Hanoi
Off the beaten track

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Our most recommended Hanoi Off the beaten track

Hanoi: Islands, Caves, and Kayaking with Cruise in Halong

1. Hanoi: Islands, Caves, and Kayaking with Cruise in Halong

Discover the beauty of Ha Long Bay on a cruise and a guided Kayaking tour. Transfer from your hotel in Hanoi and stop to shop for souvenirs along the way. Enjoy a delicious seafood lunch on a cruise to the Thien Cung cave. Get closer to the islands on a leisurely kayaking tour. After you’re picked up at hotels located in Old Quarter of Hanoi, head out on the drive to Halong Bay, making a short stop half way to visit crafts workshops, where you’ll see marble stone sculptures, plaque paintings, and hand-embroidered items. On your full-day excursion continue on the scenic drive to Halong, reaching Tuan Chau Island pier from 12:00 PM to 12:15, and board the traditional cruise. You’ll be greeted on board and then enjoy a fresh seafood lunch. Have a chance to take in the tranquil beauty and breathtaking scenery from the deck of the boat. During the cruise you’ll enjoy views of tiny islands with their rock arches, sheer cliffs, innumerable white sand beaches, and peaceful coves. Like sculpted cartoon characters, these limestone islands have fanciful names, such as Incense Burner, Stone Dog, and Fighting Cock (which is the symbol of Halong Bay). You will then head on to Thien Cung (Heavenly Palace Grotto). Explore its huge chambers adorned with stalactites and stalagmites of all kinds. Finally, enjoy 45-minutes of kayaking or paddling a bamboo boat around the islands and water tunnels at the World Natural Area recognized by UNESCO. Return to the Tuan Chau pier from 16:30 to 17:00 and board the bus that will take you back to Hanoi. Arrive in Hanoi from 19:00 PM to 19:30 Menu for lunch: 1: Tomato/ cucumber salad 2: Fried potato 3: Steam shrimp 4: Fried eggs roll 5: Fried squid  6: Deep fried seafood spring rolls 7: Fried chicken with mushroom 8: Steamed fish with tomato sauce 9: Fried vegetable (available upon season) 10: Steamed rice 11: Fresh fruit 12: Afternoon fresh fruit and tea

Hanoi: Halong Bay 2-Day Tour with Lodging and Luxury Cruise

2. Hanoi: Halong Bay 2-Day Tour with Lodging and Luxury Cruise

Experience Ha Long Bay on a 2-day cruise, with a sea view or balcony room, cooking demonstrations, and plenty of entertainment onboard. Swim and kayak in the bay's emerald waters and explore its limestone islands and quaint villages. Day 1: Hanoi Pickup and Ha Long Bay The first day of your cruise begins with a hotel pickup from the Old Quarter of Hanoi. Meet with fellow cruise guests and get to know travelers from all around the world. On your way to Ha Long Bay stop at a humanity center to check out local specialties and products. Arrive at your cruise boat and receive a warm welcome from your captain. Afterward, sit for lunch and savor a delicious meal as the cruise passes through thousands of islands and islets of different shapes. Stop near the floating villages and have the opportunity to kayak in the middle of the bay to admire its fascinating rock formations a bit closer. If possible that day, visit Titop Island. Return to the boat for the evening and watch a cooking demonstration of Vietnamese spring rolls. Then delight in an idyllic dinner on board. Spend the rest of the night with free time to participate in activities such as squid fishing, karaoke, or star-gazing on the deck. Day 2: Ha Long Bay and Hanoi Drop-off Have an early start to your day with morning exercises and photos. Sip your coffee or tea as you have breakfast. Relax and take in the breathtaking beauty of the rocky islands rising from the crystal-clear water of the bay. Check out of your cabin and then spend the rest of the morning exploring Ha Long Ba's Surprise Cave. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to impressive rock formations, incredibly tall ceilings, and an interesting legend. From Surprise Cave, head back to the cruise boat's restaurant and eat lunch. Disembark for your transfer back to Hanoi.

