If you have a day or two to spare in Hà Nội, there are plenty of things that you can do or see. Recently I got to spend a couple of nights in the city and I gathered some info about activities in Hà Nội.
Arrival in Hà Nội
After having travelled by bus for 6 weeks I decided to fly into Vietnam. The 45-minute flight to Hà Nội from Luang Prabang was MORE than comfortable and a welcoming break from night busses. Vietnam Airlines had a brilliant deal on Skyscanner including luggage and so I didn’t even pay that much more than a bus ticket. Well worth it!
How to get to the city
Arriving at Hà Nội Airport was super convenient and immigration was quick. I had applied for an E-Visa a few days before which was granted in about 3 days. From the airport, it’s super easy to take a bus to the city centre of Hà Nội. When you exit the terminal the bus stop is on your left-hand side and it departs every 20-25 minutes or so. You can buy the ticket on the bus so make sure you have some Dong to pay. However, they let you pay by card as well! Bus number 86 drives you straight into town and stops at multiple locations. The cost was only 35.000 Dong and I reached my hostel in about 30 minutes. Of course, you can also take a taxi which will cost around 320.000 Dong ($14 at the time of writing).
Where to stay
There are countless hostels, guesthouses and hotels in the Old Quarter of Hà Nội, which is the most popular area to stay in. I stayed in the Chi Novel Hostel, located close to the Old Quarter. During my stay, it was super quiet. The hostel has great amenities and it was very clean and nicely priced. I also had my first HOT shower here in 6 (!!!!) weeks and I LOVED it! There are some beautiful Airbnb accommodations as well in the city! If you are using Airbnb for the first time, you can get your $38 discount here during your stay!
What to do in Hà Nội
Train street was my absolute favourite thing to see in Hà Nội! It has recently been closed for tourists but there is still a way to witness this insanity from closeby! All you need to do is have a coffee or a tea at one of the cafes next to the tracks. Locals will talk to you and invite you for a drink! The tracks are monitored by police or military and without enjoying a cuppa you won’t be let in.
Two different trains pass by, the train from Hà Nội to Hồ Chí Minh City and from Hồ Chí Minh City to Hà Nội. Take your pick and enjoy the ride!
The Temple of the Jade Mountain
Close to my hostel was The Temple of the Jade Mountain and it was one of the first sights I visited in Hà Nội. The temple is also known as Đền Ngọc Sơn and it was only 30.000 Dong to enter. You can find the temple on Hoàn Kiếm Lake in central Hà Nội to enjoy a peaceful moment in this hectic city.
Visit Hồ Chí Minh’s Mausoleum
You can visit Hồ Chí Minh’s Mausoleum on Ba Dinh Square and it is one of the most visited places in Hà Nội. It is the final resting place of Hồ Chí Minh and admission is free. In the same area, you can visit the Stilt House and the Hồ Chí Minh Museum.
Enjoy a Phở
Time for lunch! And time for a Phở! This lovely Vietnamese soup comes in tons of different flavours and is an absolute must-try when you’re in Vietnam! Of course, you can also learn how to make your own during a cooking class. And if you’re unsure of what to eat, reading a street-food book will help to learn everything about the Vietnamese cuisine! There are some amazing street-food tours with locals on Airbnb Experiences. Get your $26 discount here!
Vietnam Military History Museum
As my knowledge about the Vietnam War was a bit rusty, I decided to visit the Vietnam Military History Museum. I arrived around 10:45 in the morning and surprisingly I got kicked out after about 15 minutes…. so there went my new learned knowledge… So DO check the current opening times when you visit. The current opening hours are between 8:00 and 11:30 AM and 1:00 and 4:30 PM. The museum is closed on Mondays and Fridays and the entrance fee is 40.000 Dong.
Enjoy a massage
When I was visiting Hà Nội it was cold and a little rainy. So I decided to treat myself to a massage! I went to Midori which is a blind and visually impaired spa in the city. You can enjoy a wonderful treatment by one of the visual impaired therapists and fully relax!
A visit to Hà Nội is not complete without having been to a Puppet Show. Visit the Thang Long Water Puppet Theater in Hà Nội and enjoy this traditional art form. The puppetry originated at least 1,000 years ago in the rice fields of northern Vietnam and a show is an absolute must-see.
Another place not to be missed is the Night Market in Hà Nội. Have a look for souvenirs or enjoy the atmosphere on the market. During the day you can also visit the Dong Xuan Market although I found the surrounding local food market more interesting.
Getting lost in the little streets of Hà Nội was lovely! Saying that though, I think 1 or 2 days in this city are more than enough to get the vibe of the place. As I am not much into big cities I was happy to take the bus to Sa Pa the following day to explore more of Vietnam. I got my tickets by the way at the Sapa Express office in Hà Nội and they picked me up in the morning to travel to Sapa.
Disclaimer: To be fully transparent, please note that this blog post contains affiliate links and some purchases made through such links might result in a small commission for me (at no extra cost for you). Not all links are affiliate links as I just want to share knowledge and tips with my readers and this blog is not aimed to make a ton of money! However, every little helps of course to fund future travels.