Arrive in Hanoi and check in at your hotel – it will be better if you find one in the Old Quarter. After resting for some moment, take a walk around the Old Quarter to see how local daily life happens. Do not miss Hang Ngang, Hang Dao, where most of the commercial activities take place. As you walk down these street, Hang Ma is definitely a must-visit, this is the most colorful street in Hanoi. Continue to head straight and you will reach Dong Xuan Market – where you can find almost everything from fresh vegetables to pets and home comforts (read How much do these things cost in Vietnam?). For lunch, try numerous dishes at one of the vendors near Dong Xuan Market.
You can also find the line to Hang Dieu, where the renowned Bun Bo Nam Bo are available (phở bò- 67 Hang Dieu). If you are interested in rice, take Com binh dan (Rice for everyone) around the field. Walk in and order your favor by pointing at the cuisine on display. You will be served at faster-than-McDonald. In the afternoon, take a deep breath around Hoan Kiem lake. If you want to search for atmospheric environemnt, stay here rather than in the Old Quarter. If you are tired of walking, a cyclo tour won’t cost you much while you can slowly inhale the idyllic beauty of Hanoi.
You can additionally relinquish traditional Vietnamese culture at the Water Puppet Theatre after finishing the walk. There are many cafes with gorgeous sightseeing around the lake where you can sip the taste of egg or traditional coffee. Otherwise, have fun at beer corners – Ta Hien street, where there is full of youth, bustling pace and chance to make new friends. For dinner, take a cab to Quan An Ngon (14 Phan Boi Chau). The restaurant is popular among tourists and locals alike, where you can see how the Vietnamese delicacy prepared in a traditional way. Hanoi at night is just as interesting as it is in daylight. The sparkling wave after wave of motorbikes may inspire lots of more photographers. Do not forget to have plenty of rest either. A good sleep will recharge your energy well for the next trip.
Wake yourself up with a steaming bowl of Pho. If your hotel rate includes breakfast, go with the baguette fare. If it is not Monday or public holiday, take a cab or motor taxi to Ho Chi Minh complex. The mausoleum, museum and Ho Chi Minh residential area will easily eat up your whole morning. Take a cab or if you can, walk to the Temple of Literature area. Koto- Know One Teach One- is just around the corner. The food is good and it is even better when you know you are supporting the welfare of street children. In the afternoon, you can visit the Temple of Literature– the first university of Vietnam.
The Fine Arts Museum is also within the walking distance. Along Nguyen Thai Hoc street, there are many artists painting their own art work or duplicating other famous works. If your legs are still able to, the walk along Nguyen Thai Hoc into Hang Bong street will be another memorable experience. In the evening, you can go to the West lake area or just chill in the Old Quarter.
If this is your last day, take things easy. In the morning you can go to the Museum of Ethnology if you are into learning about Vietnam’s ethnic minorities and their cultures. It will take a whole morning not only because of the many things the museum cover, but also because of the endless fun you are going to have, especially climbing the ethnic house.
Another option is to visit Bat Trang pottery village, across the Long Bien bridge from the Old Quarter. You can make yourself a nice mug, or buy a chunk of beads and turn them into necklaces for friends. If you still have a few more hours, do some last minute shopping at the Old Quarter. There are many souvenirs you can get for your friends and families, such as T-shirt printed with Hanoi beer or a cone hat.