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.

SLEEPING

The majority of Hanoi's budget accommodation is within walking distance of Hoan Kiem Lake. Unlike Ho Chi Minh Citys (HCMC) Pham Ngu Lao district, where the cheapies are lined up wall-to-wall, lodgings here are more scattered, though they're mostly in and around the Old Quarter. There are several budget places around with both dorm beds and cheap rooms (under US$10), but for between US$10 and US$20 the choice includes a wide selection of mini-hotels, which offer clean, air con rooms, satel-lite TV and hot water. In the US$25 to USS75 range, there is usually a step up in service, and the rooms may be larger than those in the minihotels or guesthouses. Above and beyond US$75, it is possible to stay in plush four- and five-star hotels that would cost double in cities, such as Hong Kong or Bangkok. Keep an eye out in the Guide and Time Out for the latest deals, and always ask about current 'promotions' at reception. Most of the budget and midrange hotels include free internet access. Most of the top-end hotels levy a charge. Always check whether tax and service is included. It should be at cheaper places, but staff will sometimes.
Old Quarter
BUDGET
Thu Giang Guesthouse ( 5A Pho Tam Thuong;r US$5-10; This is a flashback to old Hanoi, a small, friendly, family-run place with cheap yet cheerful rooms. You'll find it tucked away down a narrow alley between Pho Yen Thai and Pho Hang Gai. This guesthouse now has a second branch for overspills at 35A Pho Hang Dau.
Manh Dung Guesthouse (2 Pho Tam Thuong;r US$5-10;Opposite the Thu Giang, this place was under wraps for a renovation during our last visit, but is well worth seeking out as flu' family really look after its guests. Prices may rise.
Our pick City Gate Hotel ( 10 Pho Thanh Ha, r USS8-1H;Hidden away down a small lane near the old East Gate, this smart minihotel offers a warm welcome and friendly service Rooms are super clean, bathrooms include a bath, there's free Internet downstairs and even a lift.
Spring Hotel ( 8A Pho Nha Chung; r US$10-30; Close to the Thien Trang, tne friendly family here ensure s a warm welcome to all. The cheaper rooms are a little small, but good value for this upwardly mobile part of town.
Thuy Nga Guesthouse (24C Pho Ta Hien; s/d.t US$10/12/15; The area may be rapidly gentrifying but this place is staying loyal to its roots. Consisting of just six rooms, it s ^ family affair with smallish but smart rooms including extras, such as TV, fridge and IDD telephone.
Viet Fun Hotel (48 Pho Ma May; r US$8-IS; This place should appeal to those for whom size matters almost as much as money. Rooms this big usually come at a higher price, and the enthusiastic service and helpful advice ensure it is, well, fun.
Hanoi Backpackers Hostel ( 48 Pho Ngo Huyen; dm/f around US$6/20; This Aussie-style back packers' pad offers smart and secure dorms and a couple of dedicated rooms. The price includes breakfast, lockers, internet access, and tea and coffee, not forgetting fun and frolics on the rooftop bar.
Hotel Thien Trang (24 Pho Nha Chung; r US$10-20; Close enough to the trendy Nha Tho to live the dream, but cheap enough not to break the budget, the Thien Trang is a popu¬lar place, The spacious rooms are great value given the location.
Our pickArtist Hotel (22A Pho Hai Ba Trung; s/d USS18/21;The rooms might be more appropriate to the struggling artiste, but theatmóhể ưill ap- peal to anyone wanting to meet locals and expats with a creative bent. Set around a lovely leafy courtyard, rooms include satellite TV, but who needs it when there is the Cinematheque downstairs?
Camellia Hotel ( 13 Pho Luong Ngoc Quyen; r US$15-24;The Camellia family now includes six properties. The original remains top value for money, as the rates include satellite IV, a but fet breakfast and free internet access.
Prince Hotel ( 51 Pho Luong Ngoc Quyen; r US$15-25; Barely scraping into the budget cat egory these days, this is the original Prince, a name now borrowed by countless impostors. the big rooms include chunky Chinese-style furnishings and are well tended. Breakfast and internet access are included.
A couple more options among the 999 other mimhotels:
Old Street Hotel ( 23 Pho Ma May; r US$10-15; Clean rooms, smart touches and a good location make this worth the walk.
