Hanoi Itinerary 5 DAYS – (Recommended) 5 Days, 4 nights in Hanoi

Lê Ngọc Minh Châu - November 02, 2018

Are you looking for a suitable Hanoi Itinerary 5 days that satisfies your wanderlust? 

First off, if you are planning a short trip to Hanoi then 5 days is a reasonable time, not to long, not too short to explore this city to the fullest. 

So what do you do for 5 days in this chaotic, colorful, scooter-infested, 1,000-year-old city? As a local person, born and raised in Hanoi, I have some recommendations for the best experience during your 5 days in this capital, including where to go and what to do.

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Now, let's check out some of the sample Hanoi 5 days 4 nights itinerary to see “What to do in Hanoi for 5 days” and let the journey feed your soul.

For more itineraries, check out: 

5 days in Hanoi - Ninh Binh_20181111203948.jpg

5 Days In Hanoi - Hanoi Itinerary 5 Days In Brief 

Option 1: 2 destinations (Hanoi & Halong Bay or Sapa)

  • Day 1: Arrive in Hanoi
  • Day 2: Hanoi Free City Tour with AZ Local NPO
  • Day 3, 4: Hanoi - Halong Bay - Hanoi  
  • Day 5: Departure from Hanoi 

This option covers 3 days in Hanoi and 2 days in Halong Bay. 3 days in Hanoi is a plenty of time and there is a variety of interesting things that you could do here such as explore Hanoi culture and history through Hanoi City Tour, try tasty street food in Hanoi street food tour, enjoy Hanoi nightlife,... Save time for 2 days spent in Halong Bay and this will be highlight of your trip. An overnight on cruise in Halong Bay might be one-of-a-kind experience. This 5 days 4 nights itinerary is the most popular among customers since it's a good compromise between relaxation and activity. Moreover, this itinerary is easy and suitable for everyone, from groups of friends, families with elders or kids to solo travelers.  

or: 

  • Day 1: Arrive in Hanoi
  • Day 2: Hanoi Free City Tour with AZ Local NPO
  • Day 3, 4: Hanoi - Sapa - Hanoi  
  • Day 5: Departure from Hanoi 

In this option, the itinerary is the same with the one above but day 3 and day 4 will be spent in Sapa as the alternative to Halong Bay. Sapa is a small town in Northern Vietnam with beautiful sceneries. However, you will have to do some of the walking and trekking down to the villages and valleys so it might be a little bit tiring for elders or kids. So that this itinerary is more suitable for young and middle-aged people. Anyways, the itinerary is relaxing and not a too rush one. 

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Option 2: 3 destinations (Hanoi, Halong Bay & Ninh Binh)

  • Day 1: Hanoi Arrival 
  • Day 2, 3: Hanoi - Halong Bay - Halong Bay - Hanoi 
  • Day 4: Hanoi - Hoa Lu - Tam Coc - Hanoi 
  • Day 5: Hanoi - Departure 

Option 2 covers 3 destinations including Hanoi, Halong Bay and Ninh Binh (Hoa Lu Tam Coc). You will have 2 days in Hanoi, 2 days in Halong Bay (overnight on cruise) and 1 day in Ninh Binh. By choosing this itinerary, you will have a chance to stay in the bustling capital, see and enjoy beach activities and also admire the spectacular limestone karst landscapes. This 5 days itinerary is suitable for everyone, including groups, families and solo travelers. Even though the itinerary looks rush but it doesn't at all since Halong Bay and Ninh Binh are both very relaxing. 

>>>See Hanoi Tour Packages For All Options

Detailed of What to do in Hanoi for 5 days Hanoi Itinerary 5 Days 

1. OPTION 1: Hanoi Itinerary 5 days with 2 destinations

1.1. Hanoi - Halong Bay - Hanoi 

Day 1: Hanoi Old Quarter

Day Time

  • Arrive Hanoi airport (it takes 45 minutes from the airport to Hanoi Old Quarter (Mainly travelers choose accommodations in the Old Quarter, because it is near to almost all tourist attractions)
  • Wander around the Old Quarter (Hoan Kiem Lake, Ngoc Son Temple, Dong Xuan Market – A traditional  market in Hanoi, Long Bien Bridge, and a cup of traditional coffee )

Old Quarter Hanoi is known as the place to save the ancient culture, the memory of times and this has become the reason why many visitors visit here once in their life. Located in the prime destination – the center of Hanoi, Old Quarter Hanoi has preserves the characteristics of this lands, memories of history, people and country. Through the ups and downs, the streets are still alive to this day.

There are some recommends for you, especially you are a newcomers, to know more about Hanoi and this may help you to arrange the most suitable tour route

Notes: You should do a free walking tours in Hanoi, with AZ Local NPO an non-profit orginazation including local university students will be volunteer guides, student guides doing free tours as the way to improve their English skills, you have chance to discover Hanoi.