From Hanoi: Ha Long Bay and Bai Tu Long Bay Luxury Boat Tour

3. From Hanoi: Ha Long Bay and Bai Tu Long Bay Luxury Boat Tour

The day begins with pickup from your hotel in the Old Quarter of Hanoi at around 7am and heads to Ha Long International Cruise Port, approximately 2-3 hours away. Upon arrival at the port, board your luxury boat for the day and receive a warm welcome from the tour team. Once everyone’s onboard, set sail towards the remote areas of Ha Long Bay and admire the mystifying and magical landscapes of the rocky islets and islands that surround you. At midday enjoy a delicious lunch onboard the boat as you continue to sail through bay and marvel at the stunning and magnificent limestone mountains all around. After lunch, arrive at Tien Ong Cave, a natural cave in the middle of the sea which is home to an array of incredibly beautiful stalactites and stalagmites. At the cave learn about the historical and cultural values of prehistoric sea fishermen who inhabited the location thousands of years ago. From the cave continue on towards Cua Van fishing village, the biggest floating village in Ha Long Bay. Explore the village by kayak or a bamboo boat and visit the quaint onsite museum to learn about local lifestyle and customs. Next, enjoy some free time on the boat to soak up the views, relax on deck, or treat yourself to a massage service. At 5pm watch an incredible fruit carving demonstration then enjoy a delicious canapé party against the backdrop of the glowing sunset. Finally, head back to the cruise port where your transfer service is waiting to take you safely back to Hanoi.

Hanoi: Cooking Class in a Local Villa with Market Tour

4. Hanoi: Cooking Class in a Local Villa with Market Tour

One of the most interesting things when traveling to a new land is enjoying its culinary delights. Take part in a cooking class that provides an immersive experience in Vietnamese traditional life. Shop for local ingredients before cooking and eating your own Vietnamese culinary delights over a glass of local wine.  Take a visit to a typical Vietnamese market and experience daily life for people here. Once you have selected your delicious and fresh ingredients head to the local villa and unwind ready for your cooking lesson. This exciting program is the ideal way to enjoy an authentic cultural and culinary experience. It’s also perfect for the serious home cooks who want to learn how to cook Vietnamese healthy foods for themselves and their beloved. 

Private Full Day Tam Coc, Cuc Phuong National Park W/ Lunch

5. Private Full Day Tam Coc, Cuc Phuong National Park W/ Lunch

Arrive at Tam Coc and take the sampan that goes along the Ngo Dong River to visit three different caves. After you finish visiting Tam Coc, bike around the Tam Coc area and enjoy a Vietnamese tea break. Next, enjoy a lunch of Vietnamese cuisine. Then get back into your private car and continue on towards Cuc Phuong National Park to visit the Endangered Primate Rescue Center. The primate center was established in 1993 with the help of the Frankfurt Zoological Society. Afterwards, visit the cave of Early Man. It is one of the nice cave in this forest, then going to visit some symbal old trees of Cuc Phuong National Park.

Hanoi: Instagram-Worthy Tour of City’s Most Scenic Spots

6. Hanoi: Instagram-Worthy Tour of City’s Most Scenic Spots

Start the tour while posing at St. Joseph's Cathedral and wandering around the central spots of the Old Quarter. Your professional guide will not only take special and cool shots for you, but also make your picture spectacular and unique. Next to the cathedral, you also can capture a nice shot at the Hanoi House Cafe with its ancient features surrounding you.   The next stop will be the Ceramic Mosaic Mural, the longest and the most colorful street which was built to celebrate 1,000 years of civilization in Hanoi. You can go along the street and choose the best scenes or go to the Long Biên Bridge to get the combination of both bridge and mural in your photos. Your next scenic spot will be West Lake with the panoramic view of the biggest lake in the city combined with oldest Buddhist temple, the Tran Quoc Pagoda. After that, you will pass by Phan Dinh Phung Street, crossing the Cua Bac Church and the Imperial Citadel of Thăng Long. Last but not least, you also have the chance to snap Hanoi Train Street, one of the must-see places that cannot be left out.

