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Your Ultimate 3 Days in Hanoi Itinerary Guide for 2024

Welcome to Hanoi, a city where centuries-old traditions blend seamlessly with modernity. It offers travellers an unforgettable journey through its vibrant streets and rich culture. In this Ultimate 3 Days Hanoi Itinerary Guide, I invite you to immerse yourself in the essence of Vietnam’s capital city, where every corner tells a story and every dish tantalises the taste buds.

Having visited Hanoi twice, my affection for this city grows with each encounter. Its captivating blend of people, culture, streets, and ambience never fails to enchant me. During my initial visit, I immersed myself in Hanoi’s charm for an entire week, while this time, I opted for a more concise stay of three days. For those with limited time, this guide serves as the quintessential companion to unlock the treasures of this remarkable gem.

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About Hanoi

Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam, is an example of the country’s rich history, vibrant culture, and dynamic spirit. Situated in the northern region of Vietnam, Hanoi is a bustling metropolis where ancient traditions blend harmoniously with modern influences. With its old streets, colonial architecture, and bustling markets, Hanoi offers visitors an immersive experience that is both captivating and unforgettable.

At the heart of Hanoi lies the iconic Hoan Kiem Lake, a peaceful haven amidst the bustling cityscape. The lake is a gathering place for locals and tourists, surrounded by lush greenery and historic temples and pagodas. Here, you can witness the age-old practice of Tai Chi at dawn, stroll along the scenic promenade, or marvel at the beauty of the famed red bridge leading to Ngoc Son Temple.

The Old Quarter of Hanoi is a passage of narrow streets and alleys, each teeming with history and culture. Traditional Vietnamese architecture mingles with modern amenities, creating vibrant scenes of sights, sounds, and smells. Wandering through the Old Quarter, you can explore bustling markets, sample local delicacies from street food vendors, and shop for handicrafts and souvenirs.

a person riding a bicycle on a street

Hanoi is also home to many historical and cultural landmarks, each offering a glimpse into the city’s storied past. The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, dedicated to the founding father of modern Vietnam, is a solemn tribute to the country’s revolutionary leader. Nearby, the One Pillar Pagoda symbolises spiritual and architectural significance, and its unique design attracts visitors worldwide.

For those interested in delving deeper into Vietnam’s rich cultural heritage, the Museum of Ethnology offers a comprehensive overview of the country’s diverse ethnic groups. The museum provides valuable insight into Vietnam’s Indigenous peoples’ traditions, customs, and lifestyles with its extensive collection of artifacts, exhibits, and interactive displays.

Beyond its historical and cultural attractions, Hanoi is also a paradise for food enthusiasts. From fragrant bowls of pho to savoury banh mi sandwiches, the city’s culinary scene is as diverse as it is delicious. There is also a vegetarian banh mi if you do not eat meat or chicken. You will surely be delighted by Vietnamese cuisine’s bold flavours and tantalising aromas.

Chicken banh mi
Chicken banh mi

Among all the captivating sights of Hanoi, the Old Quarter holds a special place in my heart. Alive with activity, particularly after dusk, these historic streets exude an irresistible charm. From the gentle solicitations of masseurs offering their services to the enticing aromas wafting from street-side eateries, every corner of the Old Quarter brims with excitement and allure. It’s a joy to meander through these bustling thoroughfares, soaking in the sights and sounds that have beckoned me back repeatedly.

3 Days in Hanoi Quick Itinerary

Here’s a quick itinerary for three days in Hanoi, packed with iconic sights, delectable cuisine, and memorable experiences:

Day 1: Exploring Hanoi’s Heritage

  • Morning:
    • Begin your day with a visit to the iconic Hoan Kiem Lake. Take the serene atmosphere and perhaps participate in morning exercises with the locals.
    • Explore the bustling streets of the Old Quarter, filled with vibrant markets and historic architecture.
  • Afternoon:
    • Indulge in a traditional Vietnamese lunch at a local restaurant, sampling famous dishes like pho or bun cha.
    • Visit the Temple of Literature, a historic university from the 11th century, and admire its well-preserved architecture and tranquil gardens.
  • Evening:
    • Witness the unique art form of water puppetry at a traditional show.
    • Stroll through the Hanoi Night Market, where street vendors sell local handicrafts and food.
    • Enjoy a delicious dinner at one of the many street food stalls, savouring the flavours of Vietnamese cuisine under the evening sky.

