Hanoi (Vietnamese: Hà Nội), the capital of Vietnam, and also its second largest city, is a fascinating blend of East and West, combining traditional Sino-Vietnamese motifs with French flair. It is largely unscathed from the decades of war, and is now going through a building boom, making it a rapidly developing city in Southeast Asia.
Invading forces from every direction agree: Hanoi makes a fine capital. It has held that title for more than a thousand years, through several invasions, occupations, restorations, and name changes. The Chinese conquered the imperial city of Thang- Long in 1408 and renamed it Tống Bình. Le Loi repelled the invaders in 1428 and ascended the throne, becoming known as Lê Thái Tổ (黎太祖); for his efforts, a slew of legends about his heroic exploits, many centred around the Hoan Kiem Lake in the Old Quarter.
The Nguyen Dynasty gave the city its modern name of Ha Noi in 1831, but they had transferred power to Hue by then; it remained there until 1887, when the French made Saigon and then Hanoi the capital of all French Indochina. It changed hands again in 1954, when it was ceded to Ho Chi Minh and the Viet Minh after almost a decade of fighting, and it became the capital of North Vietnam; Saigon was the rival in South Vietnam. Upon reunification in 1976, it assumed that title for the entire country.
The first institution of learning in Vietnam, Quoc Tu Giam, was founded here in the 11th century. Nine hundred years later, the first western-style universities in Vietnam were also founded in Hanoi. The city is one of the leading centres of scientific study and research in the country. Hanoi retains much of its older charm of bygone eras, despite the battles that have raged over it; conflict had the side effect of making it largely oblivious to modern architecture, and as a result, few buildings in the city centre area are higher than five stories. The Old Quarter is second only to Hoi An for uninterrupted stretches of colonial and pre-colonial architecture, well-preserved on dense warrens of narrow, wonderfully atmospheric streets. It trades the commercial boom and sprawl of Ho Chi Minh City in the South for a more understated charm, worth enjoying for an extra day or two, and with countless transport options and travel agents, it makes a perfect base for exploration of the North.
As you walk along the street, you may find that people start talking to you. It is a cultural norm there to make conversation with strangers. They might ask you where you are from and other general questions. It takes awhile to get used to that. However, there are times when you find this friendliness extremely helpful, such as when you are lost or need help.
The Tourist Information Centre, ☎ +84 4 926 3366, Dinh Tien Hoang, just north of Hoan Kiem Lake, can provide a fairly useful map although bewilderingly, the blow-up of the Old Quarter is missing, making it useless in that part of town. The Centre also offers as well as limited free internet and English-language advice albeit, they aren't without bias.
There are self-help interactive screen information booths around the Old Quarter but their purpose is to superficially conjure an image of coming-of-age "Vietnam has arrived" impression to the unsuspecting passer-by. An example was an inquiry typing out the American Embassy as prompted by an empty field, then it flashed on to the next interactive page asking for which district (one may not be aware that the US embassy has branches in every district) - smart and amazing!
The climate is tropical, with wet and hot weather much of the year. But due to the city's latitude, temperatures drop drastically in the wintertime and the wind chill and dampness means winter weather can feel cold.
As of Nov 2006, international departure taxes should be included in the price of your ticket, but that doesn't necessarily mean they will be - check with the airline to be absolutely sure. If not, the tax (sometimes called "passenger service charge") is payable in US dollars (US$14) or in dong.
Most people arrive at the Noi Bai International Airport (HAN), 35 km (45-60 minutes) north of the city. The airport might seem relatively small considering Hanoi's importance to the country, but this might benefit travellers by making the airport easy to navigate and no need to arrive hours in advance (the limited waiting space is one reason why non-travellers are discouraged from entering the airport) to make sure there is plenty of room for those actually using and working in the airport. Several airlines run flights from Noi Bai, including:
If departing from Noi Bai airport via Vietnam Airlines with no checked luggage, walk to the last airline check-in counter and to the right of it, there's a sign showing check-in for passengers without checked luggage. Using this counter is a great time-saver if it applies to your journey.
Taxis to central Hanoi can be hired at Noi Bai . There are fixed price taxi stands right outside the exit, offering fares for between US$16 into the city. These are provided by various taxi companies and are slightly more expensive than the tout taxis, but fixed price, so no hassles about the fare. Rumour has it the company wearing yellow shirts is to be trusted to take you to your destination without hassle, while drivers in general may try to take you to a hotel of their choice or even a hotel pretending to be the one you named (your passenger door being opened by a person showing you your hotel name and correct address on a clipboard, insisting you should come in) as destination, to collect a commission - if you are specific about your destination they usually give in. To be sure, have the address ready and maybe print out a map beforehand: since every street in Hanoi has clearly visible street signs at both ends, you should be able to discern which street you are in. Non fixed-price taxi agents will quote prices ranging from around US$15-$30 as you leave the airport, so be sure you have a clear price agreement also with the driver before getting into the car, as the price quoted by the agent may not be what the driver is expecting. If you have changed money into dong at the airport you can, of course, pay in local currency. The rate in May 2013 is 350,000 dong for a regular sized taxi, 380,000 for a seven seater.
There are a few official looking tourist information booths inside the arrival hall (as of July 2012), offering rides into the city for US$25-35 per car and telling you not to take the cheaper taxis outside because of various scams. To sum things up, taking a fixed-price taxi from one of the companies outside of the arrival hall is the best deal to get a taxi to your destination, although you might have to spend a few minutes insisting on actually going there on the occasions described above.
If you already have a hotel booked, you might ask the hotel to dispatch a driver. The nicer hotels will do this and put the fare on your room bill.
Public buses to the city centre from Noi Bai airport take about 1.5 hour. Bus #07 crosses the Thang Long bridge and goes to the Daewoo Hotel on the western part of Hanoi (almost an hour on foot to the historical centre of Hanoi). Bus #17 crosses the Chuong Duong bridge and goes close to the old quarter, to Long Bien (just a few blocks from Hoan Kiem Lake - the destination of most tourists). Prices are 6,000 dong and 7,000 dong, respectively. To catch buses 7 or 17, exit on the arrivals level and keep walking right past the taxis and minibuses, past the coaches and to teh buses which are at the end of the car park. However, baggage is not permitted aboard the buses, so you may need to wait a few minutes to try your luck several times or give the conductor a small bribe, i.e. paying for the baggage as well. Don't listen to taxi drivers or shuttle bus operators that claim the stop for the public buses is a few kilometers away or that service has been terminated. Public buses operate 05:00-22:00.
Shuttle-buses from the airport to Hanoi stop at the Vietnam Airlines Office on 1 Quang Trung (a bit south of the old quarter but conveniently stocked with taxis and motorbike drivers, of course!) Tickets are sold in the building in front of which the minibuses park, or you can give the fare directly to the driver. The cost is US$2 or 40,000 dong for foreigners (insurance reason), and 35,000 dong for Vietnamese (which includes VN-Americans), which rate is indicated on the sticker fixed to the bus's body. The driver will potentially give you trouble if you have additional bags, but if you push, you will get the same US$2 rate. They also try the 'typhoon in Ha Long Bay' scam whereby they take you to a street where you cannot see the hotel name and tell you that the Ha Long Bay guests are still in the hotel and they will take you to their other hotel for the same price. This place is a complete dive facing the highway. You should also beware the drivers trying to offer you a ride to your hotel for US$5, claiming the Old Quarter is 5 km from the office - it is much cheaper to go to the Vietnam Airlines office and switch to a taxi (or walk, it's not more than 2 km to anywhere in the Old Quarter). The taxi will not cost more than the US$3 price differential and if it does, you should refuse to pay as the driver has cheated you somehow. The shuttle buses are also available to get to airport hourly.
Trains to Nanning, China depart from Gia Lam Station (GPS 21.05213,105.87939), about 5km north-east of Hanoi Station, although tickets can be purchased from Hanoi Station. A ticket for a soft sleeper compartment (4-berth compartment) costs 568,000 dong per person. Be cautious buying these tickets from hotels or travel agents in the Old Quarter, as they may quote prices substantially higher. If you are taking the evening train out of Nanning, you will arrive at Gia Lam very early in the morning. Be sure to change some of your money at the border so you can get a cab to take you to the city when you arrive in Gia Lam. Exchange the rest of your money for a better rate in the city the next day.
All other trains use the main Hanoi train station (Ga Hang Co, 120 Le Duan, ☎ +84 4 825 3949), for daily services from cities in the south including Hue and Nha Trang. The Reunification Express goes all the way to Ho Chi Minh City, although there is very little 'express' about it.
There are also train services to the north-west (including Lao Cai, from which you reach Sapa. To board trains bound for these destinations, you have to enter the railway station compound through the "backdoor" at Tran Quy Cap station. Just tell your driver which destination your train is heading to. Be mindful of any "helpful" stranger who offers to carry your luggage - he probably has a sum more than the cost of the ticket in mind for the help.
Tickets for all destinations are sold in the main station, though there are two counter halls, north and south, serving the respective destinations.
Technically, there is a queuing system in place to buy tickets at Hanoi Station which involves obtaining a numbered docket and waiting to be called up to one of the ticket counters. In practice, the process is chaotic and many locals disregard the system altogether, often pushing their way to the counters to be served. If travelling to Nanning, China, it is advisable to ask a staff member where to go, as not all counters can sell these tickets.
Buy your tickets as early as possible, especially since sleeper-tickets can be sold out several days in advance. If you can't get a ticket any more, try a travel-agent who still might have stocks. You may also try your luck in the station just before boarding time, agents still holding tickets will be eager to sell as the departure draws near. Nevertheless, travel agencies in Hanoi are known for their bad business practices. Some of them will try to overcharge you up to 300%, so it is better go to the train station by yourself and find out about the prices before you agree on any deal.