Halong Bay: 2-Day Luxury Cruise

7. Halong Bay: 2-Day Luxury Cruise

Check in an set sail between 11:30 am and 12 pm on your first day. After setting sail, head to the Tonkin Restaurant for a delicious set menu lunch. In the afternoon, board kayaks or traditional bamboo boats rowed by locals to reach the Dark and Light Caves. Explore these half-submerged limestone caves that are only accessible by water, spotting the abundant marine life and making your way through an unlit rocky tunnel to an airy, light-filled grotto. Head back to the ship and take the opportunity to swim in the emerald green waters of the bay. Around sunset, enjoy happy hour deals and sip a cocktail on the deck. Take part in a cooking class and lear to make a deep-fried spring roll. Then sit down for dinner and enjoy the cozy ambiance of the dining room. Take time after dinner to relax or take part in activities, including films, playing chess, reading, listening to music, or trying your luck with squid fishing. The boat will head to the quietest part of Lan Ha Bay overnight to ensure you get a restful sleep. Wake up bright and early on the morning of your second day for a tai chi session on the sundeck. Greet the dawn while engaging you body and waking up slowly. Enjoy a light and nutritious breakfast before going on a tour of a typical floating house. The local host will welcome you as guests and tell you about the traditional way of life on the bay. When you return check out and take time for a delicious farewell brunch. Return to Tuan Chau Marina and disembark around 3:30 pm.

Trekking Mu Cang Chai Tour 3 Days

8. Trekking Mu Cang Chai Tour 3 Days

From Hanoi, you will head to Nghia Lo town – the home of Thai people, one of the main ethnic groups in Yen Bai. Arrive in Tu Le town, walk around the rice fields and explore the lifestyles of the Thai and Mong people. Go on a trek then spend a night in a homestay. After breakfast the next day, you will move to Mu Cang Chai. Drive over the Khau Pha pass (one of the four greatest passes in Northern Vietnam, connecting Tu Le and Mu Cang Chai). These scenic roads offer a lot of stops for picture-taking. When you arrive in Mu Cang Chai spend around 3 hours trekking from La Pan Tan to Rasberry Hill – one of the most famous destinations in the country. Eat a simple lunch at a Hmong house in Mu Cang Chai. After lunch, you will continue to enjoy some trekking from Che Cu Nha to Kim Noi village. Stay overnight in a stilt house. The next day you will trek up to Sang Nhu or Lao Chai village, where there are beautiful rice terraces. Enjoy trekking through the pine forests and along the hidden paths as you take in the views of Mu Cang Chai.

Sapa: 3-Day Medium Trek and Bus Trip from Hanoi

9. Sapa: 3-Day Medium Trek and Bus Trip from Hanoi

Day 1: Hanoi – Sapa by bus, free and easy After 6:30 AM pick-up, depart to Sapa town. Following the highway to Lao Cai city, see the rice fields on both sides of the road and enjoy the peaceful scenery. Take a short comfort break at Lao Cai city before approaching Sapa. At 1:00 PM, arrive in Sapa, take a quick break to freshen up then walk around this charming town, paying visit to Sapa market and the old cathedral. Meet local ethnic minority people such as Black H’mong and Red Zao wearing their traditional colorful dresses, selling farming products and handicrafts as souvenirs. A meal with local Vietnamese dishes will be served in a local restaurant. After lunch, spend some free time this afternoon discovering Sapa town by yourself. Around 5:45 PM,  enjoy dinner at the restaurant in the hotel. Overnight at hotel. Day 2: Sapa - Y Linh Ho – Lao Chai – Ta Van village (breakfast, lunch, dinner) Wake up in the morning and enjoy the fresh air. Have a local breakfast in the restaurant, then, get ready for trekking. Check out the room and begin your exploration trip to Muong Hoa valley. Follow the main road heading south for about an hour before turning right to a foot path down hill to Muong Hoa Valley. This part offers spectacular scenery of the highest part of Hoang Lien Son mountain range and on a nice day, Fansipan Peak can be seen. Crossing the river by a suspension bridge you will challenge your feet uphill to Y Linh Ho village. Here, pay a visit to some H’mong families, and watch them doing their daily work. After a picnic lunch, the trail continues up and down hill for about 2 hours as you reach Lao Chai, a large village of the H’mong and then follow the river bank to Ta Van of the Zay people. Visiting local homes, and village schools, enjoy your cultural discovery of local ethnic people as well as breathtaking scenery of the Muong Hoa Valley. Settle down in Ta Van village for an overnight home stay. Accommodation: Homestay in Ta Van Village Day 3: Ta Van - Giang Ta Chai - Sapa – Hanoi (breakfast, lunch) Leaving Ta Van village after Breakfast, take the trail uphill, passing fascinating terraced rice fields and some small hamlets of the H’mong before getting through a bamboo forest to a waterfall. Enjoy a break for some magnificent scenery and then continue walking for half an hour to Giang Ta Chai village of the Red Zao people, which sits on the top of a hill and looks down Muong Hoa river. After spending time visiting the village, making friends with the Zao and experiencing the hospitality, cross the river by another suspension bridge and then go uphill again to Hau Thao village. Visit a local handicraft center where H’mong and Zao women gather to exchange experience and skills of making handicrafts. A late Lunch will be prepared nearby this center and then you have time to relax and prepare before heading back to Hanoi. The tour guide will take you to the bus station. Tour ends. The bus journey back to Hanoi takes five or six hours (depending on traffic). Arrive in Hanoi around 9:30 PM to 10:00 PM. Please notice the drop off location: - During weekdays (Monday to Thursday): your hotel/apartment in the Old Quarter - During Weekends (Friday to Sunday): the bus office or street corner that is close to your hotel/apartment in the Old Quarter. (There is a walking street area on some streets in the Old Quarter during the weekend and the transfers are not allowed inside these walking streets).