Day 2: Discovering Hanoi’s History and Culture

  • Morning:
    • Visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and explore the surrounding Ba Dinh Square, where you can witness the solemn change in the guard ceremony.
    • Have lunch at a local eatery, enjoying authentic Vietnamese flavours.
  • Afternoon:
    • Embark on a leisurely cyclo ride around Hanoi’s French Quarter, admiring the colonial architecture and leafy boulevards.
  • Evening:
    • Experience a dinner cruise on the Red River, indulging in a sumptuous meal while taking in the illuminated skyline of Hanoi.

Day 3: Immersive Cultural Experiences

  • Morning:
    • Visit the famous Train Street to witness the unique sight of trains passing through a narrow street. Observe how vendors quickly move their tables to make way for the train.
  • Afternoon:
    • Explore the Museum of Ethnology, gaining insight into Vietnam’s diverse ethnic groups through fascinating exhibits.
    • Enjoy lunch at a Thai restaurant, sampling the flavours of Southeast Asia.
  • Evening:
    • Conclude your journey with a visit to a rooftop restaurant, where you can enjoy panoramic views of Hanoi’s skyline while sipping delicious cocktails and savouring a tasty meal.
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3 Days in Hanoi Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Exploring Hanoi’s Heritage


Begin your day with a visit to the iconic Hoan Kiem Lake, located in the heart of Hanoi. The lake is a peaceful retreat and a popular spot for locals and tourists. Arrive early to enjoy the serene atmosphere and witness the lake’s tranquil beauty, especially as the morning mist begins to lift.

You might even join the locals in their morning exercises, such as tai chi, commonly practised around the lake. The Ngoc Son Temple, situated on a small island in the lake, is also worth a visit. Cross the picturesque red Huc Bridge to reach the temple and explore its historical significance.

After soaking in the peaceful vibes of Hoan Kiem Lake, venture into the bustling streets of the Old Quarter. This area is Hanoi’s historical and cultural heart, characterized by its narrow streets and vibrant markets. The Old Quarter is a maze of alleys and lanes, each named after the goods historically sold there.

a group of people sitting on a sidewalk

As you wander through the streets, you’ll encounter a variety of shops and stalls selling everything from silk and jewellery to traditional Vietnamese snacks and souvenirs. The historic architecture adds to the Old Quarter’s charm with its French colonial influences. Take your time to explore, shop, and perhaps sample some local delicacies like banh cuon (steamed rice rolls) or egg coffee.


Indulge in a traditional Vietnamese lunch at a local restaurant. Vietnamese cuisine is renowned for its fresh ingredients and harmonious flavours. Start with pho, a savoury noodle soup with a rich broth, tender slices of beef or chicken, and fresh herbs.

Vegetarian Spring Rolls - Hanoi

Alternatively, try bun cha, a dish of grilled pork served with vermicelli noodles, fresh herbs, and a dipping sauce. Both dishes offer an authentic taste of Vietnam’s culinary heritage.

After lunch, visit the Temple of Literature, one of Hanoi’s most significant historical sites. Established in the 11th century, this temple was Vietnam’s first national university. The well-preserved complex offers a glimpse into the country’s academic and cultural history.

As you wander through the courtyards and gardens, you’ll notice traditional Vietnamese architecture with curved roofs and intricate carvings. The tranquil gardens provide a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city, allowing you to reflect on the rich history surrounding you.


In the evening, witness the unique art form of water puppetry. This traditional Vietnamese performance art dates back to the 11th century and is a fascinating blend of storytelling, music, and puppetry. The puppets, controlled by skilled puppeteers standing in waist-deep water, depict scenes from rural life and ancient legends.

Water puppet show at Hanoi

The accompanying traditional music and humorous narration enhance the experience, making it an entertaining and culturally enriching activity.

After the show, take a stroll through the Hanoi Night Market. This vibrant market comes alive in the evening, with numerous street vendors selling various goods, from local handicrafts to clothing and souvenirs.

