How Should I Prepare For Hanoi? Ultimate Tips For Beginner

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Hanoi is one of the fastest-growing popular travel destinations! Worried about how should I prepare for Hanoi? This is your must-read first-timer guide to ensure a perfect journey for you and your family.

You will have all the information about “How should I prepare for Hanoi” here from what to prepare before the trip such as visa application, weather information, etc to traveling to Hanoi Vietnam such as itinerary, food recommendations, and other experiences.

So, let’s get you a Hanoi plane ticket and fly to Hanoi!

A photo taken at Hoan Kiem Lake Hanoi - Regulus & His Wife
Signature Icon – Hoan Kiem Lake Hanoi

How should I prepare for Hanoi: Part 1 – Before Your Departure

Nestled along the banks of the Red River, Hanoi, the captivating capital of Vietnam, beckons travelers with its rich history, vibrant culture, and timeless charm. It contains a great balance of traditional Vietnamese culture, French colonial architecture, UNESCO heritages, mouthwatering foods, and a relaxing spa experience. On top of that, traveling to Hanoi Vietnam is also very budget-friendly.  I spent less than USD 300 for a 5-day journey including all the attractions, food, souvenirs, and multiple times of spas!

Depending on your departure destination, there are multiple flights to Hanoi. If you are flying from Asia such as Thailand, Hong Kong, Malaysia etc,, the Hanoi plane ticket would only range around USD 100 one way. It could cost you more if you are flying to the US, EU, or other far destinations. In that case, you should keep Hanoi as part of longer Asia travel for cost savings.

As for how many days are enough for Hanoi, I would say 3 to 5 days. You can always discover more in Hanoi. But 3 full days would suffice for you to cover all the Vietnamese experiences for the first time.

Vietnamese Dong
I spent less than 3.2million VND (300 USD) for the whole trip

Hanoi Weather

Clothing is one of the most important topics for how should I prepare for Hanoi. Luckily, Hanoi experiences four distinct seasons throughout the year: Winter (December to March), Spring (April to June), Summer (July to September), and Autumn (October to November).

The best seasons are the Spring and Autumn in Hanoi where the temperature is around 25 to 30 degrees celsius with low rainfall. Autumn is slightly cooler and more comfortable. With that, you would be able to carry lighter luggage leaving more room for souvenirs.

Summer has the highest temperature which could exceed 35 degrees celsius. Other than that you will also need to watch out for the potential rains and humidity level over 90%.  So remember to bring along your umbrellas and sunscreen.

Despite the winter months, the temperature would rarely drop below 15 degrees celsius. So, there is no need to pack for your down jacket. Instead, a basic jacket to keep you warm would be sufficient. Additionally, February is usually the Vietnamese New Year and you can experience the traditional celebration culture. Also, you need to be aware of changes in business hours during the festival.

Regardless of the weather, I advise you to bring sufficient mosquito dispensers for outdoor activities.

Raining at Hoan Kiem Lake
Raining at Hoan Kiem Lake

Remember To Bring Your Charger

In Vietnam, the standard voltage for power plugs and socket adaptors is 110/220 V. As for power plugs, the most commonly used are type A, C, and F. Also, the electric supply there is not dual voltage rated, so please check before using voltage converters. In case you forgot to bring the converter, you may also buy them from local grocery stores.

What Currency Should I Bring To Hanoi?

The currency in Vietnam is the Vietnamese Dong (VND). It consists of small paper bills and larger polymer bills, ranging from 10,000 VND to 500,000 VND. Yes! You are a millionaire in Vietnam. As for currency exchange, you can exchange VND with major currencies at ATMs, airports, banks, or local currency exchanges.

If you are looking for the best rate, I recommend exchanging VND with USD in Hanoi Old Quarter. Those would usually provide the best rates available. Furthermore, they are also close to each other, so you can compare several before making the exchange.

I used the one called Quang Huyafter comparing several exchange shops. You can google currency exchange at Google and find several available on the street. Another tip for currency exchange is to do it with a USD 100 note. Locally, they usually give higher rates for USD 100 notes, followed by USD 50 notes and other small USD currencies.

Quang Huy The exchange shop used for VND exchange
Quang Huy The exchange shop used for VND exchange

In that, you only need to exchange a small amount i.e. USD 50 or less equivalent to VND at the airport for the airport bus. If you use grab to the city center directly, you can do all your exchange there.

Noting that cash is essential for your traveling to Hanoi Vietnam, although some shops would also take credit cards.

How About Visa  

In most cases, you will need to apply for a visa for your traveling to Hanoi Vietnam. The best way to acquire the visa is via the official online application system at Vietnam Evisa – the National Portal of Immigration ( For a single entry, it will cost you USD 25. The Visa approval would usually arrive a week after application but you shall apply at least two weeks ahead as a buffer. Please note that there will be no refund if the visa application fails.

