Two days in Hanoi give you enough time to check off the city’s highlights, feast to perfection on street food, catch a water puppet show, and discover some of north Vietnam’s spectacular landscapes. For most, these will be marine, with day cruises to the Halong Bay UNESCO World Heritage Site an ever-popular choice. Here are some options.
Day 1: Hanoi Heritage
**Morning:**Start by soaking up some classic city sights, perhaps on a “cyclo” rickshaw or a motorcycle for a local feel. Wander the narrow streets of the Old Quarter, feel the serenity in the ancient Temple of Literature, and learn about the Vietnam War at Hoa Lo Prison, the notorious Hanoi Hilton.
**Afternoon:**With your appetite all worked up, it’s time to feast on Hanoi’s world-class street food, perhaps on a food tour of the Old Quarter, or even farther afield. Alternatively, sign up for a cooking class and learn the fine art of making your own pho, bun cha, and more.
**Evening:**In the evening discover a uniquely Vietnamese art form: water puppets. Appreciate the colorful costumes, impressive special effects, and live orchestra as the puppets sing, dance, and emote atop the surface of the water.
Day 2: Halong Heaven
**Morning:**Most travelers will choose to spend the entire day on the ocean, cruising Halong Bay’s scenic seascapes, generally on a classic junk. Some tours include activities from caving to kayaking—almost all throw in a delicious seafood lunch.
**Afternoon:**Alternatively, your second day in Hanoi makes a great chance to experience north Vietnam’s stunning rice field landscapes, whether by bike, by boat, or both. Tam Coc in Ninh Binh province is popular for the dramatic river ride between karst rocks.
**Evening:**For your last night in Hanoi, treat yourself to a memorable evening feast. That could be delicate Vietnamese haute cuisine at one of the city’s elite fine-dining restaurants or a motorcycle tour of Hanoi’s most authentic eateries.