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Things to Do on Your Layover in Hanoi

layover-in-Hanoi

It’s safe to say that Hanoi’s a great travel destination, you can never run out of things to do in Vietnam Capital City. Whether it’s a multi-day tour of exploring the vibrant streetside culture, a walking tour in the Old Quarter during the weekends, or a just break between flights, the city always seems to know how to cater to its visitors. Read on to find out the things you can do on your layover in Hanoi!

Things to Do on Your Layover in Hanoi: Visit Hanoi Landmarks

Upon arriving at Noi Bai International Airport, it’s normal to feel a little overwhelmed by the city of 10 million people that embraces rich culture and vibrant urban life. To learn more about that, why not take a tour of the historical attractions that breathe Hanoi’s 1000-year-old history?

Hoan Kiem Lake and Ngoc Son Temple
Google Maps location

Situated about 30 kilometers away from Noi Bai International Airport, Hoan Kiem Lake is the center of Hanoi's key attractions, from which you can effortlessly explore more of the city. A little walk around the lake and then step inside the sacred Ngoc Son Temple, and you’ll feel the tiredness slowly worn away.

layover in Hanoi hoan kiem lake

layover in Hanoi ngoc son temple

Hoan Kiem Lake is always bustling, yet peaceful and calming at the same time

Distance from Noi Bai International Airport: 30 kilometers
Travel time: 3 - 4 hours (both ways)
Recommended means of transportation: Bus (Route number 86 - VND 30,000/person); taxi (VND 350,000 - 500,000)
Opening hour:
Hoan Kiem Lake - All day
Ngoc Son Temple: 7 AM - 6 PM (Monday - Friday); 7 AM - 9 PM (Saturday and Sunday)
Entrance fee (Ngoc Son Temple): VND 30,000

Stroll around the Old Quarter then Stop by the St. Joseph’s Cathedral

Address (of the church): 40 Nha Chung Street, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi

While you’re in the Hoan Kiem District, be sure to visit the streets in the Old Quarter, grab some local snacks, and then stop by the St. Joseph’s Cathedral - the oldest and most famous church in Hanoi. It features a classic French Revival architecture, representing a remnant of the colonial period.

layover in Hanoi st joseph s cathedral

In front of the church are some lime-iced-tea street stores, where you can sit down to enjoy a refreshing drink and observe the city life

Distance from Noi Bai International Airport: 30 kilometers
Travel time: 3 - 3.5 hours (both ways)
Recommended means of transportation: Bus (Route number 86 - VND 30,000/person); taxi (VND 350,000 - 400,000); 5-minute walk from Hoan Kiem Lake
Opening hour: All day (Exterior visit only)

Read more on Hoan Kiem District Guide

Temple of Literature

Address: 58 Quoc Tu Giam, Van Mieu, Dong Da, Hanoi

Established in 1070 by order of Emperor Ly Thanh Tong, the Temple of Literature has stood the test of time and become the symbol of Vietnam’s fondness for knowledge. It also offers a rare look into the country’s classic design, which can be described as a modification of China’s architectural style.

layover in Hanoi temple of literature

The Temple of Literature is a symbol of the traditional Vietnamese architecture

Distance from Noi Bai International Airport: 28 kilometers
Travel time: 2 - 3 hours (both ways)
Recommended means of transportation: taxi (VND 300,000 - 350,000)
Opening hours: 8 AM - 6 PM
Entrance fee: VND 30,000

Long Bien Bridge
Google Maps location

In case you have some time to spare in the evening, stop by the Long Bien Bridge to admire the sunset hues casting on the Red River. Note that since the bridge's construction dates back to the French colonial era, it is more accessible for bikes or pedestrians to get on the bridge rather than a taxi.

layover in Hanoi long bien bridge

Locals selling fresh produce on Long Bien Bridge

Distance from Noi Bai International Airport: 28 kilometers
Travel time: 2 - 3 hours (both ways)
Recommended means of transportation: taxi (VND 300,000 - 350,000)

Things to Do on Your Layover in Hanoi: Taste Hanoi’s Famous Cuisine

For the food lovers out there, don't miss out on Hanoi's food. The city boasts a vibrant culinary scene that is characterized by sophisticated flavors, made from ordinary everyday ingredients. Here are some eatery spots we highly recommend:

Egg Coffee at Cafe Giang

layover in Hanoi cafe giang

The famous Egg Coffee at Cafe Giang

Address: 39 Nguyen Huu Huan, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
Distance from Noi Bai International Airport: 30 kilometers
Travel time: 3 - 3.5 hours (both ways)
Opening hours: 7 AM - 10 PM
Price range: VND 30,000 - 40,000
Specialty: Egg Coffee, Egg Beer

The shop is within the Old Quarter area but nestled in a rather small alley, so keep a lookout for the coffee shop. And because this is the one stop for authentic egg coffee, many visitors would visit here daily eager to taste the drink. Try your best to catch the attention of the server in the crowd, and be prepared to wait for around 10 - 15 minutes for the drinks to come.

