In a 4 day-visit to Hanoi and Halong Bay, you can choose to be picked up from the airport and drive to the hotel upon arrival. A Hanoi city tour with a street food tour, or walking tour around the Old Quarter, is a great way to capture the charm of this thousand years old city. Go luxury by taking a seaplane to Halong Bay, where you will enjoy a scenic flight above the Gulf of Tonkin before taking an overnight cruise on a wooden junk to explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Halong Bay.
In Hanoi, the colonial Sofitel Legend Metropole and the Apricot are my recommended hotels for their unique character. While the Metropole features great French influences and historical facts on almost everything you see, the Apricot offers a modern Vietnamese views of the world with a huge collection modern arts. Both of them are locating just few steps away from the Hoan Kiem Lake, right in the middle of the city center which allow you to have a great walk in the afternoon.
To get to know about Hanoi in a city tour, I would recommend at least a half day visit to the city historical sites such as the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, the Presidential Palace and the Temple of Literature, and half day walking around the city’s most exciting area – the Old Quarter. If walking is not your thing, then go for an hour ride on a French-cyclo. The rickshaw is best to be able to weave you through the narrow streets though it doesn’t usually keep up with motorbikes.
Hanoi is home of Vietnamese food, you can find the best local cuisines and all of the country’s ingredient on the narrow streets. Follow the guide on the Hanoi street food tour to explore the hidden charms of Hanoi and taste the best local cuisines, I am sure you will be very satisfied with the local dishes you get to try in a street food tour. There has been a saying for travelers that; when in Hanoi, try the street food.
Instead of usual bus trip to Halong Bay, you can now travel in style on a 45 minutes-flight from Hanoi airport to the water of Halong Bay. The flight offers magnificent views over the Red River Delta and the limestone formations in Halong, this is an experience that not everyone can have. Most people choose to take one-way flight by seaplane, and drive back to Hanoi or the airport on the next day. It is all up to you to go both ways on seaplane or not, as you can see more on the road but the 3,5 hours-drive is sometime a bit too long.
Nothing can beat the experience of an overnight cruise in Halong Bay, when you enjoy your favorite drink on your boat deck and watch thousands of limestone islands rising out of the ocean that the boat is passing by. The 6 cabin Violet Junk is a great joined boat for an overnight cruise, but if you want to charter your own small boat then the Bhaya Legend Private Cruise is the choice. They both offers one night and two-nights cruise with quite similar program, however the three-cabin Bhaya Classic Premium can stay with you the whole trip instead coming back to the harbor everyday like the Violet.