Hanoi: Itinerary, Expenses and Things to Know Before You Go | Lady & her Sweet Escapes

Jun 4, 2017

Hanoi: Itinerary, Expenses and Things to Know Before You Go


Whether you love to travel on a budget, go into a culinary journey, or discover dynamic cities, I highly recommend visiting Hanoi! The bustling capital of Vietnam is guaranteed to impress you. 

Spending three to four days in Hanoi will allow you to visit the top attractions, go on a food hunt, and take a short trip to Halong Bay. But mind you, this quick visit will leave you wanting for more! It is actually one of the few cities I wouldn't mind getting lost at for a week or two!

Here are some travel tips, sample itinerary and budget guide to help you plan for your trip! 


Visa
Philippine Passport holders can travel to Vietnam visa-free for a maximum of 21 days. You just need to bring your passport! 
   

Money
Vietnam's currency is called Vietnamese Dong. 1 USD is currently equivalent to around 22,700 VND. 

Important note: There are plenty of currency exchange counters in Hanoi. Just make sure your US Dollar notes are intact. Based on our experience, our money with a small rip in the center was not accepted although it was not severely damaged.

When handling Vietnamese Dong, make sure to check for damages as well. We didn't notice that one of the 500,000 VND notes we got from the currency exchange has a cut on the edge where the serial number is. It was not accepted in a restaurant. For a while, we thought we were scammed, but when we returned the damaged note, the staff replaced it without further ado.

Credit card is also accepted in hotels and some establishments, but it is best to keep Vietnamese Dong in your pocket for street stalls and budget restaurants.


Language
Locals speak Vietnamese. Most hotel and restaurant staff can speak English, and we didn't encounter any problem in terms of communication. It is good to know a few Vietnamese phrases like Xin Chao for Hello, Xin Cam On for Thank you, but not really necessary.

the picturesque Huc bridge in Hoan Kiem Lake
the picturesque Huc bridge in Hoan Kiem Lake

Weather
Vietnam is tropical country with dry and rainy seasons. Hanoi, in particular, has four seasons because of its geographic location. Winter season starts from December and lasts until late February. Spring is from February to April. Summer is typically from May to August. Fall is from September to end of November. 

Make sure to check the weather before packing your clothes because Hanoi can't be quite chilly during Spring, Fall and Winter. We traveled end of Spring, and the weather was perfect; cold breeze, no rain and a little sunshine. 


What to Pack
Light clothes (t-shirts and shorts) will do for summer. For cooler months, pack a light jacket and a shawl. My denim jacket worked wonders during chilly mornings and evenings! We also brought an umbrella just in case it rains. 

For electric plugs, sockets in Hanoi usually take flat or round two-pronged plugs. It is best to invest in a good-quality universal adapter as it always comes in handy wherever you go!   


Transport
From Noi Bai International Airport: You can catch an Express Bus or Public Bus with Old Quarter route outside the airport terminal. Taxi is also available, but you have to negotiate the price with the driver. For convenience and to avoid taxi scams, we booked airport transfers with HTS - a reliable transport service in Hanoi. We paid 16 USD for pick up and 12 USD for drop off. 

Getting Around Hanoi: Most attractions are within Hoan Kiem district; hence you can easily walk from your Old Quarter or French Quarter accommodation. For long distance travel, you can ask the hotel staff to book a reputable taxi for you. They usually recommend Mai Linh Taxi. But for us, we found Uber as the best option as it is safe, convenient and reasonably priced! We simply connect to a free WiFi around the area and book through the app!   
    
beautiful kind of chaos in Hanoi Old Quarter
beautiful kind of chaos in Hanoi Old Quarter

Where to Stay
Hoan Kiem Distrist is a good base for travelers as it is where the action is. For a guide on choosing your accommodation, check out my blogpost: Where to stay in Hanoi: Old Quarter or French Quarter? 


Top Sights and Activities
There are a lot of things to do and places to see in Hanoi. Top activities for travelers include visiting Vietnamese shrines and temples, wandering around the Old Quarter, and relaxing along the natural lakes. Read 10 Places You Can't Miss in Hanoi for a detailed guide. In between your stay in Hanoi, you can also squeeze in a trip to Halong Bay!


Food to Try
Hanoi is a great travel destination for foodies. Vietnamese cuisine is delicious, friendly to the taste buds, and typically cheap! Not to be missed are local specialties: Pho, Bun Cha, Ca Phe Trung or egg coffee and Trang Tien ice cream.