Public buses serving southern destinations (e.g. Ninh Binh, 2h - VND 60,000) leave from Giap Bat  bus station. To get from the Giap Bat bus station to the old quarter and Hoan Kiem Lake, leave aside all the hassle of taxi and motorbike drivers and simply take public bus number 8 towards Đông Mỹ (VND 3,000, pay on the bus) - to find it head towards the main road inside Giap Bat station, you will see signs with numbers indicating the stops of different bus lines.
Most of the "open-tour" bus itineraries either begin or end in Hanoi, with Hue the next (or previous) stop (12-14 hr, US$8-9), and from there to Hoi An, Nha Trang, Dalat, Mui Ne, Ho Chi Minh City, and other cities in Vietnam, depending on the bus company. Most seem to stop at their office which could be right next to the old district / most backpacker hotels. Check when booking ticket.
Many of the same companies also sell tickets to Vientiane and Savannakhet in Laos (US$16-18). Do some research before you buy a ticket as rattle-trap scam buses abound on this route.
Taxis are the best way to travel long distances, but the cyclos, or pedicabs, are a cheap way to make shorter trips. Taxi fares are not always consistent, and the rates for each taxi company have not been standardized. For lone travellers, rides on the back of motorbikes (actually low-powered scooters) are popular too (known as xe om, literally meaning motorbike-hug).
Some meter taxi owners in Hanoi will attempt to negotiate a flat fee in advance rather than use the meter. If you have a fair idea of how far you're going or how much you're willing to pay, this is probably a good idea. If the driver refuses, turning around and walking away will almost certainly change his mind. Don't sweat it, it's all part of the expected negotiation protocol. It has also become common for the drivers of some of the less reputable taxi companies to "fix" their meters to run faster hence running up a high bill very fast! The recommendation is to only use the reputable and reliable taxi companies. These are Hanoi Taxi, ☎ +84 4 3853 5353), Taxi CP, ☎ +84 4 3826 2626), Mai Linh Taxi , ☎ +84 4 3861 6161). Another common scam by taxis is that the driver takes you for a "sightseeing" - and extends the tour to make more money. This is very hard to discover unless you know the city well, but if you catch your driver doing this (e.g. going around Hoan Kiem Lake twice), demand that he stop the taxi and leave the taxi without paying.
Be very careful with meter taxis in Hanoi. Meters have been known to operate "normally" initially, but after you've let your guard down, it jumps to astronomical amounts just before the destination. Some have central locking, and are known to lock passengers in, and demand large amounts of US dollars before letting them go. The driver may threaten to have you beaten up or arrested should you not give in to his demands, but if you kick up enough of a fuss, they will let you go.
Most taxi drivers speak limited English, so it's a good practice to get your hotel to write the name and address of you destination in Vietnamese to show the taxi driver, and get your hotel's business card in case you get lost.
Be vigilant when taking a taxi - driver jumps out at destination and dumps most of your bags out of the trunk. While you're busy putting rucksack on he has taken off with your other bags.
Be vigilant also the meter which can run as far or even faster than a digital clock. A 10 min drive can rack up almost USD30 in downtown Hanoi alone! Do keep an eye on the meter during the journey. Fare flag drops starting at 12,000 dong. Bottom line: Stick to the reliable taxi companies listed above to avoid scams.
Motorbike drivers can be found on virtually every corner, especially in the Old Quarter. Expect to be offered a ride every half-block (or more). You should absolutely negotiate a fare in advance, and again, turn around and walk away if you don't like their offer. There are far more drivers than tourists, and they know it - your fare could be the only one they get all day. You should also write down the negotiated fare (with all zeros) to avoid confusion. Even if you do speak Vietnamese, a driver might pretend that you said 50,000 dong instead of 15,000, In case of argument over fares after the ride, keep calm and repeat the original agreement (remember, you have the leverage). A typical 10 min fare should cost no more than 15,000-20,000 dong. Many drivers will accept US dollars as well. At the end of a ride, some will offer to hang around to drive you to your next destination - either be clear that you don't want a return ride (and don't go near him when you leave), or get a price in advance. Otherwise, you might be surprised when the driver tacks on several million dong for having waited.
Keep your wallet out of arms reach of the drivers when you pay, less honest motorbike drivers are not adverse to grabbing your wallet and helping themselves to any notes they like the look of before jumping on their bike and speeding off.
Negotiate first or avoid using the cyclos services, they can demand 200,000 dong (US$10) for a short ride of less than 100 m (330 ft). At the end of the journey, a few men will come over to translate, and they will pretend to help and later insist that you pay the demanded amount.
Motorcycles can be rented for around US$5-6 a day, and can be arranged by most hotels. A typical bike will be given with 1 litre of fuel, so top up at the nearest petrol kiosk. Queue up with the other bikes, unscrew your fuel cap and hand over your money (1 USD per litre) to the attendant who will top up your bike for you.
This is good for making lots of trips around the city for individuals or duos, but be careful: Hanoi is a great place to sharpen motorbike skills, provided you emerge alive. Park on the sidewalk with other bikes, and be sure to lock the front wheel. Locals will help arrange the bikes near their stores. Many shops that have bike attendants will give you a ticket in exchange for parking your bike. This may or may not come with a fee (typically ranging from 2,000-5,000 dong). However, parking at Hoan Kiem lake on a weekend can go up to 10,000 dong. The ticket will either have your license plate number written on it, or the ticket itself will be numbered, with that number subsequently chalked somewhere on your bike. In such cases (where you've been given a ticket), the attendants may ask that you NOT lock the steering column or front wheel of your bike so that they can rearrange the bikes as customers come and go.
Riding outside the city is a refreshing change. Winding through the alleys and through the local markets inaccessible by cars allows you to see Hanoi from a different perspective. Google maps are rather useless once you leave the city due to the number of small lanes, forked roads and roundabouts that do not show up on the map. Stop and ask locals for directions, so be sure to brush up on the correct pronunciation of your destination!
Motorcycles can be purchased and sold by foreigners. Many travelers opt to buy their own bike and drive it throughout the country. A lot of drivers prefer to start in Hanoi and drive to Saigon as popularized by the British "Top Gear" series (though they did it the other way round and swapped to the train for the second half). Many people are unsure about the legality of purchasing bikes in Vietnam. Technically it is illegal for foreigners to own bikes in Vietnam without the proper documentation. However, this law is not enforced and thousands flock to Vietnam annually to buy bikes and ride them all over the country. It is possible to convert your driving license from your home country to a Vietnamese license, but few people go through this trouble. It is a well-known fact among riders that the police in Vietnam are highly unlikely to carry out routine traffic stops on foreigners. As long as the driver cares for his or her own safety and the safety of other motorist they can go the entire trip without hassles. Most vendors do not sell bikes they only rent them. There are some trusted companies selling bikes in Hanoi with good track records.
Scam free, cheap but a bit difficult to comprehend at first, the buses in Hanoi are relatively fast and surprisingly comfortable. Pick up a map with printed bus lines at the Trang Tien street (the book street by the Opera house) and spend a few minutes to identify the over 60 bus lines, find your bus stop, wait for the bus, pay 5,000 dong and off you go. If you are unfamiliar with the city, make sure to inform the mostly helpful conductor where you want to get off.
Hanoi's traffic is chaotic, with seemingly perpetual traffic jams, and a large number of almost suicidal motorcyclists and pedestrians. As such, driving yourself around is not recommended, and you should leave your transportation needs in the hands of professionals.
