Just arrived in Hanoi and you’re wondering “What to do in Hanoi for 4 days?” As a local tour guide for foreigners, I have my own experience in planning Hanoi itinerary of different durations. In this blog, I am happy to suggest a Hanoi Itinerary 4 days recommended by travelers and locals living in Hanoi for many years.
Day 1: Hanoi Old Quarter And French Quarter
Day 2,3: Halong Bay (2 days)
Day 4: Back to Hanoi City
Day 1,2: Hanoi Old Quarter And French Quarter
Day 3: Halong Bay (1 Day) Or Ninh Binh (Ninh Binh is more recommended because of the less touristic destination)
Day 4: Back to Hanoi City
You can get a Free Advice on Your Itineary by filling in the form. Local Supporter will contact and help you out with the customized Itineary (Based on your travel style and budget.
- Free Tours to Old Quarter, French Quarter, Free City tours to Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
— The Free Tours are run by local university students in Hanoi to introduce travelers our beloved city, our guides will have chance of improving themselves (Voluntarily)
Day 1: Hanoi Old Quarter & French Quarter
Hanoi Old Quarter – in the morning
Hanoi Old Quarter has a long history of 2000 years of development which is the beating heart old the city. In here, bustling life of Hanoians is reflected in the most vivid way with crowded streets of people trading with each other. The quarter consists mainly of 36 Old Streets divided and named according to their craft guides in the past, and remain most of that working system until now. This area is also the eternal soul of Hanoian cultural architecture, historic relics and religious center. This itinerary is written with the purpose to help tourists having a complete walking tour around this indispensible destination.
- Hoan Kiem Lake, also known as Hồ Gươm, is a lake in the historical center of Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam. The lake is one of the major scenic spots in the city and serves as a focal point for its public life.
- Hanoi Ancient House – Located within Hanoi Old Quarter, the ancient house at 87 Ma May street which was built at the late of the Twentieth century, is quite intact with typical architecture of ancient houses on Hanoi street.
- Bach Ma Temple: In the heart of the Old Quarter, the small Bach Ma Temple is said to be the oldest temple in the city, though much of the current structure dates from the 18th century and a shrine to Confucius was added in 1839. It was originally built by Emperor Ly Thai To in the 11th century to honour a white horse that guided him to this site, where he chose to construct his city walls.
- Dong Xuan Market: Đồng Xuân Market is a market in the center district Hoàn Kiếm of Hanoi, Vietnam. Originally built by the French administration in 1889, Đồng Xuân Market has been renovated several times with the latest in 1994 after a fire which almost destroyed the market
French Quarter – in the afternoon
- Hỏa Lò Prison was a prison used by the French colonists in French Indochina for political prisoners, and later by North Vietnam for U.S. prisoners of war during the Vietnam War. During this later period it was known to American POWs as the Hanoi Hilton.
- St. Joseph’s Cathedral is a church on Nha Tho Street in the Hoàn Kiếm District of Hanoi, Vietnam. Its a late 19th-century Gothic Revival church that serves as the cathedral of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hanoi to nearly 4 million Catholics in the country
- The Hanoi Opera House, or the Grand Opera House is an opera house in central Hanoi, Vietnam. It was erected by the French colonial administration between 1901 and 1911
Day 2 (Halong Bay) – the spectacular landscapes
It takes 3-4 hours from Hanoi to Halong Bay, the best way to enjoy Halong Bay is taking a cruise that take you to all almost best landscapes from the island, caves to the beachs. Each destination has its own story and different beauty.
- Explore Thien Canh Son Cave
You can enjoy the exotic beauty of limestone stalagmites formed over thousands of years. It feels as if I was in a fantasy land during the trip to this cave.
The ceiling of Thien Canh Son is covered with a “shining carpet”. Shimmering stalactites look like hanging lights.
- Trong Mai Islet (Fighting Cock Rocks)
Trong Mai islet, also known as “Ga Choi”, is usually one of the first islets that you will see during your trip. Shaped like a pair of chickens rising from the blue sea, these rocks make up the most well-known islet in Halong Bay. The name “Trong – Mai” evokes the image of male and female with loyal love and cohesion. With its artistic value and meaning, Trong Mai has become a symbol of Ha Long Bay.
- Surprising Cave
Sung Sot Cave was discovered in 1901 by the French, locared in the central area of Ha Long Bay, in total Sung Sot cave cover the area of over 10,000m², It is a typical karst cave with high scientific value. Back then, when they were surprised by the variability in the cave and called it “Grotte Des Surprises”.
- Relax at Hon Co Island
Hon Co Island has not been exposed to a huge number of tourists as other islands in Halong Bay. Its pristine and untouched beauty is well preserved.
If seeking adventures, just go kayaking in secret lagoons, sun-kissed beaches and peaceful floating and fishing villages on your own. If not, you can simply choose to relax on the white sand and swim a little like me!
- Dau Go Cave
Situated on Dau Go island in Ha Long Bay, Dau Go Cave is considered one of the most beautiful caves in Vietnam. The cave is approximately 5,000m2, divided into three main sections with a 17m wide entrance. At the end of the cave is a well of clear water surrounded by four ancient walls. Apart from the beautiful stalactites, Dau Go is also well-known for its great diversity of plants like moss, ferns and woody trees,… distinguishing it from some of the other caves.
