VIETNAM TRAVEL

 

Ha Noi

History - Orientation - Information - Dangers Annoyances - Sights - Activities - Walking Tour - Courses - Ha Noi For Childern - Tour - Festivals Events - Sleeping - Eating - Drinking - Entertainment - Shopping - Getting There Away - Getting Around - Around Ha Noi - Ho Chi Minh Trail Museum - Perfume Pagoda - Handicraft Villages - Thay Tay Phuong Pagoadas - Ba Vi National Park - Co Loa Citadel - Tam Dao Hill Station.

GETTING AROUND

To/From the Airport
Hanoi's Noi Bai International Airport is about 35km north of the city and the trip takes 45 minutes to an hour. The airport
freeway is one of the most modern roads in Vietnam and terminates in the north of town after crossing the Thang Long bridge. Vietnam Airlines minibuses between Hanoi and Noi Bai airport charge US$2 a seat. There are few information signs inside the new terminal building; you need to go outside and look for the signs for taxis and minibuses. See the boxed text for more on avoiding potential problems. To get to the airport from town, you can take one of the minibuses that depart roughly every half-hour from opposite the same Vietnam Airlines office on Pho Trang Thi. It's best – though hot essential - to book the day before. The cheapest way to get between Noi Bai airport and central Hanoi is to use public buses 7 or 17, which run to/from Kim Ma bus station and Long Bien bus station respectively. Services depart every 15 minutes from around 5am to 9pm and tickets are just 3500d - perhaps the cheapest airport run in the world. It can take more than an hour, however. Arrange an onward metered taxi from the bus station to your chosen hotel. Airport Taxi (tell: 873 3333) charges US$10 for a taxi ride door-to-door to or from Noi Bai airport. They do not require that you pay the toll for the bridge you cross en route. Some other taxi drivers require that you pay the toll, so ask first. Inside the terminal, touts wilt offer taxi services. Don't use the meter with a tout, a,s it may well he rigged. The 'official' taxi rank is outside the concourse and you buy tickets from the seller at the head of the taxi line. In central Hanoi, there is always a collection of taxi drivers just outside the Vietnam Airlines office or at the northern end of Hoan Kiem Lake.
Bicycle
A good way to get around Hanoi is by bicycle, although the traffic can be daunting at first. Many guesthouses and cafes offer these for rent for about US$1 to USS2 per day.
Bus
There are now more than 60 public bus lines serving routes in and around Hanoi. The buses are clean and comfortable, and the fare is just 3500d: only walking would be cheaper. Pick up a copy of the Xe Buyt Hanoi (Hanoi bus map; 5000d) from recommended bookstores on Pho Trang Tien. It is ail in Vietnamese but easy enough to follow with routes and numbers clearly marked.
Car & Motorbike
For travellers well versed in the ways of Asian cities, Hanoi is a lot of fun to explore by motorbike. Most guesthouses and hotels can arrange new motorbikes for around US$5 a day. However, for the uninitiated, it is not the easiest place to learn. Traffic conditions are definitely not as orderly as home, and driving at night can be dangerous, particularly cross¬ing the busy junctions with no traffic lights. Then there are the hassles of dealing with parking and possible theft. It's also easy to unknowingly violate road rules, in which case the police will help you part with some cash.
Cydo
The cyclos in Hanoi are wider than the HCMC variety, making it possible for two people to fit in one and share the fare. One common cyclo driver's ploy when carrying two passengers is to agree on a price, and then double it upon arrival, gesturing "no, no, no... that was per person’. Aim to pay around 10,000d per person for a Journey in the city centre. Longer rides or night rides are double that or more. It should be cheaper but they won't budge with tourists, Try to negotiate in dong, not dollars. You’ll also find that a little bit of Vietnamese goes a long way when talking about prices. The cydo drivers in Hanoi are even less likely to speak English than in HCMC, so take a map of the city with you. That said, many are now wising up and now have a command of basic English.
Motorbike Taxi
You won't have any trouble finding a xe om in Hanoi, Just stroll along any major street and you'll get an offer from a driver almost every 10 seconds. Like cyclos, expect to pay around 5000d to 10,000d for shorter rides and more again for longer rides.

Taxi
There are several companies in Hanoi offering metered taxi services. All charge similar rates. Flag fall is around 10,000d to 15,000d. which takes you one or two kilometres; every kilometre thereafter costs about 8000d. Bear in mind that there are lots of dodgy operators with high-speed meters. Try and use the more reliable companies:
Airport Taxi (tell: 873 3333)
Hanoi Taxi (tell:853 5353)
MaiUnh Taxi (tell: 822 2666)
Taxi CP (tell: 8241999)
MIND THE MAFIA
It happens all over the world and Hanoi is no exception. Many of the drivers who hang out at Noi Bai airport are working in cahoots with hotels in Hanoi to fill their rooms. They know every trick in the book and usually carry the cards of all the popular budget hotels- 'It's full today’ is popular, as is 'they have a new place, much nicer, number two'. Usually it's a bunch of lies The best defence is to insist you already have a reservation. Even if the place does turn out to be full, you can plot your own course from there. When it comes to the Vietnam Airlines minibus, the best bet is to bail out at the Vietnam Airlines office, usually the first stop in the centre Otherwise you will be dragged around endless commission-paying hotels in the Old Quarter. Another option to avoid the nonsense is to book a room in advance and arrange an airport pick-up. Someone will be waiting with a nameboard and you can wave to the taxi touts as you exit the airport.