Top 10 Adventurous Day Trips From Hanoi - Halong bay, Ninh Binh and more

Nga Do
Hanoi is great for Bun Cha and Pho, but the city’s bustling traffic can get overwhelming. If you’re craving for some nature and serenity, here are 10 different day trips from Hanoi you can take.

Vietnam’s northern city of Hanoi charms with its duality of ancient and contemporary history, a great destination for the modern, feisty, nature-loving and adventure-seeking individual.

1) Halong Bay - 3 hrs from Hanoi City

10 Adventurous Day Trips From Hanoi - Halong bay, Ninh Binh and more
Photo: Adam Jones
Many say that no trip to Northern Vietnam is complete without a visit to Halong Bay, and that’s no exaggeration. With about 2,000 limestone karsts rising from the emerald blue seas, Halong Bay‘s magnificence bagged her the honour of being officially recognised as one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature.

Halong Bay can be explored on day cruises that set out from the Tuan Chau Marina Pier, which is a three-hour drive from Hanoi city. Most Halong Bay tours feature similar itineraries — a visit to Titop Island, a kayak activity, and a visit to a limestone cave.

Some may find the day trip to Halong Bay rushed factoring the 3hr journey, so if you have more time, do opt for the 2D1N and 3D2N tours to Halong Bay instead.

2) Tam Coc, Ninh Binh - 2 hrs from Hanoi City

The province of Ninh Binh is about two hours away from Hanoi city and is a day trip destination that’s gaining traction among younger travellers these days. There are mainly two areas of attraction in Ninh Binh — Hoa Lu and Tam Coc.

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Photo: Kien1980v
Hoa Lu: History buffs would love this day trip destination. Hoa Lu was the capital of Vietnam between the 10th – 11th century, and the most visited monuments of this ancient citadel are two temples built in honour of past emperors, Dinh Tien Hoang and Le Dai Hanh. Although these temples aren’t as majestic as ancient Chinese or Japanese temples, they’re of importance to the Vietnamese for their historical value.

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Photo: Hoang Giang Hai
Tam Coc: Also in Ninh Binh province is Tam Coc, a flooded cave karst system. It is nicknamed “The Inland Halong Bay” as the view of the limestone karsts on the river is a striking resemblance to those of Halong Bay.

Most visitors do a rowboat tour at Tam Coc where the boatmen use their powerful legs to row the oars (you’ll have to see it to believe it!). It costs 195,000₫ per person to get on a rowboat and lasts about 45 mins down the Tam Coc river. It gets interesting when the rowboat goes through the hollow parts of the limestone karsts (caves!) as some of them are pitch black and can be quite a “terrifying” experience!

At the end of the ride, it’s advisable to tip the boatman for their hard work!

You can also explore Tam Coc on a bicycle! Vietnam is the second largest exporter of rice in the world, and Tam Coc is one place where you can catch locals farming their own rice. During our day trip to Tam Coc, we cycled past a few rice paddy fields and villages.

If time permits, visit the Bich Dong Pagoda that consists of three separate layered pagodas: Ha, Trung and Thuong. These three pagodas were built in ascending order and can be quite a workout to get to!2) Tam Coc - Ninh Binh (2 hrs from Hanoi City)

3) Trang An Complex - 1 hr 40 mins from Hanoi City

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Photo: Richard Mortel
Located in Ninh Binh Province which is 100 km away from Hanoi, Trang An Complex and Bai Dinh Pagoda are must-have items in every traveler’s itinerary. Bai Dinh Pagoda is renowned for many regional records: the most spacious pagoda, the biggest copper bell, the most Arhant statues, the biggest open space in Vietnam, and the tallest gold-plated copper Buddha statue in the Asia. 

Since you will have to climb flights of stairs to get to the Buddhas, I suggest wearing comfortable clothes and trainers instead of tight clothing and high heels. At lunch, tourists can savor a buffet with local specialties like fried rice and goat meat. Coming to Trang An Complex, you should allocate 2 hours on the small boat drifting along breath-taking scenery to explore the cave complex and immerse yourself in the backstory of each cave told by a local guide.

4) Mai Chau valley - about 4 hrs from Hanoi City

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Photo: internet
Mai Chau is not your typical Vietnam day trip location but it sure is worth your consideration for a visit! Home to several minority ethnic groups such as the White and Black Thais, the Hmong, and the Tay, Mai Chau is a rural getaway forgotten by time. One can expect to visit the stilt houses of the minority groups among plains of paddy fields.