Pho Gia Truyen Bat Dan

Address: 49 Bat Dan, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
Distance from Noi Bai International Airport: 29 kilometers
Travel time: 3 - 3.5 hours (both ways)
Opening hours: 6 AM - 10 AM; 6 PM - 8:30 PM
Price range: VND 50,000 - 70,000
Specialty: Pho

Pho Cuon Thanh Hang

Address: 29B Ngu Xa, Ba Dinh, Hanoi
Distance from Noi Bai International Airport: 26 kilometers
Travel time: 2 - 3 hours (both ways)
Opening hours: 8 AM - 10 PM
Price range: VND 50,000 - 100,000
Specialty: Pho Cuon (Pho Springrolls)

Banh Gio Co Beo

layover in Hanoi banh gio

Banh Gio is one of the city’s favorites

Address: 3 Thuy Khue, Tay Ho, Hanoi
Distance from Noi Bai International Airport: 25 kilometers
Travel time: 2 - 3 hours (both ways)
Opening hours: 6 AM - 8:30 PM
Price range: VND 7,000 - 30,000
Specialty: Banh Gio (Vietnamese Pyramid Rice Dumplings)

Note: Since the airport is quite far from the city center, to save more time on your layover in Hanoi, we'd recommend looking for local restaurants in the Old Quarter to try Hanoi's signature cuisine.

Things to Do on Your Layover in Hanoi: Go Shopping

Going shopping is one of the best ways to while away your time during a layover in Hanoi. There are duty-free shops on both terminals in the airport, offering traditional Vietnamese souvenirs, snacks, and other amenities. Food courts and restaurants are conveniently located around the shops as well.

Or, if you've already been out and about outside the airport, check our Hanoi Shopping Guide for the best places to shop!

Things to Do on Your Layover in Hanoi: Get a Massage

Feeling stiff after a long-haul flight? A good massage can help you relax during your layover in Hanoi. The good news is that you don’t have to travel far into the city center, incredible spas can be found within the proximity of Noi Bai International Airport.

Airport Health Spa

layover in Hanoi airport health spa

Stop by Airport Heath Spa to loosen your muscles

Address: 8B Vo Nguyen Giap, Soc Son, Hanoi
Distance from Noi Bai Airport: 5 kilometers

Massage Foot & Body

Address: 19 Vo Nguyen Giap, Soc Son, Hanoi
Distance from Noi Bai Airport: 5 kilometers

Find out about Tipping Culture in Vietnam

Things to Do on Your Layover in Hanoi: Get Some Rest at the VATC Sleep Pods

The VATC sleep pod service id perfect for getting some quick rest without leaving the airport. The cabin is sound-proofed, comfortable, and it functions as a regular hostel. Plus, you get free water and snack!

layover in Hanoi sleep pods

VATC Sleep Pods at Terminal 2

Address:
Floor 3, Terminal 1, Noi Bai International Airport, Hanoi
Floor 2, Terminal 2, Noi Bai International Airport, Hanoi
Opening hours: All day
Price: VND 160,000/hour
Hotline: (+84) 243 584 3838

Or look for a hotel in the vicinity:

 

Tips for Your Layover in Hanoi

  • Always check the time: Since the airport is not very close to the city center (almost 1-hour drive away), you may want to monitor your layover trips carefully. Leave yourself plenty of time to get back to the airport in case of unexpected incidents. If you just have 2 or 3 hours to spend, we suggest staying at Noi Bai.
  • Store your luggage: Noi Bai International Airport does offer luggage storage service, which can be accessed at column 13 and 14 on the 2nd floor of Terminal 2. The price list is as follows:

Under 10h: 27,500 VND / piece / hour
From 10h - 24h: VND 275,000 / package
Over 24h: 275,000 VND x number of days / packages

  • Exchange your currency: Most of the transactions in Vietnam are in cash, so make sure you exchange some money into Vietnam Dong. There are 4 money exchanging spots in Terminal 2, in the public area on the first floor, right after passing immigration, baggage claim, and customs check. On Terminal 1, you can find the money exchange spot on level 1, on the left side from the main exit.

Read more on Money Exchange Spots in Hanoi

  • Check your Visa: Only some nationalities can enter Hanoi without a Visa. So, if you plan to leave the airport, it’s always recommended to do a double-check on Vietnam Visa!
  • Best ways to travel from the airport is by taxis, but there are also ample buses options to Hanoi center that are convenient and economical. Look for bus routes and bus tickets below:
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Enjoy Your Layover in Hanoi

Hanoi’s a city of endless possibilities and whenever you find yourself waiting in the city between flights, give it a chance, explore it. You can't help but longing to revisit this enchanting city!

Get a sufficient insurance plan for your travel:

 

Need more Hanoi Travel Tips? Let us know in the comments below

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© Written by Dung Tran for itourvn.com

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