Women wearing traditional Vietnamese hat carrying baskets on shoulder

The Best 1-Day Hanoi Itinerary For First Timers 2023

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This 1-day Hanoi itinerary packs in plenty of fun things to do in Vietnam’s capital, as well as some hidden gems and top tips for enjoying the city!

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The best thing to do on a 1-day Hanoi itinerary is a street food tour. You can also spend an afternoon at a cooking class, or you can just wander around the Old Quarter, explore the Night Market and visit the museums.

Stay in the Old Quarter in either a budget hostel like Little Charm or a decent hotel like Sonata Boutique.


How To Spend 1 Day In Hanoi

The capital of Vietnam is a fantastic place to spend months on end, but if you are limited on time then this is the 1-day Hanoi itinerary for you!

There is plenty to do, both free and paid, and I’ve added in my own personal recommended way to spend 24 hours in the city, as well as some extra activities that you might want to squeeze in.

Read More: Try One Of These Amazing Cooking Classes in Hanoi!


My Recommended 1-Day Hanoi Itinerary

This is a quick breakdown of how you can spend one day in Hanoi. Keep reading to find out more about the fun things to do in Hanoi!

  • 9am: Take an early street food tour
  • 12pm: Go to the museums
  • 2:30pm: Enjoy an egg coffee on Train Street and watch the trains
  • 4pm: Wander Old Quarter and pick up a snack (you know what to look for now!)
  • 5pm: Water Puppet Theatre show
  • 6pm: Grab a bia hoi(or two…or three!)
  • 7:30pm: Explore the Night Market and grab dinner
  • 8:30pm: See the city in a different light after dark with a tri-shaw ride

Go On A Street Food Walking Tour

If there’s one thing you do on your 1-day Hanoi itinerary, it’s to take a street food tour! You get to walk around the pretty Old Quarter, learning all about the local food and its origins. Not only that, but you get insider’s knowledge of where to find the best food and then you get to eat it all too!

Read More: The Best Street Food Tours in Hanoi!


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Hanoi Old Quarter Walking Street Food Tour

Make sure you try this fun food tour on an empty stomach! You’ll stop at 7 different locations – your guide will have places in mind but if there is somewhere you want to stop, just let them know! Learn about the history of Hanoi and how it links to the local food, and try some incredible dishes on the way!

Tasting The Best Vietnamese Snacks On A Hanoi Street Food Tour! [With Hanoi Explore Travel]

We actually did two street food tours – the first one focused more on talking about Hanoi’s history and how that links to the food, and the second one was more about spending time in small restaurants, chilling out with the locals!

Click here to book the walking tour we did that involved the most food, or if you’d prefer a tour that goes off the beaten path a little more then click here.

Read More: The Best Luxury Halong Bay Cruises


Wander The Old Quarter

You can’t enjoy a 1-day Hanoi itinerary without wandering around the famous Old Quarter! Spend your time browsing the shops, drinking Vietnamese egg coffee in one of the many cafes or finding the perfect people-watching spot whilst sipping on a bia hoi!

2 me walking along in a 1-day Hanoi itinerary

Get a cheap massage, grab a cocktail from a cute hidden bar or make it your mission to find the best banh mi in the city. There are lots of little streets and alleyways, making it the perfect location to just get lost and explore.

The streets are mostly named after what they sell (or used to), so once you find a shop selling Vietnamese fans, for example, walk along the whole street and you’ll see maybe ten more shops selling more Vietnamese fans!

Read More: Try The World’s Longest Cable Car in Phu Quoc!

It’s an easy place to walk around but make sure you bring comfortable shoes because you might spend hours exploring!

Jade really doesn’t get on well with flip-flops so she always takes a couple of pairs of sandals (in case one pair breaks) on every trip we go on. We recommend checking out these CUSHIONAIR sandals which are comfortable, durable and affordable (the holy trinity!). We chose these because they are vegan suede but there are lots of different materials and colours to choose from. Check them out here!

Read More: How To Get Incredible Clothes Made In Hoi An


Take A Cooking Class

This is another great way to get to know local Vietnamese food! It will take a few hours though, so you do have to plan the rest of your day well to be able to fit lots of other activities in if you only have 1 day in Hanoi!

Read More: Our Full Review Of The Best Cooking Class In Hanoi!

Try One Of The Best COOKING CLASSES in HANOI! Local Market Tour, Cooking + Beer!

We took a cooking class with one of the most highly reviewed schools in Hanoi – Rose Kitchen. We visited a local market, bought our ingredients then all worked together to cook a delicious 3-course meal!

