Welcome to Hanoi, the bustling capital city of Vietnam! If you're planning a trip here, you'll find that there's no shortage of things to do within Hanoi. But did you know that there are also plenty of amazing places to visit near Hanoi?
From beautiful natural landscapes to historical sites and cultural experiences, there's something for everyone just a short distance from the city.
In this guide, I'll share some of the best places to visit near Hanoi, including both Hanoi day trips and overnight adventures. I spent a month living in Hanoi and tried to pack as many of these places in as possible (spoiler: it still wasn’t long enough!) So get ready to add a few more destinations to your Vietnam itinerary and make the most of your trip to Hanoi!
Wondering how long to spend in Hanoi? Read my guide on How many days to visit Hanoi for.
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Where is Hanoi?
Hanoi is the capital city of Vietnam, located in the northern region of the country, right on the bank of the Red River - one of the most important waterways in Asia.
With over a thousand years of history, dating back to 1010, Hanoi is loaded with a rich blend of Southeast Asian, Chinese, and French influences. It was once the headquarters of French Indochina and served as the capital of North Vietnam during the Vietnam War. Now, you can see a combination of old and new, colonial influence with traditional Asian architecture. With rapid urbanization and a bustling street life, if you're a first-time visitor, Hanoi can be an assault on the senses but also a truly unique experience.
How to get to Hanoi?
Reaching Hanoi is relatively straightforward, regardless of your starting point. The Noi Bai International Airport is 45km north of Hanoi, and is the primary point of entry for international visitors. From the airport, you can easily reach the city via taxi, bus, or ask your accommodation to arrange a transfer for you.
Vietnam uses Grab (like Uber) so you can also book a very affordable taxi ride from your phone.
If you're already in Vietnam, domestic flights are very affordable, while trains, and long-distance buses are even cheaper and regularly connect Hanoi with other Vietnamese cities.
The best way to travel from Hanoi and around Hanoi area
The best way to explore Hanoi and its surrounding areas is to take advantage of its extensive public transportation. Affordable city buses run throughout Hanoi, but for further afield, keep an eye out for the Vietnamese limousines - they're actually extremely comfortable minibuses and a popular choice for intercity travel. They might not be what you're picturing when you hear 'limousine', but they're known for their comfortable seats, air conditioning, and even free Wi-Fi on board! On our bus from Ninh Binh the seats even had built-in back massagers!
For a day trip from Hanoi that's fairly nearby, booking a Grab taxi is probably the easiest and cheapest option. Around the city a Grab would usually cost 60-80VND for 10-15minutes - that's under £3! I also prefer Grab because the price is fixed in app and there's the additional safety benefits, rather than getting in a random taxi on the street!
While you might want to rent a scooter or motorbike for some of the day trips out of Hanoi or for reaching places to visit near Hanoi such as Ha Giang or Mai Chau, please take full safety precautions if you ride a scooter. Some travel insurance won't even cover scooter or motorbike riding and road rules aren't really followed in Vietnam the same way we're used to in our home countries! Please take precautions and wear safety gear.
Renting a car isn't recommended, mainly due to the city's heavy traffic and unique driving style that might feel a bit chaotic if you're not used to it.
Places to visit near Hanoi, Vietnam on a day trip or 1 night trip
Ha Long Bay
One of the most famous places to visit around Hanoi, Vietnam is of course Ha Long Bay.
Ha Long Bay, known for its emerald waters and towering limestone islands, is definitely one of the must visit places in Hanoi and surrounding areas. The natural beauty of this UNESCO World Heritage site make it a fantastic choice for one day tours from Hanoi.
Located just a 2.5 hours drive from the city, but you'll feel like you've entered a whole different world. Hop on a traditional junk boat and explore some of the most stunning caves in Vietnam, go kayaking, or simply soak in the picturesque views of Halong Bay and Cat Ba Island.
If you have a bit more time, I highly recommend an overnight cruise of Ha Long Bay. This was one of those experiences I was worried wouldn't live up to expectations but it totally did!
