If you’re visiting for the first time and wondering what to do in Hanoi, then this 3-day itinerary will be useful to you. It gives recommendations on what attractions not to miss and offers suggestions on what and where to eat to get the best out of your stay in Hanoi.
I ate my way through Sapa, Hanoi, Hue, Hoi An, Saigon, and the Mekong Delta with the goal of writing a Vietnamese food guide that showcased the best and most interesting dishes this country had to offer. This list of 45 is what I’ve come up with.
Though we do feel that Hanoi is the more liveable city, there’s no question in our minds that the best food in the country is in Saigon. Hanoi has my beloved bun cha and ca phe trung but overall, we prefer the food in Ho Chi Minh City.
Among all the cities I visited in Vietnam, Hanoi had the most historic cafes, Saigon the coolest, and Hoi An some of the prettiest, which in hindsight I guess was pretty much consistent with the nature of each city.
I’ll give you three reasons to visit Hoi An – banh mi, com ga, and cao lau. They’re three of the best things you can eat in this central Vietnamese town, which is saying a lot because there’s plenty of good food to be had here.
Together with Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, Hue is definitely one of my favorite food cities in Vietnam and a place we’ll be looking to visit again and again. It’s home to interesting and delicious food like bun bo, com hen, nem lui, and banh hue.
Like ca phe trung in Hanoi, Hue is home to a unique blend of coffee as well – ca phe muoi or salt coffee. As its name suggests, it’s made with salt and fermented milk and served with ice.
Among the Vietnamese cities we’ve visited, we found Hoi An to be the most charming and Saigon to have the best food, but Hanoi is the most liveable. It’s a big city, much bigger than Hoi An so there’s more to do, but it doesn’t swallow you up like Saigon.
This Hanoi Street Food Tour by Backstreet Academy is a 2.5-hour eating binge that takes you to some of the best local spots in Vietnam’s capital. It costs just USD 19 per person and gives you a taste of about a dozen Vietnamese street food dishes.
I had the most fun coffee hunting in Hanoi but Saigon held its own. They don’t have homegrown creations like egg coffee or salty coffee, but what they lacked in unique recipes and history they more than made up for with their plethora of Instagram-worthy cafes.