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How to Spend a Weekend in Hanoi

how-to-spend-a-weekend-in-hanoi-hn-old-quarter-street Flowers street vendor in the Old Quarter

To fully experience Hanoi's atmospheric yet dynamic energy may take more than just a few days, but a well-planned itinerary for the weekend is here to help you out. Here’s how to spend a weekend in Hanoi to make the most out of your travel:

Quick Heads-ups for Spending a Weekend in Hanoi

    • The guide below is designed based on the assumption that you'll be staying around the Old Quarter area. This is the tourist center of Hanoi where you can find hotels suitable multiple ranges of budget, as well as local foods and exciting tourist entertainment.
    • The estimated budget for spending a weekend in Hanoi is around VND 500,000 - 1,000,000 (USD 22 - 45) (not including accommodation cost)
    • For more local experiences, you may want to consider renting a motorbike in Hanoi (around VND 150,000/bike)
    • The average temperatures in Hanoi can very significantly throughout the year, do check Hanoi's weather and What to Pack for Hanoi for insightful packing tips.
    • Sign up with a world-leading travel insurance brand for your Hanoi adventure:
 

Spend Your Friday at the Hanoi Old Quarter for a Weekend in Hanoi

Highlights:

  • Banh Mi for breakfast at the Old Quarter (VND 15,000 - 25,000)
  • Egg coffee at Giang Cafe (VND 25,000 - 40,000)
  • Explore attractions in the Old Quarter
  • Enjoy Bun Cha for lunch (VND 35,000 - 55,000)
  • Catch a Water Puppet Show (VND 100,000)
  • Wrap-up with dinner and ‘TGIF’ at the Hanoi Beer Junction

The Old Quarter with its timeless attractions is a great start for spending a weekend in Hanoi. Begin your morning with a bite of a hearty local Banh Mi, which can be found around the street corners, but the best one would be at the Banh Mi 25 (25 Hang Ca, Hoan Kiem District).

After that, stop by a local coffee shop to get your daily kick of caffeine. Coffee houses in Hanoi offer java varieties and most of which locate within the Old Quarter area. By all means, make sure to get your cup of Hanoi egg coffee at Giang Cafe.

how to spend a weekend in hanoi coffee

Egg coffee in Hanoi is Vietnam's signature cappuccino

Note: Vietnamese coffee is renowned for its strong taste, so be careful if you cannot handle caffeine very well.

For a decent exploration in the Old Quarter, you'll need at least four hours, preferably in the morning to early afternoon when it is not so blistering hot in the summertime. Have your Google Maps and an Old Quarter Travel Guide handy to navigate through the intertwined streets.

For lunch in Hanoi, a serving of Bun Cha is always a treat for tourists, locals, and former US President! Bun Cha is barbecued meat served with vermicelli and mixed fish sauce, herbs, and fresh veggies. A VND 55,000 serving at the Old Quarter area can recharge your batteries for the remaining of the day.

how to spend a weekend in hanoi bun cha

This is what locals in Hanoi love to have for lunch

In the afternoon, catch a water puppet show at the Thang Long Water Puppet Theater - a ticket generally ranges from VND 100,000. Water puppetry has been a staple of Hanoi's culture for more than 1,000 years, and the show itself features the dancing forms of puppets manipulated by adept puppeteers in a shallow pond or wading pool.

Whenever you are ready to party, go for Bia Hoi (‘fresh beer’) at the Bia Hoi Junction, or more commonly known as the Ta Hien Beer Street. This is where you can spend a weekend in Hanoi with dynamic energy: grab some cheap beer, indulge in drinking snacks, and make friends on during your travel.

how to spend a weekend in hanoi beer

Hanoi locals have a huge love for beers

Look for top-rated hotels in the Hanoi Old Quarter:

 

Spend Your Saturday in Ba Dinh District for a Weekend in Hanoi

Highlights:

  • Pho for breakfast at Pho Gia Truyen (VND 45,000)
  • Get insightful with the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Thang Long Citadel, Vietnam Military History Museum, etc. (entrance fee is around VND 40,000/ticket)
  • Go local for lunch: noodles soup or Bun Dau Mam Tom (vermicelli, fried tofu, and fermented shrimp paste)
  • Grilled chicken legs with beers at night at 123 Thuy Khue (VND 25,000-100,000/serving)

If you ask local families how to spend a weekend in Hanoi, they would advise you to start it with a bowl of Pho. Especially on a chilly morning, nothing can compare to having a hot, savory bowl of Pho to warm you up for the day. Pho Gia Truyen has amazing broth, reasonable prices, and everything is freshly made to order.

how to spend a weekend in hanoi hcm mausoleum 12

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum from afar

The first activity for the second day of your weekend in Hanoi is to visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum to learn about Vietnam's all-time leader and hero. The entrance fee is free, but there are strict dress codes and rules for visitors to enforce the solemnity of the site, so do check out our guide for visiting the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum before your visit. The suggested time to spend at the mausoleum is 2 hours.