Overnight cruise in Ha Long and Lan Ha Bay

10. Overnight cruise in Ha Long and Lan Ha Bay

The adventure begins with optional hotel pickup from Hanoi. Travel in the comfort of a private limousine to the Sun Group pier in Ha Long, where the Sena Cruises crew will warmly welcome you aboard. Enjoy a welcome drink, hear the safety briefing, and settle in to the fully furnished cabin with ocean views.   Lunch is served on board as the ship sails into Ha Long Bay, crossing Finger Islet, Candle Islet, and thousands of uniquely shaped limestone towers. In the afternoon, discover the beautiful surroundings in a 2-person kayak excursion. Glide through the emerald water and take a closer look at the geology of the Gulf of Tonkin. After a quick dip, relax on the ship and take advantage of the Happy Hour deals. Enjoy a traditional Vietnamese Lotus Tea and learn the secrets of how to make this traditional drink. At night, a deluxe barbecue dinner will be served on the top deck. Take in the evening views before settling in to watch a movie in the restaurant, relaxing with a massage in the spa, or enjoying a last drink at the bar.  The next morning, start the day with a sunrise Tai-Chi session or admire the views from the comfort of the private ocean-view balcony. After a light breakfast, visit Viet Hai, a small village located in the midst of the jungle. Take a 30-minute bike ride through Cat Ba National Park to explore the traditional scenery of North Vietnam.   There will be time to freshen up and eat lunch before checkout and the return transfer to Hanoi.

Frequently asked questions about Hanoi Off the beaten track

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What people are saying about Hanoi

Overall rating

4.4 / 5

based on 208 reviews

Really great course. The market tour was very interesting, we were given options of what we wanted to cook and decided on Bùn Chá, spring rolls, banana salad, egg coffee. We prepared the ingredients and assembled each dish together and chef was very helpful and informative. We were offered beers or soft drinks throughout. The food was really delicious, the nicest I’ve had in Hanoi. A full recipe book with all the recipes for what we cooked and more was sent to us aster. Would highly recommend!

The two day cruise in Halong Bay was one of the best things we did in Vietnam. The boat was very nice. The cabins had dark wood and big windows. We also enjoyed the balcony where we took a lot of photos from. After our kajak tour we went in the hot tup and drank some happy hour drinks. The staff was very friendly without being too much.

Amazing tour with an amazing friendly guide who was very informative. Would definitely recommend. Stunning lunch on the boat, kayaking, cave tour and oyster farm all included.

Was a good trip. A bit small bus from Hanoi to Halong Bay, but a very pretty view when we arrived the bay.

I am happy that I did the tour, it was amazing experience. Would highly recommend.