Explore Historical Hanoi in 4 Days

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Curated By

Brandon Zurlo

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  • Arts & Culture

  • Active Travel

  • Luxury Travel

  • Local Culture

  • Sightseeing

  • Foodie

  • Entertainment

A tomb in the middle of the lake.
Curator’s statement

Hanoi is a city that's packed with history and culture. From well-preserved French colonial architecture to religious sites dedicated to Buddhism, Catholicism, Confucianism, and Taoism, there's something for everyone in this fascinating metropolis. You can also explore historical landmarks from Vietnam's imperial periods or visit one of the many museums that showcase the city's rich heritage

The Fora Difference

Book with Brandon to access exclusive perks and experiences on your trip.

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Killer perks

Free upgrades, spa credits and more—we got you

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Personalized recs

Customized travel planning for your style

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Insider knowledge

Expert advice from people who’ve actually been there

Where to stay

Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi

Neoclassical hotel in the heart of Hanoi with luxury rooms and suites.

Fora Perks
  • $100 hotel / resort credit.

  • Breakfast daily.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

Hotel de l'Opera Hanoi - MGallery

An exquisite boutique hotel echoing the grandeur of Hanoi's colonial past, offering refined luxury and cultural immersion in the heart of Vietnam's capital.

Fora Perks
  • Breakfast daily.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

The Oriental Jade Hotel & Spa

Luxury guest rooms and suites with stunning views of Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi Cathedral and Hanoi Old Quarter, plus a specialty spa with locally-inspired treatments.

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Unlock perks by contacting Brandon to book your trip.

Day 1: The Old Quarter, Hoan Kiem Lake, and the French Quarter

A fancy restaurant with outside arrangement in the city.

Visit the Old Quarter: The Old Quarter is the heart of Hanoi, and it's a great place to start your trip. Wander through the narrow streets and alleyways and explore the bustling markets. Be sure to try some of the local food, like pho or banh mi.

Pro tip: Navigating the Old Quarter can be tricky. A small pocket compass used in conjunction with Google Maps will help you get to your destination more easily.

Hoan Kiem Lake: Hoan Kiem Lake is a beautiful lake in the center of Hanoi. It's a popular spot for locals and tourists alike, and it's a great place to relax and take in the scenery. Don't forget to check out the Ngoc Son Temple located on Jade Islet on the northeast side of the lake. As you walk around the lake, you may be approached by young students wanting to practice their English.

French Quarter: The French Quarter, located just west of Hoan Kiem Lake, is a charming neighborhood in Hanoi that was built during the French colonial period. It's a great place to wander around, admire the architecture, or do some shopping.

Pro tip: End your walk around the French Quarter with a drink at the Le Club Bar located inside Sofitel Legend Metropole Hotel. There's usually a jazz singer performing Tuesday through Sunday evening from 8 p.m. onwards.

Day 2: "Must See" historical sites and a water puppet show

A tomb in the middle of the lake.

Hanoi is home to many historical sites that are worth visiting. Some of the notable ones include the Temple of Literature, the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, and the One Pillar Pagoda.

Attend a water puppet show: Water puppetry is a traditional Vietnamese art form and a great way to experience Vietnamese culture. Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre is one of the best options in Hanoi. It's advisable to get tickets early, as these performances are very popular with tourists and locals.

Day 3: Cruising Halong Bay

a small boat goes under low rock opening

Take a leisurely overnight cruise on Halong Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It's one of the most beautiful places in Vietnam, and an overnight cruise allows you to enjoy the bay in all its splendor, including sunrise, sunset, swimming, kayaking, and visiting a salt-water pearl farm, all against the backdrop of the amazing limestone karsts.

Day 4: Enjoy your last day in Hanoi

colorfully wrapped chocolate bars

Return to Hanoi and enjoy some leisurely activities on your final evening, such as taking a cooking class or shopping for souvenirs.

Pro tip: If you find yourself missing the comforts of home, a trip to the artisanal chocolate maker Maison Marou may be just the ticket. You can watch the production of their many chocolate offerings. Caution: You may have a hard time deciding which of their many confections to enjoy with a great cup of Vietnamese coffee.

Travel Advisor Brandon Zurlo looks like dining in a restaurant.

Travel Advisor

Brandon Zurlo

Get in touch with Brandon

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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Vietnam.