Welcome to Hanoi, Vietnam’s bustling capital city that is home to rich history and culture, impressive architecture, relaxing nature sights, and delicious local dishes.
Beyond this busy city’s scooter-riddled streets, Hanoi is a place of character — walk into the streets of Old Quarter and find interesting discoveries, and make a stop at Hoan Kiem Lake and savour Hanoi’s stunning beauty. Every now and then, you’ll find landmarks and dishes with French and Chinese influence — a proof of how resilient Hanoians overcame its conquerors.
Within Hanoi’s boundaries are great attractions that will truly leave a mark. A trip to Hanoi isn’t complete without exploring Old Quarter — its seemingly endless collection of streets is where you can find all you need from pretty Hanoi souvenirs to mouth-watering street food. Food is king here in Hanoi, so apart from trying the delicious delicacies, learn how to cook them in one of the cooking classes offered in the city. Take a history trip around the city by visiting the UNESCO World Heritage Site Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, Vietnam History of Ethnology, Vietnamese Women’s Museum, and the Hanoi Police Museum. If you want to get to know Hanoi’s history better, go on a temple-hopping trip and visit Temple of Literature, Ngoc Son Temple, and Bach Ma Temple. To make your Hanoi experience more memorable, see a performance in Hanoi Opera House or cycle and jog around Hanoi’s most beautiful sight — Hoan Kiem Lake.
International flights to Hanoi’s Nai Bai International Airport are offered by major airlines like Asiana Airlines, Cebu Pacific, Hong Kong Airlines, Japan Airlines, Lao Airlines, and Malaysian Airlines. However, unlike planes bound to Ho Chi Minh, flights to Hanoi are limited, so it’s always advised to call the airline before booking a flight. From the airport, hail a taxi, or ride the shuttle van to the city centre.
From Saigon, you can reach Hanoi via train, bus, and plane. Although taking the bus is a cheaper option, it’s also the most uncomfortable. Travel via train takes 33 hours and costs USD 64. Another option is to take the plane, which cuts travel time to two hours. Plane tickets start at USD 75. Be careful with booking tickets at Old Quarter since prices there are significantly higher.
Bus services from Nha Trang, Dalat, Ho Chi Minh, and other cities in Vietnam offer trips to Hanoi daily.
The generally accepted currency in most establishments and stores (aside from shops which sell some of their products in Euro or dollars) in Hanoi is the Vietnamese Dong (VND) which comes in denominations of 500, 1000, 5000, 10000, 20000, 50000, 100000, 200000, and 500000. Cash is king around Hanoi so better have some bills and small coins ready.
Hanoi is an urbanised city and ATMs are everywhere. Most ATMs have a transaction limit of VND 2,000,000 to 3,000,000 (USD 89- 132).
Foreign exchange services offered by hotels and inns are getting a bad rep since they offer low rates. Jewelry shops around town are known to offer better rates.
Hanoi sellers are famous for overpricing tourists. Product price can hike up to ten times. If you do need to buy from Hanoi shops, buy from younger sellers.
Hanoi experiences 4 seasons every year — winter, spring, summer, and fall. The coldest days fall between December and March, while April and June are considered as the warmest months. Rain showers are more frequent between July and August. The best time to visit Hanoi is between September and November, and March and April when the weather is usually pleasant and the temperature milder.
Most attractions and major establishments around Hanoi are located close to each other. Most places can be accessed via taxi, mototaxi, cyclo, or bus. A cheap and convenient way of moving from one attraction to another is via a mototaxi that is readily available outside major establishments and only costs VND 20000-30000 (USD 0.90 to USD 1.40) per trip. Cyclos, on the other hand, are best used when exploring the Old Quarter.
Vietnamese cuisine is one of the tastiest and most unique cuisines in the world. If you’re interested in trying out new dishes, visit the Old Quarter and look for Cha Ca Thang Long, a restaurant that serves a dish made of ginger, white fish, turmeric and dill also known as Cha Ca. For the ultimate comfort food, visit Bun Thang Ba Duc and indulge in a hot bowl of Bun Thang (rice vermicelli topped with pork, egg, and chicken). Don’t miss Hanoi’s street food like the crunchy Banh Goi (fried dumplings) and the savoury Pho Xao (stir-fried pho). For dessert, make a stop at Xoi Yen and order the Xei Yeo (sweet sticky rice).