Guide & Itinerary: What to Do in Hanoi in 4 days

Wondering what to do in Hanoi in 4 days? Hanoi is the capital city of Vietnam and there are so many things to do here. It is a busy city full of culture and an amazing foodie scene. Read on for the most ideal guide and 4 day itinerary to Hanoi, Vietnam.

Note: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you decide to purchase something through the links, at no additional cost to you. Read our Affiliate Disclosure here.

Quick Tips Before you go:
🇻🇳 Check to see if you need a Visa to enter Vietnam. It depends on your country. If you’re American you do and you need to apply 2 weeks ahead to be safe. Don’t make my mistake as I thought I could get it on arrival. You definitely can’t! It took 4 business days to get mine and weekends don’t count so it was even longer for me. You can rush it through places that feel a bit sketchy but I’ve seen people doing it. The official website to apply is linked here.
💵 Bring lots of cash as most people only accept cash. $1 USD equals 25k VND (Vietnamese Dong).
🚶🏽‍♀️Crossing the Street in Hanoi is pretty difficult. Just hold your hand up and go or you’ll never cross. They don’t stop for you, just slow down when they see you. Also, walking on the sidewalk is not really a thing as they’re mostly covered with motorbikes.
☀️ The Weather is much cooler up North than in Central and Southern Vietnam so keep that in mind as you plan your trip especially if you plan to do Sapa and Ha Giang Loop. It can be foggy and much cooler there.
🧷 Travel Insurance with SafetyWing in case of any accidents. Better safe than sorry!
📱Mobile E-sim card to stay connected while traveling without the hassle of changing out your sim card!

Best Time to Visit Hanoi

The best time to visit Hanoi is typically during the spring (March to April) or during autumn (September to November) when the weather is mild. During these seasons, Hanoi experiences comfortable temperatures, minimal rainfall, and clear skies, making it ideal for exploring the city’s attractions and outdoor activities. However, Hanoi can also be great to visit during the winter months despite being cooler.

One thing I didn’t realize was how variable the temperatures were from North to South. Central and southern Vietnam tend to be warmer throughout the year due to their proximity to the equator. Places like Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) and Da Nang experience hotter temperatures and higher humidity especially during the summer months (May to August).

Is 4 days in Hanoi enough time?

Hanoi in 4 days can provide a good introduction to the city and allow you to experience many of its highlights.

With 4 days in Hanoi, you can explore the historic Old Quarter, visit cultural sites like the Temple of Literature and Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, enjoy traditional Vietnamese food, and even take day trips to nearby attractions like Ninh Binh or Ha Long Bay.

However, if you want to delve deeper into Hanoi’s hidden gems, spend more time wandering through its neighborhoods, or take leisurely day trips, you may find that more time is needed.

Where to Stay in Hanoi

Hanoi is a bit more expensive than other Vietnam cities like Da Nang for instance, but still pretty affordable. Staying in the Old Quarter is a popular choice and close to most of the best things to do in Hanoi in 4 days. Here, you’ll find charming boutique hotels, guesthouses, and hostels just moments away from all the narrow alleyways, street markets, and ancient temples.

Hoan Kiem District is another great area to stay, with direct access to attractions such as Hoan Kiem Lake, the Temple of Literature, and the bustling Dong Xuan Market.

If you’re looking for more of an upscale experience, the French Quarter has many luxurious hotels housed in colonial-era buildings, along with upscale restaurants and boutique shops.

Additionally, Tay Ho (West Lake) offers a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of the city center, with its scenic lakeside promenade, upscale villas, and international restaurants.

Below are my top choices:

Sunline Hotel best hotels in Hanoi

⭐⭐⭐⭐ Sunline Hotel $:
This hotel was super affordable and the location was excellent. It’s right in the Old Quarter next to Hoan Kiem Lake and the Note Coffee. The room I booked had 2 large windows.

The price includes breakfast. I booked in March and only paid $30 a night.

⭐⭐⭐⭐ Soleil Boutique Hotel Hanoi $$
This hotel is a little more expensive but still good value. It’s located 3 minutes from the Hanoi Train Street. I liked the boutique style of the hotel and the staff were very friendly.

