Hanoi itinerary 1 day : How to spend a day in Hanoi for first-time visitors

This article provides details about the Hanoi itinerary  1 day with highlights of Hanoi  in a day tour. Hanoi, the bustling metropolitan capital of Vietnam. Included in this jam-packed itinerary are some of our most favourite tourist activities, such as a visit to the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum, the Ngoc Son Temple and a cyclo ride through the quaint and colorful Hanoi Old Quarter.

This is itinerary is hand-picked by a professional tour guide, David Nguyen, who have been working as a local guide over 10 years and guided a few hundred of times around the Hanoi city. He will provide you with in-depth information about planning a city tour in Hanoi on your own

Hanoi Itinerary 1 day Map

Hanoi Travel map –  Right click and open it in a new tab

What to know before your visit to Hanoi, Vietnam

  • E-visa can be easily applied online here . The visa valid 30 days if you are from one of these 80 countries. There are travel agents who offer visa on arrival service. If you have an urgent request, you’d better choose a travel agent to process it but for sure, it is a higher rate.
  • Noi Bai airport is located in the outskirt of Hanoi, which is 30 kilometres away from the city centre, about 45 minutes drive to the city. 
  • Money exchange at the airport is a good place to do with a bit lower exchange rate than the one in the city centre. The exchange rate is 23000 VND for 1 USD so you can easily become a millionaire with $50 USD
  • Get around Hanoi on foot or by Uber. We never had to wait any longer than a few minutes for an Uber. If you hop in a rickshaw / 3-wheeler make sure you negotiate on a price before the trip.
  • You’d better get a local sim card either at the airport or in the city centre. A local sim card with unlimited data values at $10 USD, which helps you get around the city using Google map without worrying getting lost. 
  • There is a pack of traffic in Hanoi from electric bikes, motorbikes to the car so it’s hard to cross the street for the first time. So what I suggest you do is keep your eyes on the road and walk slowly, don’t run or suddenly stop, the vehicle will go around you so you’ll be fine
  • Hanoi is so safe to travel around, even if you are a solo traveller, please check out Hanoi solo travel guide

Suggested Hanoi itinerary 1 day tour

1. Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

Our tour begins early in the morning to beat the queues at our first port of call, the world-renowned Ho Chi Minh mausoleum. Situated in the historically significant Ba Dinh Square, the mausoleum houses Uncle Ho and the impressive building serves to commemorate this famous leader of Vietnamese history. We will spend an hour or two here, taking in the sights and wandering in the beautifully maintained gardens, before checking out the Presidential Palace and Ho Chi Minh’s humble stilt house.

2. Temple of Literature

Graduation at Temple of literature Hanoi

Next, it’s off to the beautiful Temple of Literature, just a short drive away. This site was founded in 1070 as a tribute to Confucius and is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike. Here we’ll spend some time wandering the splendid courtyards, admiring the beautifully manicured gardens and learning about the history of this stunning refuge for scholars in the chaos of the big city.

3. Museum of Ethnology

Hanoi musuem of Ethnology

A 15-minute drive through the Quan Hoa area brings us to our next point on the tour – the fascinating Museum of Ethnology. The museum is dedicated to the exploration of the native ethnicities of Vietnam and no trip to Hanoi would be complete without a visit. Take a stroll amongst the reconstructed traditional houses, learn about daily life and rituals of the different tribes of Vietnam, and be sure to take plenty of photos. For those on a short visit to Hanoi, this museum is definitely a great overview of Vietnam.

4. Ngoc Son Temple

Ngoc Son temple by night

After a lunch of traditional (and delicious!) Vietnamese food we head back into Hanoi to the Ngoc Son Temple. This splendid Temple is set in the middle of Hoan Kiem Lake, and we will access by the red bridge. After your guide explains the history of the temple and the legend of the Turtle and the Sword you will have time to take in the views of the lake.

5. Cyclo ride in Hanoi Old Quarter

Cyclo ride in Hanoi Old Quarter

The highlight of this tour comes at the end of the day, when we take a cyclo ride through Hanoi Old Quarter. Sit back and relax as you whizz through the old town, taking in the sights sounds and smells of Old Hanoi. You will be amazed at the skill of your cyclo driver in dodging people, cars and animals

6. Watch the water puppet show at Thang Long Puppet Theatre 

If time permits, watch the water puppet show, which is a traditional art form in Vietnam dated back from 10th century, you’ll see such an amazing performance by artisans on the way. There’s a lot to learn about Vietnamese culture and rich history via the show

The best local eateries in Hanoi

  • Pho Thi, Pho 10 Ly Quoc Su
  • Bun Cha Hang Manh
  • Cha Ca Thang Long (Grilled fish with rice noodle and herbs) 
  • Banh Cuon Thanh Van 
  • Bami Bread

Where to stay in Hanoi if you just have only one night

Budget accommodation 

Hanoi Central Backpackers 

Spring flower hotel

3B homestay

Mid-range accommodation 

The Chi boutique hotel

Essense hotel

Deluxe accommodation

Movenpick hotel

Lapis hotel

Sith path hotel

Luxury accommodation


Sofitel Metropole Legend 

Mariott hotel

Useful Hanoi travel tips

From the airport, catch the bus no 86 at the international terminal, which takes you to Hanoi Old Quarter, please remind them that you are getting off the hotel in the Old Quarter of Hanoi. Don’t be worry, all staff speak good English. A ticket costs around 35k per person. 

Using a grab bike or taxi to get around the city at a very affordable cost.  Grab is like Uber in Vietnam.

You can withdraw money at several ATM machines in Hanoi Old Quarter such as HSBC, ANZ. 

Get a map at the hotel reception, if you don’t use an Internet Simcard. 

Read more : Ultimate Hanoi Itinerary

For nightlife in Hanoi, please join walking foodie tour or motorbike adventure to explore Hanoi by night with Hynam Travel

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