It was so fun and we would highly recommend it, especially if the weather is bad so you need an indoor activity.

Key Information

  • Tour Duration: 4.5 hours
  • Pickup Included: Yes
  • Age Suitable For: All
  • Need To Take: An empty stomach!
  • Start Time: 9:30 am or 3 pm
  • Lunch Included: Yes

Click here to check availability and prices


Visit The Historic Museums

For a relatively small city compared to other capitals across the world Hanoi has quite a few museums dotted around. Unless they’re your sole focus, you probably won’t manage to get more than one or two into your visit to Hanoi in 1 day, but here are the top ones that I’d look into visiting.

You can explore these all independently, or you can take a tour for an afternon where a local guide will take you to a few museums and be able to give you more background and insight to the exhibits.

Click here to book a Hanoi museum tour.

Ho Chi Minh Museum

Dedicated to none other than Ho Chi Minh (Uncle Ho), this museum highlights the different times of his life and the impact he had on the country.

Read More: Check Out The Phu Quoc NIght Market Here

Hỏa Lò Prison Museum

This is a heartbreaking display of the way that Vietnamese political prisoners and POWs were treated in the 20th century. The prisoners were treated inhumanely and lived in awful conditions – it was eventually nicknamed the ‘Hanoi Hilton’ during the Vietnamese war.

Yellow building with grey arch words saying Maison Central

Vietnamese Women’s Museum

The Women’s Museum provides a fascinating insight into the role that women have played in Vietnam’s history, culture and heritage. The exhibits focus on Women in Family, Women in History and Women’s Fashion.

Read More: Check Out The Best Beaches In Hoi An!

National Museum of Vietnamese History

It’s pretty much self-explanatory but this museum has over 200,000 displays including artefacts from the Bronze Age, antiques from past emperors and even the remnants of an old shipwreck from the ’90s.

Museum of the Vietnamese Revolution

For those of you interested in more recent history, check out this museum to learn about the French colonialism of Vietnam, the Vietnam war and how the country dealt with the aftermath of it all.

Read More: Try A Halong Bay Day Tour Too!


Explore The Night Market

The popular night market happens every Friday, Saturday and Sunday in the Old Quarter so if your 1-day Hanoi itinerary happens to be on a weekend, don’t miss it! The stalls are being set up from around 6:30 pm but I’d recommend waiting until around 8 as that’s when everything is really going on!

Read More: Everything You Need To Know About Hanoi’s Night Market

Street market with lots of clothes and people walking along on a 1-day Hanoi itinerary

Saturdays are the best day to go as there is lots of extra entertainment happening, from live bands to roller skate competitions! You could spend anything from 30 minutes to a few hours here, so be prepared to do a bit of walking!

We liked this market because it wasn’t just your usual tourist tat – you can buy all sorts here! If you’re looking for new clothes, jewellery or sunglasses, then this is the place to buy them. There are souvenirs too so bring a big enough bag for everything that you pick up during the evening.


Drink 20 Cent Beer (Bia Hoi)

Yep, 20 cents! Bia hoi is the local beer that is freshly brewed every day and sold on pretty much every corner of Hanoi! It’s around 3% and tastes just like a regular beer you’d get in a bar – if not better! Usually, when you order, you’ll also get some sort of snack like peanuts alongside your drink.

2 small glasses of beer on a 1-day Hanoi itinerary

Look out for the ‘bia hoi’ signs, or the large silver barrels outside a tiny hole-in-the-wall restaurant. Most of the places that sell bia hoi have little plastic chairs outside on the street, and this is where you’ll find the locals chatting away and enjoying their evenings. Don’t be put off by the informality of it – this is the quintessential experience that you can’t miss on your 1-day Hanoi itinerary!


Experience Hanoi Train Street

You might have seen the totally mad train street in Hanoi on Instagram – where the shops and cafes spill out onto the train track until it’s time to pack everything up so that the train can whizz past!

You can literally sit inches away from the carriage, and then a few moments later the tracks will be buzzing with people again! A lot of the cafes also have upstairs seating so choose this if you want a different perspective.

Train coming towards camera on tracks with Vietnamese flag on side of road

Read More: The Best Places To Stay In Ha Long Bay

It’s a great photo opportunity but just be careful that you’re not leaning too far out, or taking pictures on the track without double checking the timetable first. It’s a good idea to use a tripod here to get some cool photos of the moving train as you’ll need the camera to be completely still as it goes past!

