Having a look at some blogs and websites on the Internet, you will notice a common problem. It is that loads of travelers could not control their time in the first trip to Hanoi’ center. This is because of numerous attractions they needed to experience once. Obviously, if you have limited travel time, it is impossible to enjoy everything in the Vietnamese capital fully. So, what to do in Hanoi within 2 days in the case you don’t want to be in such situation?
Do not worry too much about this issue. Just follow the appropriate schedule to go around the inner city I’ve collected from many recommendations of experienced travelers. And then a first-timer like you will certainly discover all exciting sides of this time-honored city.
Anyway, firstly what to do in Hanoi for any first-timers is to book a room. In fact, you will be bombarded with a tons of the information about hotels and hostels when you look for accommodation by yourself. To solve this problem, you can view a few articles about residences in Hanoi on the Internet. But to make your journey easier, it would be better on the condition that you prefer a hotel in the Old Quarter, as not only is the time for moving to attractions likely to be reduced, but also the quality of amenities is guaranteed. So, I will assume that your expected plan in Hanoi would be to start from a hotel in this area.
WHAT TO DO IN HANOI ON THE FIRST DAY?
Discover the Old Quarter
After having breakfast in your hotel, you can move outside to start the discovery in the Old Quarter. This historical area has existed since Ly – Tran Dynasties on the basis of 36 streets. Each street concentrated on selling a characteristic stock, such as bronze, silk, paper, and tin. And these products then also became the base to name the streets. However, suffering from a long period of wars and destruction, this feature has disappeared gradually. Hopefully, its history has still been reflected by housing architecture lying in old houses and certain spectacular spots, for example, Hanoi St Joseph’s Cathedral, Bach Ma Temple, and Hanoi Ancient Gate. You should go around the Old Quarter in the whole morning to view all of them.
During the trip, you should present in some gift shops to purchase handicrafts and local products. They are Thuy Ky Shop (No.98 Hang Gai Street) for handmade clothes, Hanoi Moment Store (No.67 Hang Trong Street) for handicrafts, Hong Ha Silver Shop (No.52 Hang Bac Street) for silver jewelry and silverwares.
Wander around Hoan Kiem Lake
To go jogging around Hoan Kiem Lake is what to do in Hanoi in the afternoon. Not only will you understand why the lake is recognized as the green pearl to make the city become fresher and prettier, but also your horizons about Vietnam’s history are likely to be broaden. After seeing Turtle Tower in the center of the lake, you should pass across The Huc Bridge to stay in Ngoc Son Temple, or Jade Mountain Temple in the north of the lake. In this place, you can get to know the legends about large turtles living in the lake, the main contribution to its current name, The Lake of Returned Sword.
If you travel at the weekend, the time when all vehicles are banned around the lake, having a chance to take part in fascinating activities held by Hanoians will be shown to you.
Ride on all streets in the French Quarter
After you spend around 1 hour in Hoan Kiem Lake, I suggest you to rent a bike to ride through a roads system like a chessboard in the French Quarter. This sizable region has been positioned in the south of Hoan Kiem Lake since the French colonial period in the 19th century. At that time, the French erected many buildings for residence and work, and most of such French-outside properties have remained hitherto. To some extent, you would take the zone as a district of a European country.
To let your visit be quick and convenient, the point of departure is Trang Tien Street, where the renowned Trang Tien ice-cream is sold, and then Hanoi Opera House, the premise for holding classical concerts. After that, you could go to Government Guesthouse, The National Museum of Vietnamese History, Vietnamese Women’s Museum, and Hoa Lo Prison.
Taking photos at Long Bien Bridge
Before you find a local restaurant for dining, continuing your itinerary at Long Bien Bridge is advisable. This construction was also architected by Gustav Eiffel, the designer of Eiffel Tower in France. This is the reason why the bridge is also mainly made of steel but very steady for railway transport. From the bridge, you are allowed to have an entire view of Red River, and of course, take stunning photos to create an impressive albums.
Visit Dong Xuan Market
Whether you fill up your stomach in the evening or not, visiting Dong Xuan Market at night is a must-do deed. The market is in the north of the Old Quarter. And it consists of countless souvenir shops and food stores. Plus lively bars and restaurants nearby, it grants you an opportunity to feel how dynamic the nightlife in Hanoi is. Apparently, it is possible for you to gratify your hunger with a diverse range of delicious traditional Vietnamese dishes.
WHAT TO DO IN HANOI ON THE SECOND DAY?
Have an excursion of Ho Chi Minh Complex
In the morning of the second day, you must go sightseeing at Ho Chi Minh Complex. This is because the most important integral part of it, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum,where Vietnam’s illustrious national hero, President Ho Chi Minh, accommodated, worked, and also rest perpetually, is only open at that time, expect for Monday and Friday. Throughout the trip inside the mausoleum, remember that you mustn’t take any photos.
In the next stage, you will be led to Ho Chi Minh Stilt House and Ho Chi Minh Museum close by. An addition option for you is One Pillar Pagoda in the south, an amazing Buddhism property with unbelievable structure demonstrated in its name.
Engage in water sports at the Westlake
Just as you step out of Ho Chi Minh Complex, how about turning to the north to view the Westlake? This place is the largest lake in the capital. As a result, you can embark on several aquatic sports, from swimming, canoeing to fishing, as well as to enjoy fresh air and quietness there. Unless you like doing this, sticking with biking around the lake to visit Tran Quoc Pagoda and Tay Ho Temple is what I suggest to you then. Besides, for lunch, you should order shrimp in batter in the restaurant opposite Tran Quoc Pagoda.
Attend the Temple of Literature
You have to take a rest at least 1-2 hours. Because the next destination, The Temple of Literature, is a bit far from the Westlake. This tourist attraction is the first Vietnamese university established in Ly Dynasty. It’s where all royal members got educated before working in bureaucratic hierarchies. Despite the age of nearly 1000 years, fortunately, the place has still kept much historical value in housing systems, Khue Van Pavilion and specifically, turtle statues. Just look around and then you will receive more lessons about Vietnam’s feudal period.
Taste traditional Vietnamese food
Again, to savor scrumptious unique Vietnamese meals in the second night is what to do in Hanoi later. The suggestive destination is, however, in the north of Hai Ba Trung District. Apart from a lot of restaurants expert in “Pho”, the eateries there are also famous for Bun Cha, or Hanoi Kebab rice noodles, and spring rolls. One of the must-visit ones is Huong Lien Restaurant (No. 24 Le Van Huu Street). This is where Mr. Barack Obama, the U.S Ex-President, had dinner when he traveled to Hanoi in 2016. As a result, disquieting about its quality is unnecessary.
View a water puppet performance
An exclusive cultural aspect only Vietnam has got is water puppet. It emerged for the first time in the 11th century and was considered as a form of leisure activities in Red River Delta. Consequently, the plots in the shows are frequently related to fairy tales related to Vietnamese people’s countryside life in the past, leading this attraction to become the greatest option for ending your trip perfectly.
Fascinatingly, talented performers always hides themselves behind the stage. For performance, they control the puppets on the water surface of a deep pool. In order to view this awesome show, you can attend Thang Long Water Puppet Theater in the northern east of Hoan Kiem Lake after 9.15pm.
Overall, that is what to do in Hanoi for 2 days. Actually, there are plenty of other places of interests far from the city center. They, of course, can also bring more unforgettable impressions to you. That’s why you should arrange the second trip to this city in order not to miss them.