If you’re planning to explore the northern part of Vietnam, then it is a good idea to start your journey in Hanoi, the country’s capital city. Whether you’re joining a cruise in Ha Long Bay or trekking the mountains of Sapa, Hanoi would be a perfect base for your adventure. But before you head to Ha Long Bay, Sapa, or anywhere else, consider exploring the city for at least a day.
It’s definitely possible to make the most of your stay in Hanoi even if you only have one day to spare in the capital city. Most of the attractions are pretty close to each other so you’ll surely have a great time even with limited time. Here’s what to do in Hanoi in one day.
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and Presidential Palace
Start your journey early in the morning and make your way towards the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum that’s right across the Ba Dinh Square. The mausoleum is where former President Ho Chi Minh was buried. Known to many as Uncle Ho, President Ho Chi Minh is the country’s most revered revolutionary father who is also known as the founder of modern-day Vietnam. The mausoleum opens at 8 AM, but try to come earlier so you can witness the changing of the guard ceremony that would take place in front of the mausoleum.
From the mausoleum, head towards the Presidential Palace, which is just right beside it. The Presidential Palace is where President Ho Chi Minh lived and where he would welcome ambassadors and foreign dignitaries during his time. While you may not be able to get inside the palace itself, the grounds are open to the public to explore. It also showcases photos that depict the life and time of the famous leader.
Hoan Kiem Lake and Temple of the Jade Mountain
Next, head to Hoan Kiem Lake where you will find the Temple of the Jade Mountain. While it’s possible to walk from the Presidential Palace going to the lake, it will be a pretty long walk so it is best to hire a taxi or a motorbike that can take you to the lake. Or better yet, rent a motorbike for the day. This is a faster and more convenient way of exploring Hanoi for a day.
The Hoan Kiem Lake is right in the middle of the Old Quarter and is one of Hanoi’s most popular spots. It also plays an important role in shaping Vietnam’s history. You can spend some time exploring the lake where you’ll find plenty of historical relics in the surroundings, such as the Ba Kieu Temple, Ly Thai To Statue, Hoa Phong Tower, and many more. But the most popular attraction in the lake is the Temple of the Jade Mountain or the Ngoc Son Temple. To get here, you’ll have to cross the bright red bridge known as the Huc Bridge.
Enjoy a Sumptuous Bowl of Pho at the Old Quarter
By now, you’re probably feeling hungry after exploring the city for a while. So if you’re craving for a sumptuous bowl of Pho, make your way towards the street food stalls of the Old Quarter. There are plenty of restaurants and food stalls in this area of the city that serve delicious Pho and other local delicacies. One of the most recommended restaurants is the Pho Gia Truyen, which is located right at the heart of the Old Quarter. It might look a bit rundown, but don’t be discouraged by its looks. The restaurant is known for serving the most delicious bowl of Pho in the city, as evident on the huge crowd of locals that would flock to this place, especially during lunchtime.
After lunch, take time to explore the nearby streets and discover the many interesting sights in the Old Quarter. If you want to shop for some souvenirs, head to the Dong Xuan Market, a massive indoor market complex that’s located along Hang Khoai Street.
One Pillar Pagoda and Temple of Literature
The One Pillar Pagoda is about 20-min walk away from the Old Quarter. So after shopping at the Dong Xuan Market, head towards the pagoda, a popular spiritual site featuring unique architectural features. It sits on a lake that has lots of lotus flower and the surrounding is very relaxing, making it a peaceful respite away from the hustle bustle of the Old Quarter.
From the pagoda, head towards the Temple of Literature, which is about a 15-min. walk. Just like the pagoda, the vibe in the Temple of Literature is very relaxing. So if you wanted to take a rest after your tour of the city, you can sit along the beautiful gardens surrounded by ancient trees and well-manicured lawns.
As you can see, it’s definitely possible to see Hanoi’s popular attractions in less than a day. So if you’re planning a trip in the northern part of Vietnam, make sure you stop at Hanoi and explore the city for at least a day!