How Many Days in Hanoi and Halong Bay ? – New Travelers Recommendation

Lê Ngọc Minh Châu - October 26, 2018

One of the most important and difficult to-be-done tasks when it comes to planning a trip to anywhere is to have a good itinerary. It is even much harder when you choose to visit Hanoi and Halong Bay because of the variety of cultural and historical value. You will get a struggle with finding where to go, what to do, how many days in Hanoi and Halong Bay you should spend.

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Hanoi Old Quarter 

A corner at Ta Hien street - where you can have the best local experience

There are a lot of Things To Do in Hanoi, depend on your chosen duration. Do not worry about these things anymore, we are here to help you. Based on my local experience and asking from many 10-year-experience guides, I will analyze the strengths and weaknesses of every trip durations from 1 to 7 days to ensure you would have a good trip in Hanoi.

First, let me ask you how long to spend in Hanoi you think?

There are many choices for you to choose from a trip to 7 days itinerary. However, each itinerary has its own strengths and weaknesses, up to your demands. So let me help which is the best choice of how many days in Hanoi and Halong Bay for you.1 day

If you would like to have more information for each option, you can see the Hanoi Itinerary for more information before the final decision

How many days in Hanoi is enough?

One day in Hanoi

First, I have to admit that if you choose one day for the questions how long to stay in it is quite a limited amount of time, but you can still manage to see the realist of Hanoi with well-selected destinations. Below is the specified Hanoi one day itinerary.

Enjoying Pho Hanoi

The famous Pho that is already well-known all around the world

  • In the morning: Have breakfast with Banh mi - Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum - Temperature of Literature.
  • In the afternoon: Lunch with Pho – Hanoi Old Quarter.
  • Evening in Hanoi: Dinner with Bun cha – Local beer at Hanoi Old Quarter

Your one day in Hanoi would be great taking a Free Old Quarter Walking Tour with local students from AZ Local NPO

>>> See more the Hanoi one day itinerary in this article: One day in Hanoi

The advantage of this trip is that, with arranging the time properly, you still have the chance to visit 4 main destinations in Hanoi with a lot of cultural values. Moreover, you also can try 3 of the most delicious traditional dishes in Hanoi. You will have a quite clear understand about Hanoi.

However, if you do not have good health, you will be very tired while going because you have to move consecutively. In addition, the time for each destination is not much so you cannot get the full understand of them.

Banh Mi Hanoi

Banh mi is one of the most delicious street food in Vietnam

If you think 1 day is suitable for how many days in Hanoi, you will miss many other interesting destinations and somehow you cannot experience the local life here. I think it would be better if your trip is longer.

After all, this itinerary is suitable for ones who do not have much traveling time and they can spend 1 day only in Hanoi, especially backpackers. This also saves them the cost of staying which is quite an amount of money.

2 days in Hanoi

You don’t have much time either, but so you are wondering if there any better choice of how many days to stay in Hanoi. Of course, 2 days is not so much time, but it is still a good choice to visit Hanoi.

The itinerary for 2 days in Hanoi is below:

Day 1: The same as 1-day itinerary - Full Best Things to do in Hanoi
Day 2: Hanoi of architecture and traditional values.


Hanoi Opera House is known for its architecture blending of East and West culture

  • In the morning: Hanoi French Quarter (includes Hanoi Opera House and Hoa Lo prison).
  • In the afternoon: Lunch with Bun Bo Nam Bo (Southern Rice Noodle with Beef) - National Museum of Vietnamese History – Thang Long Water Puppet Theater.
  • Evening in Hanoi: Dinner with Cha Ca La Vong – Relax with Lemon tea around St. Joseph’s Cathedral with local people.

>>> See the full 2 days in Hanoi

First of all, with this itinerary, you can visit more destinations in Hanoi and especially, see a traditional cultural show in the Old Quarter.

