4-Day Hanoi and Halong Bay Itinerary for First-Time Tourists

December 30, 2023 - 3961 views

If you are reading this article, I guess you are planning a trip to North Vietnam, and I am sure you are going to have a fantastic time on the trip. Four days on the tour is such a short time, but you are still able to see the best places in the north which are Hanoi, one of the most charming and historical cities in the world, and Halong Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Please see the detailed 4 days Hanoi and Halong Bay itinerary for first-time tourists below.

Hanoi Halong Bay Itinerary

Hanoi to Halong Bay Itinerary

Day 1: Say Hello to Hanoi

Welcome to Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam. The only international airport in Hanoi is Noi Bai airport, which is about 30 km from the Old Quarter where most foreign tourists stay. Now you need to find ways to travel to the center. There are several options, depending on your budget you could choose:

  • Private car: It is the fastest and the most convenient way to travel to the city center. Pick up and drop off at the place you want. There is no need to worry about carrying heavy luggage after a long flight. The price is about 15 USD for a 4-seat car.
  • Airport shuttle bus: They are run by airlines such as Vietnam Airlines, Jet stars, and Vietjet air. The price is 40.000 VND per ticket.
  • Public bus: You can either take a normal bus (Bus number 17), or an express bus (Bus number 86) and stop at Long Bien bus station, then walk to Hanoi Old Quarter where most of the tourists stay.

Once arriving in the city center, after checking in, you are eager to explore this city. Please see the recommended things to do in Hanoi in your free time below.


Admire the tranquil Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi

  • See Cultural Show

One of the best ways to experience the history and culture of a country, so do not miss your chance to see at least one cultural show such as My Village Show and The Quintessence of Tonkin. Ticket prices fluctuate from 30 USD to 68 USD for a one-hour show.

If you are looking for something more economical, a Hanoi Puppet Show, traditional Vietnamese water-performing art, in which Vietnamese folk tales, history, and local lives are introduced via colorful puppets would be a great option. The Thang Long Water Puppet Show ticket price is between 10 - 25 USD.

  • Join the Hanoi street food tour

Have a chance to interact with local people, taste the delicious food prepared by them such as Banh Mi, Bun Cha, Banh Cuon, and Egg Coffee…, or visit narrow streets which are never found in any guidebook.

One thing you should try on the Hanoi Street Food Tours is drinking on the pavement. Sitting in a narrow corner on the pavement for lemon tea around the St. Joseph’s Cathedral area, or draught beer on Ta Hien street, you can notice that everyone was engaged in the busy atmosphere of the street.

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Day 2: Hanoi City Tour Discovery

Hanoi is the beautiful cultural capital of Vietnam, there are a lot of historical and cultural sites to see there. These places are located within walking distance of one another, so you can easily visit many places within one or half-day. The below are recommended places to visit on a half-day city tour in Hanoi.

  • The Temple of Literature is not only a famous tourist attraction in Hanoi but also a place of the quintessence of previous feudal historical periods and preserving the traditional values of Vietnamese soil in Hanoi. It is the first university in Vietnam, and one of the most typical symbols of the land having a thousand-year culture. Nowadays, not only do people come here to visit, but numerous students also come and rub the tortoise's head before their exam to wish for the best of luck.

Temple of Literature

Learn about Vietnamese culture at the Temple of Literature

  • Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Complex: Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is the place to keep the remains of President Ho Chi Minh. Not far away from the Mausoleum are Ba Dinh Square where Uncle Ho read the declaration of independence giving birth to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, and Ho Chi Minh Museum, the place to know more about Uncle Ho’s life and his revolutionary cause, and his humble, traditional stilt house set in a well-tended garden adjacent to a carp filled pond.
  • Hoan Kiem Lake & Ngoc Son Temple: Hoan Kiem Lake (Lake of the Returned Sword) is named after a local legend about the past of the Le Loi Emperor. This lake which represents the culture of the city is a popular hangout spot for locals and foreigners. There is an island on the lake, and at the center of the island lies Ngoc Son Temple. This temple has witnessed the making of the capital’s history and now serves as a historical spot for worshipping and visiting. The bridge which is linked to the temple serves as a fabulous background for photos, and you may catch couples doing their engagement photo shoots here too.
  • Tran Quoc Pagoda & West Lake: Hanoi West Lake is the biggest freshwater lake in Hanoi. This is the most romantic corner in the colorful picture of Hanoi, the world of clear winds, liberal and poetic. West Lake is not only a fun place in Hanoi that attracts visitors but it also contains national cultural values. Situated on the eastern shore of West Lake is Tran Quoc Pagoda, the oldest temple in Hanoi city in Vietnam. The pagoda is considered a cultural symbol of Vietnamese Buddhism where worshipping Buddha and other famous characters.

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Day 3 & 4: Amazing Halong Bay 2-Day-1-Night Cruise

Say goodbye to Hanoi, we now head to Halong Bay to explore one of the Seven Natural Wonders in the World. Normally, two days one-night Halong cruise from Hanoi is enough to explore the bay.

Halong Bay Cruise

Visit off-the-beaten-path areas on Halong Bay Cruise

Depending on each route, and cruise you book, the Halong Bay itineraries are different in some activities, and times. There are 3 different Halong Bay itineraries as follows: Classic Halong Bay, Bai Tu Long Bay, and Lan Ha Bay.

  • Halong Bay is the area where the first cruises in Halong Bay run at the opening time of the bay for tourists. Surprise Cave and Titov Island are popular destinations in this area.
  • Bai Tu Long Bay is quieter and more unspoiled than Halong Bay. Cruises in Bai Tu Long Bay often stop at Thien Son Canh Cave and Vung Vieng Fishing Village.
  • Lan Ha Bay has stunning scenery with hundreds of imposing mountains of different sizes and shapes, and more than 400 islands with numerous picturesque white-sand beaches. Itinerary for 2 days 1-night cruise in Lan Ha Bay often includes a visit to Dark & Light Cave, Trung Trang Cave, or a cycle to Viet Hai Village on Cat Ba island.

The first-day morning transfer from Hanoi to Halong Bay to the cruise prier then check-in. The cruise will pass thousands of limestone islands and grottoes rising from the clear, emerald water. All meals are served on board and included. You will be able to join some interesting activities such as visiting a cave, kayaking, swimming or cooking class, or fruit carving.

Kayaking in Halong Bay

Kayaking in Halong Bay 

The activities will continue until noon on day 2 of the Halong Bay cruise, you will check out and then transfer back to Hanoi for your next trip or flight back home.

It is the end of the 4 days Hanoi and Halong Bay itinerary, hopefully, it saves you time planning your trip. For more detail about other Halong Bay Tours from Hanoi itinerary please feel free to contact us.

Find The Best Tour At BestPrice Travel

For more details, check out Halong Bay 2-Day 1-Night Itinerary: Explore The Most Exotic Destinations

Jenny Tran

(Image source: Internet)

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