After early pickup from your hotel by your private guide, start your Hanoi sightseeing tour aboard a three-wheeled bicycle taxi known as a cyclo.
Experience the Old Quarter up close as your cyclo winds through the historical center of the capital, which contains narrow streets and alleyways filled with tiny shops and the daily life of the city. Old streets are named after the crafts that were once produced there by artisan guilds that date back to the 13th century. Your cyclo tour ends at St Joseph’s Cathedral (Nha Tho Lon), a Gothic Revival style Catholic church built in the late 19th-century.
Take a break for a quintessential Hanoi breakfast: slurp down a bowl of pho bo (beef noodle soup), then follow it up with a cup of strong Vietnamese coffee. Your guide teaches you the language to order ca phe sua nong (hot coffee with sweetened condensed milk) or ca phe nong (hot black coffee, usually with sugar).
After eating, your climate-controlled private vehicle takes you to Ba Dinh Square, site of the President’s Palace and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, the historical One Pillar Pagoda—an iconic Buddhist temple that dates to 1049, the Temple of Literature, and view Long Bien Bridge—built during the French colonial period.
Relax over a Vietnamese lunch at a local restaurant, then see the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, Hoan Kiem Lake (Sword Lake) and Ngoc Son Temple (Temple of the Jade Mountain), located on an islet in the lake. Finally, your guide accompanies you to a water puppet show that delves into Vietnam’s mythology and traditions.
Enjoy another classic treat, quaffing a local beer at Bia Hoi Junction (aka Bia Hoi Corner), before your guide returns you to your hotel.