2 days in Hanoi – Making the most of transit time

Hanoi was to be just a transit stop on our way to Halong bay. We spent 2 evenings in this capital city – and were glad that we ventured out instead of just lazing in the hotel…

Day 3

  •  After having a lazy breakfast in Ho Chi Minh city, we took the noon flight to Hanoi. We booked a hotel in bustling old quarters. The place is a huge market with narrow lanes and narrower buildings… We were genuinely surprised by how spacious the room was!
  • To save time, we took an uber to Temple of Literature. This old 11th century university is a quiet place with 5 courtyards. Do go up to 1st floor balcony in the final building to admire the surroundings. Don’t miss the huge turtles with engravings…


  • Next we walked over to the famous One Pillar Pagoda… It’s small but has a unique architecture. Its definitely worth a quick stop. There are museums and other temples nearby which you can check out if you have extra time…


  • We then walked over to HCM Mausoleum – final resting place of HCM. It is an imposing grey building and looks even better when lit up. As it is open for few hours in the morning, we missed going inside to see the embalmed body.


  • But on the positive side, the square was empty and we had a pleasant time walking around in this pedestrian only zone.


  • While its a short distance, we took an uber back to the hotel. Rested for a while and then set out exploring the maze of shops and restaurants in old quarters… Do check out St. Joseph’s cathedral on your night walk…


Day 6

  • After memorable 2 days on Halong Bay cruise, it was time to get back to land. Our cruise operator dropped us at the hotel around 5 pm. We booked a different hotel in old quarters closer to the lake this time around. Same narrow building but spacious room awaited us!
  • We headed straight to the Ngoc Son Temple, set on an island in the lake… The small temple is open till 6 pm and provides some pretty views of the lake. The red bridge to the temple definitely makes for a good picture spot…


  • We then walked around Haon Kiem Lake. As it was a weekend, the area was converted into a pedestrian zone with people playing on the streets, vendors selling Vietnam delicacies and locals out in large numbers. This was fun to experience and way different from old quarters maze. SS Tip: Do try to go over the weekend to enjoy time with the lively crowd.


  • We walked around the lake, to opera house and then to the night market. The market was arranged in typical 2 lines but was quite big… they had variety of items with reasonable prices and decent quality stuff…


Day 7

  • We booked a cab through hotel and headed to airport… end of a memorable Vietnam vacation!


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