Places to visit near Hanoi for a quick hop-off-the-city exploration

As the gateway to Northern Vietnam, Noi Bai Airport in Hanoi stands as the second largest international airport in the country, facilitating nearly 600 flights and accommodating over 80,000 passengers daily. This staggering number underscores Hanoi’s increasing popularity as a hub for both domestic and international travelers. Annually, the city warmly embraces a growing influx of foreign visitors.

Beyond the bustling airport, Hanoi serves as an ideal launchpad for exploring captivating destinations in its vicinity. The city’s strategic location allows visitors to embark on journeys to numerous intriguing tourist attractions just a short distance away with countless exciting things to do near Hanoi. Whether immersing in the rich history of ancient temples, savoring the tranquility of scenic landscapes, or indulging in the vibrant local culture, our top 10 places to visit near Hanoi in this article promise a diverse and enriching experience for those venturing into this S-shaped country.

Top places to visit near Hanoi  – your list of hidden gems to explore on your upcoming trip

Positioned as the nation’s capital, Hanoi stands as a crucial hub for politics, culture, and economy. Given its pivotal role, the city pulsates with activity, drawing individuals together for study, work, and entertainment. Hanoi’s allure extends beyond its vibrant streets, offering a plethora of possibilities for exploration and discovery, making it a must-visit destination for anyone eager to unravel the beauty and cultural richness of Northern Vietnam. 

However, the constant hustle and bustle of the capital can be wearisome. Hence, taking a break from the urban frenzy becomes a welcome respite. Consider venturing beyond Hanoi for a day to revel in the attractions that lie in its vicinity, offering a serene escape from the city’s relentless pace. With plenty of things to do around Hanoi, these brief retreats promise a refreshing interlude, allowing you to unwind and appreciate the diverse offerings that surround the vibrant capital.

Halong Bay

Ha Long Bay Landscape
Ha Long Bay Landscape

Halong Bay, distinguished by UNESCO as a World Natural Heritage, remains a renowned destination, especially among international tourists. The seamless blend of ocean and mountains in this area results in a breathtaking natural panorama.

Situated 165 km northeast of Hanoi, Halong Bay is a picturesque bay nestled in the Gulf of Tonkin, within Quang Ninh province. Encompassing over 1500 km2, it boasts 1,969 islands, with a remarkable 90% being limestone formations.

The journey from Hanoi to Halong Bay varies depending on the chosen mode of transportation. Options include motorbike, passenger car, or bus. Halong Bay Cruise tours, spanning 2 days and 1 night or 3 days and 2 nights, cater to enthusiasts eager to explore the bay. Departing from Hanoi at 8 am, the arrival around midday initiates a guided exploration of Halong Bay, the Fishing Village, and engaging in unique activities such as yacht massages, kayaking adventures, or even enjoying dinner within the cave of Halong Bay.

Sapa

Sa Pa mountain village

Renowned for its enchanting and picturesque landscapes, Sapa has established itself as a captivating tourist destination in Vietnam over the years. Nestled at an average altitude of 1500 – 1800m, Sapa boasts a cooler climate compared to other regions, occasionally witnessing rare snowfall in the winter – a rarity in tropical Vietnam. The optimal times for a visit are from March to May and September to November.

During April to May, ethnic minorities cultivate terraced rice fields, adorning the landscape with vibrant flowers. The weather is comfortably mild, making it an ideal period for tourism. From September to October, the rice fields mature, creating a mesmerizing golden panorama under the sunshine, especially favored by photography enthusiasts. For those yearning to witness snowfall, late December is the recommended time to travel to Sapa.

Sapa offers a myriad of exploration opportunities, including ascending Mount Fansipan, visiting the breathtaking Heaven’s Gate, and exploring renowned villages like Ta Phin and Ta Van. Typical Sapa tours departing from Hanoi span 3 days and 2 nights, with prices ranging from US $99 to US $200 per person.

Ninh Binh

Hiking at cuc phuong national park

Embracing its status as a burgeoning travel destination, Ninh Binh annually captivates millions of visitors. Renowned for its limestone mountains, concealed caves, and rich historical and cultural sites like Bai Dinh Pagoda, the scenic expanse of Trang An, the ancient capital of Hoa Lu, Mua Cave, and Tam Coc Bich Dong, Ninh Binh promises a tapestry of diverse attractions.

