Hanoi Solo Travel: How to spend 2 days in Hanoi Vietnam

Hanoi is one of those cities that has everything. The capital city of Vietnam is famous for its delicious cuisine, exciting nightlife, and preserved colonial buildings lining the busy streets of the Old Quarter

And not to mention the overwhelming amount of cars and motorcycles everywhere! Crossing the road is an activity in itself! Which makes travelling solo in Hanoi such an enjoyable experience.

Whether you are travelling from north to south of Vietnam or vice versa, make sure to spend at least 2 days in Hanoi! Follow my Hanoi solo travel itinerary and have the best time in Hanoi! 

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What you need to know before travelling solo to Hanoi Vietnam

Before you take a solo trip to Hanoi, take a look at some of these travel tips first:

  • Hanoi is safe for female solo travellers. I’ve been to Hanoi twice and spent time by myself around the city during the day and at night. But of course, you have practice your routine safety precautions, but that is just being a smart and safe traveller.
  • Plan your solo trip to Hanoi with the following festivals and events:
    • Lunar New Year or Tet (January/February) – Vietnam’s most important festival of the year
    • Perfume Pagoda Festival (15th of lunar month) – parade at Perfume Pagoda
    • Reunification Day (April 30) – see fireworks and parade on the day of unification of the country
    • Independence Day (September 2) – parades and fireworks to celebrate the important day

How to get to Hanoi Vietnam

Most international travellers will fly directly into Hanoi’s Nội Bài International Airport which is 28km away from the city. 

From the airport, the easiest way to get into Hanoi is by taxi. Make sure to find a taxi queue and don’t get a ride from any random cab. A lot of unauthorize cab drivers will offer you a deal to get into the city, avoid them. Go straight to the official queue. The cab ride costs about 330,000 VDN.

Alternatively, arrange an airport pickup from your hotel. Most hotels have airport pick up service and are happy to get you at the airport. It costs about 400,000 VDN.

Travelling to Hanoi from other parts of Vietnam

If you are going to Hanoi from different parts of the country, you could be coming from Central Vietnam like Da Nang or Southern Vietnam like Ho Chi Minh City.  

There are various transportation modes when it comes to travelling in Vietnam. Depending on your budget and timing, you can fly (Vietnam Airlines, Jetstar, VietJetAir), take an overnight train or a sleeper bus. 

From Da Nang to Hanoi

Going to Hanoi from Central Vietnam, you can consider flying or taking the train.

There is also a sleeper bus option. However, the bus option is more than 17 hours and stops outside Hanoi, where you still need to take a taxi into the city. I would consider flying or taking the train. 

  • Plane: from Da Nang International Airport (DAD) to Hanoi Nội Bài International Airport (HAN)
    • Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
    • Cost: from 700, 000 VDN
  • Train: from Danang Station to Hanoi Station 

From Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi

From Southern Vietnam, the best way to get to Hanoi is by plane. There are options for train and bus, but each of these options is over 30 hours long! 

  • Plane: from Tan Son Nhat International Airport (SGN) to Nội Bài International Airport (HAN)
    • Time: 2 hours 10 minutes
    • Cost: from 770, 000 VDN

How to get around Hanoi as a solo traveller

The best way to get around Hanoi is by walking. That is the best way to see different neighbourhoods and the most interesting way to take in all the sights and sounds of Hanoi. 

But the city is quite big, and it would make more sense to hire a motorcycle to move around the city. Companies like Grab make solo travel in Hanoi very easy. You can order an inexpensive motorcycle ride on your Grab app. They even provide a helmet for safety and a raincoat if it rains.

Hanoi solo travel Itinerary: Things to do in Hanoi for 2 days

You will need two full days to see all the best attractions in the capital city. I’ll show you exactly how you can see Hanoi in 2 days. Wear comfortable shoes because there is a lot to see in Hanoi!

The interactive map above pinpoints all the places of interest in Hanoi. You can find more information about each attraction by clicking on the individual pin.


Day 1 in Hanoi (red pins)

1. The French Quarter 

Start your first day in Hanoi by visiting the French Quarter, the charming and elegant neighbourhood on the southeast side of Hoàn Kiếm Lake

The area has a lot of historical landmarks, luxurious hotels, high-end restaurants, glitzy boutiques, exciting museums40-meter and galleries. There are also foreign embassies, government buildings and upscale residential neighbourhoods. 

Walk around the area and admire French-colonial architecture like the Hanoi Opera House and a Gothic cathedral like St. Joseph’s Cathedral

2. Hanoi Opera House 

Hanoi Opera House is one of the highlights of the French Quarter in Hanoi. Built in 1911, the famous Opéra Garnier Theater inspired the french architectural building in Paris. 

