You can go on many great day trips from Hanoi.
Vietnam is an incredible country, with so much to see and do and you could spend weeks exploring. Its capital, Hanoi, is the kind of place where you can get lost for days, visiting the many landmarks; enjoying the museums; appreciating the food scene and the nightlife. But let’s face it: with all the traffic, noise and pollution Hanoi can get intense and there will be times where you feel the urge to get out.
The good news is that there are plenty of places you can easily reach from Hanoi to get out of town. Whether you want to go for a hike; visit a nearby smaller town; appreciate the local way of life and culture; enjoy a day in the open, the only trouble you’ll have is picking where to go!
In this post, I highlight the best day trips from Hanoi and share some good tips that will help you make the most of your time.
13 Fabulous Day Trips From Hanoi
One of the nicest and easiest day trips from Hanoi is to the Perfume Pagoda. It’s the kind of place that gets crowded with tourists, but most of them are actually locals on their way to prayer in one of the local temples. You will be one of the very few westerners there, and the locals will be absolutely amused by your presence, making this a memorable experience.
The Perfume Pagoda is a complex of Buddhist temples that was built along the Houng Tich mountain chain. The nicest temple is Chua Trong, which was built inside a cave.
The Pagoda certainly is beautiful, but it’s the overall experience that makes it worth it. You will ride a wooden rowing boat – traditionally, it is women who row these boats. After about an hour along the river, surrounded by impressive views, you will get to disembark in an area packed with souvenir shops and street food stalls and from there you can make your way to the temples, either by cable car or on foot. The views from the top are stunning.
This part of Vietnam can get incredibly humid, especially in the winter. Dress in layers and wear comfortable shoes with a good sole and grip, as the floor can be very slippery.
You can book your day trip to the Perfume Pagoda here.
Ba Vi National Park
Ba Vi National Park is located in a beautiful reserve at about 60 km (37 miles) from Hanoi. It’s a really wonderful place to go hiking, and you will get a good break from the chaos, noise and pollution of Hanoi. One of things you shouldn’t miss in the park is the natural hot springs. You should also make sure to visit the 11th century temple located on top of the tallest mountain: the views from there are breathtaking.
You can book your trip to Ba Vi National Park here.
Duong Lam Ancient Village
Duong Lam is the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of Hanoi for a day. The area is a series of villages where life still goes on in the most traditional way. There are temples, ancient buildings, and you’ll have a chance to get a glimpse of the local way of life. It’s close to Ba Vi National Park so you can visit on the same day.
You can book a guided tour here.
Ninh Binh and Van Long Nature Reserve
This is a truly scenic area, with many temples, valleys and even caves. You’d honestly be better off going for a couple of days, but if you only have one, definitely make the most of it. In the area of Ninh Binh you’ll also find Van Long Nature Reserve, a place to admire wildlife – especially ideal for birdwatching.
Trang An, Tam Coc and Hoa Lu Ancient Capital
Trang An complex, a lovely UNESCO World Heritage Site, can be easily reached by boat from Ninh Binh. A ten minutes boat ride from Trang An, you can also visit Tam Coc, where you’ll be able to admire even more karst formations. You can explore the area by boat or by bike.
Hoa Lu is really close to Tam Coc, so you can visit them on the same day. This used to be the capital of Vietnam in the 10th and 11th centuries. It’s a lovely area with hills and the remains of some ancient buildings.
There are many guided day trips going to Trang An and Tam Coc (more about them below), but if your’d rather go independently, this is totally doable. You will need to get a bus to Trang An and then can rent a motorbike to go around.
If, on the other hand, you prefer joining a guided tour, you will have many to pick from. For example, you can book a Bai Dinh, Trang An and Mua Cave day trip from Hanoi; or join a full day Trang An, Hoa Lu and Mua Cave tour. Finally, for information on tours of Hoa Lu and Tam Coc click here.
Tam Dao is a nice hill station that was built by the French. It once had nice examples of French colonial style architecture, but those are long gone. It now is a good place for day tours from Hanoi if you like hiking, as there are several good trails in the region.
If you’d rather go on a guided tour, you can try this one.
Phat Diem Cathedral
There are about six million Christians in Vietnam. This religion was first brought into the country around four centuries ago. Phat Diem Cathedral was built in 1892 and it still functions as a church. It makes for a nice trip out of Hanoi, and it is close to Ninh Binh.
For a tour that goes to Phat Diem Cathedral, click here.
At just 30 km (18.6 miles) from Hanoi, Thay Temple makes for an excellent trip out of town. The temple was founded in the 11th century by the Lý dynasty and it is still used by a community of Buddhist monks. It’s a great example of Vietnamese Buddhist architecture. If you are fortunate enough, you can even experience the water puppet show organized by the monks.
To book your guided tour to the Thay Pagoda, click here.
Mai Chau Valley
Mai Chau is such a lovely place that I’d recommend actually staying overnight to enjoy a homestay. It’s at about three hours drive to Hanoi, so still doable on day trips. It’s home to some traditional indigenous groups of Vietnam, and a pleasant place to bike around.
You can book your day trip here.
Bat Trang Village
This village is famous for the production of ceramics. It’s at just a half hour from the Old Quarter of Hanoi. You can participate in ceramics workshop.
Ha Long Bay
Ha Long Bay is the kind of place I wouldn’t normally recommend for day trips from Hanoi. It’s not that close to the city – and depending on traffic it may take you a while to get there. Besides, a place of such beauty really deserves to be explored at a slow pace. But if a day is all you have, you may as well give it a go and try to make the most.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site is probably the most famous place to visit in the country, and for a good reason. Picture limestone karst springing out of the most emerald waters; 2000 islands with caves, hiking trails, sandy beaches and scenic villages. It’s honestly a must see – even though it is touristy and it can get crowded.
The best way to explore Ha Long Bay is on a cruise. I wholeheartedly recommend doing a thorough research before booking yours – make sure to read reviews because there are really a lot of bad tour companies.
Cat Ba Island
Located on the southern edge of Ha Long Bay, Cat Ba is one of the largest islands belonging to Vietnam. It’s a lovely place to explore, with thick vegetation and lots to see. Make sure not to miss the Cave Hospital, used at the times of the American War. I honestly would recommend spending at least a night on the island, but if a day is all you have, you should still go.
Much like for Ha Long Bay tours, I recommend reading the reviews thoroughly before making any reservations. You can fund a good one here.
South of Hanoi you will find Cuc Phuong National Park, which is the largest national park in Vietnam. It’s a fantastic place for outdoors lovers, where you will be able to go hiking and also visit a primate rescue center that helps in the conservation of endangered monkeys.
For a guided tour of Cuc Phuong National park departing from Hanoi, click here.
Make sure to read my other posts about Vietnam:
- The Best Things To Do In Vietnam
- How To Get The Vietnam Visa Online And The Vietnam Visa On Arrival
- The Best Things To Do In Hanoi
- The Best Things To Do In Saigon
- The Best Vietnam Travel Tips