hanoi travel guide will help you discover the beauty of the Vietnamese capital.
How many days in Hanoi?
Hanoi is a quite big city, but despite its size, the most beautiful places in Hanoi are mostly located in the central area. 3 days in Hanoi is the perfect amount of time you will need to cover all the main attractions and even take an epic day trip in the surroundings. Continue reading and discover how to maximize your time in Hanoi and make the most of it.
If you want to explore Northern Vietnam, I recommend you take at least 10 days, as there is a lot to see around the Vietnamese capital.
How to move around Hanoi?
As I mentioned, moving around Hanoi can be challenging. Despite this being not a pedestrian-friendly city, I recommend you to walk, as the main attractions are located in the central area and relatively close to each other. You can download an app called Grab if you need to cover longer distances. It is similar to Uber and is a great way to move around Hanoi. I have to add that taxi in Vietnam is very affordable.
If you like to risk, you can rent a scooter and most of the hotels can arrange the rental for you. The price is around 5 euros, and the price might be tempting, but driving in the streets of Hanoi can be very challenging and I don’t advise that. There are souvenir shops with t-shirts that say “I survive Hanoi’s traffic” – that’s how crazy it gets.
During your 3 days in Hanoi, you have to try at least the Vietnamese version of the rickshaw. This can be a fun and authentic way to sightsee the city. You will be constantly approached by the drivers, so it can be a good alternative for the taxi. Just make sure you negotiate the price first.
Where to stay in Hanoi?
Wondering what is the best area to stay in Hanoi? Or having trouble choosing the most suitable hotel for your needs? Here are some tips and some of the best hotels in Hanoi for every budget.
This 5-star hotel in Hanoi is a great idea for the most demanding customers. The rooms are finely decorated and offer all the amenities you might need for your stay. The hotel also offers a sun terrace where you will also find an infinity pool and enjoy a swim during the hot days.
UNIQUE: Capella Hanoi
Capella Hanoi is one of the most unique hotels in Hanoi. The design and the decoration of the rooms are sensational and there is no better place to stay in Hanoi if budget is not a problem for you. Capella Hanoi features a restaurant, fitness center, a bar, and offers 5-star accommodation with a sauna and terrace.
MID-RANGE: Shining Central Hotel & Spa
If you have a smaller budget but don’t want to give up design, comfort, and great hospitality, Shining Central Hotel & Spa is the right choice for you. The guests particularly love the Spa, wellness center, and fitness center. It has a great central location just like more pricey options.
AFFORDABLE: Hanoi Kingly Hotel
If you are on a budget and plan to spend most of your time outdoors exploring, you will love Hanoi Kingly Hotel. They offer bright and spacious rooms with private bathrooms and air conditioning. Breakfast is included in the final price. And it is only a 5-minute walk from Hanoi’s famous Opera House.
3 days in Hanoi itinerary
Overview of day 1 of your 3 days in Hanoi
- Morning: The Huc Bridge, Dac Nguyet Lau, and Ngọc Sơn Temple, Turtle tower, The Note Coffee, St. Joseph’s Cathedral.
- Lunch Options: Coffee Station or Quan An Ngon.
- Afternoon: Temple of Literature, Train Street.
- Dinner: Rice Bistro.
The Huc Bridge, Dac Nguyet Lau and Ngọc Sơn Temple
Ngọc Sơn Temple is a must-visit place and it has to be included in your 3 days in Hanoi. The sacred temple, along with other attractions, creates a historical complex that has been the pride of Hanoian for hundreds of years.
As soon as you pass the ticket control, you will step on The Huc Bridge. This red and unique attraction of Hanoi leads you to Dac Nguyet Lau. You definitely need to stop and admire the details of this gate before you head to explore Ngọc Sơn Temple. The little island on Sword Lake has a peaceful and sacred atmosphere and cannot be missed during your Hanoi itinerary.
The entire visit will take you around 1 hour, however, I suggest you visit as early as possible as it gets crowded shortly after opening. Even if you are visiting during the low season, be prepared for crowds. Locals love this attraction as much as tourists do.
Entrance Fee: 30.000 VND (1.17 EUR)
Opening Hours: 7 am to 6 pm (it says 8 am on Google, but that is not accurate).
Your next attraction on the Hanoi itinerary is the Turtle Tower, which is one of the symbols of the city of Hanoi. After visiting the temple, I suggest you just enjoy the walk around the lake and admire the views of Turtle Tower.
The Turtle Tower is a small tower located in the middle of Sword Lake and the best way to see it is early morning. The turtle has a special place in Vietnamese culture and history and it symbolizes longevity, strength, and intelligence.
