The capital of Vietnam – Hanoi – is any travelers dream. Being incredibly budget-friendly, rich in history, and brimming with things to do and incredible foods to eat; I highly encourage anyone traveling to Vietnam to prioritize a visit to Hanoi. I’ve been lucky enough to explore Hanoi twice now and I have to say (with a resounding yes) – Hanoi is absolutely worth visiting. And the best part is, if you’re in a rush – you really don’t need much more than 2 days in Hanoi to get a feel for the city. Below you’ll find a complete two day itinerary for visiting Hanoi, Vietnam.
How to Get to Hanoi
Located in Northern Vietnam, Hanoi is easy to get to due to its international airport and the amount of trains and buses that drive to Hanoi daily. The airport in Hanoi is Noi Bai International Airport (HAN), and it’s located about 19 miles north from the center of the city. When searching for flights to Hanoi, I recommend using Expedia or Skyscanner.
How to Get from the Airport to Downtown Hanoi
There are tons of options when it comes from getting from the airport to downtown Hanoi. The easiest would be to ask your hotel to send you a taxi, but that will most likely be the most expensive. (I did this and the price was $20). If your hotel can’t send you a taxi, you can book a private driver here and they will be waiting for you at the airport.
Another option is to grab a taxi when you leave the airport (make sure to negotiate price BEFORE getting in the car), or you can order a Grab (Vietnam’s version of Uber).
Lastly, the cheapest option to get from the airport to downtown Hanoi is by booking a bus. You can book that here.
BOOK A BUS FROM THE AIRPORT TO DOWNTOWN HANOI HERE!
Taking a Train/Bus to Hanoi
If you’re traveling to Hanoi from another part of Vietnam, you can easily take a train or bus to the city. My favorite platform to book from is Bookaway because you can compare prices across multiple rental companies.
BOOK A TRAIN OR BUS TO HANOI FROM ELSEWHERE IN VIETNAM HERE!
Where to Stay in Hanoi
Because Vietnam is so affordable, there are tons of budget-friendly (and even luxury) hotels to stay in in Hanoi for a great price. I chose a mid-range option – Luxury Old Quarter Hotel & Gym – and would highly recommend it for its great service and incredible location. If you’re looking for something a bit nicer, I would also recommend Hanoi La Siesta Hotel & Spa.
How to Get Around Hanoi
Hanoi is a bustling city filled with cars, people, and motorbikes. At first, it might seem overwhelming to get around, but after a while, you get used to the chaos. Of course, you can easily get around on foot – although always be aware of cars/motorbikes because you’re often forced to walk in the streets. Another thing to consider when walking around Hanoi is the weather. It’s extremely hot and humid so if you’re planning to do a lot of walking, make sure to bring a water bottle with you. (To keep my water cold, I travel with my Corkcicle and fill along the way).
And of course, you can get around Hanoi by hailing a taxi or motorbike. Make sure to download the Grab app before arriving to Vietnam. It’s the country’s version of Uber and you can easily call a ride using the app. (If you’re getting a taxi off the street, make sure to negotiate price before getting in).
2 Day Hanoi Itinerary
If you’re wondering, “is 2 days in Hanoi enough?”, I certainly think so. Of course, if you’re not rushed for time you could easily stay for 3-4 days, but you will be able to see all of the highlights of Hanoi and taste some pretty great food in two days. Below you’ll find my two day itinerary for Hanoi, including the best things to do in the city!
Day 1 in Hanoi
Start your first day in Hanoi with a cup of the famous egg coffee that was invented in the city. Egg coffee was created in 1946 when there was a milk shortage caused by the French war. The egg is whipped with the purpose to make the coffee creamier – 10/10 recommend. In my opinion, the best place to go for egg coffee is Cafe Đinh.
After your egg coffee take a stroll around Hoàn Kiếm Lake where you can see Tháp Rùa in the middle of the lake, and Ngoc Son Temple.
INTERESTED IN LEARNING MORE ABOUT HANOI? BOOK A PRIVATE WALKING TOUR HERE!
Once you’re done walking around the lake, learn about the history of Hanoi at the Hanoi Museum and/or the Vietnamese Women’s Museum where you can learn about the history and importance of women in Vietnam.