Another reason why Mai Chau makes the perfect day trip from Hanoi is its proximity to Hanoi but offers similar views to Sapa, that’s more than six hours away (Mai Chau only requires four).

Do plan your trip to Mai Chau on a Sunday as locals of neighbouring minority tribes will come together to trade at the Pa Co Sunday Market. Farmed produce, livestock, and handmade crafts are usually what’s sold there. It’s hence a great chance to interact with the minority tribes without visiting “touristy tribal villages” maintained by tourism boards.

Do note that the Sunday market opens early in the morning and closes before noon.

5) Moc Chau plateau - 3 hrs from Hanoi City

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Photo: pxhere
As a region of elevated mountainous plateau, Moc Chau possesses outstandingly beautiful landscapes and hospitable climate all year round. Yet, the best time to make a day trip to Moc Chau is from late January to early February when plum blossoms bloom. At that time, villages and forests are covered in the pure white of the flowers. In Moc Chau, you can visit Moc Shan Tuyet where best quality tea is produced to gain insights into the process of tea making and try it by yourself.

6) Perfume Pagoda - 2 hrs from Hanoi City

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Photo: Bùi Thụy Đào Nguyên
Another amazing day trip from Hanoi that you do not want to miss is a visit to the Perfume Pagoda, or Huong Pagoda – a spiritual destination of Vietnamese people. You can enjoy mountain views while rowing on Yen river and trekking up to the main pagoda. 

If you’re into Vietnamese history or Buddhism, visiting Perfume Pagoda and its vast complex of Buddhist temples and shrines along the Huong Tich mountains makes the perfect day trip from Hanoi.

In accordance with Buddhist culture, you should be wearing outfits that cover both your shoulders and knees, or else you won’t be allowed to enter. Another thing worth noting is that it is not a good idea for you to visit Perfume Pagoda during Vietnamese national festivals because at those time it is overcrowded with people, impeding the appreciation of the scenic beauty.

7) Bat Trang Pottery Village, Hanoi

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Photo: 松岡明芳
Vietnam has long earned a reputation of skillfully handcrafted products. Visiting Bat Trang Pottery Village – the most ancient and famous pottery village in Vietnam, you can discover the ceramic production process and gain hands-on experience of making one on your own. Before leaving, you can stop by the souvenir shop and grab some cute clayware at a reasonable price.

8) Duong Lam Ancient Village - 2 hrs from Hanoi City

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Photo: Bùi Thụy Đào Nguyên
History buffs can consider a day trip from Hanoi to Duong Lam Village, where the unique architectural features of ancient houses are still kept and preserved to this day.

Most day trips organised by local operators include lunch with a local family in their private home, so talk about an authentic Vietnamese lifestyle experience! Within the village are also two monuments of the two heroes of ancient Vietnam, Phung Hung and Ngo Quyen.

9) Yen Tu mountain - 4 hrs from Hanoi City

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Photo: Bùi Thụy Đào Nguyên
The trip to Yen Tu Mountain is an amazing day trip from Hanoi that is worth taking part at least once in your lifetime. Vietnamese pilgrims hold a belief that anyone who has not come Yen Tu cannot be considered a true religious person, which can reveal the influential value of this sacred place in their spiritual lives. Lying on the peak of Yen Tu, 6,000 meters walking trail from the foot of the mountain, Chua Dong (Bronze Pagoda) is a limelight of the site. Rumor has it that a tap on the pagoda will bring about good luck and fortune. On a side note, two cables are in operation in aid of time-saving and convenient sightseeing.

10) Cuc Phuong National Park - 2 hrs from Hanoi City

If you consider yourself a nature and animal lover, Cuc Phuong is a perfect place to go. Ranked in the top 5 largest national parks in Vietnam, the park contains over 200 square kilometers of rainforest. Cuc Phuong was the first national park to be established and the country’s biggest nature reserve, with a wide range of flora and fauna. A large number of tourists come here every year to study butterflies, visit caves and hike mountains. 

Dry season, which lasts from October to April, is the best period to visit the site to enjoy it to the fullest.

Ease your travel planning and get the most out of your day trips from Hanoi with tours you can easily book! Be it overnight cruises to the stunning Halong Bay, or an all-inclusive day trip to the ancient capital city of Hoa Lu, there are plenty of options for the perfect day trip you are looking for from Hanoi. We have a summary of the day tours from Hanoi, contact us for more details.

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