The lake is a popular workout place for locals. It unites the most active Vietnamese and helps them start their day by moving their body. Honestly, I have never seen something like that anywhere else in the world, so it is one of the unique experiences in Hanoi. Enjoy it as you walk around the lake.
The Note Coffee
After diving into Vietnamese culture and architecture, it is time for a break. The Note Coffee is just a few meters away from the Ngọc Sơn Temple and this is your next destination once you have walked all around the lake.
Shortly after your arrival in Vietnam, you will see how much locals love their coffee. Trying Vietnamese coffee is one of the best things to do in Hanoi and a great way to discover unique flavors of the local specialty. Did you know that Vietnam’s coffee has been shipped to more than 80 countries, making it the second biggest exporter in the world? Impressive!
Note Coffee is known for colorful, customer-written notes lining the walls. You might think there are a few stickers here and there, but no. Everything is covered with stickers – the walls, the tables, even some books, and the ceiling. When you order your drink, you get a few stickers so you can leave your message to the world and add it to the current collection. It is a very cool idea if you ask me. Here you can try a variety of Vietnamese coffees like coconut or egg coffee, or simply enjoy an espresso.
St. Joseph’s Cathedral
A short walk distance from Note Coffee you will find St. Joseph’s Cathedral, which is one of the best places to visit in Hanoi. If you are planning to visit the inside of the Cathedral, make sure you check the time of the ceremony because that is the only time when it is open.
This is one of the oldest churches in Hanoi and it is deeply loved by locals, so you will find a lot of people in the square taking photos of the facade or just enjoying their time. The architecture and the design have a strong French influence and locals claim that it has been inspired by Notre Dame.
If you feel like taking a nice photo of the cathedral, Trà Chanh Nhà Thờ coffee shop has a fantastic view from the balcony on the second floor. Also, if you have the chance, stop by after sunset, when the facade is illuminated. Adds a certain charm to the place.
Lunch options: Coffee Station or Quan An Ngon
The Coffee Station is one of the most popular cafes in Hanoi and it offers interesting brunch options, including avocado toasts and smoothie bowls. Great vegan and vegetarian dishes and affordable prices. You can enjoy the busy life of Hanoi from the balcony or eat your meal in peace inside the restaurant.
As the name suggests, it is another popular place for coffee. The owner and the staff are very knowledgeable about the coffee and will share some pretty cool secrets about their local traditions. Even put up a show and teach you how to make the famous egg coffee – another must-try in Hanoi.
If you are in the mood for a traditional meal, head to Quan An Ngon instead. This is one of the best restaurants in Hanoi and most probably you will have to wait to find a free table.
Here you can find all the classics of Vietnamese cuisine, like Pho and spring rolls. Personally, I loved their spring rolls and noodles but the choice is pretty wide and you will certainly find something you like even if you are a vegan or vegetarian. And the location is just the cherry on the top – a lively garden filled with traditional lamps and endless food stalls for different specialties – absolutely wonderful.
Temple of Literature
Now it is time to take a taxi and go to the Temple of Literature. It is one of my personal highlights and it must be included in your Hanoi itinerary.
It is a historical relic that provides a look into the history of Vietnam and it dates back to the 10th century. Considering that it is a temple, it peaceful and quiet place in the middle of busy Hanoi. Inside you will find multiple attractions starting from the gate and ending with Imperial Academy. The pavilion together with a pond is one of the most beautiful places in Hanoi.
The entire visit will take you approximately one hour. Make sure you arrive all the way to the end and climb up to the second floor of the last temple.
Entrance Fee: 30.000 VND (1.17 EUR).
Opening Hours: every day from 8 am to 5 pm.
Train Street (2022 update!)
From the Temple of Literature head to one of the most famous places to visit in Hanoi. Train Street has been the main attraction of the city and the best place to visit in Hanoi. However, as of December 2022, the most popular part of Train Street is closed. A policeman makes sure that tourists don’t get to the part where the street gets very narrow.
Luckily, the train street is long and you can still see the train passing Hanoi. I suggest you head to a cafe called Hanoi 1990s for some of the best train views. You can sit down for a drink and wait for the train.
When it comes to the train schedule, there is a lot of different information out there and even the coffee shop owners are not 100% sure when the train is going to come. I will add the schedule below, but remember that the trains are often delayed and canceled.
Train Schedule: Weekdays: 7 pm; 7.45 pm; 8.30 pm; and 10 pm. Weekends: 6 am; 9 am; 11.20 am; 3.20 pm; 5.30 pm; 6 pm; 7 pm; 7.45 pm; 8.30 pm; 9 pm; 11 pm.
Rice Bistro is one of the best restaurants in Hanoi and you have to visit it at least once during your 3 days in Hanoi. Why is that?
