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How to Spend 3 Days in Hanoi

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How to Spend 3 Days in Hanoi
Three days in Hanoi give you time not only to discover the city but to begin to explore northern Vietnam. You can fit in a Halong Bay cruise, glide through the karst landscapes of Tam Coc, cycle through rice fields to ancient pagodas, and perhaps even go on an overnight adventure or mingle with hill tribes in Sapa. Here’s how.

Day 1: Soak Up the City
Spend your first day in Hanoi discovering the city’s signatures: delicious street food, ancient temples, Vietnam War sites, and water puppets. Soak up the atmosphere at the Temple of Literature, wander the streets of the Old Quarter (eating as you go), and visit the notorious Hoa Lo Prison, once known as the Hanoi Hilton. If Hanoi’s cuisine has you hooked—and it will—consider a cooking class so you can bring your favorite dishes home, perhaps with a market tour. In the evening, discover northern Vietnam’s own unique art form: water puppetry. The special effects, including fireworks, will amaze.

Day 2: Catch a Cruise
With three days in Hanoi, you’d be remiss not to experience Halong Bay, recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its spectacular seascapes of karst islands and caves. The longer you spend on the water, the more you beat the crowds, so it’s worth at least considering an overnight tour—approach by seaplane and travel on an authentic junk for a truly decadent experience. If you’re struggling to decide, focus on the extras as well as the route: many boats offer experiences from bamboo-boat rides to sea kayaking, from cooking classes to tai chi.

Day 3: Farther Afield
If you don’t spend the night on the water, three days in Hanoi give you ample time to explore the scenic countryside of north Vietnam. Some call the UNESCO-listed karst landscapes around Tam Coc “Halong Bay on land,” and a boat ride through the rocks and rice fields is just magical. The Perfume Pagoda, one of Vietnam’s most sacred sites, offers dramatic temples amid lush green vistas. Or, if you’ve opted against Halong Bay altogether, it’s possible to venture out to Sapa, where the cool mountains are home to Hmong, Dao, and Tay people, among other ethnic groups.
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Hanoi Tours & Activities (11)
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Full-Day Halong Bay Islands, Cave, Kayak. Lunch. NATIONAL HIGHWAY TransferDay Cruises

Full-Day Halong Bay Islands, Cave, Kayak. Lunch. NATIONAL HIGHWAY Transfer

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Experience majestic Halong Bay in one day, with round-trip transport from Hanoi via the Red River Delta. Aboard a traditional Chinese junk, cruise past an epic landscape of limestone pillars and tiny islets. Enjoy a fresh seafood lunch, take a kayak or bamboo boat ride, and visit the stunning Thien Cung Cave. Upgrade for a private tour with your own personal guide and transport vehicle.
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  • 12 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From  
US$31.80 
From  
US$31.80 
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  • 12 hours
  • Free Cancellation

Cooking Class in Local Villa with Market Tour (Seasonal Local Wine Tasting)Dining Experiences

Cooking Class in Local Villa with Market Tour (Seasonal Local Wine Tasting)

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Eating Vietnamese dishes is temporary, but learning to cook local specialities lasts for a lifetime. Opt for an insider experience during a cooking class in a local home, a great choice for food lovers and families. As well as receiving personalized attention in a small group limited to 10, you’ll explore a local market and enjoy the convenient of hotel pickup and drop-off, an added benefit not usually included with cooking classes.
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  • 4 hours 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
From  
US$39.75 
From  
US$39.75 
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  • 4 hours 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation

Lonely Planet Experiences: Boat and Bike Tour of Hoa Lu-Trang An From Hanoi Day Trips

Lonely Planet Experiences: Boat and Bike Tour of Hoa Lu-Trang An From Hanoi

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Discover the spectacular Vietnamese countryside by bike and boat on a captivating small-group tour from Hanoi. Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and embark on a bike ride through beautiful back roads and verdant rice fields; visit the majestic ancient capital of Hoa Lu to see the home of the country’s first emperor; and revitalize with a traditional Vietnamese lunch. Cruise the sparkling waters of Tam Coc in a traditional wooden rowboat and capture magnificent vistas dotted with limestone karsts. Enjoy an intimate atmosphere on this small-group tour.
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  • 11 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From  
US$79.00 
From  
US$79.00 
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  • 11 hours
  • Free Cancellation

Dragon Legend Halong Bay 2-Day Cruise from HanoiMulti-day Tours

Dragon Legend Halong Bay 2-Day Cruise from Hanoi

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Cruise Halong Bay to Bai Tu Long Bay, and journey to off-the-beaten-path places on this 2-day cruise from Hanoi. Set sail from Hon Gai International harbor, and stop at a white-sand beach in the Vung Dang-Cong Dam area. Visit Thien Canh Son Cave and Yen Duc agricultural village, plus, see a water puppet show, too.
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  • 2 days
From  
US$251.29 
Price varies by group size
From  
US$251.29 
Price varies by group size
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  • 2 days