Vietnamese Women's Museum - Bảo Tàng Phụ nữ Việt Nam, 36 Ly Thuong Kiet Street, Hoan Kiem District (Located in central Hanoi, 1 km South of Hoan Kiem Lake), ☎ +84 04 38259938 (info@firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +84 04 38259129), . Tu-Su 08.00-16:30. This often overlooked museum has recently benefited from an extensive renovation of its permanent exhibitions. The modernised interior is well laid out with information in Vietnamese, English and French, and contains a huge amount of information on the fearsome female heroines of Vietnamese history. There are also exhibitions on the rituals and traditions surrounding women in the family, as well as a beautifully presented collection of intricate hand-made ethnic costumes. A particular highlight are the regularly updated special exhibitions on a diverse range of subjects, from contemporary issues such as single mothers and street vendors to traditional medicine and Mother Goddess worship. English language tours are available on request.30,000 dong. edit
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. 08:00-11:00. Closed Mon & Fri. Last entrance 10:15. The city down south may have his name, but only Hanoi has the man himself, entombed in distinctly Lenin-esque fashion - against his wishes, but that's how it goes. No talking, revealing clothing (shorts should be knee length and no exposed shoulders), or other signs of disrespect allowed while viewing; photos are allowed only from outside, in the grand Ba Dinh Square. Purses are allowed into the tomb, but expect them to be searched by several bored soldiers along the way. Left luggage is handled in a complicated scheme: there is an office near the street for large bags, with separate windows for Vietnamese and foreigners, and a further office for cameras, which will be transported to a third office right outside the exit of the mausoleum. Items checked in at the first office, however, will stay there. Note that small digital cameras can be taken into the mausoleum despite their use not being permitted inside. Note also that the mausoleum is closed for a couple months around the end of the year, when the body is taken abroad for maintenance. Free. edit
Ho Chi Minh Museum
Ho Chi Minh Museum, 19 Ngoc Ha St, Ba Dinh, ☎ +84 4 846-3572 (email@example.com). 8AM-11:30AM, 2PM-4PM, closed M and F afternoons. This gleaming white museum and its gloriously ham-handed iconography are the perfect chaser to the solemnity of the mausoleum. The building, completed in 1990, is intended to evoke a white lotus. Some photos and old letters are on display on the second floor, but the main exhibition space is on the third floor. It includes cars crashing through walls to represent the chaos of post-war American capitalism, soldiers charging around with electric plugs, a cave hideout re-imagined as the inside of Ho Chi Minh's brain, and several other post-modern confections integrated with the main story of the man's life and his country's struggle. One of the more informative museums in Vietnam, albeit with a high dose of personality cult and political propaganda. Guides are available in English, French, Chinese and Russian, but don't bother; the displays are labelled in English and French, and it's hard to imagine the guides doing much other than belabouring the point.25,000 dong. edit
Ho Chi Minh's Vestige In The Presidential Palace Area, No.1 Bach Thao, Ba Dinh, ☎ +84 4 0804 4529. Summer 7:30AM-11AM, 2PM-4PM. Winter 8AM-11AM, 1:30PM-4PM, closed M F afternoons. The exit from the mausoleum takes you right into the grounds of the, uh, vestige, where Ho Chi Minh lived and worked from 1954 until his death in 1969. The nicely landscaped complex includes two of Ho Chi Minh's houses, kept shiny and "as he left them" by the authorities, as well as a garage with two of Ho's "used cars" and a carp-filled pond. The Presidential Palace is also nearby, but it's not always open to visitors. Pamphlets are available in English, Chinese, French, and Korean. Guided tours are usually available if you wait. Paying is not enforced unless you are one of the unlucky few to be outed from the crowd.25,000 dong. edit
One Pillar Pagoda
One-Pillar Pagoda, (Tucked away between the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and Museum). Travellers find the One-Pillar Pagoda either charming and lovely or utterly pointless, depending on how many tour groups are crammed into the small grounds at the time of their visit. Free. edit
Fine Arts Museum - Bảo Tàng Mỹ Thuật, 66 Nguyen Thai Hoc St. Tuesday to Sun from 9:15am to 5pm. Only party-approved Socialist art is shown here and most of the rooms have an small board explaining the history, aesthetics, and techniques of the paintings in that exhibit in Vietnamese, French, and English. It is an interesting museum at any rate, with pieces such as the wonderful pictures of soldiers on boats depicted on prehistoric bronze drums, Buddhist art, and revolutionary art of the 20th century wars. Also some interesting silk paintings.20,000 dong. edit
Army Museum - Bảo Tàng Quân Đội, Dien Bien Phu St. 8AM-11:30AM, 1:00PM-4:30PM, closed on Monday and Friday. Vietnam's military history extends back some two millennia, and this museum covers it on four buildings with interesting pieces. Item descriptions on museum exhibits are in Vietnamese, French and English. On display outside are the ubiquitous MiG-21 jet fighter, T-54 tank and many bombs and articles captured on Indochina and Vietnam wars. closed monday and friday. 30,000 dong, additional 20,000 dong to take pictures (rarely enforced). edit
Air Force Museum - Bảo Tàng Không Quân, Truong Chinh St (SW of the city centre). There's a decent outdoor collection of a UH-1 helicopter, Soviet-built MiG fighters, a huge Mi-6 helicopter, and other aircraft; unfortunately they've been exposed to the elements for some time and local kids climb over them.edit
National Museum of Vietnamese History
National Museum of Vietnamese History -Bảo tàng Lịch sử Việt Nam, 1 Trang Tien St. 8AM-11:30AM, 1:30PM-4:30PM. This is a collection from Vietnamese history from about 1,000 years back until 1945. Many antiques along with replicas where the originals are in situ.15,000 dong, students 8,000 dong and under 15, 2,000 dong. 15,000 dong for a camera/30,000 dong for a video. edit
Museum of the Vietnamese Revolution -Bảo tàng Cách mạng Việt Nam, 25 Tong Dan St (and 216 Tran Quang Khai St, . Tu-Su 8AM-11:45AM, 1:30PM-4:15PM. This museum gives a very informed and detailed account of the Vietnamese struggle against first the French (starting in 1858 -- on the first floor), then against the Americans (on the ground floor - ending on 30 April 1975). It is housed in a colonial French building which was completed in 1932. The building, designed by the architect Ernest Hébrard is considered as a successful blend between the colonial French architecture and traditional Vietnamese architecture, called Indochina architecture. He created double-walls and balconies for a natural ventilation system and protection from sunshine.10,000 dong. edit
Museum of Ethnology - Bao Tang Dan Toc Hoc Vietnam, Nguyen Van Huyen St, Cau Giay district (Bus 14 from Hoan Kiem Lake - ask the conductor when to stop, and take a 500 m walk towards the museum (backtrack a little from the bus stop, and when you see a large street perpendicular to the street that you dropped off, take that street and walk down the street until you see the Museum of Ethnology to your left). Bus 38 goes from right outside the Temple of Literature to the street the museum is on.), . Tu-Su 8:30-17:30. covers mainly the culture and ritual practices of the various ethnic groups in the whole of Vietnam - one of the key attractions of the museum is the open-air exhibition, which has houses of some ethnic groups, which even comes with inhabitants in costumes. The museum features actual explanations of the exhibits in Vietnamese, French and English. The Museum of Ethnology houses the excellent chocolate and baguette cafe, which has excellent fare at a reasonable price - an excellent pit-stop after the museum visit.40,000 dong for foreigners. edit
Hanoi Museum - Bảo tàng Hà Nội, Pham Hung St, Cau Giay district. edit
Temple of Literature - Văn Miếu, Quoc Tu Giam St (south of the Mausoleum). The Temple of Literature was founded in 1070 and established as the country's first university six years later. The courtyard features numerous stone tablets, each mounted on the back of a tortoise, with the names of graduates over the centuries. 20,000 dong (as of March 2012). edit
Ngoc Son Temple. Extends out into the lake, with small but attractive grounds, displays on Vietnamese history and, more memorably, displays on the giant turtles, including a mummified specimen. The site is frequently very crowded with tourists.20,000 dong. edit
Bach Ma Temple, 76 Hang Buom St, Hoan Kiem district. Time: the 12th to the 13th day of the second lunar month. Objects of worship: Bach Ma God (the symbol of God of sun), Long Do Spirit (the defenfer of the east), confer a title of “Thang Long Capital of Nation royal tutelary god". Xuan Nguu presenting rite.edit
Hoan Kiem Lake. A pleasant park in the centre of town, within easy walking distance from anywhere in the Old Quarter. It's the locals' favourite leisure spot, and a great place to watch people practising tai chi in the morning or to sit and read in the afternoon. Hoan Kiem means "returned sword", and the name comes from a legend in which King Le Loi was given a magical sword by the gods, which he used to drive out the invading Chinese. Later, while boating on the lake, he encountered a giant turtle, which grabbed the sword and carried it down to its depths, returning it to the gods from whom it had come. (You can see a version of the legend at the Water Puppet Theater - see below.) Rumour has it the giant turtles still inhabit the lake. A mummified specimen is on display at the Ngoc Son Temple.edit
Ho Tay - West Lake, (northwest of the city). mostly a residential hub of the well-to-do. Hotel Intercontinental and Hanoi Sheraton are on this lake front. The shores are occupied by numerous fishermen.edit
Lenin Statue & Park, (Dien Bien Phu St, across from the Army Museum). One can always feel the diversity and liveliness of Hanoi there. In the morning, there are low-energy aerobics class for the elders and aerobic class for younger in the morning. During the day, one can enjoy the tranquility in the park since everybody is either at work or in school. In the afternoon, it becomes a playground for children and students as well as for soccer teams and badminton players.edit
Ly Thai To Statue & Park. The park faces Hoan Kiem lake with a beautiful view of the busy Hang Bai street and the serenity of the willows on the bank of the lake. Once known as Chi Linh Garden, then Indira Gandhi Park, many Hanoians view this mini-park as their favourite place because it is a symbol of the integration of modernity and tradition. One would surely encounter a group of youths who is practicing hip-hop and break dance while at the same time, meeting a three-generation family enjoying a walk in the park.edit
Hoa Lo Prison (The Hanoi Hilton), 1 Hoa Lo, Hoan Kiem. 8:30AM-11:30AM, 1:30PM-4:30PM. This prison was built by the French at the turn of the 20th century, in classical French prison design. This is where the French imprisoned and executed many of the Vietnamese revolutionaries. Now a museum (2/3 of the prison was torn down to make way for the Hanoi Towers), the museum exhibits the brutal French colonial regime and the struggle of the Vietnamese people against imperialism in chilling details. The prison was also known as the "Hanoi Hilton" during the Vietnam War as it held American POW's shot down. Little emphasis is given to this period however, and the exhibits shown can be frustratingly skewed in propaganda, choosing to show solely regime sanctioned photos of prisoners being treated well and playing basketball, playing chess, and other staged events. They also claim to have John McCain's flight suit from when his plane was shot down.20,000 dong. edit
B-52 Lake - Huu Tiep Lake, Ngoc Ha Precinct, Ba Dinh District. Until 19 December 1972, this was just a small brackish pond just off Hoang Hoa Tham Street, about 1 km west of the mausoleum. On that day, in a twisted retelling of the Hoan Kiem legend (see above), Vietnamese anti-aircraft guns retook the enemy's eight-engined, 100-ton sword and sent it too, to the shallow bottom of the lake, where it remains today.edit
Downed Aircraft Memorial. Along Thanh Nien Street on Truc Bach lake there is a stone plaque commemorating the shooting down of a U.S. Navy (not "USAF" as depicted) aircraft in 1967. Peruse the Vietnamese script and you can pick out the name of John McCain, one of the airmen.edit
Army Museum, (Dien Bien Phu street, across from the Lenin Statue mini-park and is in the area of embassies). Retells the stories of many battles throughout the country’s history. There are documents as well as models in the museum to make the retelling more interesting. They have the model of the B-52 plane, tanks and even canons.edit
Ca trù Hanoi Club (42-44 Hang Bac street, ten-minute walk from Hoan Kiem Lake). A visit to Ca trù Hanoi Club should be the first priority for ones who love Asian traditional arts and aristocratic court music. Ca trù is an unique and fascinating genre of chamber music in Vietnam which traces it roots back to the 10th century. It is performed by a female vocalist who sings a repertoire of poetic melodies using her vibrato and unique breathing techniques. Rhythm is kept using aphach, which the singer manipulates by striking three wooden sticks against a bamboo bar; an accompanying instrumentalist plays the three-stringed lute dan day; a drummer using a small drum completes the trio. The songs are all fascinatingly restrained and expressive, at times hauntingly beautiful. Today, ca trù is promoted by the government of Vietnam as the country's national asset, and it was officially recognized by UNESCO as one of the Intangible Cultural Heritages of humankind in 2009. Attending a "ca tru" show in Ca tru Hanoi club is highly recommended for those who enjoy traditional performing arts. The atmospheric combination of sitting in a temple courtyard, imbued in soft lighting and sipping Vietnamese tea while ca tru is sung leaves a pleasant impression. The shows are performed at 20:00 every Sunday, Wednesday and Friday, translation is provided by volunteers. The price of a single ticket is 200,000 Vietnamese Dong (~US$10, but only Vietnamese Dong are accepted).
Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre (57 Dinh Tien Hoang St, across the street from the shores of the Hoan Kiem Lake, ☎ +84 4 824-9494, fax: +84 4 824-5117, . A visit to the water puppet theater is a real highlight of a trip to Hanoi. Live musicians accompany folk legends from Vietnamese history, told with wooden men, women and dragons, dancing and splashing on the face of the water. The narratives are sung in Vietnamese, but a list of titles is available in several languages. It is more of a visual-musical thing which is universal, just ignore the dialogues and narration but be on the look for special effects. Even in the 21st century, they still elicit an ahhh moment from the audience. Tickets are 60,000 and 100,000 dong. There are several performances throughout the day, and it's even possible to buy tickets even if the showing is going on for 15 minutes. And if you missed the first 15 minutes, be the last to leave and mix in with the incoming audience for the next performance. Camera passes are an extra 15,000 dong, but whether you buy one or not is purely on the honour system. Don't worry about getting wet, but the seats are very small, and visitors with above-average height will have to squirm a bit.
Golden Bell Show - a collection of Vietnamese traditional art performances. (Golden Bell Theatre, No. 72 Hang Bac St, Hoan Kiem District. Hotline for booking tickets - ☎ +84 988 307 272. Price = 130,000 dong ) Every Saturday 20:00-21:00P. This is a colourful, fun, flashy Vietnamese variety show. It attempts to give the audience a little taste of different styles of dance and performance from all areas of Vietnam. The theatre is small, ensuring that every seat is a good one. The first four rows are dedicated to non-Vietnamese speakers because they are equipped with headphones that offer translation of anything spoken in Vietnamese. This show is extremely entertaining and a great way to spend a Saturday night.
Megastar— is on the 6th floor of the Vincom City Towers, 191 Ba Trieu. The tickets range from 60,000-200,000 dong depending on the movie and the show time. The movies are relatively new, perhaps one or two months later than in the US. The movies are not dubbed. There are subtitles so both non-Vietnamese speakers and locals can enjoy the movies.
August Movie Theater (Rap Thang 8) on Hang Bai street, 5 min away from Trang Tien Plaza and the commercial area, such as Pho Hue, Hai Ba Trung and Trang Tien streets. 35,000-60,000 dong.
If you want to do some mild weight training on a budget, head to 88 Hang Buom St, a short walk from Hoan Kiem Lake. The cost is 30,000 dong per session as of Dec 2012. Locals apparently pay 130,000 dong/month. Be aware, however, that the gym is in very poor condition. The floor is hazardous and no one will spot you whilst benching so ensure you are able to place the bar back on the stand with your last repetition or go with a friend. The front of the gym is full of scooters and the rear wall has pictures of Uncle Ho exercising back in the day! Drinks are 10,000 dong.
VietClimb,So 40 Ngo 76 An Duong, ☎ +84 914 548 903. A climbing gym that opened in 2011. Tu-Su 14:00-20:00. 200 m² climbing surface, a 50 m² café and terrace to chill out, and a climbing pro-shop. Also a great place for finding out where to climb immediately outside of Hanoi.
Hidden Hanoi, 137 Nghi Tam Rd (aka Duong An Duong Vuong), Tay Ho, (firstname.lastname@example.org), . Located on the bund road in the Tay Ho district, Hidden Hanoi runs walking tours and cooking classes. There are many options including the 1 hr walking tour of the local market, followed by the 3 hr cooking class. Cooking class menus change daily, and there are other walking tours available. They also run language classes, and there is a dance school in the same building. US$50 per person
Vietnam Culinary School, Hanoi Administration Departments, (email@example.com). The Culinary Class has fully equipped facilities to practice Vietnamese cuisine techniques. A typical day will commence with a visit to the morning market. Accompanied by an instructor, you will learn to select and buy Vietnamese ingredients for your personal cooking lesson. The class will be followed by a meal in a delightful restaurant sampling your own cooking as well as traditional Vietnamese dishes.
EZcooking Class, 49 Lane, 49 Huynh Thuc Khang St. 
Hanoi Cooking Centre, 44 Chau Long Street (close to Truc Bac lake), ☎ +84437150088, . Cooking school, retail outlet and beautiful court yard cafe with an excellent menu of asian and western favourites. Hands-on cooking classes and short courses in a relaxed atmosphere, designed by chef Tracey Listeredit
Money changers are usually in most guest houses and banks, and they give bad rates. Don't exchange money from the black market people on the streets. The best place to exchange money is at Ha Trung road and Hang Bac where they give real good rates. Just walk into the gold shops or jewellery shops and ask them if they change money and ask to show their rates. Ask up to nearly 5 or more shops to see which shop gives the best rates. Best rates are at Ha Trung which is 15-25 mins walk West from Hoan Kiem lake. Look for Hang Da Market on the pedestrian map.Its a short street of Gold traders, and small sewing factories.Correct as at Feb 25th 2013.
Inside the Noi Bai airport arrival hall, there are several money changer booths of major local banks; unlike in many airports, their exchange rate is competitive (around +/-1% to mid-market for USD) and do not seem to differ from the rate in the city offices (which you won't find at Old Quarter anyway). Besides US dollar and euro, they will change currencies of major Asian countries; that may come handy if you come from (or was traveling in) these countries. Rate vary slightly between the banks, so you may like to shop around and to see what you will get.
ATMs are everywhere and cash is king here. There is a transaction limit (2,000,000 dong). For a higher transaction limit (4,000,000 dong) try the ANZ and Techcombank. The Techcombank SE of the Hoa Lo Prison allows transactions of at least 7 mil (didn't try more than this, so try starting as high as possible, maybe 20 mil?). The Citi bank machine in the shopping plaza on Xuan Dieu will dispense 6 mil. Many places will accept USD as well.
Check exchange rates daily. Jewellery shops will consistently offer a better rate than banks or hotels.
Hang Da. A 6-story building to house the market is currently under construction; all the kiosks are now located in the neighboring area, either on Phung Hung (second-hand clothing), Duong Thanh or Ly Nam De streets. They offer everything that one can think of, from pets, groceries, prepared food to fabric materials.edit
Cho Hom (the equivalent meaning in English would be Noon Market but the translation is not close), Pho Hue. They offer everything here. What it is famous for is the fabric market on the second floor. There are many kiosks selling different types of fabrics ranging from cheap, affordable to very good quality with a high price. However, please bear in mind that when shopping, take your time. Never rush into buying anything. Sellers often give a very high price that you can bargain down to half or one-third of the original price.edit
Dong Xuan. Famous for being the market for wholesalers. They have from school supplies, stuffed animals to clothing. It is quite an experience to spend some time in the market observing the sellers and buyers.edit
Night Market. Usually opens from 7PM, this unique market gathers on a walking street in the old quarter. Has anything from pirated DVD to traditional ornaments. Prices are negotiable but watch out for the "foreigner pricing" which is fairly common.edit
Since the mid 90s, Vietnamese cuisine has grown in quality and variation, and is now very diverse and most delicious. Most famous remains 'Pho Ga' (chicken noodle soup) or 'Pho Bo'(Beef noodle soup). There are various dishes including chicken, beef, fish and seafood, and there are hundreds, if not thousands, of restaurants nowadays in Hanoi catering to everyone's taste. Hanoi street food become a cuisine culture of Hanoi.
In Hanoi, there are hundreds of street stalls in small kiosks on the sidewalk, with plastic tables and chairs on the pavement. Grabbing a bite at these eateries is a great way to experience the local food and culture. It is worth mentioning that food quality, freshness, and hygiene can vary greatly. A bowl of noodle soup goes for as little as 30,000 dong (Jan 2011, under 1 USD). Market food stalls also offer an assortment of other snacks: fruit portions, sausages, donuts, and other eats for 10,000 to 20,000 dong (Jan 2011, 0.5-1 USD). Be sure to get your change as a few vendors seem to 'forget' to return it to you, and learn a little Vietnamese because vendors often will not speak any or much English. Want to experience Hanoi street food, so the tours here
The rule of thumb is if the price is expensive, hygiene quality may or may not be OK, but if the price is cheap, definitely hygiene quality is compromised. There seemed to be no regular food Health Department inspector working regularly in the city.
For groceries, there is a large supermarket east of Hoan Kiem Lake (Finimart, 27A Ly Thai To, at Tran Nguyen Han).
Next to Beijing, Hanoi is probably the second in the running to the world's exotic food paradise.
The suburb of Le Mat (aka the Snake Village) has numerous restaurants specializing in cobra foodstuffs. Live cobras are stored on the premises much the same way one would find live lobsters at a Western seafood restaurant. If one orders cobra blood wine from the menu, the waiter will take a live cobra, kill it on the spot, drain the blood into a shot glass of rice wine, and top it off with the cobra's still beating heart for you to gulp down! Not for the faint hearted (excuse the pun). Le Mat is about ten minutes across the river from downtown, take bus 10, 15 or 17 and get off at the large "mega-mall" just beyond Gia Lam station, and walk 500 metres down the road at the right of the mall. Cobras are not cheap at around 400,000-1,000,000 dong (USD$50-) but it gets turned into a dozen unique dishes, enough to share between three or four people.