Tips: You can buy tickets at Bai Chay Tourist Port. Each cruise lasts about 4 – 8 hours, depending on the boat tour you choose. There are 5 main routes including many attractions as follows:
- Route 1: Thien Cung cave, Dau Go cave, Cho Da island, Ba Hang fishing village, Dinh Huong island, Trong Mai Islet
Cost: 100k VND/ person, Duration: 4 hours
- Route 2: Ti Top Island, Sung Sot cave, Me Cung grotto, Bo Nau cave, Luon cave, Trinh Nu cave.
Cost: 150k VND/ person; Duration: 6 hours
- Route 3: Cua Van culture center, Cua Van fishing village, Tien Ong cave, Ba Ham lake.
Cost: 300k VND/ person, Duration: 8 hours
- Route 4: Co cave, Thay cave, Cau La cave, Vong Vieng fishing village, Tung Ang – Cong Do ecotourism destination or Xep islet.
Cost: 300k VND/ person, Duration: 8 hours
- Route 5: Cho Da islet, Ba Hang fishing village, Dinh Huong island, Trong Mai islet, Hoa Cuong fishing village.
Cost: 300k VND/ person, Duration: 8 hours
2. Kayaking through the Bay
If you are looking for something more challenging after visiting the caves, kayaking is a good option. Halong Bay has been voted by National Geographic Adventures as one of the top 25 Kayak Tours in the world. Clear and blue water, large space and calm tides, Halong Bay is the perfect location for this experience. The feeling of rowing boats through the majestic caves that heavy ships can’t navigate is definitely great. In Halong, you can rent kayaks with a rental fee of 100k – 200k VND/ hour depending on the type of boat, and remember that a life jacket is a must for safety. Don’t miss this!
Day 3: Embrace the marvelous view of Halong bay
- Climbing Bai Tho Mountain (The Poem Mountain)
Bai Tho is a beautiful limestone mountain located in the city center so travelers of Halong Bay can add this place to the schedule. This is another place to explore Halong from a different perspective. The mountain is only about 200m high so the road isn’t long but quite steep, luckily, there are still stone steps for you. Within about 30 mins of climbing, you will be rewarded with a marvelous view over Halong bay while standing on the top. Remember to bring water and wear sneakers to ensure safety.
- Visiting Tuan Chau Island
After climbing, you can move to Tuan Chau island for swimming and sunbathing. Located in the southwest of Halong, the island covers an area of 400ha. Thanks to the convenient location, it is easy to get to Tuan Chau by bus or motorbike through a 2km long road connecting it to the mainland. Tuan Chau is famous for its 6km long sandy beach, which will make you comfortable in the midst of the blue sea waves. In addition, tourists might also experience a variety of exciting activities like beach volleyball, canoes parachuting, sea fishing, or other lavish services and entertainment such as dolphin show, seal show, circus, and martial art show.
Option 2: Hanoi 3 days – Ninh Binh 1 day
Day 1: Hanoi Old Quarter + Hanoi French Quarter
Day 2: Hanio City (Ho Chi Minh Complex, Temple of Literature + Museum of Ethonology)
Day 3: Hidden gem Ninh Binh
This vast religious complex can still be an exception even when you are not a huge fan of pagodas and temples. Its unique traditional architecture and historical values make it the pride of Vietnamese Buddhist pilgrims.
- Take a pleasure boat trip at Trang An Landscape Complex
The destination has been officially recognized as World Cultural and Natural Heritage by UNESCO. Your trip to Trang An can be simply mesmerizing thanks to its geographic wonders of caves, canals, and lakes.
A 2-hour rowboat trip through beautiful waterways and spectacular rocky caves with a local lady will never let you down!
Getting into a wooden boat made me feel like the main character in an adventure novel!
- Return to Hanoi, and see more: How many days in Ninh Binh
Day 4: Bat Trang Village
- Say goodbye to Hanoi
Hanoi Old Quarter – Bai Dinh Pagoda – Trang An Landscape Complex – Halong Bay – Stone Dog Islet – Burning Incense Islet – Ba Hang Fishing Village – Fighting Cock Islet – Thien Cung Cave – Hanoi French Quarter
III. Local tips for Hanoi Itinerary 4 Days
- When visiting central Hanoi, you had better wear trainers because walking will be the main and the most convenient way to reach tourist destinations.
- You should not forget to apply sunscreen, especially during summertime.
- It is completely okay to visit Halong Bay in only 1 day. Yet, if you are really interested in this destination, I highly recommend your spending one more night on board. You can visit more tourist attractions, and there are sure to be many more exciting activities.
- In case you have special requirement for food on the cruise, please remember to notice when booking.
- There are loads to prepare for 4 days in Hanoi Vietnam. I recommend AZ Local Trip if you need expert advice from the local.
Booking a 4d3n Hanoi tour package or Hanoi 4 days 3 nights tour can be a good choice.
- My blog What to do in Hanoi for 5 days or Hanoi Itinerary 7 days have already been published if you have more time and desire to discover even more.
Based on my three suggested Hanoi itinerary 4 days above, you can make changes of your own to suit your interests. I hope that you will have an unforgettable journey in Vietnam. Feel free to contact for a further recommendation.
Source: Wikipedia, flickr