-- See AZ Local NPO Tripadvisor Review

Hanoi Itinerary 5 days - the Old Quarter

In The Evening

  • Hanoi Nightflife (Yourselves) 

Hanoi’s nightlife scene offers a multitude of interesting things to see and places to go well after the sun sets.

After a long and tired day of touring around this exquisite and beautiful city, tourists can now have some free time for themselves and enjoy the fun yet relaxed nightlife in Hanoi. So What to do in Hanoi at night?

Night in Hanoi is the only time when you can have a great time without getting burned by the heating sun or getting worn out by tours after tours. The streets are bustling and packed with local and expats which you can make friends with along the way and get the know Hanoi from the view of true Hanoians.

Hanoi Itinerary 5 days - the Old Quarter walking around

Notes:

  • Depending on your arrival, you can choose whether to start exploring Hanoi immediately or simply take a Pho or Bun Cha as a warm-up for the city tour tomorrow.
  • For further detailed schedule, check out our What to do in Hanoi at night

Day 2: Ho Chi Minh Complex – Hoa Lo Prison – Temple of Literature – Water Puppet Show

Day Time

Fot the second day in Hanoi, this is the perfect time to do a Hanoi City Tour. There are many agencies that provide Free City Tours in Hanoi, you can check out here 

>>> Discover Hanoi With Hanoi Free Tours.

Below are the map of some important destinations you must see. 

water-puppet-hanoi-travel-for 5 days

Ho Chi Minh Complex:

  • Visit inside Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum (a must-go attraction). If you have time, watch the “guard changing” at Ba Dinh Square which happens at 6 a.m every morning.
  • Ba Dinh Square – one of the attraction in Ho Chi Minh Complex: it is the name of a square in Hanoi where president Ho Chi Minh read the Proclamation of Independence of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam on September 2, 1945. It is named after the Ba Đình Uprising, an anti-French rebellion that occurred in Vietnam in 1886–1887 as part of the Cần Vương movement
  • Visit Ho Chi Minh House’s on Stilts : This humble, traditional stilt house where Ho lived intermittently from 1958 to 1969 is set in a well-tended garden adjacent to a carp-filled pond and has been preserved just as Ho left it. The clear views through the open doorways and windows give an insight more fascinating than most museum mementos. It’s now used for official receptions and isn’t open to the public, but visitors may wander the grounds if sticking to the paths.
  • Ho Chi Minh Museum: Have you ever heard of Uncle Ho – the most beloved Vietnamese president of all time? Or you know about him but there are a lot of mysterious things making you curious? Ho Chi Minh museum – one of the places in Ho Chi Minh Complex – has all the answers of your curiousness. So what about visiting the museum and gaining knowledge of the greatest man in Vietnamese history.

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.

These pilots include Pete Peterson (the first US ambassador to a unified Vietnam in 1995) and Senator John McCain (the Republican nominee for the US presidency in 2008). McCain’s flight suit is displayed, along with a photograph of Hanoi locals rescuing him from Truc Bach Lake after being shot down in 1967.

The vast prison complex was built by the French in 1896. Originally intended to house around 450 inmates, records indicate that by the 1930s there were close to 2000 prisoners. Hoa Lo was never a very successful prison, and hundreds escaped its walls over the years – many squeezing out through sewer grates. 

  • Address: 1 Hoa Lo Street, Tran Hung Dao, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi 
  • Contact number: 024-3934 2253
  • Opening hours: 8am to 5pm everyday including festivals
  • Entrance Fee: 30.000VND/person

Notes for your Hanoi City Tours:

  • Bring necessary things because there are so many regulations in Ho Chi Minh Complex
  • The first place opens at 8:30 so you’d better be there on time or before that.
  • Queuing is a normal scene here since there are so many visitors
  • The free tours should be booked as soon as possible because this tour is ofen fully booked

In The Evening

Take on a Foodie Adventure 

Vietnamese food has been gaining some popularity in recent years. It'd be such a waste if you don't taste these local food while you're staying in Vietnam. Luckily, Hanoi as the capital of Vietnam, is where all the best dishes are gathered. Just wander around Hanoi Old Quarter and you'll find many street food vendors. 

hanoi-food-tour_day one in 5 dayS

  • Bun Cha (Rice Noodle with Grilled Pork)

Wanna try the food that the Former President of US – Barack Obama tasted during his visit in Hanoi? Bun Cha is what I’m talking about! Bún chả is a Vietnamese dish of grilled pork and noodle, which is thought to have originated from Hanoi, Vietnam. Bún chả is served with grilled fatty pork over a plate of white rice noodle and herbs with a side dish of dipping sauce

  • Egg Coffee 

Coffee made from Egg? No way! This seems the most curious drink that makes tourists as well as locals want to try. The beverage is made from egg yolk, Vietnamese coffee powder, condensed milk and cheese. These ingredients may sound weird for a coffee related beverage but don’t worry, it doesn’t taste sickly or eggy but brings the taste of surprisingly light and sweet vanilla.

