Hanoi is a beautiful city of contrasts. It has vibrant streets, aromatic markets, colorful food markets, and wide range of museums awaiting to be explored.
Its surroundings are also very enticing too. From the spectacular Halong Bay to the amazing Cuc Phuong National Park, these impressive day trips from Hanoi promise a great escape to immerse yourself in something extraordinary not far from the capital city.
Halong Bay is undoubtedly a very striking destination to enjoy in a day tour from Hanoi. This Unesco Heritage site offers a great escape into nature, with various activities from pleasant sailing to active kayaking or even rock climbing.
There are a wide range of day tours to Halong Bay from Hanoi depending on your budget. You`ll have the chance to soak up the spectacular views of the limestone karsts, islets, greenery and hidden caves.With the new highway between the capital city andthe Quang Ninh province, this road trip can be as short as 2 hours, which means that visitors will have more time to enjoy the wonders of the bay.
How to Get to Halong Bay
The direct bus from Hanoi to Halong Bay starts either from Giap Bat or Gia Lam bus stations. A bus ticket starts from $5 to $10 varying from soft seat to sleeper bus. The buses run every hour between 5AM and 9PM.
Ba Vi National Park
Bavi is probably not popular for foreign tourists but it has a great value for a green trip in the suburbs of Hanoi. Just about 1,5-hour drive from the city center, Bavi defines itself as unusual with a stretch of tropical rain forests, cool atmosphere, mountain ranges and forest trails.
The panoramic views of the Red River Valley are breathtaking. Adventure lovers will also find here many natural hidden treasures such as plunging waterfalls, water streams and beautiful temples.
You many not find easily an organized tour package (I could only find one, here) to Bavi but you can easy go there yourself with a motorbike. Bavi National Park is definitely worth a day trip from Hanoi, especially if you are after discovering off the beaten places and the local village life of the North of Vietnam.
How to Get to Ba Vi National Park
To travel by public transportation, you need to head to Nhon station in south Hanoi. The bus route is Nhon – Tay Dang stops right at the entrance of Ba Vi national park.
Cuc Phuong National Park
For those who want to explore the wildlife in northern Vietnam but do not have much time, Cuc Phuong national park is an ideal choice.
This oldest park is located about 100 km to the south of Hanoi. It boasts a diverse system of fauna and flora that includes 300 species of birds, 16 amphibians, 1944 plant species, 33 reptiles and 71 species of mammals. Common animals in place are horses, boars, tigers, leopards, squirrels, monkeys, bears to name but a few.
It takes about 3 hours to reach Cuc Phuong National park and you can enjoy the whole day exploring the dense forest, Prehistoric man cave or simply embark on a walk towards the thousand-year-old tree.
How to Get to Cuc Phuong National Park
There are two direct buses from Hanoi to Cuc Phuong National Park. The first one leaves at 10AM whilst the second one at 3PM. They both depart from Giap Bat train station. You can always book a private day tour from Hanoi or go there by motorbike, in an organized excursion.
Hoa Lu – Tam Coc Ancient Capital
Not so far from Cuc Phuong National Park, you will find Hoa Lu, a very beautiful site that will make your Instagram photos stand out. The original citadel no longer stands, but there are still many imposing temples to admire, including King Dinh and King Le temple.
While Hoa Lu exhibits the relics from ancient capitals, Tam Coc provides a very easy sampans ride where you just relax and point your camera to get the different angles. Do not forget to climb up to Mua cave for a stunning panorama over the rice paddies.
How to Get to Hoa Lu
You can reach Hoa Lu by different ways. The most comfortable way are the Limousine services. The driver can pick you up inside the city for free and drop you exactly where you want in Hoa Lu. For a budget-friendly option, head to Giap Bat train station. There are buses almost every hour.
Bai Dinh – Trang An
Bai Dinh houses the biggest pagoda in the Southeast Asia. It doesn’t matter what is your religion, Bai Dinh is a wonderful place to discover a bit of the Vietnamese culture. This complex consists of many exquisite temples and about 500 carved statues of Buddha, including the 10 m tall bronze one. Once you have visited the temples, you can take a boat ride along Ngo Dong River. This cruising excursion is very relaxing, with awe-inspiring views of limestone caves and lush greenery.
How to get to Bai Dinh
The limousine services which bring you from Hanoi to Bai Dinh is very popular. It costs between $7 and $10, and takes about 3 hours. You can check out private tours as well, by clicking here.
Mai Chau Valley, Hoa Binh
Described as the most poetic valley in northern Vietnam, no other place can beat Mai Chau for the ultimate mountain trip.
