Hanoi is a vibrant and fun city to explore and you really could take days to do it justice.
But with a well-planned schedule you can see a fair chunk of the city. Be warned though, it will be an action-packed day in Vietnam…
Start in the old quarter and kick off the day by having breakfast at a local shop serving Pho- a noodle soup popular for breakfast in Vietnam. For the most fun choose one of the shops spilling out onto the sidewalk with the tiny stools.
Then head to the lake at Hoen Kiem and do a circuit. You'll see plenty of ladies (and some men) doing tai chi and you can even join in.
Catch a taxi to Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum to see the embalmed body if the nation's much revered Uncle Ho. Allow some time here as the line can be huge and check first if he is on view as he is taken away periodically for a touch up.
After the mausoleum there is an option to continue through the grounds of his former residence to see the house on stilts and the one pillar pagoda. Following that there is a museum that provides a great insight into the life and times of Ho Chi Minh, but you can skip this museum if you are in a hurry.
By now you'll need a coffee. Try a local joint for some Vietnamese coffee with ice and condensed milk. It's a real pick-me-up. Then walk from the mausoleum to West Lake for a look at a more peaceful part of town.
From here catch a taxi to the market and have a look at the surrounding streets. It's not great shopping here, so avoid buying any of the imported Chinese merchandise, but it is great to see the selection of goods. I recommend walking right around the market building, as there is a very local street market around the back.
From here walk back into the old quarter and venture down a few streets to have a look at some fabulous shops.
Find a spot for lunch in the old quarter, there are plenty of options. Ma Mai is a popular street for travellers.
If you book in advance you can do a Vietnamese cooking class that lasts for around 3 hours. This is a great way to appreciate this iconic cuisine. Your chef will show you how to cook several dishes and afterwards you get to eat what you have cooked. That could count as dinner ;-)
Alternatively you might want to see some of the city's museums or go to the Hanoi Hilton (Prison).
Also if you book in advance you can see the water puppet theatre. There are regular performances and it’s a fantastic show.
In the evening there's time for shopping or enjoying the best Hanoi street eats, before finding a Bia Hoi (local shop serving mainly local beers) and sitting down on the sidewalk with the locals and watching the motorcycle madness scoot past you!