Believe me – this is the ULTIMATE ITINERARY for anyone spending one day in Hanoi. Hanoi is a truly interesting and unique city and as someone who spent a year living there, I can tell you that if you’re spending one day there it’s important you make the most of it! I recommend you stick to the below easy-to-follow itinerary and make a few adjustments depending on your preferences.
one day in Hanoi
One Day in Hanoi – the Ultimate Itinerary for Making the Most of your Stay
9 am – 11 am: Do some shopping and browse around the Old Quarter
The Old Quarter is one of the most popular places in Hanoi for tourists and the majority of hotels and backpacker hostels are located there. As well as that it’s full of street stalls and souvenir shops meaning you can get all your shopping done at the start of the day.
If you are planning to spend longer in Vietnam following your trip to Hanoi the Old Quarter is also a great place to pay for onward trips such as to Mai Chau, Sapa, Pu Luong or Halong Bay as there are tour agencies on almost every corner. You should also walk around Hoan Kiem Lake and visit its temple (Ngoc Son).
Old Quarter Hanoi
11 am – 12 pm: Relax in a cafe
Cafe culture in Hanoi is a big thing and you absolutely have to make sure you pop into one of Hanoi’s popular cafes as part of your one day in Hanoi itinerary. There’s the cute Note Cafe which is full of post-it notes literally everywhere.
There are also a number of cafes from the Cong Caphe chain in the Old Quarter – their iced chocolate coconut cafe is amazing. Cafe sua da is also a highly recommended drink option – a cafe with condensed milk and ice – perfect for coffee lovers with a sweet tooth. Another famous drink which is unique to Vietnam is egg coffee – yes egg coffee! Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it…
12pm – 1.30pm: Have lunch at a local restaurant
Although there are some great western places in Hanoi you should definitely try to experience the local cuisine if you only have one day in Hanoi. After all Vietnamese food is delicious and super filling.
There are loads of little restaurants throughout the city and in Hoan Kiem where you can get pho (Vietnamese soup) as well as Bahn mi which is simply a Vietnamese sandwich. These foods are incredibly cheap and will set you back only a dollar or two.
1.30 pm – 4 pm: Visit a museum or two
There are loads of great options in Hanoi depending on what you’re most interested in. For example, you can visit the Women’s Museum where you can learn some incredibly interesting information about the role of women in Vietnamese society and throughout history. There’s also the Temple of Literature, the Ho Chi Minh Museum and the Museum of Ethnology.
4 pm – 6.30 pm: Go to the Water Puppet Show
While you’re in the Old Quarter you can book tickets to the famous Water Puppet Show. The show is one of the most popular tourist attractions in town and visitors have the chance of watching the talented puppet masters tell stories of Vietnamese culture with their fantastic act.
You should buy your tickets in advance and then come back to watch the show. There are a number of shows currently at 15:00, 16:10, 17:20, 18:30 & 20:00.pm at 57B, Dinh Tien Hoang Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi. Tickets cost between 60000 to 100000VND or approximately 3 to 5USD.
6.30 pm – 8 pm: Treat yourself to a nice dinner and a cocktail
If you’re enjoying Vietnamese food but still craving a bit of western food then there are loads of amazing restaurants in the city that cater to those with more western tastebuds. Try out Pizza4Ps if you’re a pizza fan or Hanoi Social Club if you fancy a really good burger.
8 pm – 10 pm: Have a drink at the top of Lotte Tower
Lotte Tower is the tallest building in Hanoi and given that no trip to any city is worthwhile without having a drink in one of its rooftop bars, you basically have got to go there. Although the drinks at Lotte tower cost a bit more than other bars throughout Hanoi you can still get a cocktail there for around 10USD. The view is amazing.
Extra tip: Although Lotte Tower is a great place to drink I would recommend you don’t go there if the pollution levels are high and the city is clouded in smog as you won’t see much. Instead, you can maybe head to a Bia Hoy. A Bia Hoy is a truly local experience and an awesome place to drink beer in Hanoi – there are loads of them all through the city. These outdoor bars only serve beer though so if you’re not a beer drinker you might want to give it a miss.
one day in Hanoi
10 pm – 2 am: Sleep or party the night away if you want
It really depends what kind of vibe you’re on during your trip to Hanoi but if you are someone that likes to party there are plenty of options. The Old Quarter is full of backpacker hostels and bars that stay up open until the early morning. There are also a lot of bars in the Tay Ho area of Hanoi that stay open late. Tay Ho is more popular with expats than backpackers and is a great place to go out.
Alternative lazier options: If you’re feeling a bit lazy during your trip to Hanoi I’d recommend you replace one of these options for your one day in Hanoi itinerary with a massage – there are loads of places to get them throughout Hanoi and a one hour massage will set you back less than 10USD – remember to tip!
Getting around: It’s super easy to move around when you’re in Hanoi. Before you go just make sure to download the app Grab on your phone and a motorbike taxi or regular will come and pick you up within minutes when you order it. Grab taxis and motorbikes are generally quite safe and are extremely affordable (sometimes it might only cost a dollar or so to get somewhere).