Real Darling Cafe (33 Pho Hang Quat; r USS5-12; Almost as old as the Old Quarter, it's still one of the cheapest in town
MIDRANGE
Hanoi Elegance Hotel ( 8 Pho Hang Bac; r US$18-30;The friendly staff here make it fee! like a home from home. Rooms are large and each includes a computer for personal internet access. The only drawback is the lack of a lift. as the best rooms are on the upper floors,
Sunshine Hotel (42 Pho Ma May; r USS25-30; The rooms are indeed bright at the Sunshine. Nicely proportioned and well finished, some have balconies with a perfect view of the mighty Ma May strip below,
Bao Khanh Hotel (22 Pho Bao Khanh; r US$20-55; In stumbling distance of (he popular Bao Khanh bar strip, this rambling complex has 50 rooms. The US$20 rooms are a little pokey, but they get bigger as the price rise, as do the views.
Classic Street Hotel ( 41 Pho Hang Be; r USS25 30; Hang Be is one of the liveliest streets, in the Old Quarter and this hotel is a stylish base to explore. All rooms have air-con and satellite TV, and some have fantastic views of the quarter's higgledy-piggledy rooftops. Also known as the Pho Co Hotel.
Heart Hotel (11B Pho Hang Hanh; r USS25-35; A smart little hotel in the centre of the action near Hoan Kiem Lake. The rooms show real attention to detail at this price, with hairdryers and even slippers. The lobby is an art gallery: still it's a welcome change from being peddled tours.
ourpick Queen Hotel ( 65 Pho Hang Bac; r USS3S-65; The Zen lobby sets the standard for one ot Hanoi's most atmospheric little properties. The rooms are thoughtfully decorated with wooden furnishings and silk lamps, and in-clude a personal DVD player. Book ahead as there are just 10 rooms.
ourpick Golden Lotus Hotel (32 Pho Hang Trong, rUS$40-50; A rich blend of Eastern flavours and Western chic, the Golden Lotus is a touch more expensive than its neighbours, but it's money well .spent. Rooms have wooden floors, silk trim, art aplenty and broadband internet connections. Breakfast is included.
Church Hotel ( 9 Pho Nha Tho; r US$40-70; Looking for a hotel with a holistic touch? Look no further, the Church has elegant rooms with decorative flair, plus the functional extras like in-room internet. On the happening Nha The strip, this is a fine base, particularly if you indulge in the US$70 suite.
Hong Ngoc Hotel 1 ( 34 Pho Hang Manh; r US$45 55,The Hong Ngoc group has four properties scattered across the Old Quarter. This is a smart business-like hotel with spacious and well-appointed rooms. Breakfast is included in the popular downstairs restaurant
Hoa Binh Palace Hotel (27 Pho Hang Be;s/d US$50/60;An unlikely intruder in the heart of backpackersville,this smart to old world Hanoi.All room include extra touches like safety deposit boxes and hairdryers,plus the suites include Jacuzzis.
Majestic Salute Hotel (19 Pho Cha Ca;r US$69-89;Continuing the upward trend in the Old Quarter,in height as much as comfort, this hotel offers genuine three-star comfort.Facilities include Jacuzzi,sauna and steam bath. Still want mort?Try these wholesome hotels:
ClassicHotel (22A Pho Ta Hien;r US$16-30; Clean, comfortabie, friendly and secure, just the adjectives to ensure a hassle-free stay.
Ho Guom Hotel (76 Pho Hang Trong; r $US20-30; A rare government-run hotel that's clean and quiet, with friendly staff and a good location.
Trang Tien Hotel (tell: 825 6115; fax 825 1416; 35 Pho Trang Pen; r US$15-30;It's overdue a facelift some time soon, but the location is perfect: between Hoan Kiem lake and the Opera House.
TOP END
Melia Hotel (44B Pho Ly Thuong Kiet; r from US$90; An ugly duckling on the outside, things get a bit more swan-like on the inside, with all the five-star features anyone could need. Ask for an upper floor for some big, big views over Hanoi.
Hilton Hanoi Opera (1 Pho Le Thanh Tong; r from US$110; Rubbing shoulders with the grand old dame that is Hanoi Opera House, this striking property is an indulgent base to discover the city. The rooms are Hilton through and through, and at these rates it is the best ail-rounder for location and comfort at this end of the scale. Treat yourself to day-use of the luxurious health club and swimming pool for US$15.
Ourpick Sofitel Metropofe Hotel (15 Pho Ngo Ouyen; rfrom US$169; Whispered in the same breath as Raffles in Singapore and the Oriental in Bangkok, this is one of Asia's great luxury hotels. The property has undergone an ex-tensive renovation in the past few years and the rooms in the old wing are to be savoured. Wide-screen TVs, Jazzi-like bathtubs: you won't want to leave. The modern Opera Wing has also been beautifully renovated, but doesn't have the history. This place has a French motif that just won't quit - close the curtains and you'll think you're in Paris. There arc also a couple of business-like 'boutique' hotels, although they are not that boutique:
Quoc Hoa Hotel (10 Pho Bat Dan; s/d from US$ 17 0/120; Smart and sophisticated, this is a sound option. but the rates are a little ambitious. Zephyr Hotel (4 Pho Ba Tricu; s/d from US$88/98; Pitching Itself as a boutique hotel, the rooms feature sharp lines and subtle trim. Great location.
