5 Days Hanoi – Ninh Binh – Halong Bay Tour: Perfect Itinerary For Relaxing

Discover the beauty of Hanoi, Ninh Binh, and Halong Bay on a 5-day tour. Immerse yourself in the rich history and vibrant culture of Hanoi, explore the stunning landscapes of Ninh Binh, and embark on a cruise to witness the breathtaking beauty of Halong Bay. Now, let’s plan your tour from Hanoi and Ninh Binh to Halong Bay tour in 5 days​ in detail.

From Hanoi to Ninh Binh to Halong Bay in 5 days

Is 5 Days Enough for the Hanoi, Ninh Binh, and Halong Bay Route?

A 5-day itinerary is an excellent choice for exploring the captivating destinations of Hanoi, Ninh Binh, and Halong Bay. This duration allows you to experience the unique charm and beauty of each location without feeling rushed. It provides the most reasonable itinerary with relaxation and comprehensive experience. From cultural exploration to natural wonders, this tour offers a well-rounded experience that showcases the best of northern Vietnam.

However, if you still want to spend more time exploring Hanoi, Ninh Binh, and Halong Bay, 6 days or even 7 days could be recommended. These allow for a deeper immersion in the region’s beauty and cultural heritage. 

From Hanoi to Ninh Binh to Halong Bay – What Can You Expect?

The distance between Hanoi, Ninh Binh, and Halong Bay is relatively short, making it convenient to visit all three destinations within a 5-day timeframe:


  • The distance from Hanoi to Halong Bay is approximately 170 kilometers (105 miles) by road.
  • The distance from Hanoi to Ninh Binh is approximately 95 kilometers (59 miles) by road.
  • The distance from Ninh Binh to Halong Bay is approximately 200 kilometers (124 miles) by road.

The most popular route is to start in Hanoi, travel to Ninh Binh, and then continue to Halong Bay. This route allows for a smooth transition from the bustling city to the tranquil countryside and finally to the awe-inspiring seascape.

What can you expect?


  • As the vibrant capital city of Vietnam, Hanoi offers a blend of ancient traditions and modern city life.
  • Some of the signature attractions include the historic Old Quarter, Hoan Kiem Lake, the Temple of Literature, and the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum.
  • Explore the bustling streets, try local delicacies at street food stalls, and immerse yourself in the rich culture and history of Hanoi.

Ninh Binh

  • Known as the “Halong Bay on Land,” Ninh Binh features stunning landscapes of limestone karsts, lush rice fields, and peaceful waterways.
  • Highlights include the Trang An Grottoes, Tam Coc-Bich Dong, and the ancient capital of Hoa Lu.
  • Take a boat ride through the picturesque river caves, cycle through the countryside, and marvel at the natural beauty of Ninh Binh.

Halong Bay

  • A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Halong Bay is renowned for its emerald waters and towering limestone islands.
  • Embarking on a cruise through the bay allows you to witness breathtaking scenery, visit floating fishing villages, and explore hidden caves.
  • Kayaking, swimming, and watching magical sunsets are among the many activities to enjoy in this mesmerizing destination.

Perfect Itinerary Idea

Day 1-2: Vibrant Hanoi with highlights and Hanoi Old Quarter

Immerse in the Hanoi Old Quarter

Depending on your interests and wishes, you can choose to join some of the recommended activities below during your Hanoi​ city tour:

  • Walking around Hoan Kiem Lake: The best way to get away from the noise, and traffic congestion to enjoy the fresh air and the peace in the center of this city and learn about the legend relating to the name of the lake.
  • Visiting the Temple of Literature: Known​ as the first university in Vietnam, the Temple of Literature bears all the typical features of Vietnamese ancient architecture. This is also the place where you can try and expand your knowledge about calligraphy.
  • Watching a water puppet theater performance: Water​ puppet, which originated from the rice civilization of Vietnam, is a unique cultural value that is highly appreciated in many countries. (About US $4,12 – US $8,24 per person depending on the type of seat)

NOTE: In Hanoi, you can see a water puppet show at Thang Long Water Puppet Theater, Lotus Water Puppet, or Vietnam Museum of Ethnology

  • Touring Hanoi Opera House: This​ building was erected by the French colonial administration and was modeled on the Palais Garnier. Most big entertainment events in Hanoi are held in this building.
  • Trying local dishes: The​ must-have​-thing to do in Hanoi​ during your 2-day tour is the Hanoi street food tour. Pho, Bun Cha, Cha Ca, Pho Cuon, Banh Cuon, etc. are names of dishes that you always hear when referring to Vietnamese cuisine. You can have a taste of such dishes almost everywhere in Hanoi, from luxury restaurants to the pavement of the streets around the city.

Day 3: Tranquil Ninh Binh with the Boat Tour

Enjoy boat tour in Ninh Binh

Ninh Binh Vietnam​​ is known for its high density of natural and cultural spots; from Cuc Phuong National Park, grotto caves and rivers in Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex, Hoa Lu ancient capital to Vietnam’s​ largest Buddhist worshiping complex. As Trang An Scenic Landscape is 8 km from Bai Dinh Pagoda, it is reasonable to visit these two destinations on the same day.