First of all the atmosphere. It is a very silent and wonderfully decorated restaurant where you can have a traditional meal with a twist. The menu includes unmissable specialties like the pomelo salad with shrimp or the grilled pork with sticky rice.
This is slightly more expensive than the average Hanoi restaurant but worth every single penny for the taste, service, and location. Vegetarian options are included.
Overview of day 2 of your 3 days in Hanoi
- Morning: Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum, One Pillar Pagoda, Ho Chi Minh Museum, Imperial Citadel of Thang Long.
- Lunch: Paris Baguette.
- Afternoon: Tran Quoc Pagoda, Old Quarter.
Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum
Your second day starts with a place that is included in every Hanoi travel guide.
Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum is a historical attraction in Hanoi and it serves as the resting place of Vietnamese Revolutionary leader and President Ho Chi Minh. It is a unique place to visit in Hanoi and features brutalist architecture. To get in, you will need to go through security screening and follow the dress code – nothing short, sleeveless, or tight.
If you want to visit the building inside, the opening times are different and cameras are not allowed. Also, be prepared to join a long line since the local people come from all over Vietnam to see this historical place in Hanoi. There is an entrance fee of 25000 VND (1 EUR) for foreigners.
Entrance Fee: free.
Opening Hours: from 5 am to 10 pm.
One Pillar Pagoda
Another interesting attraction within the territory of Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum is the One Pillar Pagoda. It is known for being the most unique pagoda in Asia as it is hanging above a water pond on one stone pillar.
The temple was completed in 1049 and the most recent renovation was in 1955 after the French Union destroyed it after the First Indochina War. It is one of the best free things to do in Hanoi as there is no admission fee to visit this unique temple. And you can easily combine it with Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum.
Ho Chi Minh Museum
A few meters away from the One Pillar Pagoda stands one of the most famous museums in Hanoi. If you are a history lover you can’t miss the Ho Chi Minh Museum during your 3 days in Hanoi. If history is not your thing, make sure you stop by to see the brutalist facade and maybe even witness the guard change.
Dating back to 1979, it contains artifacts & photographs dedicated to President Ho Chi Minh and it is one of the best ways to understand the recent history of Vietnam.
Entrance Fee: 150.000 VND (6 EUR).
Opening Hours: from 8 am to 12 pm.
Imperial Citadel of Thang Long
Imperial Citadel of Thang Long was one of my personal highlights of Hanoi, and it lies within a short walking distance from the Ho Chi Minh Museum. At first, I wasn’t even sure if it was worth visiting, but I ended up loving it. As of 2022, there are some works in the middle of the complex, however, this place has to be included in your 3-day Hanoi itinerary.
Doan Mon or the gate that you see in the photo is the main attraction of the citadel but there are a lot of sculptures, buildings, information, and relics that will help you understand the old Vietnamese culture. Plan to spend around one hour in the complex.
Entrance Fee: 30.000 VND (1.17 EUR).
Opening Hours: from 8 am to 5 pm.
After a full immersion in the culture of old and new Vietnam is time for lunch. I suggest you use the taxi and head to the Paris Baguette, which is a perfect place where you can have a quick and healthy lunch or enjoy some of the best pastries in Hanoi. A lot of great salad options and sandwiches as well.
Also, it is located in a strategic place to continue your exploration of the Vietnamese capital, as it is only a few steps away from Tran Quoc Pagoda, which is your next attraction of the day.
Tran Quoc Pagoda
Your Hanoi itinerary for 3 days can’t be complete without Tran Quoc Pagoda. This Pagoda is more than 1500 years old and the oldest Buddhist temple in Hanoi. It is located next to the West Lake and creates a beautiful skyline from the distance.
Once you get closer, you will see the bridge that leads you to the yellow pillar, and then on your left, you will find an impressive size stupa. Make sure you walk around to appreciate the beauty of the place and don’t miss the panels where you can read about the history of sight.
Being one of the main attractions of Hanoi, this place is crowded most of the time. A visit can take from 30 minutes to an entire afternoon.
Entrance Fee: free.
Opening Hours: from 7.30 am to 11.30 am and from 1.30 pm to 5.30 pm.
The last stop of the day is Old Quarter and you will need to take a taxi to get there. This is where you go to discover the soul of Hanoi – endless street food stands, cool vintage stores, and old Vietnamese architecture wrapped in traffic and mixed with unique scents of spices.
The Old Quarter is undoubtedly the most picturesque district of the city and here you can find some of the top things to do in Hanoi. In the evening the Old Quarter turns on its light and it becomes a place where people gather to drink a glass of the famous Vietnamese beer or try some local and ethnic delicacies in one of the thousands of restaurants around.