There is so many things to capture during the 3 hours drive from Hanoi to Mai Chau, covering the changes of landscape and the exotic markets. There are endless things that you can do in Mai Chau during a day trip from Hanoi: easy hikes along the picturesque villages, visits to the traditional Thai minorities villages and cultural experiences of weaving. Whilst you’re here, don’t miss the sticky rice and the barbecued pork, a specialty of the Vietnamese cuisine of the area.
How to get to Mai Chau Valley
If you stay in Hanoi old quarter or in the city center, it is highly recommended to take a tourist from Hanoi Opera House or 109 Ma May street. These buses are non stop and take little less than 3 hours to arrive in Mai Chau. A return ticket costs $20.
Tam Dao National Park
Tam Dao is a former French hill station which was used as a weekend getaway for officers. Today, it remains a well-worth destination to experience something different in Hanoi.
Many people choose to take a car journey to complete the 2 hours road but a motorbike ride is more rewarding because of the beautiful scenery and the windy roads. Once in Tam Dao National Park, visitors can take a breathtaking hike through its national park. On a clear day, you can see as far as Hanoi`s city center.
How to get to Tam Dao
The best option to get to Tam Dao National Park is to rent a motorbike for $7/day from Hanoi (sometimes only $5 if you search well ). Public bus number 7 is a very cheap option if you are not confident on driving a motorbike, while the New Way transfer company charges $10 for a return ticket.
Duong Lam Ancient Village
About 70km from Hanoi you will find the ancient village of Duong Lam. The place is famous for its timeless architecture that reflects the typical life of the Red River Delta during the 18th and 19th centuries.
The unique character of the area is give by the old houses made from hive-like brick made from stone dug in the local mountains.
Some of the attractions you shouldn’t miss are Mr. Hung’s and Mrs. Dien’s ancient houses.
How to get to Duong Lam Village
There are 3 buses that go to Duong Lam : 70, 71 and 77, all leaving from different bus stations: Kim Ma, My Dinh and Ha Dong bus stations.
Tickets costs $1 each way. The bus stops right at the entrance of Duong Lam village. You can go as well in a private tour to Duong Lam, to learn more about the history of the village.
When you ask the Hanoian about where to go to celebrate the Buddhist`s day, their first answer is at the Perfume Pagoda. Tucked away in the sacred mountain of Huong Tich, Perfume pagoda is known as the biggest pilgrimage site in Vietnam. It has a very rich history dating back to the 15th century.
Perfume Pagoda is a child friendly day trip from Hanoi as it provides an amazing cable ride and small boat tours on Yen river.
How to Get to Perfume Pagoda
Bus number 103 leaving from My Dinh to Chua Huong is the newest service to Perfume Pagoda. However, most of visitors go to Ha Dong bus station where there are plenty of buses that leave every 30 minutes towards the Perfume Pagoda.
Hoa Binh Lake
Hoa Binh is an artificial lake at the top of a hydro electricity dam built on the Black River, one of the largest in the North of Vietnam. The surroundings are so beautiful, with untouched bamboo forests spreading on mountain hills, caves, waterfalls and small villages dotted around.
It is recommended to book a private tour to Hoa Binh so that you can learn about the exotic life of the local Muong hill tribe.
Less known destinations for day trips from Hanoi:
Cat Ba National Park
The new highway connecting Hanoi and Hai Phong city allows travelers to explore Cat Ba National Park in a day. It takes three hours to reach the national park from Hanoi, but the experience is totally worthy. Cat Ba National Park is considered the less-visited alternative to Halong Bay. Besides the opportunity to conquer the Ngu Lam peak for a magnificent view, visitors can swim in the pristine waters of the Gulf of Tonkin, paddle in a kayak to the hidden lagoons and laze on the sandy beach of Cat Co before returning to Hanoi.
Van Long Nature Reserve
Birding adventurers love Van Long for the high number of birds they can spot. Certainly, Van Long has many things that will sweep you off your feat. Apart from the wildlife spotting, Van Long is very photogenic and not touristy at all. A trip to Van Long means you`ll marvel something more authentic and more original in Ninh Binh.
Bac Ninh is the neighbor province of Hanoi and it is a true off the beaten path destination for foreign visitors. This is a perfect destination for a homestay experience in the North of Vietnam, to learn about the life at a Vietnamese farm. Bac Ninh does get popular with local tourists during the Lim Festival, which celebrates the traditional folcklore of the area.
Tan Bang is a keen adventurer who explores the world differently. All of his travel are more or less for authentic local life which results in insightful experiences. You can read about his adventures on his blog, Travel to Work.
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