There are other ways for Visa application including application via local embassy or consulate and visa on arrival. However, the e-application should be the most convenient and stress-free way for trip planning in Hanoi.

As a reminder, please check the latest change of Vietnam’s visa policy a month before departure.

How Should I Prepare For Hanoi – Part 2  

Now we have our luggage ready with sufficient money and visa, let’s look into the itinerary for traveling to Hanoi Vietnam.

Itinerary Planning

Try to Google “How many days for Hanoi”, you will have different answers. For first-time visitors to acquire a comprehensive Vietnamese experience, 3 full days in Hanoi shall be enough. In that, factoring your arrival and departure day, you should do a 4 or 5-day trip planning for Hanoi.

Trip planning Hanoi is very straightforward. Because most of the attractions are located within walking distance of Hanoi Old Quarter. You are very likely to find a lot of comfortable and reasonably priced hotels there. I booked my stay at “Hanoi Center Silk Classic Hotel & Travel” via which cost around USD 30 per night.

On top of the attractions at Hanoi city center, you will also want to spend a day in Halong Bay. I would recommend picking the 2nd or 3rd day of your journey for that.

1 Day In Halong Bay

As one of the new 7 natural wonders of the world, Halong Bay is a must-visit place for you. Halong Bay is a popular tourist destination (probably the most) in Vietnam, about 165 km east of Hanoi. The bay covers an area of over 1,500 square kilometers and features nearly 2,000 limestone islands, some of which contain caves and beaches. It is a UNESCO-recognized site for its natural beauty and geological information.  

Kayaking At Halong Bay
Kayaking At Halong Bay

To reach this UNESCO World Heritage site requires a 3-hour drive from Hanoi East. The easiest way for you to cover this item is via a local tour. Most of the tour will cover, the transfer to and return from Halong Bay to your hotel plus a cruise, cave visit, and other water sports experience. I booked my day tour via Klook.

The one-day tour includes pick-up from our hotel, a boat tour at the bay, a seafood lunch, a visit to Thien Cung Cave, and a session of kayaking. It was a very comprehensive one-day trip. There are also other 2-day trips available if you would like to stay longer.

Regulus and his wife at Thien Cung Cave
Thien Cung Cave

Remember, Halong Bay is also the symbol of the 200,000 VND note. You may want to bring a 200,000 VND note to take a photo of the landscape during that day.

Halong Bay with the 200,000 VND note
Halong Bay with the 200,000 VND note

3 Days In Hanoi City Center

There are multiple what to visits within Hanoi city center, including Hoan Kiem Lake, Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre, Hao Lo Prison, Hanoi Train Street, Imperial Citadel of Thang Long and etc. For details of each what to visit Hanoi, you may visit here. In general, 3 full days would be more than enough for Hanoi city center for all necessary experiences.

How Many Days In Hanoi?

Based on the above, you can find the sample itinerary for 5 days in Hanoi below. Feel free to reshuffle the order, but just ensure you visit Halong Bay earlier on the second or third day.

How Should I Prepare For Hanoi: Full Itinerary
Day 1Noi Bai International Airport Arrival Hoan Kiem Lake Turtle Tower Ngoc Son Temple Thang Long Water Puppet Theater  
Day 2Hanoi Train Street Hao Lo Prison St. Joseph’s Cathedral Hanoi Opera House  
Day 3Halong Bay 1-Day Tour
Day 4Hanoi Citadel The Temple of Literature Hanoi West Lake Tran Quoc Pagoda
Day 5Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Departure at Noi Bai International Airport Arrival
Regulus and his wife at Hanoi Train Street
Hanoi Train Street – one of the iconic site in Hanoi city center

How Should I Prepare For Hanoi: Part 3 – What to Eat  

Having taken care of what to visit, let’s plan for what to eat in Hanoi. Hanoi is most renowned for its variety of street food. From main dishes like Pho and Bun Cha, snacks like Ou Luoc and Trung Vit Lon, or drinks like Vietnamese Egg Coffee and Coconut Coffee, there are a lot of choices for Hanoi Street Food. On top of its taste and convenience, Hanoi Street Food is also the best valued and budgeted choice for you to fit in.

Pho at Pho 10 one of the MICHELIN guide restaurant in Hanoi
Pho at Pho 10 one of the MICHELIN guide restaurant in Hanoi

Hanoi Local Restaurants

Other than that, local restaurants are also very good options. Although, they may be slightly pricier than street food. It does provide a different experience. For example, you can taste Cha ca La Vong (a Vietnamese grilled fish dish) in some of the restaurants at Cha Ca Street. Or you can have some Pho at some renowned MICHELIN guide restaurants for Pho like Pho 10 or Pho Gia Truyen.

Apart from Vietnamese dishes, I would also recommend you to try out the pasta and pizza at a local restaurant called “Pizza 4P’s Bao Khanh” (Google Map Address) which serves the best pizza and pasta I have ever tasted in Asia. It also has over 12,000 comments on Google Maps, make sure you avoid peak hours which would have very long queues.