The journey from Hanoi to Ninh Binh has become a favored route for travelers. Typically, the itinerary commences with a morning visit to Bai Dinh Pagoda, capitalizing on the energy and excitement of the early day to explore the expansive site thoroughly. Post-Bai Dinh exploration, a leisurely lunch precedes the afternoon excursion to the picturesque Trang An complex. Revered for its harmonious blend of mountains and rivers, Trang An enchants visitors, offering bamboo boat rides as a delightful means to appreciate the awe-inspiring natural landscapes that grace this captivating destination.

Ba Vi National Park

Nestled approximately 50 kilometers west of Hanoi, Ba Vi National Park beckons with its majestic mountain landscapes, a refreshing and cool climate, and a richly diverse ecosystem. This verdant sanctuary offers a retreat from the urban bustle, providing visitors with an immersive experience in nature’s embrace. Ba Vi National Park is a haven for adventure enthusiasts, especially those who embark on the thrilling journey to its mountain summits.

Ascending Ba Vi Mountain, particularly on a motorbike, promises a scenic escapade where travelers can conquer King’s Peak, Tan Vien Peak, Ngoc Hoa Peak, and witness the ethereal beauty of the fallen church. The climb reveals panoramic vistas that capture the essence of Vietnam’s natural splendor. The cool mountain air coupled with the lush surroundings creates an ideal environment for both relaxation and exploration.

Beyond its breathtaking peaks, Ba Vi National Park shelters a wealth of biodiversity, with diverse flora and fauna inhabiting its expanse. The park serves as an outdoor haven, inviting visitors to connect with nature, indulge in outdoor activities, and relish the serenity that permeates this natural gem in the Vietnamese landscape. Ba Vi National Park stands as a testament to Vietnam’s ecological richness, offering a retreat that seamlessly blends tranquility and adventure.

Mai Chau

Merely 140 kilometers from Hanoi’s bustling center, as one of the best trekking destinations in North Vietnam, Mai Chau emerges as an idyllic haven for those seeking tranquility and fresh air, far removed from the clamor of urban life. Despite offering fewer entertainment options compared to other destinations, Mai Chau leaves an indelible mark with its untamed rustic charm. The region boasts a serene climate, invigorating air, and the amiable nature of its inhabitants, fostering a reluctance to depart among those who have experienced its allure.

Mai Chau, irrespective of the season, remains an enchanting destination. In the fall, the landscape is adorned with the resplendent yellow hues of ripe fields, while November to January unveils expansive white cauliflower fields. Spring heralds the romantic plum season, contributing to the area’s ever-changing beauty. Exploring the quaint villages of Ban Lac and Ban Pom Coong or pausing at Thung Khe to behold the majestic scenery further enhances the enchantment of Mai Chau, making it a perennially captivating retreat.

Bat Trang Pottery Village

Bat Trang Pottery Market

Bat Trang Pottery Village stands as a renowned destination not only for domestic tourists but also for global visitors seeking insights into Vietnam’s rich craft village heritage. This cultural gem offers immersive experiences, allowing individuals to partake in the creation of vibrant ceramic products for a nominal fee of 10,000 – 20,000 VND.

Boasting over 500 years of existence, Bat Trang has evolved into a hub for professional ceramic production, hosting both large corporations and smaller domestic units. Despite this modern transformation, the village zealously preserves its priceless traditional culture and imparts artistic value to each crafted piece. The pottery kilns of Bat Trang not only produce utilitarian items but also contribute to the adornment and exhibition of contemporary styles and materials. Moreover, the village’s creations extend to objects integral to the spiritual and worship practices of the Vietnamese people. Today, the exquisite ceramic artworks of Bat Trang adorn the Vietnamese market and find homes in numerous nations across Asia and Europe through exports.

