If you are like most travellers, and planning to travel the length of the country, then you will either start or end your journey in the capital of Hanoi. The below itinerary will take you to all of the highlights of the city – it’s pretty action packed. You can easily stretch this itinerary over three or even four days.
And of course, don’t forget, Hanoi is your jumping off point for a trip to Halong Bay.
48 Hours in Hanoi – Day 1
Morning: Get up early, grab some breakfast and a sweet Vietnamese coffee complete with sweetened condensed milk, and head to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. This macabre attraction is only open until 11AM, with the last entry at 10:15 AM, so get their early. As strange as it is to see the embalmed man who inspired a war, it is almost just as interesting to watch the reactions of the local Vietnamese tourists who visit the site.
Afternoon: After your visit Ho Chi Minh himself, grab some lunch and head over to the Temple of Literature. The temple of literature was originally a university, and it is one of the best examples of traditional Vietnamese architecture.
Evening: It’s been a big day and you have visited heaps of historical and culturally significant sights. So take a break. So why not wander around the hectic and atmospheric Old Quarter and find some Vietnamese food to sample.
48 Hours in Hanoi – Day 2
Morning: Spend your morning at another one of my favourite attractions in Hanoi – the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology. The museum very thoroughly presents the customs and cultures of the different tribes and groups found throughout Vietnam. The displays and information throughout the museum is extremely good, and all the displays are in English, French and Vietnamese.
The highlight to the museum is the outdoor area full of life size traditional houses from different Vietnamese tribes. It is a wonderful way to learn about this very diverse country and it’s cultures.
The museum is situated away from the city centre. You can get there by public transport, just take bus number 14 or bus number 38.
Afternoon: It’s been a full on day and a half. Head to Hoan Kiem Lake, a peaceful park in the middle of the city. There is plenty of green space and a lovely little temple on an island in the middle of the lake. It’s a great place to just relax – even though you are right in the middle of a crazy busy city. Best yet, you are just across the street from your evening entertainment.
Evening: Finish your day in Hanoi by visiting the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre This was one of my absolute highlights of my visit to Vietnam, and a large number of other travelers share that opinion. The water puppet show presents traditional Vietnamese folk lore and legends in a stunning water show with professional musicians accompanying. Kids will love the show, and even our 18 month old stayed interested and engaged throughout the entire performance. Oh and don’t worry, you wont get wet.