Best Day Trips Around Hanoi

attractions - Ha Noi: Nov. 27, 2017

Hanoi is much more than just the Old Quarter. Gems of nature, culture and history hide within the city’s suburban districts, and these make for great day trips or weekend getaway. Whether you’re an expat or you’re a traveller exploring the most of beautiful Vietnam, here are some relaxing day trip ideas to add to your itinerary.

Bát Tràng Ceramic Village

About 14 kilometres southeast of Hanoi’s centre in Gia Lâm District, Bát Tràng is known for the traditional ceramic production residents cultivated in the village over 500 years ago. Get ready for a fun-filled day with your friends or family.

Once you’re past the gate of the market, keep walking around the village to check out the ceramic workshops and watch the villagers work. They are willing to help you make your own ceramic work of art, so be prepared to get your hands dirty. Even better, you can keep your masterpiece as a souvenir.

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When you’re there, also be sure to check out the Vạn Vân Old House, a museum of traditional architecture and ceramic works in Northern Vietnam dating back from the 15th to the 19th century. Visiting the Old House at the end of the village and going back to the Ceramic Market will fill up the rest of the day, before you head back to the city centre for dinner.

How to get there: Take bus number 47A from Long Biên Bus Station to Bát Tràng Ceramic Market, which will take around 40 minutes and cost you just VND7,000 (US$0.30) per person.

Local insight: Bring your own food for lunch, as the market doesn’t have many options.

Cổ Loa Ancient Citadel

The oldest citadel of Vietnam, Cổ Loa holds the relics of the Âu Lạc Kingdom in the 3rd century BCE, before the Chinese occupation, which itself lasted until the 10th century. You can find this historical site in the middle of Đông Anh District, 16 kilometres northeast of the Old Quarter.

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The citadel carries the sad story of King An Dương Vương, who lost his kingdom. His daughter, Princess Mỵ Châu, married a Chinese prince, who turned out to be a spy for the neighbouring kingdom. After Âu Lạc Kingdom was taken over, King An Dương Vương beheaded his daughter and committed suicide; the prince also drowned himself.

Within the site, you will see a number of ancient buildings, such as Cổ Loa Temple, Bảo Sơn Pagoda, and the shrines of King An Dương Vương, Princess Mỵ Châu and General Cao Lỗ, inventor of the secret crossbow that the Chinese prince reported back to his home base.

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How to get there: Take bus 15 from Long Biên Bus Station, or bus 46 from Mỹ Đình Bus Station.

Local insight: Builders originally constructed the citadel in a multi-layered, “spiral” formation for defence.

Sóc Temple

Dedicated to Thánh Gióng (also called Phù Đổng Thiên Vương), the mythical war hero revered as one of the Four Immortals, Sóc Temple sits on top of Mount Sóc. Head to Sóc Sơn District to find this important ancient religious and historical site. Thánh Gióng departed back to heaven via Mount Sóc after winning a great war.

Four buildings stand at the foot of the mountain. The first one, Hạ (Lower) Temple, features a banyan tree by a lake, and a seven-tonne bronze statue of the mountain’s guardian, who allowed Thánh Gióng’s departure to take place there.

But don’t forget about Đại Bi Pagoda and the Mẫu Temple, opposite each other. The Mẫu Temple, or Mother Temple, features a dedication to Thánh Gióng’s mother, who mystically gave birth to him after stepping into a giant footprint.

You can find a route up to the top of the mountain at Thượng (Higher) Temple inside the forest. For an alternate route, go to the gate of the site, which passes through the Non Nước Pagoda.

When you reach the mountaintop, the 85-tonne bronze statue of Thánh Gióng on his iron horse majestically appears, a symbol of the heroic history of Vietnamese people in defense of their home country.

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How to get there: About 40 kilometres from Hoàn Kiếm Lake, or 3 kilometres from the last stop of bus number 15, visit the mountain for a worthwhile climb amid ancient buildings, statues and sceneries.

Local Insight: Don’t worry about the way back—motorbikes and cars can reach the statue too.

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