The massive opera house has a total area of 2,600 square meters, and the auditorium can seat up to 589 people. The opera house also has a meeting room, 18 make-up rooms, 2 voice-training rooms and a library. 

Catch a show at the Hanoi Opera House or simply admire the French neo-classical architecture. 

3. Ngoc Son Temple 

Ngọc Sơn Temple, also known as the Temple of the Jade Mountain, is a small temple located on the north part of Hoàn Kiếm Lake. The temple sits on a small island connected to the mainland by a scarlet bridge in a traditional Vietnamese architectural style called Huc Bridge. 

Built in the 19th century, the temple is dedicated to war hero General Tran Hung Dao and the scholar Van Xuong De Quan. It costs 30,000 VDN to see the temple. It is not expensive at all to see something so beautiful! 

4. Hoan Kiem Lake

When you want to take a break from the hustle and bustle of Hanoi, and all the crazy traffic within the city, take a stroll around the peaceful Hoàn Kiếm Lake. 

The freshwater lake is in the centre of Hanoi and is a major scenic spot. Many visitors enjoy slowing down in the bustling city around the shaded areas around the lake. Or you can enjoy a leisurely stroll on the pedestrian path around the lake. 

Hoàn Kiếm Lake is beautiful at night, especially when Huc Bridge is lit up with bright lights. 

5. Dong Xuan Market

Đồng Xuân Market is Hanoi’s largest indoor market. Within the 4-story building, wholesale traders sell fresh produce, souvenir item, clothing, household goods, and everything in between. There is a wet market on the ground floor and a food area where you can find authentic local food and coffee.

If you are looking for souvenirs, head up to the upper levels. The market opens daily from 6:00 am to 5:00 pm. 

6. The Old Quarter

My favourite thing to do in Hanoi is to stroll through the streets of the Old Quarter. Local restaurants, souvenir shops, cafes, and other stores are packed in tightly on every street. Many of these establishments are in preserved shophouses or set inside colonial buildings. 

It might feel intimidating crossing the street when hundreds of scooters, bicycles and cars are speeding down the road in all kinds of directions. Yup, this is Hanoi! But it is quite easy to cross the street with chaotic traffic. When fewer cars and bikes are coming towards you, walk steadily and cross the street. The motorcycles and bicycles will pass you by driving behind you. 

7. Hanoi Weekend Night Market

If you can visit Hanoi over the weekend, visit the Hanoi Weekend Night Market. It is only opened on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 7:00 pm onwards. Vendors line both sides of Hàng Đào Street, and it continues up to Đồng Xuân Market. 

The weekend market is an excellent place for trying delicious street food and buying all types of trinkets. Moreover, you can enjoy street performances as the main road around Hoàn Kiếm Lake is closed to vehicles. The Old Quarter is really lively during the weekends! 

8. Ta Hien Street or Beer Street

Many locals like to socialize and drink beer on the street. They especially like to drink beer on Tạ Hiện Street, hence, Beer Street.

The small and narrow street is lined with restaurants, bars, and clubs on both sides of the road. Plastic chairs and stools are set up in front of each restaurant. Find an empty plastic chair and order some cheap beers and delicious food while you people watch. 

If you want to enjoy a bit of Hanoi nightlife, visit Tạ Hiện Street as it is one of the liveliest streets in Hanoi, especially during the weekends. 

Day 2 in Hanoi (purple pins)

1. Tran Quoc Pagoda

Trấn Quốc Pagoda is a tall Buddhist shrine located at the inlet of the West Lake. Initially constructed in the 6th century, the oldest Buddhist temple in Hanoi is a favourite amongst royalty for festivals like Tet Festival and full moons. 

All the buildings on the premise are red because according to Chinese and Vietnamese culture, red is a lucky colour that symbolizes prosperity. The main part of the temple has the ashes of an important monk. 

It is free to visit the pagoda, but please dress modestly (i.e., cover your shoulders and legs). 

2. West Lake 

After your visit to Trấn Quốc Pagoda, spend some time wandering around the perimeter of West Lake. There are many luxury hotels, high-end restaurants and cafes along the shore, and it is a popular spot for recreation. 

West Lake is Hanoi’s biggest freshwater lake with a circumference of 17km. You can’t possibly walk around the lake. Look for a quiet spot with a lovely cafe and enjoy the view of the lake. 

3. Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is one of the most visited sites in Hanoi. Located at Ba Dinh Square, the large granite building is the resting place of Ho Chi Minh, the most popular and iconic leader of Vietnam. His body is preserved in a glass case, and visitors can view Uncle Ho’s resting place free of charge. 