The market is also a great place to sample Vietnamese street food. Walking through the crowded lanes, you’ll encounter a tempting array of food stalls offering everything from grilled meats and seafood to sweet treats like Che (a traditional Vietnamese dessert).

End your evening by enjoying a delicious dinner at one of the many street food stalls. The bustling atmosphere and the array of flavours under the evening sky make for a memorable dining experience.

Try banh mi, a Vietnamese sandwich filled with meats, vegetables, and condiments, or banh xeo, a savoury, crispy pancake filled with shrimp, pork, and bean sprouts. The delicious food and the vibrant night market ambience will leave you with lasting memories of your time in Hanoi.

Day 2: Discovering Hanoi’s History and Culture


Start your day with a visit to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, a significant landmark in Hanoi. The mausoleum is the final resting place of Ho Chi Minh, the revered leader of Vietnam.

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

Arrive early to avoid the crowds and to witness the solemn changing of the guard ceremony, which takes place in front of the mausoleum. The ceremony is a poignant reminder of the Vietnamese people’s respect and admiration for their former leader. As you wait in line to enter, you’ll be surrounded by a peaceful and reflective atmosphere.

After visiting the mausoleum, take some time to explore the surrounding Ba Dinh Square. This historic square is where Ho Chi Minh declared Vietnam’s independence from France in 1945. The expansive and well-maintained square offers a chance to reflect on Vietnam’s history and journey towards independence. Walking around, you’ll see various essential government buildings and monuments, each adding to the area’s historical significance.

Head to a local eatery for lunch to enjoy some authentic Vietnamese flavours. Vietnamese cuisine is known for its fresh ingredients and balanced flavours. Try dishes like pho, a fragrant noodle soup with tender slices of beef or chicken, and bun cha, grilled pork served with vermicelli noodles and fresh herbs. These dishes provide a perfect introduction to Vietnam’s rich culinary traditions.


In the afternoon, embark on a leisurely cyclo ride around Hanoi’s French Quarter. The traditional Vietnamese rickshaw, the cyclo, offers a relaxed and intimate way to explore the city. You’ll admire the beautiful colonial architecture and leafy boulevards as you ride through the French Quarter. This area of Hanoi is characterised by its grand buildings, many of which were constructed during the French colonial period.

Notable landmarks include the Hanoi Opera House, the Presidential Palace, and St. Joseph’s Cathedral. The cyclo ride allows you to take in the sights leisurely, providing ample opportunities for photos and reflection.

Hanoi Opera House
Hanoi Opera House


In the evening, experience a dinner cruise on the Red River. This is a perfect way to unwind after a day of sightseeing. Board the cruise boat and settle for a sumptuous meal as you sail along the river. The dinner typically features a variety of Vietnamese dishes, allowing you to indulge in the country’s culinary delights while enjoying the scenic views. Also, do not forget to try the Vietnamese iced coffee or the egg coffee.

Vietnamese Iced Coffee
Vietnamese Iced Coffee

As the boat glides along the river, you’ll see the illuminated skyline of Hanoi, with its twinkling lights reflecting on the water. The serene ambience and gentle water lapping create a memorable dining experience.

Day 3: Immersive Cultural Experiences


Start your day with a visit to Hanoi’s famous Train Street. Located in the Old Quarter, this narrow street is uniquely characterised by a railway track. The sight of trains passing through such a confined space is truly remarkable.

Train Street Hanoi
Train Street

Arrive early to get a good spot and observe how the vendors and residents go about their daily routines, carefully moving tables, chairs, and goods just moments before the train arrives. It’s a fascinating display of the local community’s synchronization and adaptability. Stay alert and follow the locals’ safety instructions to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.


After the excitement of Train Street, head to the Museum of Ethnology. This museum is dedicated to the 54 officially recognized ethnic groups in Vietnam and offers an in-depth look at the country’s rich cultural diversity. The museum exhibits traditional costumes, tools, artifacts, and full-scale replicas of ethnic minority homes.

The outdoor area is exciting, featuring conventional houses from various ethnic groups, allowing you to step inside and explore their unique architectural styles.