Central Hanoi
Hotel 30/4 (tell: 942 0807; 115 Pho Tran Hung Dao;r US$10-20; Right opposite Hanoi train station and named in honour of Saigon's lib¬eration on 30 April 1975, it is, unsurprisingly, state owned. This Art Deco-.style place retains a certain olde worlde charn even if the staff are, on the whole, charmless.
Army Hotel (Khach San Quan Doi, 33C Pho Priam Ngu lao; r US$30-40; Owned by the army and operated by the army, but it's a world away from boot camp. The uninspiring decor may owe something to its military mentors, but it's the cheapest place with a pool, which is a prelty impressive saltwater number.
Galaxy Hotel (1 Pho Phan Dinh Phung;s/dUS$40/45;The long-running Galaxy is based around an original 1918 building and includes a business centre and a popular cafe-restaurant. Ail rooms feature satellite TV and a safe.
De Syloia Hotel (17A Pho Tran Hung Dao; s/d US$65/75; This place must be feeling the competition, as it Ls one of the few properties to have lowered its rates. 'The theme is decidedly French and the rooms are finished to European levels ofcom-lort. Plus, there's a fitness centre and sauna.
Guoman Hotel (83A Pho ly Thuong Kiet; r US$90-515; This grandiose building is home to a friendly, (our-star standard hotel with staff who remember your name. It is often possible to get discounts here so inquire ahead. Facilities include a sleek health club, fine dining and two bars.
Greater Hanoi
Ho Tay Villas ( D Dang Thai Mai; r US$45-120; Once the Communist Party guesthouse and the exclusive preserve of top party officials, these spacious villas even played host to Ho Chi Minh - room 505 for history buffs. These days, dollar-toting tourists are welcome to use the once-splendid facilities. The hotel is 5.5km north of central Hanoi, overlooking Ho Tay.
Thang Loi Hotel (Cuban Hotel;D Yen Phu; r from US$80; Unique and not always for the right reasons, the 'Cuban Hotel' was constructed in the 1970s with Castro's assistance. Built over the water, it feels like an oversized beach house. The hotel also has a swimming pool and tennis courts.Check the rates, as the list prices are a little unrealistic for such dated kitsch. It is 3.5km from the city centre on the shores of Ho Tay.
Moon River (BacCau,Gia Lam; r US$90-120;this little gem of a hideaway feels like an ancient temple in a secret garden. Hard to find and harder to leave, the rooms here are exquisitely decorated with antiques and drapes, and the larger suites include Balinese-style sunken baths. Is is way out in the Gia Lam suburb on the east bank of the Song Hong, 3km north of the Chuong Duong Bridge. Some of the biggest names in the hotel industry are also found in the Hanoi suburbs:
Sheraton Hanoi Hotel (11 Pho Xuan Dieu; r from US$130; George Bush took over three floors of this place during the APEC summit. Most guests opt for just one room. Luxurious indeed.
Sofitel Plaza (1 D Thanh Nien; r from US$135;Sofitel's not-so-historic other half, it boasts the region's first indoor-outdoor swimming pool with a retractable roof.
DO THE HUSTLE
Hanoi is not only the political capital of Vietnam, it is also the capital of hotel hustles.Copycar hotels and fly-by-night hotels abound. These sharks rent a building, appropriate the name of another hotel, and then work with touts to bring unwitting tourists to their 'chosen’ accommodation. Visitors who question the alternative location are told the hotel has moved and it is not until they check the next day that they realise they have been had. These hotels overcharge on anything they can, often giving a price for the room on check-in and a price per person ;r check-out. The best way to avoid this is to pre-book a room by phone or via email.This way; you know the hotel is still open, still in the same location and not full. Airport taxis and minibuse often work in partnership with these copy; at hotels, as they give the biggest commissions Worse still some of these hotels are working in partnership with unscrupulous Westerners who help to steer backpackers their way. In return for free board and lodging, these backpackers will latch onto tourists wandering the Old Quarter and tell them about the 'great hotel’ they have found. It's sad but true: friendly advice might not be as friendly as it seems. For more on scams and how to avoid them and the boxed text.