Other historical attractions nearby to spend a weekend in Hanoi include:

Thang Long Citadel
Address: 19C Hoang Dieu, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi
Entrance fee: VND 30,000/ticket
Suggested time to visit: 1 hour and 30 minutes

Vietnam Military History Museum
Address: 28A Dien Bien Phu, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi
Entrance fee: VND 20,000/ticket
Suggested time to visit: 1 hour

how to spend a weekend in hanoi flag tower

The historic Hanoi Flag Tower belongs to the Vietnam Military History Museum's premise 

Vietnam National Fine Arts Museum
Address: 66 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi
Entrance fee: VND 40,000/ticket
Suggested time to visit: 1 hour

Temple of Literature
Address: 58 Quoc Tu Giam Street, Dong Da District, Hanoi
Entrance fee: VND 30,000/ticket
Suggested time to visit: 2 hours

For lunch, try digging in at one of the many Bun Dau Mam Tom stalls or noodles soup street vendors. It is eating at the local shops that one can genuinely acquire the authentic taste of Hanoi's culinary culture.

 how to spend a weekend in hanoi bun ngan

Bun ngan (vermicelli with duck meat) is one of Hanoi’s best noodles soup

how to spend a weekend in hanoi bun dau 1

If you're feeling adventurous, try Bun Dau Mam Tom - vermicelli with deep-fried tofu and fermented shrimp paste!

An excellent way to wrap up your Saturday is with some fresh beer and one of Hanoi’s most favorite snack - grilled chicken legs. The sweet and spicy flavor will keep you wanting for more, and probably more tipsy than expected.

Address: 123 Thuy Khue Street, Tay Ho District (around 15 minutes drive from Ba Dinh District)

Spend Your Sunday on a Day Trip for a Weekend in Hanoi

Option 1: Chill out at the West Lake area
Option 2: Go on a day trip to Ninh Binh

To get the most out of your weekend in Hanoi, don't forget to stop by the West Lake area. In contradiction to the bustling scene of Hanoi city's center, the West Lake embodies a more calm and serene atmosphere. Go cycling to harmonize with the leisurely pace of life here, or make time stop by going fishing by the lake with the locals.

Some attractions worth visiting in the West Lake area:

Tran Quoc Pagoda
Address: Thanh Nien Street, Yen Phu, Tay Ho District
Entrance fee: free
Suggested time to spend: 2 hours
Special note: try Banh Tom (West Lake deep-fried shrimp cakes)

Quan Thanh Temple
Address: Thanh Nien Street, Quan Thanh, Ba Dinh District
Entrance fee: VND 10,000
Suggested time to spend: 30 minutes

Phu Tay Ho (Tay Ho Temple)
Address: Xom Chua Street, Quang An, Tay Ho District
Entrance fee: free
Suggested time to spend: 45 minutes

West Lake Flower Valley
Address: Sen Ho Tay, Nhat Tan, Tay Ho District
Entrance fee: VND 100,00/adult
Suggested time to visit: 1 hour

how to spend a weekend in hanoi west lake flower valley 2

Flowers blooming in profusion at the West Lake Valley

Another option for spending the last day of your weekend in Hanoi is to take a day trip to Ninh Binh. Tour tickets to Ninh Binh are available at tour kiosks around the Old Quarter, or find a bus ticket to Ninh Binh below:

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For first-time travelers in Ninh Binh, it is recommended to take a boat tour for VND 200,000/adult ticket so you can have an overview of the main attractions here.

how to spend a weekend in hanoi trang an boats

Traveling by boats is the one way to see the best of Ninh Binh

how to spend a weekend in hanoi mua cave

Spend a weekend in Hanoi at the ultimate check-in spot in Ninh Binh - Mua Cave

A Weekend...And Beyond!

Vietnam’s capital has a lot to offer, and no matter how much time you get to stay here, it never seems to be enough. Having a well-planned itinerary can make your weekend more memorable. If you have any questions or other suggestions, feel free to let us know in the comments below.

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© Written by My Pham and Kim Hoang for itourvn.com

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