Spend 2 days in Hanoi, you are able to eat more local food in Hanoi as well as to enjoy Hanoi nightlife with locals. You will know more about the life of Hanoians while chatting with them in front of St. Joseph’s Cathedral.

Drinking Tea in Hanoi

St. Joseph’s Cathedral is commonplace for young people gathering with their friends

However, the same as 1-day itinerary, this trip will demand you to move continuously from one destination to the next one. So if you are a backpacker, I recommend you choose this for how many days to spend in Hanoi

3 days in Hanoi

From how many days in Hanoi is a good duration? From 3 days is the answer as you can visit some destinations out of Hanoi. Here is the itinerary for you.

Option 1:

Hanoi street food

Hanoi street food tour will bring you the most authentic experience 

Option 2:

  • Day 1: The fusion beauty of Hanoi ( French Quarter + Old Quarter)
  • Day 2: Out of Hanoi ( Halong Bay or Ninh Binh)
  • Day 3: Ho Chi Minh Complex, Temple of Literature

>>> Check Hanoi 3 days for further information.

This trip Hanoi Itinerary 3 Day is reasonably designed for travelers who would love to experience as much as possible. Especially for cultural tourists looking for the essence of assorted cultures.

If you follow the guide in the above link, I’m sure that you will not feel rushed as the time is longer and the schedule is very properly. The trip is now suitable more for those who travel with family, especially with kids as the amount of time for each place is longer.

Long Bien Bridge

Long Bien Bridge attracts a lot of tourists

One more advantage is you can visit destination outside Hanoi, which can help you to view other sides of Hanoi. You can get escape from a modern and crowded Hanoi to see the countryside with paddle fields…

>>> For more details, get a FREE ITINERARY PLANNING for days in Hanoi <<< 

4 days in Hanoi

4 days is a good choice for how many days in Hanoi. You can visit 2 or 3 destinations during this duration. You can see these itineraries below

Itinerary 1: 4 days with 3 destinations: Hanoi – Ninh Binh – Halong Bay

  • Day 1: Charming central Hanoi ( Old Quarter + Food Tour )
  • Day 2: Hidden Gem Ninh Binh ( Ninh Binh Pagoda + Trang An Landscape Complex)
  • Day 3: Natural Wonder Halong Bay (Stone Dog Islet + Burning Incense Islet + Ba Hang fishing village)
  • Day 4: Hanoi (French Quarter)

Ninh Binh

Give Ninh Binh a try if you stay for more than 3 days

Itinerary 2: 4 days with 2 destinations

  • Option 1: Hanoi – Ninh Binh
    • Day 1 + 2: Historic and Cultural Hanoi
    • Day 3: Hidden Gem Ninh Binh
    • Day 4: Cuisine Hanoi
  • Option 2: Hanoi – Halong Bay
    • Day 1: Charming Central Hanoi
    • Day 2: Halong Bay ( Hon Gai Harbour + Bai Tu Long Bay – Thien Canh Son Cave)
    • Day 3: Vung Vieng Fishing Village – Han Gai Harbour
    • Day 4: Cuisine Hanoi

See more:

With this amount of time, you can visit other destinations out of Hanoi so you will have the chance to understand the life of outside Hanoi and even visit Halong Bay – one of new Seven Wonders of the World. This trip is suitable for many types of tourists: from solos to couples and family with kids.

However, the cost for some itinerary is much higher if you want to try cruise tour in Halong. If you choose 2 destinations for 4 days, it would be fine; but 3 destinations for this duration is somehow quite rush.