A local delicacy in the Hanoi area is dog meat (thịt chó), which is especially popular in the winter. There are a number of restaurants in the Tay Ho district. Another exotic regional taste is ca cuong, an extract from the belostomatid, or giant water bug. Just a few drops are added to noodles for the unique aroma.
Be sure to check out the boiled duck fetus eggs (same as the filipino balut) sold by peddlers almost everywhere priced at 5,000 dong. This delightful experience consists of the vendor cracking the egg in front of you, and peeling the shell and dropping the contents in a plastic micro bowl, then garnished with juliened ginger, basil leaf, and sprinkled with chili sauce. You can see the severed head and beak of your chick that fell off if you are lucky enough to have your first bite from a different spot - Bon Appetit!
Look to the Old Quarter for atmospheric street stalls and reasonably priced Western and local fare.
Quan Bia Minh (Minh's), 7a Dinh Liet (100 m north of the lake), ☎ +84 4 3934 5323. 7:30AM-11:30PM. Popular restaurant with lovely casual upstairs terrace, Minh speaks English well and keeps her staff attentive. Variety of western, vegetarian and Vietnamese food, all reasonably priced.edit
Bia Hoi Ha Noi, 50 Bat Dan (West side of the Old Quarter toward Phung Hung street). A traditional Bia Hoi (fresh beer) establishment, the beer here is supposedly of superior quality than found elsewhere. The food is excellent which is why it is so popular with the locals. It can be hard to find seating, the trick is to go after 1:30pm when the locals are heading back to work. Ask for Chao if you need help with the menu -- she is very friendly and her English is quite good.edit
Bun Cha, 1 Hang Manh, 67 Duong Thanh (Old Quarter near Hang Da market), ☎ 01697776666, . 8am-7pm. some rate this as one of the best examples of Bun Cha in Hanoi, and therefore Vietnam (apparently in the south, Bun Cha is specifically advertised as Hanoi-style). For about 80,000 dong each, you'll get a bowl full of tiny pork-mince rissoles that have been char grilled over an open flame, and a massive plate of pork rice paper rolls that have been fried in oil, twice. With this you also get a phenomenal dipping sauce (fish sauce, made from sugar, garlic, peppers usually), a massive plate of greens and herbs, more bun (rice noodle) than you can handle, and a bottle of local beer. It's full of locals and not so many tourists, so you can be assured the experience is authentic. Great food but expect rude service.edit
Cafe 69, 69 Ma May St (opposite Friendly Hotel). Good place to eat Western food in the heart of the Old Quarter, although some travelers find it expensive and the food inferior quality.edit
Com Binh Dan, (Hang Bo, several side streets in Old Quarter). often only open during lunch hours (11AM-2PM). these are an excellent way to get an inexpensive, home-cooked Vietnamese meal. The best ones have loyal followings of workers who eat there every day.rice with two or three toppings (which you select from several dishes): 15,000-30,000 dong. edit
Com Chay Nang Tam Vegetarian Restaurant, 79A Pho Tran Hung Dao (a few streets south of the lake), . Open for lunch and dinner. This excellent restaurant is your best vegetarian option in town and will please both vegetarians and non-vegetarians with its wide range of innovative dishes, which include fake meat dishes. Restaurant is comfortable with good ambiance, and dishes are value-priced. Well worth the short walk out of the old town.Set dinner with a selection of four dishes, soup, and rice: 50,000+ dong. edit
Com Chay Au Lac, 277 Ngo Van Chuong (Take Le Duan south, past train tracks, turn into alley after #114). Open every day, 7am-8:30pm. Typical local vegetarian restaurant like you'll find everywhere in Vietnam except Hanoi, located a little off the beaten track in an atmospheric alleyway.30,000 dong. edit
DAC KIM, 67 Duong Thanh, Hoan Kiem, ☎ 01697776666, . 8AM-7PM. BBQ pork (slice) in soup with vermicelli and lots of vegetables. They serve spring rolls too.edit
Gao De, 2, Ta Hien St (Towards the top end of Ta Hien street, opposite a tattoo parlour). This place serves a selection of dishes from the C19 capital of Vietnam, Hue. Delicious and cheap. The owners are friendly and speak English. Menu also has English descriptions and photographs of the food. Great value.Dishes from US$1.50. edit
Hebe Cafe, 33, Luong Van Can St (inside Hanoi Youth Hotel - near the Hoan Kiem lake, in the centre of Old Quarter). Cheap local and Western food.breakfasts: US$1; pizza: US$2; hot pot: US$8. edit
Huy Café & Pizza Inn, 32 Dinh Liet St. large Italian dinner combo (garlic bread, soup/salad, pizza/pasta, drink): 65,000 dong. edit
Joma Bakery Café (Joma), 22 Ly Quoc Su, & 54 To Ngoc Van (near the Cathedral, & west lake), . 7AM-9PM. Fair-trade certified, organic coffee prepared by some of the best baristas in town. Add to your smooth cappuccino a sweet-smelling cinnamon bun or a much-loved bagel egger. Everything here is homemade and fresh. Excellent breakfast menu and lunch/dinner options, as well as a mouth-watering array of cakes, cookies, pies and other treats. Locations also in Laos, Vientiane and Luang Prabang.20,000-80,000 dong. edit
Kem Tràng Tiền, 54 Phố Tràng Tiền. Popular spot for ice cream on a hot day. Beware of motorbikes when entering the establishment, since it is sort of a drive-thru/drive-in ice cream shop. Make sure to try the local cóm or đậu xanh flavors. Also to note that the hygine in the area may be a bit dubious since many toss away their eaten ice cream sticks Ice cream bars 5,000-8,000 dong. Cones are a bit more expensive.. edit
Quan an Ngon aka Delicious, 18 Phan Boi Chau street. Wide range of choices with regards to dishes from everywhere in Vietnam at very reasonable prices. They have limited seating and a large amount of customers so waiting time to be seated would be certain. Fortunately, they have a large seating area so customers do not have to wait long. They serve both lunch and dinner. Their restaurant is decorated culturally and traditionally.edit
Papa Joe's Coffee, 112 Cau Go, ☎ +84 4 926-2544. 8AM-11PM. Despite the name, this is actually a real restaurant, with pasta, soup, salads, sandwiches, and pretty good burgers (vegetarian included); pizzas, to be honest, leave a lot to be desired, though. Drinks and desserts are also on hand. The best reason to eat here, though, is the small balcony with a view over the frantic traffic square and the shores of the Hoan Kiem Lake below.45,000-65,000 dong. edit
Pho, on the corner of Nha Chung and Chan Cam. All of the soups and sides include beef (bo) so this isn't for vegetarians.Large bowl of pho: 12,000 dong; Coke or beer: 3,000 dong. edit
Pho Tu Lun (Au Trieu), 10 Ly Quoc Su. Many pho varieties45000-70000 dong (2012). edit
The Cart Au Trieu, 18 Au Trieu, Hoan Kiem (Au Trieu is the street to the right of St Joseph's Cathedral but The Cart is entered via the backdoor so go down the alleyway and take a left.), ☎ 04 3928 7715, . 8AM-5PM. Try their pies and pasties.60,000 VND for a sandwich, 45,000 for an Punto Italia latte. edit
The Cart Nghi Tam, 8B, Lane 1 Au Co, Nghi Tam Village, Tay Ho (Follow the road between the back doors of the Sheraton and the Intercontinental till it takes a right and The Cart Nghi Tam is just around the corner.), ☎ 0437186967, . 7AM-7PM. This one is great for an early breakfast or a takeaway coffee. Their Old School Bacon Baguette with back bacon is a rarity in Hanoi. Try the meat and potato pie or the veggie cheese, onion and potato pasty.60,000 VND for a sandwich, 45,000 for a Punto Italia latte. edit
Sen (Lotus), #10, lane 431, Au Co Rd, Tay Ho district (right next to the Water Park). Buffet style restaurant. They also have a very wide range of dishes from many regions in the country. The dishes are divided into stations where customers can order noodles, rice cakes or rice vermicelli. Serves both lunch and dinner. Their new restaurant looks Westernized, compared with their old thatched restaurants.edit
“Banh it” – sticky rice cake, (It is true that “Banh it” is a must try specialty of the Central Region in Vietnam!). Served for lunch and dinner. Commonly, there are two kinds of “Banh it”. The first one is “Banh it la gai”, which is sticky rice cake with coconut or green bean stuffing wrapped in pinnate leaf. The second one is “Banh it tom thit” – glutinous rice cake with meat and shrimp, its name means “little meat shrimp cakes”, the stuffing is made of ground pork and shrimp mixed with spring onion and other spices.edit
Cam Chan Quan, 108 K1 Giang Vo St / Ciputra Entrance, ☎ +84 12 3259 7696. This eatery has 2 outlets, the one located at Ciputra Estate entrance has staff that speak English, Chinese and Vietnamese. It will actually be a good pitstop for those craving for Asian food upon arrival or before departure, as they are located at the mid point between the city and airport area. They will be able to help you speak to the cab drivers to bring you to them and also call for a cab for you to go to your next destination. They serve Asian fare, with a closer touch to Singapore cusine. It's one place where a good clean toilet is expected, with free Wi-Fi. Try their noodles, it's not the usual pho you see around the place, but a more typical noodle you will see in Singapore. Try the Beggar's chicken, Savioury Fried eggplants, Chinese rice wine Hotpot Soup.Bowl of noodles: 65,000 dong. edit
Cha Ca La Vong, 14 Cha Ca St & 107 Nguyen Truong To St. This establishment is so famous, the street is named after it, instead of the other way around. There's only one dish on the (Vietnamese-only) menu, fried fish in grease, but they've been serving it now for five generations. They traditional shrimp paste is now an optional extra. If you really love fish and shrimp, this experience might be for you. Authentic as it may be, it is a total rip-off according to the locals. For the same price, you could eat 3 meals at a decent cafe by the street. One wonders why this is recommended in most guidebooks from Lonelyplanet to Frommers.170,000 dong for a small portion (as of June 2012), 1,000 dong charge per napkin. edit
