VIETNAM: Four days in Hanoi

Just some suggestions

Introduction

We recently wrote about how we'd spend two days on a budget in Hanoi, but what about if you have a little longer? Linger for four days to see a bit more of Vietnam's capital, and here's what we'd suggest you do.

Take some tips from two days on a budget, but take your time: walk everywhere, visit more than one museum, stop for bia hoi or ice cream more regularly, hire a bicycle. Also consider incorporating some other free activities into your schedule, such as visiting Thong Nhat Park -- where you can easily while away half a day wandering around the lake, taking out a swan boat or sitting in the shade enjoying a beer -- or walking around Truc Bach Lake and its surrounds or the perimeter of West Lake.

Explore the delights of Old Quarter on foot.
Explore the delights of Old Quarter on foot.

Even if budget isn't so much of a consideration, we'd still recommend the suggestions from our two days in Hanoi post and above: in reality, a lot of the good stuff in Hanoi is free or cheap, and you certainly shouldn't miss out on exploring Old Quarter on foot, trying out the street food, visiting the museums, or people-watching from a cafe.

Get more out of your museum visit with a guide.
Get more out of your museum visit with a guide.

But to enhance your time consider taking a guided tour with a professional guide -- someone who can add to the visit experience with their knowledge and expertise. Either opt for a walking tour around Old Quarter, or take a guided tour of one of the museums. Check out Hidden Hanoi or Friends of Vietnam Heritage, contact the museum you're interested in directly or speak to a reputable travel agent. For the Museum of Ethnology or Museum of History, try contacting 54 Traditions Gallery: Mark Rapoport, one of the founders, provides excellent tours of both museums. Make sure to also check out his gallery if you're interested in ethnic minorities.

Risk free food experimentation.
Risk-free food experimentation.

Fill half a day with a street food tour or a cooking course. Or both. For the latter, check out Hanoi Cooking Centre and read our reviews of street food tours for recommendations. Or read about what to do if you want to stay another day for some less usual Hanoi options: ice skating, cycling, paintballing or a photography tour perhaps? We would also schedule in some spa time, even if it's just a massage.

During the evenings, visit the night market, give the water puppets a go, look out for events at L'Espace and the Opera House and enjoy the social side of the city, whether it be bia hoi on the street, or a cocktail at Avalon.

No, don't go fishing, go to the water puppets.
Don't go fishing, go to the water puppets.

If we were designing the four days, they would go something like this: day one in Old Quarter, with visits to the Women's Museum and Hoa Lu Prison; day two at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Complex, with a walk across Duong Thanh Nien, incorporating Quanh Thanh Temple and Tran Quoc Pagoda -- and around Truc Bach Lake; day three on a bicycle ride to the surrounding countryside; and day four on a street food or cooking tour. And plenty of relaxing with beer, coffee or massage.



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