Attractions Nearby Hanoi, Day Trips and Excursions
It's not all about Hanoi - there are loads of interesting places and attractions within a few hours of the city. Halong Bay is one of the world's most romantic spots and is just to the east, while off to the west and south are some arresting scenic landscapes draped in the timeless and poverty stricken countryside life of Vietnam
Also within reach of Hanoi are the nearby towns of Hoa Binh and Bat Trang, both of which come with a selection of noted attractions.
One of the top attractions in all of Vietnam is just a few hours' drive from Hanoi. Halong Bay is a mist-shrouded slice of beauty in the South China Sea that is strewn with impressive 'karst' (eroded rock) formations amid serene waters. Many organised day trips from the capital include a boat tour of the bay's choice spots, as well as spending extra time here. There is also excellent rock climbing and kayaking at Halong Bay, not to mention the swimming and caving. It's best visited on an overnight or three-day trip by boat, but is covered in mist for much of the year - which all adds to the intrigue.
The Perfume Pagoda (Chua Huong)
Address: Ha Dong, Vietnam, VN
Just a couple of hours south-west of Hanoi is a fascinating collection of Buddhist temples known as the Perfume Pagoda. It is the site of an annual pilgrimage by devout Buddhists and has the most unique entryway. The excursion to Chua Huong includes a boat trip through rice paddies and stunning scenery, followed by a hike up part of Huong Son Mountain to access the site.
Open hours: daily - year round
Admission: free, charge for tour
Ba Vi National Park
Address: Ba Vi Mountain, Vietnam, VN
Tel: +84 04 881 205
Ba Vi National Park is a beautiful region in the northern countryside that is well within reach of Hanoi. It is just an hour to the west of the city and is home to the Red River Delta and an impressive diversity of flora and fauna. A small mountain within the park has a temple at its summit, while a bird garden and an orchid garden are also onsite. A good advantage about Ba Vi National Park is that you can rent a motorbike in Hanoi and ride around it on your own.
Open hours: daily - year round
Admission: charge, extra for motorbike
An interesting town 90 minutes to the south-west of Hanoi provides access to the Da River and many hill tribes. You can board a boat in town and cruise the river, taking in hill tribe villages along the way. Many visitors to Hoa Binh also choose to take in the sights at the nearby Van Phuc silk village.
Bat Trang is a village on the Red River, just a few kilometres south of Hanoi, and is well known for its pottery. You can buy pottery here - be sure to haggle and pay in Vietnamese dong - as well as take in the local pottery factories. Getting here is easy and most choose to take a bus from Long Bien.
Hai Phong is one of Vietnam's largest cities and is just a couple of hours east of Hanoi. It is the main launch point for visits to Halong Bay, although it's not particularly touristy in its own right. You will also go through Hai Phong to get to Cat Ba Island and Do Son Beach from Hanoi.