The perfect 1 day Hanoi itinerary

Looking for the perfect 1 day Hanoi itinerary? I have visited a few times and listed all the best things to do in Hanoi in this blog post.

Hanoi itinerary - Hanoi

If you’re a history and food lover then you have to visit Hanoi.

This city is crammed full of old French colonial houses with an authentic feel and it’s also the food capital of Vietnam.

You could spend days exploring the temples and lakes or eat all of the pho or banh mi you can find.

I had a special time in Hanoi and I’m so glad I was able to visit. It’s one of those places I want to come back to.

Here is how to spend one day in Hanoi.

👉 If you have more than a day, check out my other post about Hanoi: How to spend amazing 2 days in Hanoi

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About Hanoi

Hanoi is Vietnam’s capital city with bustling street markets and charming French colonial buildings.

But the real star here is the Vietnamese food – so many delicious local dishes to try like pho and banh mi.

Hanoi is a unique blend of old and new Asia with historical landmarks such as the old quarter, Ho Chi Minh mausoleum and the oldest Buddhist temple in West Lake.

Hanoi itinerary - Hanoi

Join a full day tour of Hanoi

Want to experience Hanoi the easy way?

Book a full day tour. That way, everything is taken care of – your itinerary, transportation and even food. Your guide will pick you up in the morning and drive you around Hanoi to all the main sights.

This tour with Viator (⭐ 5/5) includes lunch and has the Badge of Excellence because it’s so great. Just check out this review:

Great experience with a very passionate and knowledgeable guide. Covered all important sights within Hanoi.

HARISH_G, March 2023

How to safely cross the streets in Hanoi

Hanoi is a city where you can pretty much walk everywhere.

The sidewalks are a bit of a mess with scooters, chickens, dogs, and street sellers, so you might end up walking on the road sometimes. And the road is crammed with scooters.

Crossing the road can be a bit crazy. The trick is to keep moving at a steady pace without hesitation or stepping back.

The traffic just sort of moves around you. It’s like having your own invisible bubble.

Hanoi itinerary - Hanoi traffic

Where to stay in Hanoi

All the main sights in Hanoi are located around Hoan Kim Lake and Hanoi’s Old Quarter so that’s where you should base yourself. 

La Nueva Boutique Hotel Hanoi & Spa (⭐ 9.0) The modern rooms, the helpful staff and the breakfast is what makes this hotel a favourite in Hanoi. Plus – you can literally walk to all of the places of interest in Hanoi. Check rates and availability here.

Hanoi itinerary - Hanoi old quarter (2)
One day in Hanoi

1 day Hanoi itinerary

Cyclo tour of the Old Quarter

Your first stop in Hanoi should be the old quarter, which as the name suggests is an ancient neighbourhood.

This place holds the capital’s soul.

You can explore it on foot with scooters swarming around you. But if you hold your life dear, you should hop on a cyclo and see everything with an English-speaking driver.

A cyclo is basically a three-wheeler bike taxi and it’s a fun way to experience Vietnam’s charm.

Hanoi itinerary - Hanoi cyclo
Hanoi itinerary - Dong Xuan Market

Explore the street art murals in the Old Quarter

Also in the old quarter is the beautiful street murals that show Hanoi’s past.

They’re located on Phung Hung Street right under the train tracks.

Visit St. Joseph cathedral

Joseph’s Cathedral is an important historical site in Hanoi.

This neo-Gothic church is situated on the western side of Lake Hoan Kiem. It’s inspired by the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris and built in 1886, which makes it the oldest existing church in Hanoi.

Hanoi itinerary - St. Joseph cathedral

Taste as much banh mi as you possibly can

Banh mi?


Banh mi is the famous Vietnamese sandwich. You can get it with all sorts of fillings, but the classic banh mi comes with pate, mayo and Asian ham, topped with pickled veggies, green onion and cilantro.

And if you can handle the heat, a load of fresh chilies and some seasoning.