Private Tour: Hanoi City Tour Including Water Puppet Show and Cyclo RideDay Trips

Private Tour: Hanoi City Tour Including Water Puppet Show and Cyclo Ride

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Explore vibrant Hanoi with a private guide on a full-day sightseeing tour that hits all the highlights of Vietnam's capital city. Visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Temple of Literature and Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, in addition to sites such as One Pillar Pagoda and Ngoc Son Temple. You'll also attend a water puppet show and see the Old Quarter up close on a cyclo tour. Your tour includes a typical and tasty Vietnamese breakfast and lunch, plus Vietnamese coffee to start your day and a local beer to wind down.
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  • 8 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From  
US$89.00 
Price varies by group size
From  
US$89.00 
Price varies by group size
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  • 8 hours
  • Free Cancellation

Overnight Sapa Tour from HanoiHiking

Overnight Sapa Tour from Hanoi

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Stay overnight at a comfortable hotel in Sapa and relax between guided trekking tours during this 2-day itinerary. Hike for several hours each day to hill tribe villages belonging to the Black Hmong and Dzay ethnic minorities. Visit Cat Cat, Lao Chai and Ta Van with an experienced guide and enjoy the scenery of the Hoang Lien Son mountains. Meals and round-trip hotel transport from Hanoi included.
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  • 2 days
  • Free Cancellation
From  
US$100.00 
From  
US$100.00 
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  • 2 days
  • Free Cancellation

Skip the Line: Water Puppet Entrance Tickets with Hanoi Hotel Ticket DeliveryTheaters

Skip the Line: Water Puppet Entrance Tickets with Hanoi Hotel Ticket Delivery

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Skip the lines and the hassle with this book ahead service that includes Water Puppet entrance tickets and delivery to your Hanoi hotel. Choose from several showtimes to fit your travel schedule and wait for tickets to be delivered to you! Arrive at the theater 15 minutes before showtime and prepare to experience one of Vietnam's most memorable traditional art forms live on stage.
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  • 50 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
From  
US$11.00 
From  
US$11.00 
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  • 50 minutes
  • Free Cancellation

Hanoi at Night: Street Food Small Group Walking TourHalf-day Tours

Hanoi at Night: Street Food Small Group Walking Tour

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Discover the historical sights and delectable bites of Hanoi’s Old Quarter on a food walking tour of the city. Accompanied by a passionate gastronomic guide, feast your senses on the exotic flavors of Vietnam; sample fresh fruit, sumptuous street food, and local delicacies as you stroll amid the antique charm of the Old Quarter. Explore hidden alleyways and visit the city's local market, Hang Be. Enjoy an intimate experience on this small-group tour, which operates with a maximum of 12 food-lovers.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From  
US$29.00 
From  
US$29.00 
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation

Bai Dinh and Trang An Day Trip with Lunch and Electric CarDay Trips

Bai Dinh and Trang An Day Trip with Lunch and Electric Car

star-4.5
Visit Bai Dinh Pagoda to see hundreds of Buddhist statues and take a sampan boat trip along Trang An River on this tour. Your boat will be steered by local people, so you can relax and enjoy stunning scenery including rising limestone cliffs, water caves, and more. Included hotel pickup and drop-off make, plus lunch at a local restaurant, make this a convenient day trip from Hanoi.
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  • 10 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From  
US$55.13 
From  
US$55.13 
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  • 10 hours
  • Free Cancellation

2-Day Halong Bay Luxury Junk Boat Cruise Including Cooking Class and Morning Tai ChiMulti-day Tours

2-Day Halong Bay Luxury Junk Boat Cruise Including Cooking Class and Morning Tai Chi

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See the unearthly sights of UNESCO World Heritage-listed Halong Bay on a luxurious 2-day cruise aboard a traditional junk boat. Plunge into the emerald green waters of the bay; explore the rugged limestone sculptures and the caverns they harbor by kayak; and catch a rare glimpse of local life during visits to rural island villages. Experience a cooking class; try your hand at tai chi; and feast upon several sumptuous seafood meals aboard your opulent vessel. Luxurious accommodation in ensuite cabins and round-trip transportation from Hanoi is included on this tour.
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  • 2 days
From  
US$217.00 
Price varies by group size
From  
US$217.00 
Price varies by group size
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  • 2 days

Private Tour: Day Trip to Perfume Pagoda from HanoiPrivate Day Trips

Private Tour: Day Trip to Perfume Pagoda from Hanoi

star-4.5
Travel by private vehicle from Hanoi to the Yen River for a journey by boat to the Perfume Pagoda (Chua Huong). The Buddhist complex, situated against a stunning backdrop of limestone mountains, is reached via winding streams dotted by mysterious caves. Let your own personal guide reveal its legend as you climb up to Huong Tich Cave. After lunch, visit Thien Tru (Heaven Kitchen) Pagoda.
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  • 1 day
  • Free Cancellation
From  
US$50.00 
From  
US$50.00 
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  • 1 day
  • Free Cancellation


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