5 days in Hanoi

You can choose to spend 5 days in Hanoi after wonder how many days in Hanoi to spend. Similar to 4 days itinerary, Hanoi itinerary 5 days has some options of 2 or 3 destinations:

1. 5 days with 2 destinations

  • Day 1: Explore the Old Quarter
  • Day 2: Hanoi City Tour
  • Day 3: Hanoi – Halong Bay Overnight on Cruise
  • Day 4: Halong Bay – Hanoi
  • Day 5: Food Tour in Hanoi

Halong Bay

Halong Bay, the UNESCO Heritage Site, will make you go "wow" from the first sight

2. 5 days with 3 destinations

  • Option 1: Hanoi – Ninh Binh – Sapa – Hanoi.
    • Day 1: Museum of Ethnology
    • Day 2: Hanoi – Ninh Binh – Night Train to Sapa
    • Day 3: Lao Cai – Mong Sen – Ta Phin
    • Day 4: Cat Cat – Heaven Gate – Hanoi
    • Day 5: Hanoi


How about the misty Sapa?

  • Option 2: Hanoi – Ninh Binh – Halong – Hanoi
    • Day 1: Hanoi City Tour
    • Day 2: Hanoi – Hoa Lu Tam Coc
    • Day 3: Hanoi – Halong Overnight Cruise
    • Day 4: Halong – Hanoi
    • Day 5: Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum.
  • Option 3: Hanoi – Sapa – Halong
    • Day 1: Hanoi City Tour
    • Day 2: Hanoi – Sapa – Cat Cat
    • Day 3: Sapa – Ham Rong – Hanoi
    • Day 4: Hanoi – Halong Bay
    • Day 5: Halong – Hanoi departure

>>> Check this link for more information of 5 days in Hanoi

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. These schedules will help you to make a Hanoi’s main site – visiting plan in an appropriate way. You can also visit other awesome places in the North of Vietnam

This trip demands careful preparation as there is more destination visited in each place and you will have more time to get to know each place.

However, to me, 5 days is a quite good answer for how many days in Hanoi.

6 days in Hanoi

There are many choices for how many days needed in Hanoi, especially for tourists come to Hanoi for the first time.

  • Option 1: Hanoi (2 days) – Halong (2 days) – Halong Bay (2 days).
  • Option 2: Hanoi (3 days) - Ninh Binh (1 day) – Halong (2 days)
  • Option 3: Hanoi (2 days) – Ninh Binh (1 day) – Halong Bay (1 day) – Sapa (2 days).

Mua cave

Mua Cave Ninh Binh - the stairway to heaven

>>> Check our recommended Hanoi itinerary 6 days for further information

6 days is a perfect duration that you can visit 3-4 Vietnam Northern provinces included Hanoi without worrying of any rush while traveling. This duration also helps you to choose the destinations easily to fit with your travel-mate as family, couple, friends, or even solo.

7 days in Hanoi

A week is the longest duration we recommend for how many days in Hanoi. There are 3 destinations in this itinerary

  • Day 1: Explore Hanoi Old Quarter or French Quarter
  • Day 2 & Day 3: Explore Sapa – the incredible mountainous area
  • Day 4 & Day 5: Discover Halong Bay
  • Day 6 & Day 7: Back to Hanoi to further discover the city



>>> For more itinerary, you can check in this Hanoi 7 days itinerary

7 days will help you have more time to travel and explore the North of Vietnam without wasting the time of moving. With our help on the above link, you do not have to worry about making the wrong decisions.

Our 7 days itineraries are designed for the ones who’d love to save time planning but are wondering how long to stay in Hanoi.

I hope that with our many recommendations above, you will know which duration is the best for you. For more information and explanation, feel free to contact us – AZ local trip – to get a perfect trip and good memory in Hanoi.

How Many Days In Halong Bay?

Travelers are always wondering how many days you should spend for each destination for each travel because time is limited and there are many interesting things waiting for us. The same goes for Halong Bay when it comes to the question "How many days in Halong?".


Halong Bay DurationSee more: 

After guiding a thousand international tourists to Halong Bay, I would love to share this experience of how long each type of traveler should spend in Halong Bay to take advantage of your trip to North Vietnam.