For lunch, try (my personal favorite Vietnamese dish) bún chả at Bún chả 74 Hàng Quạt in the Old Quarter. This little street food restaurant is incredible cheap, charming, and gives you a real feel for the Vietnamese food culture.
And since you’re already in the Old Quarter, spend your afternoon exploring the neighborhood streets – there’s more than 40!
In the evening, grab cocktails at Polite & Co or The Alchemist before dinner at Phở 10 Lý Quốc Sư where you can get delicious phở.
Day 2 in Hanoi
On your second day in Hanoi grab a salted coffee from La Mensa Cafe before heading to the Ba Dinh District to visit the Ho Chi Minh Museum and Mausoleum. Please note, this museum/mausoleum is closed on Mondays and Fridays and if you’re planning to visit you must cover your knees and shoulders.
For lunch, I highly recommend a food tour or a cooking class to get a feel for traditional Vietnamese food and learn about the food culture in the city. Oh, and if you’re interested in Vietnamese coffee culture and want to learn how to make some of their best coffee drinks, I suggest booking this coffee workshop!
To spend the afternoon in Hanoi, head to the infamous Hanoi Train Street where you can sit outside a cafe and watch a train come by on the tracks. There is conflicting information on whether or not Train Street is open to tourists, but I visited in September 2023 and it was open. Currently, the train runs Monday-Friday at 8:50 am, 9:20 am, 11:50 am, 3:15 pm, 9:15 pm, and also at 5:40 pm and 6:10 pm on Saturdays and Sundays. You have to be escorted onto the tracks by a local where they will sit you at their cafe; you must then order a drink to stay. If you’re planning on visiting Train Street, make sure to check out this post for more detailed information.
During the evening, head to The Haflington – a very unique cocktail bar in the city before trying bánh cuốn from Bánh Cuốn Bà Xuân.
- What language is spoke in Vietnam?
- The main language of the country is Vietnamese although there are many villages that have their own language. Vietnam is used to tourists so they are very accommodating when it comes to English. There will either be someone at the restaurant/hotel that speaks English or they will have English signs that tell you what you need to know.
- What is the currency in Vietnam?
- Vietnam uses the Vietnamese Dong (VND). At time of writing, 1 USD = 24,065 VND. (Be aware that instead of using a comma in-between numbers a period is used instead. So if something costs 10,000 VND it will be written as 10.000).
- What is Hanoi known for?
- Hanoi is known for a variety of things including being the capital of Vietnam, egg coffee, French colonial architecture, and more.
- What is the best time to visit Hanoi?
- The best time to visit Vietnam is from November-April when the temperatures cool down a bit. Because Hanoi is north, it can get chilly at times with temperatures in the 50’s F. Rainy season in Vietnam lasts from June-November, and dry season from December-May.
- Can you drink the tap water in Hanoi?
- I would not recommend drinking the tap water in Hanoi. Unfortunately, this means you’ll have to buy plastic water bottles, but aside from being bad for the environment, they are cheap and readily available just about everywhere. Some people even suggest avoiding ice and fresh fruits and vegetables (that may have been washed under tap water); in my experience I did not have an issue with any of these things.
- Do I need travel insurance when I visit Hanoi?
- When traveling abroad, I highly recommend purchasing travel insurance. I use SafetyWing.
- Do I need a visa to visit Hanoi?
- Yes! Americans need visas to travel to Vietnam. You can secure your visa here – make sure to purchase at least 10 days before traveling to Vietnam.
Overall, yes it’s worth it to visit Hanoi; and yes you can easily see most things in the city in two days. If you’re traveling through Vietnam – you don’t want to miss it!
TO PLAN YOUR TRAVELS THROUGH VIETNAM, CHECK OUT THESE POSTS:
- The Best 2 Day Ninh Binh Itinerary
- A Complete Guide to Visiting Hoi An
- A Complete Guide to Vietnam’s Ha Giang Loop
- Everything You Need to Know About Trekking in Sapa, Vietnam
- From Sa Pa: Visiting Cat Cat Village – Is it Worth it?
- How to Travel from Hoi An to Hue via the Hai Van Pass
For more information on things to see and do in Hanoi, make sure to check out my Instagram page/highlight reel by searching “#ppinvietnam” or under my highlights for “Vietnam”; alternatively you can check out my TikTok and look under my “Vietnam” highlights
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you decide to purchase through my link, at no cost to you.