The first half of the day traveling​ around Ninh Binh ​needs to be spent in Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex. Going​ through hundreds of years under the effects of nature, limestone mountains and caves having various shapes of stalactite inside have become the main scene of this area. Covering these limestone mountains are tropical forests with a diversity of flora and fauna; which bring fresh air and breathtaking landscape to Trang An Vietnam.

However, things that make this location become mysterious are wallets under mountains; and the fact that all the caves are connected by lakes, streams, and rivers. Therefore, your ​excursion​ to Trang An using a boat will give you a chance to fully make the most of this tourist destination.

Bai Dinh Pagoda is one of Ninh​ Binh’s highlights​ that is worth spending the last half of your day experiencing. Inside this largest pagoda in Vietnam, there are several temples and over 500 intricately carved statues of Buddha, including one with 10 meters in height.​This pagoda​ holds many records of Vietnam, Asia, and Southeast Asia. From the 100-meter-high tower of Bai Dinh, travelers have an opportunity to gaze with veneration at the landscape of the surrounding area.

Maybe you’ll want to read to get more about Ninh Binh: Ninh Binh Vietnam: Local Travel Guide & Authentic Experience

Day 4-5: Marvelous Halong Bay with Overnight Cruise

Halong Bay - the World Heritage Site

Being a World Heritage site, Halong Bay offers many things​ to do in Halong Bay making your trip become memorable:

Taking a Halong Bay cruise

Since Halong Bay is covered mostly by islands and water, the best method to make the most of this site is to use a boat. With about 2,000 islands, Halong Bay offers travelers various options about where to go.


If taking a cruise only helps you to sense the beautiful landscapes of Halong Bay, kayaking will give you a closer look at the caves and limestone karsts of the bay.

Hiking around Cat Ba National Park

Interested in the ecological diversity of Quang Ninh province? Cat Ba National Park, which is home to different endangered animals, is the right place for you.

Going night squid fishing

This seems quite weird but it is worth trying, especially for those who are night owls. One special thing is that you can enjoy a barbecue with the fish that you caught.

Best Way To Travel Through This Route

The distances between Hanoi, Ninh Binh, and Halong Bay are relatively close, and only take around 1.5-2 hours to transfer. So making road transportation a convenient option. 

Shuttle bus and private car

Travel By Bus

Taking a bus is a convenient and cost-effective way to travel between Hanoi, Ninh Binh, and Halong Bay. There are several bus companies that operate frequent services between these destinations. The journey from Hanoi to Ninh Binh takes approximately two hours, while the journey from Ninh Binh to Halong Bay takes around four hours. It is advisable to book your tickets in advance to secure your preferred schedule.

Private Car For Privacy

For those seeking privacy and flexibility, hiring a private car is an excellent option. With a private car, you can travel at your own pace and stop at scenic spots along the way. This mode of transportation allows you to tailor your itinerary and make the most of your time at each destination. Private car services are readily available in Hanoi, and you can arrange your transportation through reputable travel agencies or online platforms.

In case of using a coach, you have to get to Trang An from central Ninh Binh by taxi or motorbike taxi then. However, for gaining great experience, motorbikes and private cars are recommended.

The route from Hanoi​ to Ninh Binh by private car​ you can consult is Phap Van Highway – Gie Bridge – Ninh Binh. It will take you about 1 hour to reach the center of the province.

Other Notice

After a day touring Ninh Binh, you can consider booking a room in a hotel or a guesthouse.​ Ninh Binh accommodation​ varies in type and also in price, you are able to rent a room at a reasonable price. Therefore, how​ to stay in Ninh Binh isn’t a difficult question. Still, it is suggested that you should book the hotel in advance. After the night, traveling​ to Halong Bay from Ninh Binh ​the next morning with about 100,000VND going by coach isn’t a bad idea.

Being a World Heritage site, Halong Bay is often thronged with people during the height of its tourist season. So, the first thing you need to do when planning for a 2-day trip to this destination is to book a cruise in advance.


Are there vegetarian or vegan food options available?

Yes, Hanoi and the surrounding areas (even on the cruise in Halong Bay) offer a variety of vegetarian and vegan food options. Many restaurants and street stalls cater to dietary preferences, and you can find delicious plant-based dishes like pho chay (vegetarian pho) or banh mi chay (vegetarian banh mi). But remember to mention before with the cruise or any restaurant in the areas when you come.

Is it necessary to book tours or can I explore on my own?

It depends on your preferences and comfort level. While it’s possible to explore some places on your own, booking tours can provide convenience, local insights, and a well-organized itinerary. Additionally, some attractions like Halong Bay may require booking a cruise or tour for access.

Is it safe to travel in these areas?

Hanoi, Ninh Binh, and Halong Bay are generally safe for tourists. However, it’s always recommended to take standard safety precautions such as being aware of your surroundings, securing your belongings, and following any local guidelines or advice provided by authorities or tour operators.

What is the best time to visit Hanoi, Ninh Binh, and Halong Bay?

The best time to visit is during the spring (March to April) and autumn (September to November) when the weather is pleasant. However, Hanoi, Ninh Binh, and Halong Bay can be visited year-round, each with its own unique charm.

Above is a detailed plan for a tour of Ninh Binh to Halong Bay 5 days from Hanoi, depending on your interests, you can alter it to make it more suitable. Besides, you also can find more of our hot package deals in Halong Bay here. Or customize your trip till it suits you best with our travel specialists. Enjoy your trip!

Thuy Dang – From IV Team

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