Seeing Ha Long Bay at sunset, staying on a cruise ship with stunning balcony views, visiting caves, beaches and kayaking in lagoons as well as hiking to viewpoints looking across the whole bay. Staying overnight on the boat also meant eating fresh and delicious seafood, early morning Tai Chi on deck, and even doing some squid fishing at night. It's an experience you won't want to miss when you're in Hanoi.
Read more about my Ha Long Bay cruise experience here or
book the exact tour I did which included pick up in Hanoi.
Ninh Binh Province
Another gem just a short ride from Hanoi is Ninh Binh, often referred to as the 'Ha Long Bay on Land.' The stunning limestone karsts rising from the emerald green rice paddies are such a unique landscape.
We actually chose to spend a weekend in Ninh Binh, but being 1.5-2 hours drive from Hanoi means it can easily be a day trip too if you're short on time!
Here's some of my favourite things to do in Ninh Binh
A boat ride along the dramatic waterways of Tam Coc
Explore the ancient capital of Hoa Lu
Take a boat ride through the caves of Trang An and stop at temples tucked in the limestone cliffs
Rent a cycle (many hotels also provide them for free) and cycle among the rice fields and into the countryside
Visit Bich Dong Pagoda
Hike up to the Mua Cave for epic breathtaking panoramic view of the area
Sample the local delicacy - goat meat.
Check out this Ninh Binh day tour - one of the best day trips from Hanoi!
Hoa Lu Ancient Capital
The perfect Hanoi day trip for history lovers, a dose of culture and incredible natural beauty, Vietnam's Ancient city, Hoa Lu is just a short bus ride from Hanoi.
Hoa Lu feels like stepping back in time, filled with significant milestones in Vietnamese history, and rich in cultural heritage. It was once the capital of Vietnam under the Dinh Dynasty and Early Le Dynasty, today, it is incredibly well-preserved as part of Vietnam's past with the ancient citadel, temples to past emperors and stunning landscapes in the same area as Ninh Binh.
For a hassle-free journey, check out this one day trip from Hanoi to Hoa Lu and Tam Coc.
Tam Coc is actually the area we chose to stay in when we visited Ninh Binh and the stunning waterways here are what drew us in! The boat ride here among the rice paddies and limestone fields leaves from Tam Coc Van Lam Pier in the centre of Tam Coc.
What makes the boat ride here different from that in Trang An is that the boat guides row the boat in the traditional way - with their feet!
Tam Coc is like a small village compared to Ninh Binh but still with a bustling central street with plenty of bars, restaurants and cafes. We also felt more comfortable cycling on the roads around here to reach Bich Dong Pagoda and Mua Caves.
Tam Coc is around 1.5-2 hours from Hanoi and we were able to arrange a limousine ride from Ha Long Bay to Tam Coc, then our hotel in Tam Coc arranged for a limousine to pick us up directly from the hotel to take us back to Hanoi.
If you would prefer an organised day tour to Tam Coc, check out this day trip from Hanoi to Tam Coc.
An overnight trip to Sapa from Hanoi is a must-do experience! This is definitely one of the longer excursions from Hanoi as it takes around 5 hours by car or minibus. Alternatively you can take an overnight train or bus.
The mountainous town of Sapa is known for its terraced rice fields, which are only seen between July-September as there's only 1 crop per year, so the summer months are definitely the best time to visit Sapa.
While you're in Sapa, don't miss:
a trek to the top of Fansipan, the highest peak in Vietnam
explore the Muong Hoa Valley
visit nearby ethnic villages like Cat Cat and Ta Van, where you can meet the locals, learn about their traditions, and even sample some regional cuisine
stay at a beautiful hotel overlooking the rice terraces:
Just a three-hour drive from Hanoi, is the lush green mountaineous region of Mai Chau Valley. This idyllic little corner of Vietnam is a haven escape from the city. The two tourist villages of Lac and Pom Coong are great for homestays and a chance for nature lovers to spend a night or two in this peaceful, traditional region.
While in Mai Chau:
see the traditional way of life of the indigenous ethnic groups
bike ride through lush green rice paddies and see the stilt houses unique to this region.
Experience traditional dance performances or learn the art of weaving from local artisans
Sample local cuisine
You can easily book a transfer here with a local travel agent in Hanoi, or book onto a 2-day Hanoi excursion like this one.