Day 3 (Halong Bay day 1): Hanoi – Halong Bay – Sung Sot Cave – Titov Island

It's time to go far from Hanoi to explore more of this beautiful country. We suggest you go to Halong Bay - the UNNESCO Wolrd Heritage Site. It'll take 3.5 hours from Hanoi to Halong Bay if you go by car. And according to our experience, you must dpend 2 days in Halong Bay to enjoy the most out of this beautiful landscape. Your itinerary will be as below: 

Halong Bay day 3 in 5 days in hanoi

  • Depart from Hanoi to Halong Bay in the early morning and arrive around lunch time, get on a cruise. 

  • Have lunch on a cruise while passing many beautiful islands of Halong

  • Visit Sung Sot (Surprise) Cave: Situated in the centre of the UNESCO-declared World Heritage area, the Sung Sot or Surprise Grotto is on Bo Hon Island, and is one of the finest and widest grottoes of Ha Long Bay. Ascending to the grotto, the way is covered by trees and foliage, and consists of great paved stone blocks.sung Sot Cave is on the same island with Trinh Nu cave. The path to Sung Sot is quite steep and is lined with shady trees. The cave has 2 chambers. The outer chamber is square and is often referred to as the waiting room. The cave’s ceiling is approximately 30 m high. The walls are almost perfectly smooth as if it was built by man. The walls generate a variety of colors that blend with the setting of the area.

  • Titov Island:  Titop Island sits at the heart of Halong Bay, just 8 kilometres to the southeast of Bai Chay Harbour. Although it is relatively small, it’s regarded as one of the most picturesque islands in the bay and is a crowd favourite among Halong tourists. Titop Island offers breathtaking landscapes, which can be viewed from a vantage point high up in the centre of the island. Tourists can find accommodation in any one of the numerous high-end resorts, hotels, restaurants and bars that have been constructed here. Because of its close location to Bai Chay, Titop Island is included as a stop off in many cruise itineraries.
  • Spend overtnight on cruise in Halong Bay.

Amazing view from the peak of Titov Island in Halong Bay

As one of the tourist name Stephen says: "This is the perfect position for who want to take a high angle panoramic view of Halong Bay. I spend about 15-20 min to get to the top, not hard for me, but some elder people maybe get hard to do it. After that, you’ll see the amazing scene so you should do that."

Notes for Halong Bay:

  • The price changes depending on the criteria of the cruise or the size of group people
  • See our 3-Day Hanoi-Itinerary for other choices

Day 4 (Halong Bay day 2) : Halong Bay – Luon (Hallow) Cave – Hanoi

The fourth day will be spent in Halong Bay. It depends on the itinerary of your cruise, but normally, the brief itinerary will be: 

  • Wake up and experience the Tai Chi lesson which is a material art designed for self-defense on the sundeck
  • Visit Luon Cave: Luon Cave is located in the south of Halong Bay, about 14 km south-east of Tuan Chau Island. Situated on Bo Hon Island and only 1 km away from Surprise Cave, this grotto is an open air cave, exposed to the elements, and which can only be accessed by boat. The cave is essentially a group of islands that have joined to form a brackish lake approximately 1 km in circumference.
  • Joining some activities like kayaking, swimming, diving,...

Day 5: Back to Hanoi and (Free and Easy trip)

For the last day of 5 days itinerary in Hanoi, we suggest you have a free and easy day as you'll have time to pack your bags, be ready for the departure flight. But if you still have much time due to your departure time and wat to explore more, you can visit these places: 

  • Bat Trang Ceramics Village: Bat Trang Ceramics Village is an old, well established village in the Gia Lâm district of Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam. It is about 13 km from central Hanoi. It is famous for producing a unique style of ceramics called Bát Tràng Porcelain. Bát Tràng is well known throughout Vietnam for its beautiful ceramics.
  • Museum of ethonology: The Vietnam Museum of Ethnology is a museum in Hanoi, Vietnam, which focuses on the 54 officially recognised ethnic groups in Vietnam. It is located on a 43,799-square-metre property in the Cầu Giấy District, about 8 km from the city center.

Sapa Ninh Binh Halong Bay for 5 days

1.2. Hanoi – Sapa - Hanoi 

This itinerary skips Halong Bay and you'll go to Sapa instead. Sapa is a valley town in the north of Vietnam where there's a diveristy in ethnic minorities culture. Sapa is known for its beautiful landscapes with rice terraces and mountainous area. However, in Sapa you'll have to do a lot of trekking and this is more suitable for young people and adventurous souls. If you just want to admire the beautiful scenery and relax, just stick with Halong Bay. 