The mausoleum is closed between October to November for maintenance. If you must visit the tomb, check ahead of time, and make sure it is open during your visit. 

While you are there, visit the surrounding gardens with 250 different species of plants and flowers from different regions of Vietnam. And make sure to catch the changing of the guards’ ceremony in the morning. 

4. Ho Chi Minh’s Stilt House

Sitting behind the Presidential Palace, Ho Chi Minh’s Stilt House seems modest compared to the elegant palace. President Ho Chi Minh never lived at the Presidential Palace. Instead, he lived in a custom-built stilt house, where he lived there from 1958 until he died in 1969.

The traditional wooden house on stilts has two small rooms and no toilet. The house feels humble and down-to-earth, just like the former president. 

Today, visitors can view part of the stilt house by following the guided paths. 

5. One Pillar Pagoda

The One Pillar Pagoda is a wooden temple on a stone pillar in a square-shaped lotus pond. 

When emperor Lý Thái Tông was childless, he dreamt of meeting the Goddess of Mercy who handed him a son while seated on a lotus flower. The emperor then married a peasant girl, and she gave him a son. The emperor built the temple in 1049 to show his gratitude. 

Today, the One Pillar Pagoda is one of Vietnam’s iconic Buddhist temples. 

6. Thang Long Imperial Citadel

Also known as the Hanoi CitadelThăng Long Imperial Citadel was an important political center for 13 centuries. The elaborate citadel has many historical and cultural artifacts dating back to the 6th century and was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010, 

Pay only 30,000 VDN to see the mock-up of the citadel, the display room full of excavated items, and the Hanoi Flag Tower, a 40-metre tall fortress where you can see the city center and Ba Dinh Square. 

7. Temple of Literature 

As one of the most picturesque attractions in Hanoi, the entrance fee for seeing the Temple of Literature ground only costs 10,000 VDN.

Built in 1070, the Temple of Literature is Vietnam’s first national university. Originally, the university only accepted the elite and aristocrats as students where they studied between three to seven years. But the school eventually opened to regular citizens who were bright and had the potential to excel. 

Talk a walk through each of the five courtyards and check out the pavilions, the Well of Heavenly Clarity and the Lake of Literature. Take note of the traditional Vietnamese architectural style. 

8. Hanoi Train Street

Trains travelling north from the Hanoi Railway Station pass by a small section of the old residential area in the Old Quarter. And two trains are zooming through the narrow “train street” each day. 

The train tracks are right up against the old buildings making the street interesting and an excellent spot for photography. 

My main photo for the blog was taken at the “train street.” The street was quiet the day I went. 

While capturing the perfect photo for Instagram is exciting, please stay safe while taking pictures as it is a working railway system. 

Other things to do if you are spending more than 2 days in Hanoi

Hanoi is an excellent hub for going on different tours in Northern Vietnam. You can make an overnight trip to the mountains to spend a few nights on a boat. Here are my top 3 favourite day trips from Hanoi.


If you enjoy hiking, you must spend two days in Sapa and hike through the mountains in Northern Vietnam.

The region has many rice terraces and cascading mountains in the background. There are opportunities to see farms and waterfalls at Cat Cat Village and traditional H’Mong homes at Y Linh Ho Village. And if you want an aerial view of the area, take the cable car ride up to Mount Fansipan, the highest peak in Indochina. 

Halong Bay

Many boat cruises will take you through the waters of Halong Bay. Explore the mystery of Sung Sot Cave, climb up to the top of Ti Top Beach for a panoramic view of Halong Bay, and cruise through hidden grottos near Bo Hon Island

There are many types of cruises in Halong Bay. Depending on your budget, you may want to choose an overnight cruise on a budget boat or spend a few nights on a fancy upscale cruise. 

Ninh Binh

Get off the beaten path and do a day trip to Ninh Binh in Northern Vietnam. Ninh Binh is known as “Halong Bay on Land,” where you will find many limestone mountains around serene rivers and rural villages.

Day trip visitors can enjoy activities like cycling, taking an Ecotourism Trang An Boat Tour, and visiting Bai Dinh Pagoda, the biggest pagoda in Southeast Asia. 

Where to stay in Hanoi for 2 days

Make the most of your 2-day Hanoi itinerary by choosing accommodation in the Old Quarter area of Hanoi. You want to be within walking distance of many attractions and restaurants. 

And staying in Hanoi is pretty affordable. Depending on your comfort level, you can choose the cheapest option of a hostel bed or an affordable guest room. Either way, there are many options for solo travellers.