Just a few hours away from Hanoi, you'll find Pu Luong, a hidden gem that's still off the beaten tourist trail. This nature reserve boasts stunning landscapes filled with lush greenery, mountains, and traditional stilt houses. You can make arrangements through the same travel agents again in Hanoi.
While you're in Pu Luong, there's plenty to see and do, hiking is a must, with the opportunity to explore the reserve's rich biodiversity and beautiful terraced rice fields. A boat ride on the Cham River for unique views of the surrounding scenery.
Similar to Mai Chau you can also visit local villages and learn about traditional culture and customs, from their agricultural practices to the vibrant textiles they weave.
A scenic four-hour drive from Hanoi will land you in the heart of Moc Chau, a picturesque plateau with rolling hills and vibrant, blooming flower fields. Also famous for the Na Ka Plum Valley where you can see rows and rows of flowering plum blossom trees in the spring, followed by the Plum Picking Festival in May, or late spring depending on the weather each year.
Moc Chau is an immersive nature experience and a simple way of living that's worth the long drive and a night or two in the region. As this isn't a popular tourist destination, you won't likely find organised tours, but plenty of travel agents will organise a transfer for you.
Don't miss these things to do in Moc Chau:
miles of tea plantations - Doi Che Trai Tim is the plantation to visit
Dai Yem Waterfall
Chieng Khoa waterfall and lake
Hang Doi cave
Sample local cheese and cuisine in Moc Chau and local villages around the area
A bit of a journey from Hanoi—about six hours by car—but trust me, it's so worth it, especially for motorbike enthusiasts and thrill-seekers!
Ha Giang offers one of the most famed motorbike loops in the world. Covering a distance of nearly 350 kilometres, it takes you through winding mountain passes, towering karst peaks, lush valleys, and epic roads.
I personally am not a motorbike rider so this is not something I've done. However it's one of the most popular places to visit near Hanoi and the route itself is well-marked. If you're still worried there are also several guided tours that take you on the Ha Giang Loop - such as this one for 2 nights.
Don't miss the Quan Ba Heaven Gate, a gorgeous viewpoint along the way. And after a long day on the road, there's nothing like a hot bowl of Thang Den (a local rice dessert) to recharge your energy. Just remember to pace yourself, stay safe, and soak in the beauty that Ha Giang has to offer.
Quang Phu Cau Hanoi Incense Village
This is a great, easy 1 day trip from Hanoi, or even just an afternoon trip by taxi and one of my favourite underrated places to visit near Hanoi.
The Incense Village is where a huge amount of incense are made, produced, dried and distributed from in northern Vietnam. You'll see rows and rows of incense being dried out in the sun in vibrant reds, greens, yellows and purples.
Quang Phu Cau is just 1 hour south of Hanoi and we booked a taxi for 3 people which cost 1 million VND - just 300,000 each (£10) for the trip there and back.
Depending on what time of year you visit, there could be more or less displays, festivals or farms with incense out. It was pretty quiet during our visit but absolutely beautiful still.
For a more in-depth experience, book one of the Hanoi day excursions to the incense village such as this Hanoi incense village tour.
Mu Chang Cai
Mu Chang Cai is a popular region for seeing the famous rice terraces of northern Vietnam but it's south of Sapa - so less touristy and you're more likely to find cheaper homestays.
Mu Chang Cai is a must visit in the north of Vietnam for photographers! Head out hiking in the scenic rice terraces. The vibrant greenery and unique hill-terracing technique are honestly breathtaking.
Staying in a homestay here also gives you the chance to interact with locals, enjoy a home-cooked meal at your homestay, prepared with fresh local produce and experience rural life in northern Vietnam that's totally different from Hanoi!
Bat Trang Pottery Village
If you're short on time and looking for must visit places in Hanoi, Bat Trang Pottery Village is located on the banks of the Red River, just 30 minutes south of Hanoi city centre.
Also called Bat Trang Ceramic Village, it’s like a hidden artistic gem waiting to be discovered, with a village-like feel, just minutes from the city.
It's renowned for its centuries-old pottery-making tradition. As you walk through the narrow alleys, the array of beautiful ceramic goods and handcrafted pieces is spectacular. From intricate vases to adorable figurines, this is a great chance for a more unique souvenir from Vietnam which is significant in the rich Vietnamese craft heritage.