For lunch, take a short trip to a Thai restaurant to enjoy the flavours of Southeast Asia. Thai cuisine is known for its balance of sweet, sour, salty, and spicy flavours. Try dishes like pad Thai, green curry, or som tam (papaya salad). The vibrant and aromatic dishes contrast Vietnamese cuisine and offer a refreshing culinary experience.

Thai Cuisine


In the evening, conclude your journey with a visit to a rooftop restaurant. Hanoi’s rooftop venues are known for their stunning panoramic city skyline views. Choose a restaurant with a good vantage point, and settle in for a relaxing evening.

As the sun sets, enjoy sipping delicious cocktails while taking in the breathtaking views of the city illuminated by the evening lights. The tranquil and exhilarating atmosphere provides a perfect setting to reflect on your day’s experiences.

For your meal, savour a selection of Vietnamese or international dishes expertly prepared to complement your drink. Popular choices often include fresh spring rolls, grilled seafood, and delectable desserts.

The combination of excellent food, refreshing drinks, and a stunning view makes for a memorable dining experience. This final stop allows you to unwind and soak in the beauty of Hanoi from a unique perspective, capping off a day filled with diverse and enriching experiences.

Is 3 Days in Hanoi Sufficient?

I have been to Hanoi twice—once for a week-long holiday and another for three days. I found that three days is doable. Three days in Hanoi is generally sufficient to experience the city’s key attractions and immerse yourself in its rich culture. With careful planning, you can cover a broad range of activities and sights that highlight the essence of Hanoi.

a woman standing in front of a train

Best Time to Visit Hanoi

Hanoi experiences four distinct seasons, each offering a unique perspective on the city.

  • Best Times to Visit: Spring (March to April) and Autumn (September to November) for mild weather and comfortable temperatures.
  • Warmest Months: May to August, suitable for those who don’t mind heat and humidity.
  • Coolest Months: December to February, ideal for cooler weather lovers, but be prepared for chilly days.

Spring (March to April)

Weather: Spring in Hanoi is mild and pleasant.

  • Average Temperatures: 17°C to 23°C

Highlights: This is one of the best times to visit as the weather is comfortable and the city’s parks and gardens are in full bloom. It’s a great time for sightseeing and outdoor activities. But beware that it can get very hot and humid by the end of the season. On my second visit, I went to Vietnam at the end of April, and it was extremely hot and humid.

Summer (May to August)

Weather: Summer in Hanoi is hot and humid, with frequent rain showers and occasional storms.

  • Average Temperatures: 24°C to 32°C

Highlights: While the heat can be intense, the vibrant atmosphere and lush landscapes make exploring it interesting. Be prepared for sudden downpours and high humidity.

Autumn (September to November)

Weather: Autumn is another ideal time to visit Hanoi, with cooler temperatures and less humidity.

  • Average Temperatures: 20°C to 28°C

Highlights: The weather is perfect for exploring the city and enjoying outdoor activities. The autumn foliage adds a beautiful touch to the city’s parks and streets. This season is highly recommended for travellers looking for comfortable weather.

Winter (December to February)

Weather: Winter in Hanoi is excellent and can be quite chilly, especially in the mornings and evenings.

  • Average Temperatures: 10°C to 18°C

Highlights: The cool weather suits exploring the city’s cultural sites and enjoying hearty Vietnamese cuisine. However, it can get quite cold, so pack accordingly. Tet (Vietnamese Lunar New Year) usually falls between January and February, offering a unique cultural experience. During my first visit to Vietnam in December, it was a bit chilly but very comfortable.

Where to Stay in Hanoi?

You can choose from areas and hotels featuring French colonial charm, modern designs, and stunning views over West Lake.

Some hotels offer elegant rooms and rooftop bars with panoramic city views, while others blend French-inspired decor with Vietnamese hospitality. Each promises comfort and a memorable experience, making it ideal for discerning travellers.

For a luxurious stay in Hanoi, consider staying at one of the top 5-star hotels, which offer exceptional amenities and service.