Want to know more about local food and eat your way through Vietnamese cuisine? Join this Old Quarter Food Tour and learn more about street food from the best. Honestly, I can’t recommend it enough. Keep in mind that the last time slot is at 6 pm, so book in advance and plan your time accordingly.
Overview of day 3 of your 3 days in Hanoi
Day trip to Ninh Binh and Water Puppet Show.
The last day of your 3 days in Hanoi includes an epic day trip to one of the most beautiful places in Vietnam – Ninh Binh. So what are some of the attractions you can’t miss when visiting Ninh Binh?
The old capital of Hoa Lu is a historical and important attraction of Vietnam, while Tam Coc and Mua Cave are perfect places to enjoy the lush and unique landscapes of Vietnam. Tam Coc river can be visited on a 2-hour boat ride. But this is not a regular boat ride as locals are famous for their rowing technique – with their feet. And Mua Cave will require you to climb 500 challenging stairs to see some of the best views in Vietnam. It is breathtaking – the climb and the views altogether.
If you want to plan your own trip to Ninh Binh, I would recommend spending at least one night there. However, if you are on the clock and don’t want the hassle of planning – join one of the endless tours. After some unfortunate planning experience, we decided to book a tour and it was a fantastic experience.
Recommended tour: book here. Be careful because most of the other tours offer only Mua Cave or only Tam Coc among other attractions. I believe these two places are the highlights of Ninh Binh and neither one can be missed.
Water Puppet Show
If you still have some energy left, make sure you go to see the Water Puppet Show, which is one of the top things to do in Hanoi.
It is part of Vietnamese history and tradition and a great way to end your 3 days in Hanoi. Attending the spectacle will bring you to a far far away land and tell you stories that will help you understand Vietnamese folklore. The show is in Vietnamese, but you can either get an audio guide (50.000 VND) right before the show or grab a brochure to follow the story.
The tickets sell out fast, so purchase your tickets a couple of days before. You can either go to the theater to buy or purchase your tickets here. Also, see the link to find all the details and times of the Water Puppet Show.
Other useful things to know before visiting Hanoi
Vietnamese Dong is the currency used in the country you will need approximately 25000 Vietnamese Dongs to make 1 USD. The biggest banknote is 500000 Dongs while the smallest one is 500 and there are no coins.
Depending on your nationality, most probably you will need a visa to visit Vietnam. You can do it online and the entire process is very easy – it takes around 15 minutes. Just click here and follow the instructions. This is the official immigration office of Vietnam and the price for a 30-day single entry visa is 25 USD. Within 3 business days, you should receive Visa in your email and print it before your trip. Any other website you find online is a third-party company that works on a commission.
Is Hanoi Safe? Hanoi is a relatively safe city and I felt safe the entire month that I spent there. You have to be aware of some popular scams, pickpocketing, and traffic madness, but other than that, you shouldn’t worry too much and just follow the common sense rules.
Some popular tourist scams are free doughnuts or free photoshoots that are never free, wrong exchange in the shops, and overcharging for fruits or street food. Another popular scam is the “Stop, look” shoe scam – even before you know there will be someone cleaning or fixing your shoes and charging you a rather high fee for doing that. Make sure you stop them as soon as you notice it and watch your belongings. When it comes to choosing restaurants, hotels or tours – always do your research and read reviews online.
Resources for your 3 days in Hanoi
- Luxury hotel in Hanoi: Peridot Grand Luxury Boutique Hotel
- Unique hotel in Hanoi: Capella Hanoi
- Mid-range hotel in Hanoi: Shining Central Hotel & Spa
- Affordable hotel in Hanoi: Hanoi Kingly Hotel
- Old Quarter Food Tour: book here
- Water Puppet show: book here
- Apply for Visa: click here
- Day trip to Ninh Binh: book here.
Further reading for Vietnam
Other useful tips for visiting Vietnam
🏠 Need a place to stay? Browse Booking or Agoda
💃 How about fun experiences? GetYourGuide, Viator, and Klook have it all
🚗 Considering renting a car in Vietnam? Use Rentalcars
🚂 If you need transfers, bus or train tickets, check 12Go
🔒 Don’t forget about travel insurance from HeyMondo
This is the end of your 3 days in Hanoi and I am sure you will have a lot of fun following this itinerary. As you already know, Hanoi is a great destination for any kind of traveler. Regardless if you are looking for historical sights, hidden gems, popular attractions, budget experiences, or unique things to do, this Hanoi itinerary will help you make the most of it.
I would love to hear your thoughts, so if you have any feedback or additional tips, leave a comment below. Also, check out my Instagram for regular travel videos and travel inspiration. Or explore other destinations on this travel blog.