If you’re looking for an affordable tripod/selfie stick then check out this Bluehorn 40″. It has a wireless button to make taking pics and videos easy and doubles as a tripod for a small camera and your phone. Basically, every single traveller has a selfie stick because of how convenient they are so check out our recommendation here.


Watch a Water Puppet Show

This is an iconic part of the city’s history, and a fun way to spend an hour of your 1-day Hanoi itinerary.

The theatre is just next to Hoàn Kiếm Lake, and you can buy tickets in advance of the show here. The puppeteers perform shows with traditional stories and are very unique to Vietnam!

Read More: Your Essential Guide To Backpacking Vietnam


The Best Time To Visit For A 1-Day Hanoi Itinerary

There are a couple of things to think about when planning your 1-day Hanoi itinerary. The seasons are quite different – and the best time to go depends on your preferences. The people of Hanoi also celebrate lots of festivals throughout the year, so you might want to join in or avoid the crowds at these times. Make sure you don’t plan your 1-day Hanoi itinerary on a public holiday though because lots of activities/shops/markets will be closed and you won’t get the full Hanoian experience!

Weather

May to September – Rainy season

October and November – Mild autumn weather

December to Feb – Low temperatures + light rain

March and April – Mild spring weather

The best weather in Hanoi happens in March and April, or in October and November. Spring and autumn have less rainfall, and the temperatures are more bearable than summer and winter.

From May to September you can expect huge thunderstorms, heavy rainfall and widespread flooding. We got stuck wandering the Old Quarter during a crazy storm once, and the water literally reached halfway up our legs! Temperatures reach over 35 degrees Celsius (95 Fahrenheit) during the day, and the sun shines quite strongly when it isn’t raining!

2 motorbikes riding through high floods

We spent time in Hanoi in both February and June, and I would probably say I enjoyed June a little more because the winter drizzle was a little depressing! Kev, on the other hand, much prefers to be cooler so preferred being there in February. It did make a difference being appropriately dressed though!

If you’re looking for a rain jacket then the most important 2 things are waterproofing and foldability. It needs to keep the water out and fit into a small pouch to fit in your luggage well. This Columbia raincoat does both of these things very well whilst also looking pretty good (for a raincoat). They have almost too many colours to choose from but take a look at your options here!

Festivals

Vietnam loves a festival, and there are so many to choose from if you want to get involved on your 1-day Hanoi itinerary!

Tet Nguyen Dan

This is also known as Vietnamese New Year (or the Lunar New Year) and is the biggest festival celebrated across the whole country. Lots of locals living in Hanoi often go back to their hometowns to spend time with family, but there are also a fair amount of festivities happening in the city. Look out for fireworks, street dancers and flowers being handed out!

When: end of Jan/early Feb – changes every year so look for upcoming dates. In 2023 it falls on January 22nd)

3 women playing instruments and singing outside

Lim Festival

Another big celebration in the north, the Lim festival is listed by UNESCO and honours the ethinc culture of Vietnam. There are 3 days of parties, singing and traditional performances in nearby Bac Ninh. It’s worth making your way there if you’re in the area for your 1-day Hanoi itinerary.

When: Mid-February

Perfume Pagoda Festival

This is more of a pilgrim festival, as people travel fro all over Vietnam to visit the Perfume Pagoda to pray to Buddha and for a happy year ahead. The journey takes its travellers through caves, along rivers, up mountains and finally up hundreds of steps to the pagoda.

When: Mid-Feb – March (in 2023 this happens on the 5th Feb)

Other Travellers

If you want to avoid other travellers, then I would recommend planning your 1-day Hanoi itinerary during the late summer. The rainy season is in full swing, and that puts a lot of people off! It also means a lot of tours and hotels offer discounts as they know that there is less demand.

Crowds in Hanoi Streets

However, if you are a social butterfly and are looking to meet new people, then plan your trip for spring or autumn. The weather is more predictable and pleasant, and lots of festivals are planned for these times of the year. This means that both local and international travellers will want to visit to get an authentic experience of the city!


How To Get To Hanoi

There are few ways to reach Hanoi, whether you’re coming from another city in Vietnam or from overseas.

Plane

Fly into Hanoi’s airport, Noi Bai International. You can get cheap domestic flights too – Vietnam Airlines is very good with regular flights in and out of Hanoi.

Train

The train system in Vietnam is good, and if you want to experience a long sleeper train then I’d recommend travelling either to or from Hanoi to do it as the views are fantastic along the coast!

Read More: Here’s How To Take The Train To Hoi An!

Prices are affordable considering the length of journeys, but sometimes flying is more cost-effective.