Ciao Cafe, 2 Hang Bai St. Cosy place for coffee and cake and it is not full of cigarette smoke unlike other cafes in Hanoi.edit
Daluva Wine | Tapas | Events, 33 To Ngoc Van St, Tay Ho (West Lake), ☎ +84 4 3718 5831 or +84 907 144 561, . 8AM till late. Wine and Tapas Bar/Restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. The food caters for all tastes including vegetarians and kids. Ranging from small tapas plates to main courses of hearty Western and Asian fare. It's a modern place and well decorated with great well trained staff and easy music on your ears. The 3rd floor has a Children's play room with free supervision as well as a Children's menu. The place is a favourite with local expats in the area.(21 N,105 E)edit
Huyen Houng Restaurant, 20 Bao Khanh, Hanoi, ☎ +84 4 8288430. Choose from a wide variety of seafood dishes (many of which are swimming around in tanks) and other Vietnamese specialities. Friendly staff complement the tasty food.80,000-120,000 dong for a meal and drink. edit
Huong Ly, Ly Thuong Kiet, Hanoi. Very close to the Melia Hotel, this is a fantastic bar / restaurant on the ground floor and top floor of a building. Randomly the middle floor is a clothes shop. Fantastic food, serving anything from traditional noodles to salmon steak, beautifully presented and delicious. Friendly staff too.55,000-120,000 dong for a main course. edit
Kaiser Kaffee Restaurant, 34A Ba Trieu. Interesting little place which has excellent Vietnamese and Western food.edit
La Salsa, ('in Nha Tho St near the church in Old Town - just across the street from Moka Cafe). French food and ex-pat hang-out.edit
Little Hanoi, 21 Pho Hang Gai, ☎ +84 4 928 5333. Upscale cafe serving mainly Westerners in a pleasantly lit restaurant.edit
Mediteraneo, (Nha Tho St, between La Salsa and Paris Deli). offers authentic Italian food - probably the best you'll get in Hanoi. Prices are however steep and portions small.edit
Moka Café, (In Nha Tho St close to the cathedral). Excellent selection of Western and Vietnamese food served in a coffee shop environment.edit
Paris Deli, (Nha Tho St across from Moka Cafe). Offers delicious European fare for hearty appetites.edit
Pepperoni's, (near the Hang Gai end of Nha Chung). Part of a small international chain of pizza restaurants. Locally run, they do regular special offers such as free desserts, eat-all-you-can buffets and loyalty schemes, whereby collecting tokens with each take-out entitles you to a free pizza. Pizzas, burgers, ice cream, and apple crumble. Pizzas: 65,000+ dong. edit
Tamarind Café, Ma May 80 (Old Quarter), ☎ +84 4 926-0580, . Has a menu full of inventive vegetarian dishes, lots of fresh juices, and a relaxed, stylish interior. Don't come here if you're hungry though, as the portions aren't very big and it's a tad pricey.edit
Paradieso Restaurant, 7 Nguyen Sieu (Old Quarter), ☎ +84 4 39974861, . Small and warmly restaurant with both local Vietnamese and Western food, good quality and affordable price. You can have Vietnam traditional food: Cha Ca, Bun Cha, Pho, Nem (spring rolls), also can have very good crepes. All very good quality and nice decor.edit
Tan My Design Cafe, 61 Hang Gai, ☎ +84 4 3938-1451, . One of the Hanoi's best for boutique fashion where you can also get nice Asian and Western foods in the cozy ambianceedit
Luala Cafe, 61 Ly Thai To, Hoan Kiem, ☎ +84 4 3936 9899, . Luala Cafe is a cafe and restaurant inside the Luala Store, a luxury fashing concept store located in the shopping district of Hanoi. The restaurant offers a variety of gourmet foods, drinks and dessertsedit
Pots 'n Pans Restaurant, 57 Bui Thi Xuan Street, Hai Ba Trung District, Hanoi (Follow Ba Trieu Street south from Hoan Kiem Lake 5 mins), ☎ +84 4 39 4402 04 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +84 4 39 44 65 99), . From 11.30AM-late. Innovative Vietnamese cuisine infused with international flair. A fine-dining restaurant & lounge bar brought to you by a group of former street and disadvantaged youth from Hanoi’s own KOTO Training Program now rising stars of the Vietnamese food scene. Happy Hour 7 days from 5pm - 7pm.edit
Don's Bistro, 16/27 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Ha Noi, ☎ +84 4 3719 2460 (email@example.com, fax: +84 4 3719 5998), . From 8AM-11. Multi-concept establishment serving classic and innovative international cuisine, including Vietnamese favorites, in a variety of indoor and outdoor settings. With unparalleled views and eclectic music selections, don's is a destination in itself for dining, leisure, business and entertainment. The focus is on local produce, quality imports, and the utmost in service standards, while catering to a very diverse clientele. Don's houses a signature fine dining restaurant with a cigar den, wine cellar and rotating art gallery as well as a rooftop Skyline Oyster Bar featuring live oysters and live nightly music. The first floor is geared for more casual dining, serving pho, cocktails, coffee, fresh baked goods, wood fire pizzas, shisha and more.edit
Green Tangerine, 48 Hang Be (A few steps away from busy Hang Be St), ☎ 84 4 825-1286. Excellent French restaurant offering rich and delicious French fare with both an a la carte selection and a set menu. Popular with expats.edit
La Restaurant & Bar, 25 Ly Quoc Su, ☎ +84 4 9288933, +84 913221971. Situated near St. Joseph's Cathedral in Hanoi's old quarter, this elegant, air-conditioned restaurant has a choice of delicious Western and Vietnamese dishes. While the selection of vegetarian dishes is somewhat restricted, the food is excellent, if pricey by Hanoi standards. La will definitely satisfy longings for quality food after weeks of eating on the street. Think Parisian bistro meets fine dining Asian.300,000 dong for a meal and drinks. edit
Restaurant Bobby Chinn, 77 Xuan Dieu St, Tay Ho,, ☎ +84 4 3718 5988. An amazing restaurant with the trademark green pea pods as the logo. Without a doubt one of the more hip dining experiences of Hanoi. The interior alone is worth a look, while the menu is delightfully eclectic.edit
Restaurant at Bamboo Hotel, 32,Hang Be. Why risk street food when this cosy, friendly and clean place offers good food, ambience, and at prices cheaper than in Malaysia and Thailand ? After your experience with street food, you will be coming here everyday. We went lunch and dinner as well almost everyday except when away for day trips out of the city. Menu is in English and English is fluently spoken.
Pane e Vino Italian Restaurant and Wine Shop, 3 Nguyen Khac Can & 98 Hang Trong (100 m away from Hoan Kiem Lake), ☎ +84 4 3826 9080, +84 4 3928 6329. Fully A/C. Serves a wide range of traditional regional Italian dishes with strictly controlled quality of ingredients. An extensive wine list with many choices of Imported Italian wines from Veneto, Tuscany, Puglia, Sicilia and Piemont. Friendly service with smiling and fluent speaking English waiter and waitress. A great place to relax and get recover after a long walking and shopping day. Drop in for a chat and a complimentary digestivo with the manager.edit
Saigon Restaurant at InterContinental Hanoi Westlake. The freshest blend of Vietnamese and Chinese cuisine. The restaurant features contemporary Asian design, dramatic glass-fronted kitchens and inspiring views of the city’s ever-changing skyline. edit
Sofitel Metropole - Chocolate Buffett. daily 3PM-5:30PM. All you can eat chocolate. The chocolate is of a very high quality and includes a chocolate fountain and chocolate ice cream as well as a variety of freshly-made "Belgian" style chocolates.Buffett: US$20; Pot of tea: US$4. edit
Sofitel Metropole - Sunday Brunch. Su noon-3PM. Innovative and unconventional cooking. 40 m of buffet with everything your heart can desire, from sushi to carvery, from fresh french oysters to homemade ice cream - you name it - they've got it. Among the highlights are a 3 story chocolate buffet with a chocolate fountain and the goose liver creme brulee.US$80. edit
Insect food, Khuong Thuong village,. The most special cuisines at his restaurant are those processed from ant-eggs, in the styles of Thai people or Muong and Tay ethnic people in Vietnam.edit
Press Club, 59 A Ly Thai To St., ☎ +84 4 3934-0888 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +84 4 3934-0899), . Fine dining with western cuisine and a good selection of wines. 70 seat restaurant, private wine room for 12 and another cosy private room for 4. A combination of old and contemporary features with a classically trained executive chef.edit
Bia Hơi is abundant in the streets of the Old Quarter. At the crossing of Ta Hien and Luong Ngoc Quyen five separate venues fill up with travellers in the evenings, but you can get more local atmosphere on some of the side streets.
Hanoi is a lively city on the weekends, but the Old Quarter closes relatively early (at midnight) on weekdays, so you might want to start your night early. Other places outside the Old Quarter stay open later and vary in closing times.
Local young people gather around the cathedral located in Ly Quoc Su to have lemon ice tea (Tra Chanh) and sunflower seeds in street bars. After dark it gets quite crowded. Tra Chanh: 8,000 to 10,000 dong.
Sit on a plastic chair in front of one of the Bia Hoi (fresh beer) establishments which are invariably situated on the corners of many of Hanoi's 'Old Quarter' streets. This preservative-free light beer is the perfect drink to sip as you watch the city's frenetic life bustle by. The beer costs less than twenty cents and gives you an excuse to relax and take photos of the passing local characters. Should not be missed. Moreover, once you reach the Old Quarter, you will find that almost every corner is filled with stalls selling Pho (Vietnamese noodle) and cafe (the name is not limited only to coffee, but also tea, sweets and grocery items, and yes, even to Pho!).
On Tô Tich, a small street connecting Hang Quat and Hang Gai, you can help yourself to a refreshing fruit milkshake (sinh tố) at one of the stalls (~7000 dong).
