Hanoi has it all to entertain you, from historical museums, beautiful landmarks, flavorful street food to vibrant nightlife. But when all the traffic and noise start to drive you mad, it’s the perfect time to escape a little bit from the chaos city center and get out to the countryside on one day trip from Hanoi.
For day trips from Hanoi or out of Hanoi, you’ve got a list of destinations, and top things to do. It can be difficult to narrow your choices since you don’t know what is the most suitable destination for you. It can be about the budget, your favorite activities and the experience you want to try.
To help you choose from the day trips from Hanoi, here are all recommended destinations including comparison, location, budget and other information.
EXPLORE THE OLD QUARTER
The first thing on your agenda after dropping your bags at your hotel should be to explore the historic Old Quarter, preferably on foot. Granted, this is easier said than done since the sidewalks in Hanoi are nothing more than parking lots for motorbikes, but it’s essential if you want to get comfortable with the chaos sooner rather than later. Most hotels in Hanoi are located in the Old Quarter and many of the city’s sights are, too, so this is likely where you’ll be spending a good portion of your trip. Best to get your bearings early on.
Besides hotels, restaurants, and sights, the Old Quarter is also the prime shopping district. If you’re looking for those now rather iconic ‘I’ve been backpacking through Asia’ pants, this is where you’ll find them. For like the equivalent of $2 USD. Everything here is so delightfully cheap by western standards that even if you don’t like to shop, you’ll still probably find yourself shopping. And haggling is the name of the game, so prepare yourself.
MAKE A PIT STOP AT BIA HOI CORNER
Beer drinkers, you’re going to want to pay attention to this one. There is literally a place where beer costs less than a gumball from a machine (wait, do those things even still exist?) and it’s right here at the intersection of Ta Hien and Luong Ngoc Quyen. Known as Bia Hoi Corner, the “pubs” around this intersection in the Old Quarter serve freshly-made local beer, without preservatives, for just 20 cents (5,000 VND) a pop.
But what if you don’t drink beer, should you still stop by? YES! I don’t drink beer either, but loved the atmosphere at Bia Hoi Corner. This is one of the best places to come if you want to meet other travelers, expats, and locals. Everyone sits on little plastic stools on the edges of the streets (that eventually become impassable for cars as the night goes on) and it’s easy to strike up conversations and meet people. I can’t speak for the late night hours, but before 9pm, the environment is kid-friendly and all sorts of non-alcoholic drinks and street food are available in addition to cheap beer.
WALK AROUND HOAN KIEM LAKE
Meaning Lake of the Restored Sword, Hoan Kiem Lake is at the center of Hanoi city life, at least figuratively anyway. Located in the Old Quarter, Hoan Kiem Lake is where people gather in Hanoi to rest, eat lunch, play, or simply take a walk around the perimeter of the lake. Ngoc Son Temple, an 18th century Buddhist temple, sits on a tiny island in the lake reachable via the bright red bridge connecting the island to the northern shore of the lake.
After visiting the lake twice while we were in Hanoi, we realized this is where young Vietnamese students have learned to come to practice their English with tourists. Any time we sat down, we were approached by people for a chat. For me it was exciting, even when the conversations were painfully slow and repetitive, because I’m always thrilled to talk to people when we travel, but if you came to the lake to rest, it could be a little exhausting. In that case, just pretend you don’t speak English. Kidding!
VISIT THE TEMPLE OF LITERATURE
Ngoc Son Temple may be Hanoi’s most visited temple, but its prettiest is definitely the Temple of Literature. A quiet, green oasis, the Temple of Literature blooms in stark contrast with the concrete city surrounding it. With many landscaped courtyards, gardens, and pavilions, this place is definitely one for the photography-inclined!
Read more: Things To Do In Hanoi.
Built as a temple to Confucius in 1070, the Temple of Literature was centered more on academia than religion. A place of study for the wealthy, The Temple of Literature was Vietnam’s first national university, and many monuments still remain on the grounds dedicated to the scholars who graduated here. I recommend arriving as early as you can because the temple is a popular sight and can get very busy even just a couple hours after opening.
TAKE AN OVERNIGHT TRIP OUTSIDE HANOI
So, it feels a little strange saying that one of the things you should do in Hanoi is leave Hanoi, but it’s true. There are so many day trips and overnight trips available to take from Hanoi. Walk down any street in the Old Quarter and you’ll be able to spot travel agencies with lists hanging in the windows of all the places you can go. Not knowing exactly how easy it would be to book side trips in Hanoi, we had booked one of our overnight trips online prior to arriving in Hanoi.
This is definitely not the way to do it. The cheapest way to book an overnight trip out of Hanoi is to book it in Hanoi itself. The list price for the exact same trip we had bought online was quite a bit cheaper from travel agencies in Hanoi, and just like everything else, that price can be haggled down. (FYI: Travel agencies compete with each other, so use that to your advantage when haggling!)
One of the most obvious places to take an overnight trip from Hanoi is Ha Long Bay. A UNESCO world heritage site, Ha Long Bay is one of the most popular tourist destinations in all of Vietnam. There are day trips that go there, too, but given the driving distance is four hours each way, you’d be mad not to stay overnight. Plus, waking up to see the sunrise above the rocks and islands in the bay is a once in a lifetime sort of thing you won’t want to miss.
Van Phuc Silk Village
Van Phuc is just 10 kilometers away from Hanoi and basically the nearest location among those mentioned in this post, so it is easy to take a day trip from the city. Van Phuc is known for its silk production. This village produces some of the finest textiles in the country with a much cheaper price than those sold in the center of Hanoi.
With over 1,000 silk shops offering a diverse range of delighting shirts, crafts, ties and dresses made of silk, the site is undoubtedly a paradise of silk and fashion lovers. The silk is very light weight and has a smooth appearance with high quality suitable for all skin tones.
- Location: Van Phuc Village, Ha Dong District, Hanoi, 10 kilometers to the southwest of Hanoi center.
Mai Chau Valley is another quintessential picture of Vietnam, with rice paddies and lines of jagged mountain ridges is where you can experience the lifestyles of the region’s ethnic tribes. It’s one of the longer drives in this list, at over three hours, but here you’ll get to experience the lifestyles of the region’s ethnic tribes. Mai Chau Valley is among the refreshing day trips from Hanoi, to the south-west of the city.
Come to visit Mai Chau to explore the minority ethnic culture and daily life
Overnight homestays are popular, but stopping in for one day trip is also a fine option. You can bike or trek through the remote villages and you’ll even have a chance to spot some rare and exotic wildlife.
- Location: Mai Chau District, Hoa Binh Province, 135 kilometers from Ha Noi
- Entrance fee: Free
Phat Diem Cathedral
Phat Diem Cathedral is one of the most famous and beautiful churches in Vietnam, which featured in Graham Greene novel “The Quiet American” (1955). Built in 1892, Phat Diem Cathedral is beautiful for its enchanting East-meets-West beauty of a cathedral. The curved, tiled rooftops, stone cave and wooden pillars are very exotic.
Today, Phat Diem Stone Cathedral is still functional and serves a large Catholic population in the area. When visiting this place, you should combine with nearby attractions, such as Trang An or Tam Coc.
The architecture of Phat Diem Cathedral is blended between the Western and Asian style
- Location: Phat Diem, Kim Son District, Ninh Binh Province, 117 kilometers to the south of Hanoi
- Entrance fee: Free
- Opening hours: 7:00 am – 9:30 pm
Properly one of the most booked day trips from Hanoi is Halong Bay – the crown jewel of tourism inVietnam. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the most world-renowned natural wonders in Southeast Asia – to miss seeing it in person would be a travesty.
Take a bamboo boat to explore untouched spots of the Bay
Halong Bay is best explored by cruise, one day trip is a popular choice among tourists. From your cruise, you will be able to see not just the emerald ocean water of the Gulf of Tonkin, but also the limestone formations, emerging from the bottom of the sea and natural hidden caves. Many tours even stop at isolated beaches and islands for some water activities such as swimming and kayaking in the truly breathtaking scenery.
Halong Bay can be busy and touristy, but this attraction far exceeds its reputation and will leave you reeling from shock when you see the beauty.
- Location: Halong City, Quang Ninh, 170 kilometers to the east of Hanoi.
Bai Dinh – Trang An
Bai Dinh – Trang An is also one of the most popular day trips from Hanoi. A 2-hour drive from Hanoi will take you to the biggest pagoda in Southeast Asia. The whole complex consists of several temples and over 500 intricately carved statues of Buddha, including one that’s made of bronze and is 10 meters in height.
Then you depart to Trang An to enjoy a boat ride along Ngo Dong River. This boat ride through a beguiling landscape of limestone caves and pillars will be the highlight It’s not far from Hanoi, so this area of immense natural beauty is fast becoming a popular trip for those looking to escape the city and immerse themselves in greenery rather than concrete.
There is a vast network of rivers and deltas to explore, but the highlight is taking a boat to an enormous cave complex that’s hidden away in the mountains.
Likely the most popular day-trip from Hanoi because of the beautiful scenery. The trip starts with a two-hour drive into Ninh Binh province, where you then get on boats and float down the Sao Khe River with a guide who’ll keep you entertained while she rows the boat – at times with her feet. At Trang An, you’ll float into caves and glide past towering limestone karsts, weaving through scenery unlike anywhere else in the world.
- Location: Ninh Binh Province, 100 kilometers to the south of Hanoi
- Entrance fee: no fee for Bai Dinh Pagoda but you have to pay 80.000 VND for 2 ways electric car for sightseeing. In Trang An, you have to pay 200.000 VND for the boat ride.
- Opening hours: Bai Dinh Pagoda: 6 a.m to 9 p.m. Trang An: 7 a.m to 4 p.m
Hoa Lu Ancient Capital
The name says it all, Hoa Lu Ninh Binh was the ancient capital, the hub of politics and trade in the country Vietnam during the 10th and 11th centuries. Located in Ninh Binh, Hoa Lu ancient capital is a majestic palace surrounded by rocky mountains and numerous calm lakes… The whole scenery creates a mysterious characteristic, which is very appealing for many tourists.
Approximately 100 kilometers to the south of Hanoi, the original citadel no longer stands, but there are newer temples and buildings honoring the original dynastic families. There are also several impressive and culturally significant temples such as King Dinh and King Le Temples.
If you are interested in culture and history, then Hoa Lu is a suitable place for a day trip. Also, if you want to get away from Hanoi to seek somewhere quieter then we highly recommend this place.
- Location: Truong Yen, Hoa Lu District, Ninh Binh Province, 100 kilometers to the south of Hanoi
- Entrance fee: 20.000 VND/person
More article: What Is the Traffic Like In Hanoi.