Crab Tomato Cream Spaghetti with Ricotta Cheese for 225,000 VND (~ 9.2 USD) - how should i prepare for Hanoi part 3
Crab Tomato Cream Spaghetti with Ricotta Cheese for 225,000 VND (~ 9.2 USD)

French Fine Dining

Hanoi was a former French colony, so French culture has had a lasting influence on the city’s cuisine and dining scene. With that history, there are a lot of French fine-dining restaurants in Hanoi.  Despite the nature of fine dining, the a la carte dishes are just around 10 – 20 USD each. Sometimes, the restaurants may even offer lunch courses for around 30 USD per person.

Our French Fine Dining Lunch At La Badiane for ~ 82 USD – 8 courses
Our French Fine Dining Lunch At La Badiane for ~ 82 USD – 8 courses

How Should I Prepare For Hanoi: Part 4 – Hanoi Spa

Other than sightseeing, Vietnamese Spa is another must-try for you in Hanoi. Hanoi is renowned as one of the most relaxing spa destinations in Vietnam. The capital’s long-established spa culture blends traditional Vietnamese therapies with international techniques.

There are numerous massage options you can pick from simply a 45-minute foot massage, oil massage, hot stone body massage, or even a 3-hour full package massage that includes facial, body massage, scrub, and manicure. The massage experience can be pre-booked online via platforms like Klook or by booking straight at the spa.

Depending on budget the price could range from around 10 USD for foot massage to close to 50 USD for a 3-hour full-package massage. There are hundreds of options and combinations you can choose from.

I tried different options during my stay in Hanoi. Based on experience, I find foot massage is most enjoyable given relative to its price and comfortableness. For body massage, aroma (oil) massage is in general quite good for most of the mid-price range massage (~ 20 USD for each 90 minutes). However, anything beyond 90 minutes i.e. 3-hour full package seems to be too long and you may not enjoy that.

If budget allows, I would recommend trying that 120-minute aroma body massage from L’essence De La Vie Spa. It is the only massage rejuvenating to the extent that would make you fall asleep. In addition to the enjoyable environment of the Spa, they even offer you a free meal at their five-star restaurant afterward. The package can be pre-booked in advance but sometimes visiting the Spa directly may have other options or promotions.

Photo of L'essence Spa - about spa session in what should I prepare for Hanoi
Getting ready for the signature aroma massage at L’essence
The complimentary meal from five-star restaurant of L'essence after the spa
The complimentary meal after the massage at a five-star restaurant

Tips to masseuse are optional depending on their service. It could range from 5 to 15% depending on their service.

How Should I Prepare For Hanoi: Part 5 – Other Items

Until now, you should be able to visualize the fruitfulness of your traveling to Hanoi Vietnam. You would enjoy visiting historical sites, eating great local food, and enjoying the spa on a typical day in Hanoi.  You can easily organize things to do in Hanoi for a week or a day. To ensure a smoother and happier journey, let’s also take a look at some other items.

Hanoi Souvenir

There are various souvenir options in Hanoi. From traditional handicrafts, dressing, coffees, and snacks to common items like magnets. You will find perfect gifts for yourself or others., I would recommend you to go to Dong Xuan Market (before 5 PM) which is a wholesale market for different items including souvenirs. Or you could also go for the night market at Hanoi Old Quarter or souvenir shops near the Hoan Kiem Lake.

Depending on the items, the price could differ, but remember to ask for at least a 30% discount for bargaining.

Photo of Hanoi Souvenirs
Hanoi souvenirs


For transportation, I would recommend you make use of Grab (a South Asian version of Uber). All the attractions, restaurants, and spas in Hanoi are within walking distance. For the trip to Halong Bay, most tour packages would include transportation.

Based on that the only transportation you would need in the itinerary would be the transfer to/from Noi Bai International Airport Arrival. The easiest way is to download the Grab app beforehand and use it during that time. Or you could also take advantage of the Hanoi airport bus 17.

The Hanoi airport bus 17 would cost you 9,000 VND (~0.37 USD) per person. Grab would be around 340,000 VND (~ 14 USD). Depending on your schedule, I took advantage of the bus from the airport to the city center and used Grab on my way back.

Wrapping Up – How Should I Prepare For Hanoi

Hanoi is a great place for you to travel. From the above, you can already visualize the variety of your adventure in Hanoi. You can visit over 10 historical icons in the city center, and the famous Halong Bay, taste the local food, and enjoy the comfortable Hanoi spas. With all these experiences, it would cost you only less than USD 300.

I hope these help you with trip planning Hanoi and I highly recommend this city to you.

Please leave a comment to let me know your experience.

Regulus K

A budget travel blogger passionate about exploring different destinations worldwide, while balancing a regular 9-to-5 job.

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