Highlands Coffee, (opposite KFC), . Located on 3rd floor in a ship shaped 5 storey building overlooking Hoan Kiem Lake and Vietnam's "Piccadilly Circus". Great spot to relax in scenic location where you can watch all the traffic and pedestrians go about their business below you along their outside balcony or stay inside their comfy air-conditioned interior. They also serve food and beer.45,000 vnd. edit
Pots 'n Pans Lounge Bar, 57 Bui Thi Xuan Street, Hai Ba Trung District, Hanoi (Follow Ba Trieu Street south from Hoan Kiem Lake 5 mins), ☎ +84 4 39 4402 04 (email@example.com, fax: +84 4 39 44 65 99), . From 11.30AM-late. Innovative Vietnamese cuisine infused with international flair. A great bar and lounge brought to you by a group of former street and disadvantaged youth from Hanoi’s own KOTO Training Program. with a great bar menu, open 11:30-late. Happy Hour daily 17:00-19:00.edit
Green Lake (Ho Guom Xanh), 32 Le Thai To. A crowded bar with weekly performances by popular local singers. A place for the definitive Vietnamese entertainment scene. Has an 80,000 dong cover charge on the weekends. Seems to combine part live singing with drag performances and a host club.edit
Tet Bar, (on the northern end of Ta Hien). A small bar formerly known as Le Maquis. It's more like a loud rock music binge and smoke pub than a stylish lounge, but there's usually a happy crowd until late and the place has an authentic feel.edit
Mao's Red Lounge, 30 Ta Hien, Hoan Kiem (down the street from Tet and Cheeky Quarter). Small, but lively bar in the heart of the Old Quarter. Has two levels, the top floor which is usually packed with Westerners smoking loads of cigarettes. Mao himself is usually in presence, playing all kinds of music from his iPod. Extremely friendly dude who will strike up a conversation with anyone willing to listen. Daily specials, and LaRue for about 20,000 dong.edit
Minh's Jazz Club, 92 Tran Vu (on the south side of Truc Bach Lake), . This longtime institution of the Hanoi music scene has moved (Oct 2010) to an area outside the Old Quarter. The new location is much smaller than the previous location, but is still run by the same Mr. Quyen Van Minh. It is now attached to the MaLai Deli and Red Arecas Restaurant. Drink options are still available, but food will have to be sourced from one of the two adjoining restaurants.edit
Nola, 89 Ma May str (located in the heart of the old quarter), (firstname.lastname@example.org). 19:00-23:00. a communal spot with friendly services. three floors are three beautiful views and comfortable place. put your bag anywhere then you can have a rest.edit
Seventeen Cowboys, 98B Tran Hung Dao. Due to a licensing agreement finishing, this is no longer known as "Seventeen Saloon", though the format is largely unchanged. Nightly live cover band, a multitude of provocatively dressed waitstaff, and somewhat expensive drinks.edit
Student Bar, left of the St. Joseph Cathedral's Entrance (West of Hoan Kiem Lake). A nice little bar for cheap and good fruit shakes. As the name suggests, very young audience, that sits each night on ridiculous amounts of little chairs on the sidewalks, taking their fruit shakes.edit
Sunset Bar - InterContinental Hanoi Westlake, 1A Nghi Tam, ☎ (84-4)62708888. Dramatically positioned on its own island in West Lake and reached in the evenings by a stroll along a torch-lit bridge, Sunset Bar’s tropical Asian ambiance and stunning sunset views over the lake afford guests a sanctuary from which to escape the bustle of downtown Hanoi.edit
Track Bar right under the Long Bien Bridge is no longer open. A lot of locals usually suggest it but keep in mind that it closed 9 Sep 2012.
Cheeky Quarter is a bar run by a friendly English-Vietnamese couple. It is found at 1 Ta Hien , Hoàn Kiếm, Hanoi. Just a few shops from Mao's red lounge
Phuc Tan is the place to go once all other bars in the old quarter have shut down.
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Hanoi hotel scams
Be aware information about a hotel from a tout may in fact be different from what the hotel offers, their policy, etc. If ever in doubt, speak with a direct staff member of the hotel.
It may be wise to verify the conditions of "free" products the hotel may offer or even go as far to take pictures of the room or mini bar should proof ever be needed. If ever unsure whether something is complimentary or not, check before partaking of the product or service.
If during your stay a hotel finds a reason to move you to a different hotel, insist they provide proof their claims are legitimate and if they are asking you move to a higher-priced hotel, make sure they have an agreement with the new hotel to pay the difference in price or other arrangements which all parties find suitable.
If at any point during your stay you decide to keep your valuables in a safe box with the hotel administration avoid giving them your credit cards. The hotel owners have been known to use the credit card information to book rooms at their hotels with your cards after your departure.
The Old Quarter is littered with guesthouses and hostels catering for budget travellers. A venue down an alley will not have the constant traffic noise, but check for construction work happening next door, it can wake you up just as early. If you leave food in your room keep it covered/sealed, poor hygiene in the neighbourhood can bring rodents through the smallest of holes in search of sustenance.
Hanoi Pearl Hotel, 7C Dong Thai St., Hoan Kiem Dist., ☎ (84) 904 751 348, . checkin: 12; checkout: 11. The staff were friendly and helpful with tips of what to do in Hanoi and helping us with onward travel plans. .Rates start at USD 23.00. edit
Hanoi 3B Hotel, 99 Ma May Str (located in historic Old Quater), ☎ +84 4 3935 1080 (email@example.com), . Two star hotel with elevator and buffet breakfast. Friendly and reliable staff. All rooms A/C with en suite toilet and shower.Double from US$16, including breakfast. edit
Hanoi Old Town Hotel, 95 Hang Chieu St., Hoan Kiem Dist., ☎ (84-4) 3926 2326, . Their Hanoi hotel accommodation offers rooms equipped with double bed/twin bed, dual split-type air-conditioning, LCD television with cable, safety box, refrigerator, free ADSL and Wireless internet access with a private PC. Some of its facilities and services are restaurant, elevator, 24hr reception, tour, airport transfer, laundry service/dry cleaning, room service, safety deposit boxes, shuttle service and Wi-Fi in public areas.Rates start at USD 20.00. edit
Hanoi Homestay, . checkin: midnight; checkout: midnight. This budget Hanoi Homestay includes a bedroom with a king size bed, a small balcony and a private bathroom. The host can offer guidance on places to visit. Also includes Free wifi and satellite TV. 16 USD. edit
Hanoi Nonprofit Hostel (Cheapest Family Hostel in Hanoi), 17b Hang Ga str, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, Vietnam (10 minutes walk from Hoan Kiem Lake and within easy access of Noi Bai Airport), ☎ +844 37476095 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +844 39234310), . checkin: 10h00; checkout: 12h00. Twin, Double rates start at $13 per room,4-6 person dorm room is only $5 breakfast incl, bicycle is available. Free internet is available with 2 computers in the lobby, free Wifi within the building. Guest are welcome to cook with the family, dinner is available for 80.000d/person. There are lots of books for free reading and exchange in the lobby. Staff are friendly and helpful with English and Japanese speaking owner. Since the hostel has only 12 rooms book in advance if you can.edit
Hanoi Hostel No1 (The World Hotel, David Guest House, Khach San Hanoi Hostel No1), 14-16 Thanh Ha, Old Quater, Hoankiem, Hanoi, Vietnam. This hotel changes its name frequently so beware of this address. The owner of this hotel, Peter Toan, has stolen credit card numbers from the cards that have been given to him for safekeeping and used them for making fraudulent bookings at his hotel. Avoid this hotel and do not give your credit cards to anyone. edit
Hanoi Emperor Hotel, No 16 Hang Buom St, Hoan Kiem, (email@example.com), . Twin, Double rates start at $15 per room, breakfast incl. while Triple bedded and Squad Room rates start at $ 20 usd per room (the prices on their website are wrong). Free internet is available with 2 computers in the lobby, free Wifi within the building. However, the internet doesn't work always and Facebook is not accessible. Staff are friendly and helpful. Since the hotel has only 14 rooms book in advance if you can.edit
Violet Hotel, 18 Cau Go, Hoan Kiem, Ha Noi, (firstname.lastname@example.org), . checkout: 12 noon. A nice place near the lake. Staff are very friendly but not all are knowledgeable on tours. Singles US$15, Doubles $20 & Triples $25edit
Airport View Hotel (A brand new Airport Hotel that features 26 luxurious rooms, Airport View Hotel offer convenience to our guests by providing restaurants and other great amenities you can expect from a 2stars hotel.), Dien Xa, Noibai Airport, Hanoi, Vietnam (Located just 01km from Noi Bai International Airport), ☎ +84 4 3886 5656 (fax: +84 4 3886 5959), . .edit
Avi Airport Hotel (Designed for both business and leisure travel, Avi Airport Hotel is ideally situated in Noi Bai Airport; one of the city's most popular locales. The city center is merely 25 km away and the airport can be reached within 5 minutes. With its convenient location, the hotel offers easy access to the city's must-see destinations). * Hanoi Triumphal Hotel, 4 Hang Ga str, Hoan Kiem dist (10 minutes walk from Hoan Kiem Lake and within easy access of Noi Bai Airport), ☎ +844 62700937, . Hanoi Triumphal Hotel in Hanoi, Vietnam. All rooms equipped with Air-conditioning, TV, telephone, Sofa, desk, Shower and toilet with bathroom amenities. Some of its facilities and services are Restaurant, bar, Room service, 24-hour front desk, concierge, Laundry/dry cleaning, Spa and wellness center.Rates start at 20.00 USD. editRates start at 20.00 USD. edit
