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Hanoi has seen it all over the past 1,000 years, from occupations and wars to, today, renaissance. Indeed, amidst an ongoing building boom and tourism surge it’s full steam ahead in Hanoi, which over the past few decades has transformed itself into a major centre of Southeast Asian commerce.

Prepare to have all senses fully engaged in Vietnam’s capital city. In the beguiling Old Quarter, for example, where life unfolds on the sidewalks amidst fading architectural relics of French-colonial rule, the droning buzz of motorbikes is all that breaks the otherwise sweeping old-world romance of it all. The Hanoian landscape is just as grand—though in a less chaotic jumble sort of way—in the stately French Quarter and around local hangout Hoan Kiem Lake.

The pungent smell of street food, the hearty laughter from bia hoi bars, the sight of tai chi practitioners at dawn—this is Hanoi. Take a deep breath; take it all in.

Getting Around

All flights arrive at Noi Bai International Airport, which is located about 35 kilometres outside Vietnam’s frenzied, fascinating capital city. Metered taxis are available at both terminals, and should cost between 300,000 and 400,000 dong, depending on traffic. Alternately, contact your Somerset serviced residence in advance of your arrival to request rates and to book a private pickup.

Taxis are generally the safest and easiest way to travel in and around the city centre. Fares are metered and affordable—at least, they should be metered—and the arrival of popular on-demand service Uber has given visitors another reliable alternative to Hanoi Taxi and Mai Linh, the city’s two other reputable companies.

By Taxi

Taxis are cheap and plentiful, particularly around the Old Quarter, and are a good choice for safely getting around in a hurry (despite the traffic). Hanoi has earned something of a reputation for taxi fare scams, but there are a few basic rules of thumb to help avoid them.

First, insist on metered fares—if a driver asks for a set fare, politely decline and move on to the next one. Second, consider walking outside the Old Quarter, where touts are more likely to operate, to hail a taxi. Finally, stick to the city’s two most-trusted companies, Hanoi Taxi and Mai Linh. Staff at your Somerset serviced residence can help you to call and book rides on either operator.

Uber is available in Hanoi, as well.

By Walking

Though you’ll need to cover long distances in Hanoi by motorized vehicle, the city centre is a pleasure to explore on foot. This is the best way to take in Hanoi’s vibrant street culture as you stumble onto local markets, explore winding alleyways, and feast your eyes (and nose) on an endless array of tempting Vietnamese foods.

Keep your wits about you in the Old Quarter, where the sidewalk quality is sometimes poor—and where there’s sometimes no sidewalk at all. Treat your head like a swivel when crossing the street in busy areas as well, walking slowly but surely in a straight line and allowing motorbike drivers to zoom around and past you.

Tips & Articles

Tips for travellers planning their first trip to Hanoi

Hanoi Travel Advice for First-Time Visitors

Highly recommended sights for your day trip

Must-See Sights in Hanoi

Specialties to hunt down during your street feasting

Must-Try Vietnamese Foods and Drinks in Hanoi

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