Book your train tickets in advance below, especially if you’re planning your 1-day Hanoi itinerary on or around a public holiday and tickets sell out fast.

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Bus

There are some buses travelling to and from Hanoi, but it would be an incredibly long journey from Ho Chi Minh so I wouldn’t recommend it!

Check out bus routes and prices to somewhere closer like Da Nang. The journey is still super long, and you’d be better off getting the train, but the bus is an option if you can’t take the train for whatever reason!

Private buses are comfortable, and usually you’ll be given water and a snack if the journey takes more than a few hours.

Read More: The Beautiful Hoi An Night Market


Getting Around Hanoi In 1 Day

The best way to get around Hanoi is definitely on foot! If you’re only spending one day in Hanoi then I would avoid hiring a scooter because you’ll spend most of the time in and around the Old Quarter, which is extremely walkable.

If walking isn’t an option for you, then you can get taxis or download Grab (just like Uber). The traffic can get quite heavy in the surrounding area of the Old Town, and if the Night Market is on then the roads are blocked to all vehicles so take that into account too.

Rows and rows of scooters

Read More: 9 Awesome Things To Do In Vietnam On A Budget


Where To Stay In Hanoi for 1 Day

The best place to stay in Hanoi is hands down the Old Quarter. This is especially true if you only have 1 day in Hanoi because it means you won’t waste too much time getting to each attraction or activity if you’re already staying centrally.

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Hostel

Little Charm Hanoi Hostel

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This hostel is a great place to meet new friends and enjoy a bit of luxury, plus breakfast is included.

Hotel

Sonata Boutique Hotel

Booking.com

These gorgeous rooms are the perfect place to wind down and it’s right in the centre too.


What To Pack For A 1-Day Hanoi Itinerary

Even if you’re only spending 1 day in Hanoi, the chances are that you’ll be in Vietnam in general for longer than that so I’ve put together a list of the most important things to remember for a city break! I’ve also added our essentials list at the bottom so you don’t forget any of the main bits for your trip.

If you don’t have a camera then I HIGHLY recommend the Panasonic Lumix ZS70K. It is an affordable point-and-shoot camera that can be picked up and used by anyone of any ability. The camera captures gorgeous images and surprisingly excellent video whilst fitting in your pocket. The main difference between this and your phone’s camera is that it also has an incredible optical zoom so you won’t miss any of the shots you need to take. Check it out here.

If you need some sunglasses then take a look at our recommended pair right here. Kev has just done 7 months without a pair because he couldn’t find any he liked on the trip and it was just a lot of complaining about the sun. Don’t be a Kev… Find out the price of not being a Kev right here.

Don’t even think about stepping out in the sun without protection! This factor 50 sun cream from Sunbum is vegan, reef-safe and smells like summer, as well as being dermatologist approved! It’s non-greasy, easy to apply and doesn’t leave a white cast so you can quickly rub it in and get on with your adventures! Take a look on Amazon here.

If you’re worried about your devices losing power throughout the day then we recommend the Anker 10,000mAh power bank. Anker actually makes quite a few power banks but this one comes with a USB-C and USB-A port which means that you’ll be able to charge any of your devices regardless of connection. The 10,000mAh capacity is enough to completely charge an iPhone 12 twice so you should be good for a number of days with this beast. Have a look at the price here.

Using a fanny pack is a love-hate kind of deal. Some people absolutely swear by them and others wouldn’t be seen dead in them. Jade and I have different opinions on them so that makes for interesting days out! Either way, if you are a lover then check out the MAXTOP Large Crossbody Fanny Pack as it is really affordable and can be worn in different positions depending on your style. Check it out in more detail here.



Frequently Asked Questions

Is 1 day enough for Hanoi?

I think you can do a lot with a 1-day Hanoi itinerary but I’d recommend trying to stay in the city for at least 3 days if you can!

How many days in Hanoi is enough?

I think 3 days in Hanoi is enough time to see the most important parts of the city but I think 5 days would be perfect!

Is Hanoi worth visiting?

Absolutely! Even with just a 1-day Hanoi itinerary, it’s a must see destination!

Is Hanoi a walkable city?

Definitely! You can walk around Hanoi easily – I’d avoid getting taxis and motorcycles if you can because the traffic gets quite bad outside of the Old Quarter.


This 1-day Hanoi itinerary should give you plenty to do if you’re only spending 24 hours in the city, but you can easily spread out the activities over a few days if you’ve got more time! Let us know what you thought of Hanoi in the comments below!

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