When exploring Hanoi, it is recommended to start the itinerary at Hoan Kiem Lake, which is the focal point of tourist activities in the capital. Moving east towards the French Quarter offers a calmer atmosphere with small parks, charming turn-of-the-century hotels, and iconic French period buildings like the post office.

By the early afternoon, the bustling streets of the Old Quarter come alive with local commerce, providing an opportunity to witness the vibrant local culture.

On the second day, it is suggested to visit the imperial citadel of Thang Long, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Presidential Palace, Ho Chi Minh’s Stilt House, and the One-Pillar Pagoda.

On the third day, most visitors also make their way to Ha Long Bay. If opting for an overnight cruise, additional highlights include visiting caves, Titop Island viewpoint, a cooking class, and extra meals.

Other top attractions mentioned in the article include Mua Cave in Ninh Binh province and Perfume Pagoda, both easily accessible from Hanoi.

For accommodations in Hanoi, the La Sinfonia del Rey Hotel offers a convenient overlook of Hoan Kiem Lake, while the slightly cheaper La Mejor Hotel can be found in the Old Quarter.

When it comes to transportation, GRAB is a recommended option as it offers affordability, safety, and reliability. Most trips within the city should not cost more than US$5, according to travel website Iwandered.