Read 7 Foodie Spots to Love in Hanoi for budget-friendly restaurants, romantic dining venue and lounge with a view. 

the famous egg coffee at Giang Cafe
the famous egg coffee at Giang Cafe


Itinerary and Expenses

Day 1
Time
Activity
Expenses
09:00
Arrival in Noi Bai International Airport

09:30
Airport Pick-up (arranged by Hanoi Transport Service)
16 USD
10:00
Check in at Hanoi HM Boutique Hotel in Old Quarter
Rate as of April 2017: 145 AED || 40 USD per night
10:30
Old Quarter DIY Walking Tour:
              - Hoan Kiem Lake
              - The Huc Bridge
              - Turtle Pagoda
              - St. Joseph Cathedral
Free
12:00
Lunch at Green Tangerine
        - Set Lunch (2 course and 3 course meal)
        - Fruit Juice and Red Wine
Bill for 2: 
860,000 VND || 140 AED || 38 USD
13:00
Rest

16:00
Uber ride to Tran Quoc Pagoda
30,000 VND || 5 AED || 2 USD
16:30
Tran Quoc Pagoda and West Lake
Free
18:00
The Summit at Pan Pacific:
        - drinks and snacks
        - see the West Lake from up above
        - watch the sunset 
Bill for 2:
700,000+ VND || 113+ AED || 30+ USD
19:30
Back to Old Quarter via Uber
30,000 VND || 5 AED || 2 USD
20:00
Dinner at Pho 10 Ly Quoc Su
Bill for 2:
180,000 VND || 30 AED || 8 USD
21:00
Egg Coffee at Café Nang (because we couldn’t find Giang Café)
30,000 VND || 5 AED || 2 USD per cup

Ed and Lady in Tran Quoc Pagoda
at Tran Quoc Pagoda - Hanoi's oldest Buddhist Temple

Day 2
Time
Activity
Expenses
07:00
Breakfast at Hanoi HM Boutique Hotel
Complimentary
08:00
Check out

08:30
Halong Bay Shuttle Pick up

10:00
Stopover in a souvenir shop
15,000 VND || 3 AED || <1 USD per fridge magnet
*souvenirs here are cheaper compared to those being sold in Old Quarter
12:30
Arrival in Halong Bay port

13:00
Start of Halong Bay 2 Days 1 Night Trip via V’ Spirit Cruises
650+ AED || 179 USD per person

Refer to this blog post for cruise activities: 


Halong Bay at sunset
the mystical Halong Bay at sunset

Day 3
Time
Activity
Expenses
07:00
Halong Bay

12:00
Disembark V’Spirit Classic

13:00
Transfer back to Hanoi

15:00
Stopover in a souvenir shop

17:00
Drop off in Hanoi. Check in at Hilton Garden Inn
Complimentary Stay which I won at @joycaasi’s Instagram Giveaway.
Regular rate: around 300 AED || 80 USD per night
17:30
French Quarter DIY Walking Tour:
-         Hanoi Opera House
-          Trang Tien Street
-          Sofitel Metropole
-          Hoan Kiem Lake
Free
18:00
Buy tickets at Thang Long Water Puppet Theater for 8:00 PM show
100,000 VND || 16 AED || 4 USD per person
Tip: Best seats: center at the front or second row 
18:30
Dinner at Bahn Mi 25
-         Bahn Mi Thap Cam (Mixed)
-         Bahn Mi pate xa xiu (Barbecued Pork)
-         Cola and Beer
Bill for 2: 
65,000 VND || 10 AED || 3 USD
19:00
Egg Coffee at Giang Cafe
25,000 VND || 4 AED || 1 USD per cup
20:00
Water Puppet Show at Thang Long Theater

21:30
Back to Hilton Garden Inn


Thang Long Water Puppet Theater
Thang Long Water Puppet Theater

Day 4
Time
Activity
Expenses
07:00
Breakfast at Hilton Garden Inn
Complimentary
09:00
Uber ride to Ba Dinh Square
 40,000 VND || 6 AED || 2 USD
09:30
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
 Free
10:30
One Pillar Pagoda
 Free
12:00
Back to French Quarter via Uber. Hotel check-out.
 40,000 VND || 6 AED || 2 USD
12:30
Lunch at Quan Com Pho
     - Bun Cha
     - Spring Rolls
     - Drinks
Bill for 2:
165,000 VND || 27 AED || 7 USD
13:55
Airport drop-off (arranged by Hanoi Transport Service)
 12 USD
16:55
Flight to next destination



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