Duong Lam ancient village

Duong Lam Ancient Village
Duong Lam Ancient Village

Journeying from the heart of Hanoi to Duong Lam ancient village takes a little over an hour, a short distance to a place steeped in history and charm. Preserving the rustic allure of yesteryears, Duong Lam showcases the enduring beauty of red-tiled roofs adorned with moss, embodying the essence of a bygone era. This ancient village proudly boasts 956 traditional homes, each a testament to the architectural legacy of Northern Vietnam. With its village gates, majestic banyan trees, river piers, and communal dwellings, Duong Lam stands as a quintessential representation of a northern town.

Earning the distinction of being the first historic village in Vietnam designated as a National Historic and Cultural Relic in 2006, Duong Lam invites exploration throughout the year. However, the village comes alive during specific seasons. In January of the lunar calendar, Duong Lam witnesses vibrant celebrations, while April hosts the Mong Phu village’s traditional festival, a spectacle of offerings and ceremonies. May and June mark the peak tourist season when the rice fields are adorned in their golden hues, transforming Duong Lam into a tranquil rural haven, where streets are lined with dry straw and ripened rice, crafting an idyllic and rare pastoral panorama.

Kim Boi Hot Spring

Nestled within the serene and mythical valley, Kim Boi Hot Spring Resort invites visitors to a rejuvenating immersion in its therapeutic hot spring waters. This hidden gem, surrounded by pristine mountains and lush forests, unfolds as an exquisite destination for those seeking relaxation and tranquility. The hot spring’s restorative properties create an exciting and soothing experience, allowing guests to unwind and revitalize their bodies.

Beyond the therapeutic waters, Kim Boi Hot Spring presents itself as a beautiful retreat, attracting tourists to indulge in the natural freshness of the surroundings. As visitors pause to appreciate the scenic beauty, they are treated to the exceptional culinary delights of the Muong people, adding a cultural dimension to their retreat. Kim Boi Hot Spring emerges as more than just a destination; it is a sanctuary where the intertwining elements of nature, wellness, and local culture converge to offer a holistic and memorable experience for those seeking respite from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Tam Dao

Photo: QuanDao

Tam Dao, situated near Hanoi, emerges as a captivating tourist destination where visitors can revel in the enchanting climate. The allure of this locale extends beyond its fantastic weather, drawing tourists to immerse themselves in the poetic and almost magical scenery that unfolds amidst the mist. Noteworthy attractions like Silver Falls, Silver Stream, and Thuong Tay Thien Temple beckon exploration.

Tam Dao’s appeal spans across all seasons, each offering its unique charm. Spring graces the region with vibrant blossoms, creating a picturesque landscape. Summer, with temperatures ranging from a cool 4-5 degrees Celsius to a comfortable 27-28 degrees Celsius, attracts weekenders seeking respite from Hanoi’s heat.

For those yearning for the mesmerizing sight of clouds enveloping Tam Dao, the optimal period is from November to January, during the winter months. The town transforms into a misty, romantic, and tranquil haven during this time. Following the locals’ wisdom, after a day of rain, sunny spells often give way to the appearance of ethereal clouds, enhancing the allure of this picturesque retreat.

Final thoughts

Embarking on a short trip from the bustling urban heart of Hanoi unveils a serene rural tapestry, offering a peaceful retreat from the capital’s energetic pace. The journey, often just a stone’s throw away, allows travelers to immerse themselves in the authentic and tranquil life of more rural areas surrounding Hanoi. Picture quaint villages, verdant landscapes, and a slower rhythm of life that stands in stark contrast to the city’s urban hustle. With so many choices of places to visit near Hanoi, we hope that our hand-picked list can help you building your itinerary for the upcoming trip.

For those seeking a hassle-free exploration, Viland Travel’s customized tours emerge as the perfect solution. Tailored to individual preferences, these tours ensure a seamless and enriching travel experience. Viland Travel’s expertise in navigating the offbeat paths, coupled with their commitment to personalized service, guarantees that every moment of the rural sojourn is crafted to perfection. Whether it’s discovering hidden gems, partaking in local traditions, or savoring the serene beauty of the countryside, Viland Travel transforms a short trip from Hanoi into an idyllic escape, promising not just a journey but an immersive and unforgettable rural adventure.