24 hours in Hanoi

 So many visitors ask OneTrip with local what to do in 24 hours in Hanoi! Historically and culturally significant, this fantastic city is usually the first stop for travelers in Vietnam. How is it possible to see ALL of the highlights in just a short time? We highly recommend visitors spend two to three days here because it is challenging to fit everything into one day. Hanoi is also a great home base for tours since many of them include the option to begin here.

On top of our popular Hanoi Things-to-do list, we’ve also put together our suggested itinerary for a one or two-day experience in Hanoi:

ONE-DAY ITINERARY

MORNING

Remember, you only have 24 hours in Hanoi, so wake up early so you can make the most of the day. We recommend that a combo of Food Walking Tour and French Quarter Tour is the best way to get acquainted with the city as it will introduce you to the highlights in an easy-to-digest way. First, walk to the Quan Truong gate to enter the Hanoi Old Quarter. The Old City has thirty-six streets, each one starts with the name “Hang,” which means “goods,” and sells only one specific thing. If you get really lost, just ask a shop owner around you to find the main road, that’s the easiest way to get around.

Photo: Hanoi Old Quarter

Hoan Kiem Lake.

It is just a 7-minute walk from the Old Quarter. This ancient and meaningful site in the city center of Hanoi is easily one of the most relaxed places in the city. One of the most popular sites in Vietnamese culture, the turtle tower is a perfect combination of French and Vietnamese architecture. It is a compelling and spiritual destination in Hanoi, and it is essential to visit with the utmost respect.

Photo: Hoan Kiem Lake

Grab lunch at one of the restaurants in the Old Quarter. If you want to keep moving or just need a snack, Banh Mi is Vietnam’s version of fast food (and a bit healthier). There are various “to-go” stands along the narrow streets all over the town.

AFTERNOON

French Quarter

Walk all the way to the French Quarter and have sticky rice ice cream at the famous Trang Tien restaurant. Then go to see the Hanoi Opera House.

Photo: Hanoi French Quarter

Hoa Lo Prison

This thought-provoking site is all that remains of the former Hoa Lo Prison, ironically nicknamed the ‘Hanoi Hilton’ by US prisoners of war (POWs) during the American War. Most exhibits relate to the prison’s use up to the mid-1950s, focusing on the Vietnamese struggle for independence from France. A gruesome relic is the ominous French guillotine, used to behead Vietnamese revolutionaries. There are also displays focusing on the American pilots who were incarcerated at Hoa Lo during the American War (including the Former member of the United States Senate- John Sydney  Mccain).

Photo: Hoa Lo prison

Evening

Enjoy the bazaar market if you are lucky to visit Hanoi on the weekend. Or you can even enjoy a glass cups of Bia Hoi (fresh beer) at the beer corner.

TWO-DAY ITINERARY:

If you have a little bit more than 24 hours in Hanoi or decide to add on an extra day, spend the entire first day in the Old Quarter and the French Quarter, then you can visit the Temple of Literature and Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum on your second day.


Temple of Literature


The temple hosted the Imperial Academy, Vietnam’s first national university. The temple was built in 1070 at the time of Emperor Lý Thánh Tông. It is one of several temples in Vietnam which is dedicated to Confucius, sages and scholars. It’s a place where most Vietnamese students come to pray before taking any important exams.

Photo: Hanoi Temple of Literature

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in Ba Dinh Square is one of the most visited attractions in Hanoi. It is the final resting place of Ho Chi Minh, the most iconic and popular leader of Vietnam, known to his people as ‘Uncle Ho’. His body is preserved here in a glass case at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in central Hanoi.

Whether you decide to explore Hanoi on your own or join a daily tour, there’s no doubt you will enjoy this unforgettable city. 24 hours in Hanoi will be a memory you’ll cherish forever.

Photo: Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in Ba Dinh Square

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