Ba Vi National Park
Just 1.5 hour drive from Hanoi, Ba Vi National Park is a beautiful natural escape with stunning mountain ranges, a tropical forest ecosystem and a rich diversity of flora and fauna.
Ba Vi is one of the best day trips from Hanoi for adventure and nature lovers, being just short drive away but with epic hiking trails and beautiful views.
Don't miss hiking one of the park's famous 3 peaks, Emperor Peak, Tan Vien Peak and Ngoc Hoa. These mountains have religious significance and the most famous is Emperor Peak where you'll find the Uncle Ho Temple at the top of 1100 steps. In autumn, see cloud inversions here and in the spring you can see wildflowers.
You can visit the old French ruins, or explore the diverse wildlife at the bird garden, swim in swim spots like Suoi Nga or see waterfalls like Thac Cong Troi or Thuong Temple.
Tam Dao was awarded the world's leading town destination in 2022 at the World Travel Awards in Oman.
Tam Dao means 3 islands and being a mountainous town, the region often rises out of the clouds like "three islands". The region is mountainous and cool, making it popular for domestic visitors particularly.
The unique style of the town is also somewhat reminiscent of European architecture with colourful buildings and a French influence.
Some of the best things to do in Tam Dao:
Hike to Tam Dao's Three Peaks - if you visit on a day with low cloud, the view is magical
Explore the Tam Dao National Park
Visit the colourful old French Villas
Xa Huong Lake is a peaceful spot for a picnic or a leisurely walk, with stunning views of the surrounding mountains
Tam Dao Market for traditional delicacies and handmade souvenirs
See the views from the Cloud Bridge
Truc Lam Tay Thien Zen Monastery
Be prepared for multiple seasons in a day, often called the "Dalat of the north" Tam Dao can be sunny and clear one minute and very cold and windy the next!
Long Bien Flower Park
Another great and easy option for day trips in Hanoi, Vietnam is Thai Nguyen Hoa Long Bien which is a flower field in Hanoi just 20 minutes from the city centre.
This is a beautiful attraction with flower fields, photography opportunities and outdoor exhibitions and events. There are also minature towns of Hoi An and sheep roaming if you want more unusual photo opportunities.
Of course the Hanoi flower park is seasonal so you may want to check what's flowering before you visit. While the park aims to have flowers in bloom all year round, the season will determine what flowers you actually see. For example, November and December are popular for daisies, sunflowers in March, yellow chrysanthemums and roses in the summer and you can even see Plum trees if you don't have time for the trip to Moc Chau to see the plum blossom!
Soc Son - Ulesa Retreat
I've not been here, however my cousin has lived in Hanoi for over three years and she told me about this place which is 1 hour from Hanoi and the perfect off-the-beaten-path Hanoi destination.
Nha Ben Rung ULesa is a great option if you're looking for unusual or unique places to stay near Hanoi. They have a hobbit house, a treehouse cabin, a domed mushroom house built into the mountain, forest cabins, glamping and so many other unique accommodation options tucked into the forest. There's also a pool area and full facilities so you can escape and relax for a unique weekend away just 1 hour from Hanoi.
The best part? prices start from as low as £30 per night! Find out more here.
Perfume Pagoda and Yen Stream
Visiting the Perfume Pagoda is a popular and easy day trip from Hanoi. This sacred site is located among lush mountains and is a unique insight into Vietnamese Buddhist culture.
The journey to the pagoda is an adventure itself, you take a boat trip down the scenic Yen Stream and walk up the mountain, but there's also an option for a cable car if you prefer.
There's also plenty of day tours from Hanoi to help you get to the Perfume Pagoda easily, check prices and availability here.
Summary: the best day trips from Hanoi, Vietnam or overnight Hanoi side trips
If you have the time in your itinerary, the richness and diversity of places to visit near Hanoi are well worth spending an extra day or two in Northern Vietnam for.
From serene boat rides down Yen Stream to spectacular rice terraces and unique accommodation, these Hanoi day trips and overnight destinations will show you even more of what North Vietnam has to offer.
Pin for later to plan your future trip!