  • Golden Sun Palace Hotel ($) – The hotel is clean and centrally located, and the staff is super friendly and helpful. I like this 3-star hotel because they let me use their facilities before and after my tour. Knowing I can have a place to hang out in between activities is a perk.
    • Check prices & reviews: Agoda
  • Hanoi Pearl Hotel ($$) – I left something in the safe deposit box and was able to retrieve it after I came back from Halong Bay. Besides the excellent customer service and attention to detail, the hotel has beautiful guest rooms, and the breakfast is fantastic!
    • Check prices & reviews: Agoda
  • Movenpick Hotel Hanoi ($$$) – Movenpick Hotel has nice guest rooms and public areas. You can easily walk to the train station and several good restaurants.
    • Check prices & reviews: Agoda

What to eat in Hanoi

Northern Vietnamese cuisine is exceptional! Their main staples consist of vegetables, herbs, rice and meat. While northern Vietnamese food is less spicy than in other regions, the savoury meat and sweet sauces balance out each other. Fish sauce, soy sauce, shrimp paste, lime and garlic are the primary flavours in the north. And the street food in Hanoi is some of the most delicious food I’ve ever had!

Here is a list of delicious Northern Vietnamese cuisine you should try while you are in Hanoi:

  • Bún chả – grilled fatty pork with white rice noodles eaten with herbs and a fish sauce-based dipping sauce
  • Bún dậu mẹt – a plate full of rice noodles, tofu, meat and herbs
  • Bún riêu cua – freshwater crab with rice noodles in a tomato broth
  • Phở boVietnamese soup with beef, rice noodles and herbs 
  • Bánh cuốn – rice rolls with seasoned pork, wood ear mushroom and shallots
  • Bánh goi – deep-fried Vietnamese dumplings made with minced pork, mushroom and carrots
  • Nem cua bể – deep-fried crab spring rolls shaped in a rectangle 
  • Bún thang – noodle soup with chicken, egg and pork 
  • Phở xào thịt bò – stir-fried noodles with beef
  • Bánh mi – Vietnamese baguette sandwich with pork sausage, cucumber, pickled carrots and coriander 
  • Cà phê trứng – aka egg coffee; made with egg yolk, sugar, condensed milk and strong Vietnamese coffee
  • Xôi xéo – sweet sticky rice with mung bean

Where to eat in Hanoi

Eating in Hanoi is very affordable. There are many street food spots and budget restaurants across the city. When you eat solo in Hanoi, you might have to share a table with other travellers, but you will meet many new friends.

If you are a coffee drinker, you will love Hanoi! Try some of the best cafes in Hanoi, including some of the places listed in my blog. 

Vietnamese restaurants

  • Bun Cha Dac Kim ($) – sit at one of the low tables and chairs and share a table with other travellers. Order the classic bún chả and spring rolls – you won’t regret it! 
  • Bún Chả Nem Cua Bể ($) – their nem cua bể andbún chả are really delicious. 
  • Bún Chả Hương Liên ($) – the restaurant is made famous by a visit from the former U.S. President Barack Obama and renowned chef Anthony Bourdain in 2016. If you go, you must try the bún chả! Obama did! 
  • Banh Mi 25 ($) – a bustling Vietnamese sandwich shop. Eat-in or take away. Either way, you have to try one of their banh mi.
  • Pho 10 ($) – the restaurant only serves phở bo. They even have an English menu. 
  • Cau Go Vietnamese Cuisine ($$) – enjoy a meal overlooking the Dong Kinh Nghia Thuc Square and Hoàn Kiếm Lake. The food presentation is top-notch. It is worth spurlging a few more dollars for a cozy atmosphere. 

Coffee shops

  • Café Phố Cổ – walk through the narrow alley, up a flight of stairs of a cute house and find a seat so you can try a cà phê trứng 
  • Cafe Giảng – another good coffee shop for drinking cà phê trứng
  • Cộng Cà Phê – the famous coffee shop has cafes all over Vietnam. Try their coconut milk with coffee. That’s my favourite! 

Are you ready to spend 2 days in Hanoi by yourself?

If you have limited time in Vietnam and can only see one place, you must visit Hanoi! And 2 days in Hanoi is the perfect amount of time.

Hanoi is one of my favourite cities in Vietnam! I love the delicious Northern Vietnamese cuisine, the old preserved architecture, and the organized chaos within the Old Quarter. Locals are always friendly and helpful even though you don’t speak the same language.

And most of all, Hanoi is safe for a solo female traveller. So make sure you don’t miss this northern Vietnamese city.

Thank you for reading my Hanoi itinerary post

You might also like these other posts on solo travel in Vietnam:

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About Author

Hi, my name is Queenie, and I've been a solo traveller for 18+ years and currently based in Hong Kong. Follow me on my adventures through Instagram and my blog!

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