  1. Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi – A historic hotel offering French colonial charm and modern amenities.
  2. JW Marriott Hotel Hanoi – Known for its contemporary design and excellent service.
  3. InterContinental Hanoi Westlake, an IHG Hotel – Situated on the serene West Lake with stunning views.
  4. Lotte Hotel Hanoi – Offers elegant rooms and a rooftop bar with panoramic city views.
  5. Hotel de l’Opera Hanoi – MGallery – Combines French-inspired decor with Vietnamese hospitality in the city’s heart.

How to Get to Hanoi?

By Air

Hanoi is primarily served by Noi Bai International Airport, located about 30 kilometres (18 miles) north of the city centre. This modern airport is Vietnam’s second largest and handles domestic and international flights.

International Airlines: Noi Bai International Airport connects Hanoi to numerous major cities worldwide. Airlines like Vietnam Airlines, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines, and Cathay Pacific offer direct flights from cities such as Bangkok, Singapore, Hong Kong, Seoul, Tokyo, Paris, London, and many more.

Domestic Airlines: Noi Bai International Airport offers frequent flights to and from major Vietnamese cities such as Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang, Nha Trang, and Hue for domestic travel. Domestic carriers include Vietnam Airlines, VietJet Air, and Bamboo Airways.

From the Airport to the City Center:

  1. Taxi: Taxis are available outside the terminal and offer a convenient, though more expensive, option. A taxi ride to the city centre typically costs between 300,000 and 400,000 VND (approximately US$13 to US$17) and takes about 30-45 minutes, depending on traffic.
  2. Ride-sharing: Services like Grab are available at the airport and can be more affordable than traditional taxis.
  3. Airport Shuttle Bus: Several shuttle bus services operate between the airport and various points in Hanoi, including the Old Quarter. The cost is usually around 40,000 to 50,000 VND (about US$2).
  4. Public Bus: Public buses also connect the airport to the city centre, with routes like Bus 86 offering a direct link. This is the most economical option, costing around 30,000 VND (approximately US$1.30).

By Public Transport

Hanoi is well-connected by public transport, making it accessible from various parts of Vietnam and neighbouring countries.

By Train:

  1. Reunification Express: This is the most popular train service connecting Hanoi with Ho Chi Minh City. The journey is scenic but long, taking about 32-36 hours. Trains are comfortable, offering sleeper and seating options.
  2. Other Train Routes: Hanoi Railway Station (Ga Hà Ni) connects Hanoi to major cities such as Da Nang, Hue, and Nha Trang. Trains offer various classes, from basic seats to soft sleepers.

By Bus:

  1. Intercity Buses: Hanoi is connected to many Vietnamese cities by a network of long-distance buses. Major bus companies include Hoang Long, Sinh Tourist, and Mai Linh.
  2. Sleeper Buses: Sleeper buses offer reclining seats/beds for overnight journeys, providing a budget-friendly option.

How To Get Around in Hanoi?

Getting around Hanoi is relatively easy, thanks to its well-developed transportation options:

  1. Walking: Hanoi’s Old Quarter and many tourist attractions are best explored on foot. Walking allows you to immerse yourself in the city’s vibrant atmosphere and discover hidden gems along narrow alleys and bustling streets.
  2. Cyclos and Xe Om: Cyclos, traditional Vietnamese cycle rickshaws, and xe om, motorbike taxis, are convenient for short trips or exploring areas beyond walking distance. Negotiate fares in advance and ensure clarity on the destination.
  3. Public Buses: Hanoi’s public bus network covers most parts of the city and offers an affordable travel method. Bus routes are extensive, but schedules and signage may be challenging for non-Vietnamese speakers to navigate.
  4. Taxis and Ride-Sharing: Metered taxis and ride-sharing services like Grab are widely available in Hanoi. Ensure the meter is turned on or agree on a fare before starting your journey to avoid misunderstandings.
  5. Motorbike Rental: Renting a motorbike is a popular option for adventurous travellers looking for flexibility. However, traffic in Hanoi can be chaotic, so exercise caution and ensure you have the necessary licenses and insurance.
  6. Cycling: Exploring Hanoi by bicycle offers a unique perspective and allows you to cover more ground than walking. Several rental shops in the city offer bicycles for daily or hourly rates.