The rooms were nicely decorated and breakfast is also included. I paid $60/night during my stay.

What to do in Hanoi in 4 Days

Day 1: Explore the Old Quarter

9 am – Write a note at The Note Coffee

If you are wondering what to do in Hanoi, you can’t miss this cafe. Voted the 4th most Instagrammable cafe in the world, you’ll quickly see why as soon as you enter. This place is covered from head to toe in post it notes. Order a coconut coffee or the likes and head up to one of the 4 floors. You’ll find post it notes and pens on each table. Write down your wishes, thoughts, or anything really and enjoy sticking it on the wall for all to read!

11 am – Visit the Train Street

You can’t come to Hanoi without visiting the famous train street where a train passes by literally inches from you.

There are 2 different streets to watch the train go by. The first street is the one that appears on google maps and the second one is located a bit further out of the town center.

The second one, the train gets way closer. I visited both and thought the second one was more of an experience. The streets were prettier and the train was just so close which was slightly scary, not going to lie. But it’s safe as long as you listen to the shop owner rules.

A cafe owner typically has to invite you on as they are responsible for your safety. In my case, I just walked on about an hour early and found a spot at Hanoi 1990s.

Read my full guide with tips & tricks to visiting the Hanoi Train Street

12 pm – Try Bahn Mi for lunch

Eating a Bahn Mi is something you definitely need to do. Most people say to go to Bahn Mi 25 which is super famous or even The Bahnmi but I loved having mine at different cafes around Hanoi. My favorites were from An Cafe and Hidden Gem Cafe.

1 pm – Stroll along the Hoan Kiem Lake and Ngoc Son Temple

Strolling along the picturesque shores of Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi offers an escape from the bustling city streets. One of the highlights of the lake is the iconic red Huc Bridge, leading to the Ngoc Son Temple situated on a small island. It is a must stop on your Hanoi 4 day itinerary.

Ngoc Son Temple, also known as the Temple of the Jade Mountain, is a historic pagoda dating back to the 18th century. Dedicated to Confucian and Taoist philosophers as well as to Tran Hung Dao, a Vietnamese military hero.

The temple’s architecture is a blend of traditional Vietnamese and Chinese styles. You can enjoy panoramic views of the lake from its elevated position.

Entry to Ngoc Son Temple typically costs around 30,000 VND (approximately $1.30 USD) per person.

3 pm – Watch the Water Puppet Show

Watching the Water Puppet Show in Hanoi is a cultural experience that shouldn’t be missed. I was skeptical at first but it is something you have to see for yourself.

Located at Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre, I’d recommend buying skip-the-line tickets ahead because this place is hugely popular and full of tourists waiting.

Originating from the rice fields of northern Vietnam, water puppetry is a traditional art form that dates back centuries. The show takes place on a stage filled with water, where beautifully crafted wooden puppets controlled by puppeteers hidden behind a bamboo screen. The performance showcases traditional Vietnamese folk tales and legends accompanied by live music.

The colorful puppets gracefully glide across the water, bringing the stories to life with humor, music, and intricate puppetry techniques.

Ticket prices vary depending on the seating category and can range from around 100,000 VND to 200,000 VND (approximately $4.30 to $8.60 USD) per person.

6 pm – Take an evening street food tour

I really loved this tour as I got to try a few different traditional foods at hole in the wall places that maybe only the locals know. It’s common to eat on little stools with low tables in Vietnam. The food scene is one of the best. Some things I tried included Banh Cuon, resembling a dumpling but made with a rice sheet and stuffed with ground pork, minced mushrooms, and shallots. I also tried these spring rolls that you fill yourself with all the ingredients!

The tour I took also took me to the train street so if you’re nervous about how to enter the train street, you can go with a guide like I did.

7:30 pm – Enjoy a drink on rooftop with views of Hanoi

There are so many amazing rooftops in Hanoi and I visited La Sinfonía del Rey Hotel & Spa. This hotel offers a rooftop with panoramic views of Hanoi above the lake. The atmosphere was also really nice and the drinks were good.