Try it at Banh Mi 25 at 30 Hang Ca in the Old Quarter!

Read more: 21 popular dishes in Vietnam you should taste

Hanoi itinerary - banh mi

Find calm at the Temple of Literature

The Temple of Literature is one of Hanoi’s most beautiful tourist attractions.

Originally built as a university in 1070 dedicated to Confucius and scholars, the building is extremely well preserved and is a picturesque example of traditional Vietnamese architecture.

You can get a ticket at the entrance or join a tour that also takes you to Ngoc Son temple, Ho Chi Minh Complex and The Tran Quoc pagoda.

Just be mindful of your time since you only have one day in Hanoi.

Hanoi itinerary - Hanoi Temple of Literature

Drink the world’s cheapest beer

Bia hoi is a draft larger beer in Vietnam and it’s known as the cheapest beer in the world – at like 5000 to 7000 VND per glass.

That’s around 22 to 31 cents in US dollars.

It’s made from fermented corn and people usually drink it by the roadside, sitting on low plastic stools. It’s part of the Hanoi experience so try it out.

The go-to spot is this place called Beer Corner in the Old Quarter. It’s basically a whole street packed with red chairs, locals, tourists, and a really cool vibe.

Hanoi itinerary - Hanoi beer

Experience Train Street

If you’re after something really different in Hanoi, go to Train Street. Here, this huge train rumbles through a tiny residential street twice a day.

You can catch it between Phùng Hưng and Lý Nam Đế, right next to the French quarter.

Read next: 2 week North Vietnam itinerary you should grab

Hanoi itinerary - Hanoi train

Take a Hanoi street food tour

Food is king in Hanoi.

This is where you’ll taste some of the best Vietnamese dishes such as beef rice noodle soup, steamed pancakes, and banh mi (Vietnamese sandwiches).

You can discover the food at Vinh Ho Street in Dong Da – it’s a market full of fresh goodies – or you can opt for a food walking tour with Viator (⭐ 5/5), which is what I recommend.

The local foodie guide will show you all the good eats and where to get them.

Hanoi itinerary - Hanoi food (2)

Visit the Tran Quoc pagoda

In the middle of West Lake, right in the heart of Hanoi, you’ll find the city’s oldest Buddhist temple: Tran Quoc pagoda.

Not too far from there is the Quan Thanh Temple, one of Hanoi’s top four temples. It’s super easy to spot – its massive gate is right by the road.

Hanoi itinerary - Tran Quoc pagoda
Hanoi itinerary - Hoan Kiem lake

Hanoi itinerary FAQ

Can you do Hanoi in 1 day

Yes! It’s possible to see Hanoi in a day if you plan accordingly or join a tour with Viator (⭐ 5/5). That way you can see all the main sights.

What to do in Hanoi in 24 hours?

To fully experience Hanoi in 24 hours, here is a Hanoi itinerary:

  1. Start with Hoan Kiem Lake and Ngoc Son Temple.
  2. Try unique egg coffee at Note Coffee or Cafe Giang.
  3. Visit the Museum of Ethnology to learn about Vietnam’s ethnic groups.
  4. Take a cyclo ride in the Hanoi Old Quarter.
  5. Shop at Dong Xuan Market.

Remember, there’s much more to explore in Hanoi with a longer stay!

How many days do you need for Hanoi?

Ideally, you’ll need at least 3 days in Hanoi to experience the landmarks, try the delicious local food, go shopping in the markets, and really get a feel for the local vibe.

Is Hanoi better than Ho Chi Minh?

I personally like Hanoi better than Ho Chi Minh City because it feels more authentic.

Hanoi is the cultural and historical hub of Vietnam with a traditional vibe with its ancient temples and French colonial buildings.

Ho Chi Minh City is a busy city with tall buildings, happening nightlife, and French colonial landmarks.

Both cities have their own charm and are totally worth exploring to get a taste of the diverse Vietnamese culture.

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