Where can you go in 5 days?

The 5 days in Hanoi itinerary can combine various Vietnam renowned attractions. The ideal time for your visit to Northern Vietnam is normally from September - April (Autumn - Spring time) with cool and mild weather and less rainfall.

Delta Routes

The delta travel routes include Hanoi - your starting point, Halong Bay, and Ninh Binh. These destinations are perfect for relaxing and unwinding while engaging in exploratory activities.


The 4000-year-old capital of Vietnam will introduce you to a developing city blending with its historical and cultural values. Hanoi has many stories to tell you through periods of early civilization, feudal dynasties, struggles for national independence, and the country's post-war growth.

In Hanoi, I recommend you to explore the following:

  • Places to visit: Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Complex, Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, The Old Quarters, Temple of Literature, Thang Long Imperial Citadel, Bat Trang Pottery Village, Quang Phu Cau Incense Village.

  • Hanoi city tour by jeep car, motorbike, or cyclo, Hanoi suburban by bicycle.

  • Hanoi Street food, cooking class, or home-hosted meal with locals.

  • Shopping spots: Dong Xuan Market and the Old Quarters.

  • Night-out choices: The Walking Street, Ta Hien Beer Street, rooftop bars, Water Puppet show, The Quintessence of Tonkin show.

Halong Bay

5 Days in Hanoi

Cruises in Halong Bay

Halong Bay is a UNESCO natural heritage site and a top destination for travelers visiting Vietnam. The typical way to travel from Hanoi to Halong Bay is by long bus, but for a more private and comfortable option, you can choose a limousine service. The travel time is approximately 2 hours.

Here are the highlights you shouldn't miss at Halong Bay:

  • Cruising: Sail on calm waters and marvel at the various shapes and sizes of the limestone islets. Generally, the cruises offer excellent amenities, food and beverage services, and well-planned itineraries for a delightful experience in Halong Bay.

  • Common Activities: Kayaking, swimming, exploring caves, visiting islands, and interacting with local fishing villages.

  • Sunset Party and Morning Taichi: Don't miss these best moments in the bay.

Ninh Binh

Ninh Binh is a wonderful countryside destination where you can experience the natural beauty and slow-paced lifestyle of Vietnam. The journey from Hanoi to Ninh Binh takes approximately 1.5 to 2 hours. While in Ninh Binh, you can:

  • Boating: Explore Tam Coc or Trang An (a UNESCO heritage site), on a scenic boat ride.

  • Cycling: Pedal through lush rice fields and observe the local farming activities.

  • Visit Temples: Explore historical sites such as Dinh-Le Kings Temple, Bich Dong Pagoda, and Bai Dinh Pagoda.

  • Hike Mount Mua: Climb to the top of Mua Cave for a panoramic view of Ninh Binh's limestone mountains, rice paddies, and river complex landscapes.

  • Night Visit to Hoa Lu Old Quarters: Experience the enchanting ambiance of Hoa Lu Old Quarter at night. The area is beautifully illuminated with traditional lanterns, and the Golden and Silver Pagodas are reflected in the surrounding lake. Enjoy local food stalls, delicacies, and souvenir shops.

5 Days in Hanoi

Hoa Lu Old Quarter at night

Mountainous Routes

The mountainous route includes Sapa, Mai Chau, and Pu Luong. The travel time from Hanoi to these places usually ranges longer, from 3 to 5 hours by bus. This route is ideal for you to spend time with nature, trekking, and exploring the vibrant cultures of ethnic minorities.


Sapa is approximately a 5-hour bus ride or 8 hours by night train from Hanoi. It is home to ethnic groups such as Hmong, Dao, and Giay. In Sapa, there are plenty of fun things to explore:

  • Strolling, shopping, and savoring local cuisine in the town.

  • Visiting the highest peak in Indochina - mount Fansipan - via cable car and mountain train.

  • Trekking through Y Linh Ho, Lao Chai, Ta Van in the picturesque Muong Hoa Valley, known for its terraced rice fields in September and October.

  • Exploring the colorful highland markets.

Mai Chau

Mai Chau is about a 3-hour bus ride from Hanoi. This is the home of many Thai people. The destination is nestled in a picturesque valley surrounded by mountains, making it an ideal retreat:

  • Stay in Thai homestays to experience living in their traditional houses.

  • Trekking and biking through the valley.

  • Explore caves: Mo Luong and Hang Kia - Pa Co.

  • Visit local villages such as Lac Village, Pom Coong, Tong Dau, and Cha Long.

  • Exploring Go Lao waterfall.

  • Visit Pa Co market.

Pu Luong

5 Days in Hanoi

Biking in Pu Luong

The travel time to Pu Luong (Thanh Hoa province) is approximately 4 hours. This destination is less frequented by tourists compared to Sapa and Mai Chau, yet it boasts breathtaking natural beauty. In my opinion, the activities in Pu Luong are quite similar to those in Sapa and Mai Chau, including trekking to admire terraced fields, biking, visiting local villages, and waterfalls, and experiencing mountainous cuisine.

The key difference is that Pu Luong is renowned for its vast Pu Luong Nature Reserve – an ideal escape for nature enthusiasts seeking the wild and pristine mountainous landscapes of Vietnam.

For a broader perspective, consult our post on Vietnam travel guide for first timers!

Our Suggested 5 Days in Hanoi Itineraries

With the list of accessible destinations from Hanoi, I recommend the following itineraries. You can consider joining the itinerary as part of a group tour or opting for a private tour with your family and friends.

Trekking Trails and Discovery Adventures

The two itineraries combine traveling from the mountainous region to the flatlands:

Option 1:

  • Day 1: Hanoi Arrival - Evening move to Sapa 

  • Day 2: Sapa day 1 - trekking

  • Day 3: Sapa day 2 - Villages, mountains… Back Hanoi

  • Day 4: Halong Bay Overnight Cruise

  • Day 5: Halong Bay day 2 - Flight home evening

Option 2:

  • Day 1: Hanoi Arrival - Evening move to Sapa 

  • Day 2: Sapa day 1 - trekking

  • Day 3: Sapa day 2 - Villages, mountains… Back Hanoi

  • Day 4: Halong Bay Day Cruise

  • Day 5: Ninh Binh day tour - Flight home

Leisure Programs

5 Days in Hanoi

Hanoi Water Puppet Show

If you prefer a more comfortable and relaxing program with less travel time, consider this itinerary:

  • Day 1: Hanoi Arrival - water puppet show

  • Day 2: Halong Bay overnight cruise

  • Day 3: Halong Bay Day 2

  • Day 4: Ninh Binh Day tour

  • Day 5: Hanoi Full-day city tour - Flight home

Go off-the-beaten-track

Finally, if you want to join a hassle-free tour and immerse yourself in the natural surroundings:

  • Day 1: Hanoi Arrival - water puppet show

  • Day 2: Mai Chau town overnight

  • Day 3: Pu Luong Nature Reserve overnight

  • Day 4: Ninh Binh Day tour

  • Day 5: Hanoi Full-day city tour - Flight home

5 Days in Hanoi

5 days in Hanoi itinerary suggestions

Within 5 days in Hanoi, you can explore a lot from the capital city. The 5-day program is suitable for a short, experiential vacation with your family, or you can confidently venture out on your own. I hope my suggestions help you to plan your itinerary and choose your favorite activities to try in Vietnam. Wishing you a wonderful journey with relaxing moments and unforgettable experiences!