8:30 pm – Shop at the Night Market

Dong Xuan Market is one of the largest and oldest markets in Hanoi, Vietnam. Located in the heart of the city’s Old Quarter, it’s a bustling hub of activity. There’s so much to shop for here and the vendors only take cash so keep that in mind.

Day 2: Day trip to Ninh Binh

Best Things to Do in Ninh Binh in a day:

  1. Climb the 500 steps at Mua Cave for stunning panoramic views
  2. Ride bikes through the Countryside. It’s usually free if you stay overnight at a hotel in Ninh Binh
  3. Take a Boat Tour through Trang An or Tam Coc. If you are short on time, I’d go with Trang An (route 3).
  4. Admire the scenery at Bich Dong Pagoda
  5. Enjoy the lights at night at Pho Co Hoa Lu

Read my full guide on the best things to do in Ninh Binh. It goes into a lot more detail!

Day 3: Ha Long Bay Tour

The Ha Long Bay is a must-visit during your 4 days in Hanoi Itinerary. The scenic landscape is incredible! Just be sure to plan for sunny weather as it can dampen the experience if the skies aren’t clear. It is extremely touristy so if you prefer a less busy experience, you may decide to opt for a tour that takes you to Lan Ha Bay. Lan Ha Bay has similar views but with much fewer crowds!

This cruise takes you to both Ha Long Bay and Lan Ha Bay! It also offers a balcony and a tub with sea views.

  1. Travel from Ninh Binh to Halong Bay by bus or private transfer (approximately 3-4 hours). You can have your hotel arrange the transfer.
  2. Embark on the cruise through the limestone islands of Halong Bay.
  3. Explore caves, go kayaking, and relax on pristine beaches.
  4. Enjoy seafood dinners and watch amazing sunsets over the bay.

Day 4: Back to Hanoi for more exploring

10 am – Visit Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Complex

Visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Complex, including Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum, Presidential Palace, and One Pillar Pagoda.

12 pm – Try Bún chả

Try Bún chả which is a traditional Vietnamese dish that consists of grilled pork served with rice vermicelli noodles, fresh herbs, and a dipping sauce. I absolutely loved this dish. The ingredients aside from the meat come outside and you add them all to your soup bowl. I tried it at Bún chả Dac Kim which is Michelin rated. Obama tried it at Bún chả Hương Liên and it became a popular spot because of him.

1 pm – Temple of Literature

Go to the Temple of Literature, Vietnam’s first university, to learn about its history and architecture.

3 pm – Check out the amazing coffee scene

Check out the amazing coffee scene in Hanoi. Try Egg Coffee, Coconut Coffee, and my favorite, Salt Coffee! Read my full guide on the best Cafes in Hanoi including some secret spots too! You’ll need to go down a small alley and some stairs to find them!

5 pm – Admire St. Joseph’s Cathedral

Admire the beautiful St Joseph’s Cathedral. I was surprised how pretty it really is.

7 pm – Have Dinner at Pizza 4P’s

If you’re feeling tired of Vietnamese food, try Pizza 4P’s. It’s actually extremely popular and you have to reserve ahead for dinner unless you want to wait for an hour! It was right next to the hotel I stayed at so I was able to drop by to book a time in the morning.

If you have longer than 4 days in Hanoi

Consider visiting the Quang Phu Cau Incense Village, Sa Pa, and doing the Ha Giang Loop if you have longer than 4 days in Hanoi.

I’d recommend 1 day for  Quang Phu Cau Incense Village, 2 to 3 days for Sa Pa, and 4 days for Ha Giang Loop.

You can visit on your own or there are tours that would take you to all these places easily and I’ve linked them below:

If you’re heading to central Vietnam don’t miss Hue, Da Nang, and Hoi An.

You may also like these posts!
🚂 Hanoi Train Street
☕ Best Hanoi Coffee Shops
🏞️ The best things to do in Ninh Binh
🚤 Best Things to Do in Hue
🌊 Guide to the Mekong River Delta

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *