Incredible Day Trips From Hanoi, Vietnam

Get out of Hanoi and see the amazing limestone mountains and caves around Tam Coc
Get out of Hanoi and see the amazing limestone mountains and caves around Tam Coc | © Hugh Mitton / Alamy Stock Photo

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Hanoi is the kind of place where you’ll want to spend a few days and really explore all its museums, landmarks, restaurants and nightlife. But when the traffic and smog starts to drive you mad, leave the city behind and get out into the countryside on a day trip. It can be difficult to narrow your choices, so here are Culture Trip’s most recommended day trips out of Hanoi, Vietnam.

Looking for the whole package? With Culture Trip, you can experience the best of Hanoi, its surroundings and beyond with our Local Insider leading you. Check out the next departures for our epic 12-day adventure from Hanoi to Hoi An.

1. Duong Lam Ancient Village, for a traditional way of life

Historical Landmark

A farmer leading a water buffalo carrying vegetables and a person cycling next to them in Duong Lam Ancient Village
© inga spence / Alamy Stock Photo
To get a glimpse of life as it was, visit calm and peaceful Duong Lam. This collection of villages serves as a living museum, where the traditional ways of life still exist. There are communes, temples to kings from the village, centuries-old homes and communities of people. Since Duong Lam is near Ba Vi National Park, most tour groups bring you to both.

2. Hoa Lu Ancient Capital, for historic architecture

Historical Landmark

The impressive stone gate with pagoda and flags at the entrance to Hoa Lu, the ancient capital of Vietnam
© Derek Dryland / Alamy Stock Photo
Because they’re both so close to each other, trips to Trang An and Tam Coc are often packaged together with visits to the Hoa Lu Ancient Capital. As the name suggests, Hoa Lu was once the capital of Vietnam, during the 10th and 11th centuries. Little remains of the original structures, but there are newer temples and buildings honouring the original dynastic families. The area is also nestled between steep hills, making for great pictures.

4. Ba Vi National Park, for hiking trails

Natural Feature

To really engross yourself in nature, travel two hours west to Ba Vi National Park. There are three peaks that make the focal points of this park, and on the second tallest peak, Tan Vien, there’s an 11th-century shrine for the Mountain God. And after you’ve hiked the trails and gone for a swim, take a break in the spa.

5. Phat Diem Cathedral, for a glimpse into Vietnamese Catholicism

Cathedral, Church

Potted palm trees lining the street outside Phat Diem Cathedral complex, with a terracotta roof and pagoda towers
© Cavan Images / Alamy Stock Photo
Christianity was first brought to Vietnam by Portuguese missionaries four centuries ago. Now there are approximately 6 million Catholics in the country. The Phat Diem Cathedral, built in 1892, is still a functional church to this day. It had to close 1954 when the Catholics fled nationalist forces, and Graham Greene even mentioned the cathedral in his famous book, The Quiet American (1955).

6. Perfume Pagoda, for natural beauty and cultural heritage

Buddhist Temple

People in boats on the Perfume Pagoda river, with forested hills behind
© Inaki Olavarrieta Moro / Alamy Stock Photo

The Perfume Pagoda is a busy tourist spot in the region because Vietnamese Buddhists often make pilgrimages here. From February to April, crowds flock to this pagoda, so keep that in mind if you don’t want to bump shoulders with tour groups; but even at its busiest, the combination of natural beauty and rich cultural heritage still make this a day trip to consider. The boat trip alone to get to the pagoda is incredible enough to justify the trip.

7. Thay Temple, for a top-notch temple

Buddhist Temple

Thay Temple, partially submerged in water, with a stone carved windows and a pagoda roof
© Vietnam Stock Images/shutterstock
Established in the 11th century by Nhân Tông of the Lý Dynasty, the Thay Temple is one of the oldest in Vietnam. It’s still the home to monks who maintain the temple and periodically put on water puppet shows during festivals. The temple itself has some of the best examples of Vietnamese Buddhist architecture. Since the temple is only 30km from Hanoi, it makes for an easy day trip.

8. Mai Chau Valley, for cycling through remote villages

Natural Feature

A person walking across the rice fields in Mai Chau Valley
© Marcus Wilson-Smith / Alamy Stock Photo

This valley is another picture-perfect spot, with rice paddies and lines of jagged mountain ridges. At over three hours, the journey from Hanoi is an effort, but once here you’ll get to experience the lifestyles of the region’s ethnic tribes. Overnight homestays are popular, but stopping in for one day is also a fine option. You can bike or trek through the remote villages and you’ll even have a chance to spot some rare and exotic wildlife.

Tempted? You can visit Mai Chau and enjoy a scenic bicycle ride as part of Culture Trip’s specially curated 12-day Vietnam adventure, led by our local insider.

9. Bat Trang Village, for local pottery

Architectural Landmark, Historical Landmark

A man driving a motorcycle transporting large porcelain vases in the pottery village of Bat Trang
© imageBROKER / Alamy Stock Photo

Bat Trang Village is just 30 minutes from the Old Quarter in Hanoi, so it’s a low-commitment excursion. The village is famous for its porcelain and ceramics, which are sought after throughout Asia because of their quality and traditional designs.

10. Ha Long Bay, for stunning scenery

Natural Feature

A tour boat sailing around Ha Long Bay
© Sebastiaan Hamming / Alamy Stock Photo

Now to the crown jewel of tourism in Vietnam. Pretty much everyone who visits this country goes to Ha Long Bay. It’s page one of every travel guide ever written about Vietnam. It’s a mystical place – almost other-worldly – and famous for good reason. Even though Ha Long City is quickly going down the tubes, Ha Long Bay still deserves a day to take in the sights. We recommend you splurge on a fancy dinner boat, or a quality tour guide.

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

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