Some conversations and opinions for How Long To Spend in Halong Bay:

Q: Nick S

Adelaide, Australia

Hi guys, I am planning to go to Halong Bay in early Oct after spending a couple of days in Hanoi I am thinking of going there for 5 nights staying at the Novotel and probably doing a day trip on the bay. I have been reading on a few posts that there are not many Things to do in Halong Bay so I was thinking if it would be better to stay a little longer in Hanoi. Could someone give some advice on what would be the best option? Regards Nick.

A: YorkFoodie

Rural West Aussie

I'd recommend at least overnight on Ha Long Bay Cruise. The trip there takes about 4 hours, so with an 8 hours' return trip drive, there's not much time left to actually see the bay on a day excursion.

Most people visit the Amazing Cave and go kayaking/swimming, and it is a lovely place to just take in the scenery. I don't think you would be bored on an overnight trip.

Halong Bay kayaking

A: nzp0ppy 


We did the 3 days and 2 nights with Indochina and seriously wish we had longer. It was a beautiful boat, stunning scenery, great food, plenty of optional activities such as kayaking, fishing boat village trip, beaches and the stunning dinner in a cave which is only on 2-night trips. Its a four-hour drive from Hanoi. So an overnight trip really only goes from 1 pm till noon the next day. Too much of a rush to really enjoy and relax and appreciate the stunning area.

1 Day in Halong Bay

Unless you have such limited time, and Halong Bay is a must of yours, I would recommend you spend at least 1 night, Another reason is the more time you spend for Halong Bay, the more money you need to spend. Spending money in Halong Bay is normally much more than other attractions like Sapa, Ninh Binh. But it is worth.

Travelers with a limited amount of time but still want a glance at this legendary Bay. The one day cruise gives you just enough time to admire its exquisite beauty and experience one or two activities.

For travelers with a limited amount of time but still, want a glance at this legendary Bay.  The one day cruise gives you just enough time to admire its exquisite beauty and experience one or two activities.

2 Days 1 Night in Halong Bay

75% Travelers spending at least 1 night in Halong Bay, and more than half of them will stay for 2 days 1 night. Not only seeing, but you will also really enjoy one of the most amazing Bay in the world. More activities like Taichi in the early morning. Visiting Sung Sot Cave, Ti Top Beach, Luon Bo that all are amazing that you could not see if doing 1-day trip.

Sung sot cave

Sung Sot Cave (Surprise Cave) will make you surprise for real!

  • 1 Day Trip recommended is 6 hours on the cruise instead of 4.
  • Not much time visit
  • Quite rush ( 8-hour transport, and 4 or 6 hours on the beach)

2 days 1 night is recommended, and also enough. There are many types of cruises that you can choose, from budget to luxury

A Halong Bay Overnight Cruise is a “must” for all travelers on their vacation to Vietnam. For those with a bit more time in their travel itinerary, consider an overnight cruise. By spending a night on a comfortable boat, you will have more time to explore the far corners of the bay away from the crowds of day trippers.

3 Days 2 Nights in Halong Bay

More to see, like Bai Tu Long, the Vung Vieng Village, visiting Vung Vieng Village by a rustic - Rowboat, meeting locals there could bring you lots of special feelings.

Floatin Village Halong Bay

  • 3 days 2 nights will be very relaxing, deep-understanding but you should choose the cruise carefully, not like the hotel you can change from this one to another. You are on a boat ^^.

  • More than 3-star cruise will be recommended, this will make sure that your relaxing holiday will be smoothy, no worries.

3 days 2 nights relaxing in Halong Bay

A Halong Bay 3 Day 2 Night Cruise is the perfect option for those travelers seeking the ultimate experience on Halong Bay. The added day and night allows you to do extra activities at a more relaxed pace.

For more than 7 days (you should consider visiting from North Vietnam to South Vietnam)


That's everything you need to know to answer the question How many days in Hanoi and Halong Bay. If you have any question, feel free to ask AZ Local Team, we are always here to help!