Day 1: Explore Hanoi Old Quarter and Hanoi Nightlife

  • Explore Old Quarter or French Quarter
  • Drink Bia Hoi at Ta Hien street beer

Day 2: Hanoi City Tours and Night Train to Sapa

  • Visit Thang Long Citadel, Museum of Ethnology
  • Night train to Sapa

Day 3: Sapa Trekking 

  • Soft trek to Cat Cat and Sin Chai village inhabited by Black H’mong ethnics
  • Enjoy the nice landscapes of green forests and mountain and fresh atmosphere
  • Bring comfortable and sporty shoes for soft trekking

Day 4: Visit Villages in Sapa and Back to Hanoi 

  • Visit Y Linh Ho and Muong Hoa Valley
  • Communicate with local people in Lao Chai village.
  • Visit Ta Van village settled by Dzay ethnic minorities
  • Night train back to Hanoi

Day 5: Hanoi Departure (5 days finish)

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Ninh Binh Hanoi for 5 days

2. OPTION 2: Hanoi Itinerary 5 days with 3 destinations 

let's see what to do for these 5 days?

2.1. Hanoi – Ninh Binh – Sapa – Hanoi

  • Budget: From $200/pax
  • Overview: A trip to North Vietnam will be unforgettable if it can cover the main landmarks with a breathtaking and poetic view. The 5 days in Hanoi schedule below will help you find out the true beauty of the Mother Nature.

Day 1: Arrival – Viet Nam Museum of Ethnology – The Old Quarter – Water Puppet Show – Cyclo ride

  • Get to know more about 54 ethnic minorities of Vietnam
  • Chilling on a unique vehicle of Hanoi

Day 2: Hanoi – Ninh Binh – Sapa

  • Visit Hoa Lu Ancient Capital
  • Sightsee the enormous limestone karsts
  • Take a night train to Sapa

Recommended: Hoa Lu Tam Coc in Ninh Binh one day tours with AZ Local Trip

Day 3: Lao Cai – Mong Sen – Ta Phin

  • Visit Mong Sen with rice fields and villages
  • Visit Ta Phin Village
  • Visit the Church in the center of the town
  • Shopping at the night market

Day 4: Cat Cat Village – Heaven gate – Back to Hanoi

  • Visit Cat Cat for the breathtaking landscape with Hoang Lien Mountains
  • Visit Y Linh Ho village and Black Hmong people
  • Visit Silver Waterfall, Hoang Lien National Park, and Heaven Gate
  • Visit provincial borders of Lao Cai, Lai Chau provinces
  • Back to Hanoi

Day 5: Shopping in Hanoi - Hanoi Departure

  • Do a customized tour your own to visit the places you didn’t go.
  • Or shopping to get some nice souvenirs for your friends and families

2.2. Hanoi – Ninh Binh – Halong – Hanoi

  • Budget: From $235/pax (See and get advice from us Hanoi Tour package
  • Overview: The Hanoi 5d4n itinerary is accompanied with the 2 World’s Sites of Vietnam recognized by UNESCO: Trang An Complex (Ninh Binh) and Halong Bay. Here, you will have a chance to visit the must-go destinations of North Vietnam as well as truly discover the beauty from past to present of the capital city

Day 1: Hanoi Arival - Hanoi Old Quarter - Nightlife

  • Explore the Old Quarter with street food tour
  • Enjoy the nightlife of Hanoi
  • French Quarter through The Opera House, St. Joseph’s Cathedral is also a good choice

Day 2: Hanoi – Tam Coc – Hoa Lu – Hanoi

  • Visit a local family in Tam Coc.
  • Ride a bike along rice paddies
  • Boat trip along Ngo Dong River
  • Visit the temple of King Dinh
  • Cyclo Tour in Hanoi

Day 3: Hanoi – Halong Bay (Hon Gai Harbor – Bai Tu Long Bay – Cong Do – Cap La Island – Tra San)

  • Lunch on cruise while moving to Bai Tu Long Bay
  • Kayaking in Cap La Island
  • Squid fishing at night

Day 4: Dong Co Island – Hon Gai Harbor – Hanoi

  • Visit Thien Canh Son
  • Joining Vietnamese cooking class on cruise

Day 5: Hanoi Departure

  • Visit other main sites of Hanoi
  • Hanoi Departure

Notes:

  • For other choices: If your departure time is at midnight or later, don’t hesitate to visit Bat Trang Pottery Village and do pottery items yourself
  • It will take an afternoon with a private car rented or a bus for transferring.

For a tourist, spending 1-2 days should be enough to reach all main sites. Therefore, the other days are for other places out of Hanoi. Take a look at our Hanoi Itinerary for 6 days and Hanoi Itinerary for 7 days.