One-Day Tours from Hanoi

Discover the wonders of northern Vietnam with these one-day tours departing from Hanoi:

  1. Halong Bay Cruise: Embark on a full-day cruise to UNESCO-listed Halong Bay, renowned for its emerald waters and towering limestone islands. Cruise past scenic landscapes, explore hidden caves and enjoy kayaking and swimming. Return to Hanoi in the evening, marvelling at the breathtaking beauty of Halong Bay.
  2. Perfume Pagoda Tour: Journey to the Perfume Pagoda, a complex of Buddhist temples nestled amid limestone cliffs and lush forests. Take a scenic boat ride along the Yen Stream and a hike or cable car ride to the pagodas. Explore the sacred caves and pagodas, learning about their cultural and religious significance. Return to Hanoi with memories of spiritual calmness and natural beauty.
  3. Ninh Binh Day Trip: Visit Ninh Binh, known as the “Halong Bay on land,” for a day of exploration. Cruise along the tranquil waterways of Tam Coc or Trang An, surrounded by towering karst formations and verdant rice paddies. Discover ancient temples and pagodas hidden within limestone caves, and enjoy panoramic views from Mua Cave or Bai Dinh Pagoda. Immerse yourself in the natural splendour of Ninh Binh before returning to Hanoi.
  4. Hoa Lu and Tam Coc Tour: On a guided day trip, explore the ancient capital of Hoa Lu and the scenic landscapes of Tam Coc. Visit the historic temples of the Dinh and Le Dynasties, learning about Vietnam’s rich history and heritage. Then, take a leisurely boat ride through Tam Coc’s picturesque waterways, passing through limestone caves and lush valleys. Experience the serenity and beauty of rural Vietnam before returning to bustling Hanoi.
  5. Bat Trang Pottery Village Excursion: Discover the traditional craft of pottery making with a day trip to Bat Trang Pottery Village. Explore the charming village, observing artisans at work and learning about their techniques passed down through generations. Try your hand at pottery making under the guidance of local experts and shop for unique ceramic souvenirs. Experience the cultural heritage of Bat Trang before returning to Hanoi with newfound skills and treasures.
a body of water with boats and mountains in the background

Is Hanoi Safe for Solo Female Travellers?

Hanoi is generally safe for solo female travellers, but precautions are essential in any unfamiliar city.


Here are some tips to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience:

  1. Research Accommodation: Choose accommodation in safe and well-lit areas, preferably with good reviews from solo female travellers. Opt for reputable hotels or guesthouses with 24-hour security.
  2. Stay Alert: Be aware of your surroundings, especially in crowded or unfamiliar areas. Trust your instincts and avoid poorly lit streets or secluded areas, particularly at night.
  3. Dress Modestly: Respect local customs by dressing modestly, especially when visiting religious sites or areas outside the tourist hubs. This can help you avoid unwanted attention.
  4. Use Reliable Transportation: For transportation, stick to licensed taxis or ride-sharing services, especially at night. Avoid hitchhiking or accepting rides from strangers.
  5. Keep Valuables Secure: Keep your belongings secure and avoid carrying large sums of cash or valuable items. Use a crossbody bag with a zipper closure and keep it close to your body.
  6. Stay Connected: Keep friends or family informed of your whereabouts and itinerary, especially if you’re exploring alone. Consider sharing your location using a smartphone app for added safety.
  7. Learn Basic Phrases: Learn a few basic phrases in Vietnamese, such as greetings and asking for help, to communicate effectively with locals and seek assistance if needed.
  8. Trustworthy Tours and Guides: If joining tours or hiring guides, ensure they are reputable and licensed. Avoid unsolicited offers from individuals on the street and only book through trusted agencies.
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Closing Notes

Your three-day itinerary in Hanoi promises a perfect blend of cultural exploration, culinary delights, and memorable experiences. Each day offers a new adventure, from exploring historic sites like the Temple of Literature and Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum to indulging in delicious street food and witnessing the unique art of water puppetry.

Hanoi’s charm and diversity are sure to captivate you. Make the most of your time in this vibrant city, creating lasting memories and discovering the beauty of its past and present.

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