Victor Hotel, 24C Lý Quốc Sư (10 minutes walk from Hoan Kiem Lake). Dorms have AC, free computer use, breakfast can be added for $1. Are also double rooms upstairs, going rates unknown.Dorms for $4. edit
Little Hanoi Hostel, 48 Hang Ga street, Hoan Kiem, ☎ 844 38284461 (email@example.com), . Newly renovated and located in the old quarter of Hanoi, close to popular attractions such as the water puppet show and Hoan Kiem Lake. Rooms are clean and furnished with air conditioning, TV, sofa chairs, a mini-bar, a dresser, and a bathroom with hot and cold taps and a bath tub; rates start at $22. High-speed wi-fi internet connection is available as well. The English speaking staff is friendly and knowledgeable, and can help you book tours to Halong bay, Hoa Lu Tam, Sapa Bac Ha, Ba Be Lake, Mai Chau Hoa Binh, and tourist spots around the city.edit
Hanoi Rendezvous Hotel, No 31 Hang Dieu St, Hoan Kiem (In the Old Quarter), ☎ +84 4 3828 5777 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . Boutique Hotel/Hostel run by an Australian couple. Private En-suite rooms and Shared rooms. A/C cable LCD televisions. Member of Hostelling International. Fully informed and equipped travel service for all destinations in Vietnam. Friendly English speaking staff. Free beer and Spring Rolls on Thursday nights. Laundry service. Good music in cafe. Free internet PCs with Skype and free WiFi in rooms.US$7.50-35. Full breakfast included in all rates. edit
Hanoi Sakura Hostel (email@example.com), 58, Au Trieu St, Hoan Kiem (15 min by walk from train station and 5 min from Hoan Kiem Lake), ☎ +84 4 38261212, . checkin: 2pm; checkout: 12 noon. Only one year old but a crazy good and friendly staff. Dorms for US$4 without breakfast. 4 bed dorms available for private use. Free Wifi. It also offers cheap tours to interesting places such as Sapa and Halong Bay.US$4. edit
Camellia Hotel 5, 81 Thuoc Bac St (10 min walk from Hoan Kiem lake), ☎ +84 4 828 2376, +84 4 828 3128 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +84 4 828 2404), . checkout: 12noon. Small hotel on the heart of Old Quarter. Clean rooms and baths with good air-con, sat TV, free internet and breakfast. A few thefts have been reported so watch your gear.US$16 - $20. edit
Especen Hotel, (30 m from St. Joseph's Church on a quiet alley off of Au Trieu St), ☎ +84 4 3824 4401 (email@example.com, fax: +84 4 3825 9460), . checkin: noon; checkout: noon. There are two mini-hotels with the same name "Especen" on little lanes to the left of Au Trieu. The first as you walk down Au Trieu off of the main street Nha Chung has pimped out rooms (retro 70's) style and dilapidated bathrooms. The other further down Au Trieu, again on a side lane to the left has poor standard rooms, beds, and bathrooms. There are many far better quality places on Au Trieu with comparable prices.Single US$25. (21.029094,105.848511)edit
Hanoi Backpackers' Hostel, 48 Ngo Huyen St, Hoan Kiem (One block north of St Joseph's Cathedral. Signposted from there.), ☎ +84 4 828 5372 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . checkin: 24 hr; checkout: 24 hr. Run by two Australians who have lived there for many years. Clean A/C rooms (including female-only dorms plus double rooms), powerful and hot showers, tri-weekly BBQs on the rooftop, free wifi and excellent staff who are always available to help. All dorm beds have a large personal locker (no extra fee), shelf and nightlight. Part of the Hostelling International association, so valid card-holders will get a discount. Quite popular during high season, recommended to book accommodation in advance. This accommodation is especially for "Party only" tourists, the Hostel own Halong Bay Tour is 50%based on drinking games, so watch out and consider if you like that or not Dorm US$7.50, double US$30, breakfast included. edit
Hanoi Central Backpacker's, 16 Ly Quoc Su and 45A Ly Quoc Su, Hoan Kiem (Directly opposite the church / Half a block north of the church on Ly Quic Su, in the alley next to June fashion), ☎ +84 4 3948 1508, . checkin: 24 hr; checkout: Noon. Local friendly staff. Free internet. Some guests report questionable hygiene. Free beer every night, seriously.16-bed dorm US$5, double US$29, breakfast included. edit
Hanoi Centre Ville Hotel, No 47 Luong Ngoc Quyen St, Hoan Kiem (In the heart of the Old Quarter), ☎ +84 4 38 26 84 59 (email@example.com), . checkin: 08.00 hr; checkout: 12.00 hr. Almost right across from the Amazon bar and very close to other late-night pubs (20 m from the international corner of Bia Hoi). The rooms are spacious. newly renovated. Some rooms have wardrobes. The floors are hard tiled and very clean, no sticky carpet. There is an LCD TV, refrigerator- some art motifs add touch. Also a heater/air conditioner (the hot water 24h ); ironing boards, hair-dryers; Wi-Fi throughout; free internet computers in the lobby and a wonderful breakfast. (Be aware, like most hotels in this area, they lock the doors late. The staff is very friendly. But for English (or French) and negotiating, you need to ask for Tuan: pronounced (Tw ‘an) or (2 on). He is a floating manager who can be easily summoned. He can make you a deal according to your stay. He is a very knowledgeable concierge. US $12-25. Book in advance if you can. Room US$12- double US$25, breakfast included. edit
Hanoi Guesthouse, 85 Ma May Str (located in historic Old Quater), ☎ +84 4 3935 2572 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . A small hotel very popular with backpackers. Friendly and reliable staff. All rooms A/C with en suite toilet and shower.Double US$29, including breakfast. edit
Hanoi Guesthouse 2, 43 Ly Thai To St (Old Quarter), ☎ +84 4 3935 1091 (email@example.com), . Opened 2010, twin of Hanoi guesthouse. Friendly and reliable staff. All rooms A/C with en suite toilet and shower.Twin US$24, including breakfast. edit
Hanoi Youth Hostel, 5 Luong Ngoc Quyen - Hoan Kiem (in the Hanoi Old Quarter close to Hoan Kiem Lake (just a 2 minute walk)), ☎ +84 9 7858 6555, . 17 rooms and dormitory with city view, A/C, sat TV, telephone, mini-bar, en-suite bathroom with bath-tub and shower. Relaxation room on the 1st floor complete with a pool table, a darts board and a library. Free Wi-Fi, free beer, free tea, free coffee, free breakfast.Dorm bed US$4.5-6, private room US$15-30. edit
Camel City Hotel (former Indochina Queen), No. 8/50 Dao Duy Tu Lane (between Dao Duy Tu and Ta Hien Sts), ☎ +84 4 3935 2024, . checkin: anytime; checkout: noon. Very centrally located slightly to the north of Hoan Kiem Lake has huge rooms to suit different budgets. All rooms come with hot water, sat TV and free breakfast. Since it's tucked away in an alley, it's much quieter than most other hotels that are situated right on the main streets.US$17-20. edit
Kangaroo Hotel, Hang Luoc St 71 (about 10 min walk from Hoan Kiem lake), ☎ +84 4 825 8044 (firstname.lastname@example.org). checkout: noon. Small hotel in the Old Quarter. The rooms have comfortable beds, good hot water pressure for showers and air-con/fan combos. Amenities include sat TV, free internet and bathtub. Helpful staff with good English.From US$4. edit
Little Hanoi Hotel, 60 Au Trieu St, Hoan Kiem (just north west of the lake in the old quarter), ☎ +84 4 3938 8648 (email@example.com). Comfortable, modern, clean A/C rooms and dorms.Doubles US$20, dorm bed US$6, breakfast and internet included. edit
Mai Dza Hotel, 52 Yen Phu St, Tay Ho, ☎ +84 4 3715 2222 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +84 4 37152815), . checkin: 6PM; checkout: noon. 50 rooms with 3 star standard. All the rooms are spacious with the area from 30 m²-40 m² fully equipped with modern facilities: in-room IDD telephone, wifi, cableTV, safe box, air conditioner, fridge. The rooms are bright and fresh with big windows and balconies. Guests from here can admire romantic beauty of West Lake and Red River.edit
Old Quarter Hostel, 91 Hang Ma (Just a few minutes by walk to Dong Xuan Market), ☎ +84 9 0229 1886 (email@example.com). Clean, spacious and secure rooms. Staff are incredibly helpful. Free internet and breakfast.Dorm bed US$6, single US$10-15. edit
New Spark Hotel. * Stars Hotel, 26 Bat Su (Old Quarter), ☎ +84 4 3828 1911, +84 4 3828 1912 (firstname.lastname@example.org). Clean rooms with bathroom. Breakfast available. Just a few min by walk to Dong Xuan Market and Hoan Kiam Lake. Free internet available in some rooms and also at dining room at ground level.US$15-28. editUS$15-28. edit
Tonkin Hotel. checkin: 2PM; checkout: 12 noon. Run by a Vietnamese family with 10 years experience. The rooms are furnished with traditional décor and Asian accents. The rooms are clean with air conditioning and sat TV. Also, the hotel is quieter than most in the Old Quarter. The windows of the rooms still face streets with traffic and honking. 18 May 2013: there was no towel, no soap, no shampoo in a single room. The room is small which is probably good because of higher chances the old cheap air conditioner will manage to cool the room. The windows don't close tight, so hot air still penetrates through the windows. Single US$15, double US$20. edit
Hostel International, Old quarter, Au Trieu street off of Nha Chung. Dorm rooms have poor ventillation in general. Smoking area is in a dumb location next to the cafe -- sound & noise plus cigarette smoke travels up ventilation windows duct into rooms! Other than those annoyances the hostel seems to be well run and is a good meeting point.edit
Pearl Suites Grand Hanoi Hotel, 7 Dong Thai Ma May St, Hoan Kiem (Close to Teckcombank bank ATM), ☎ +84 4 3935 2493 (email@example.com), . checkout: 12 noon. “Amazing little find” We've budgeted for around $35 per night inc breakfast for our hotels-we paid $30 for this hotel making it the cheapest of our trip so far. The manager, Alex has excellent English and local knowledge which he is only too happy to share. He's been great booking tours for us and just helping out in general(he went out and bought rain ponchos for us but wouldn't take any money for them. The breakfast selection has been the best of the four hotels we have stayed in going a bit further than eggs 5 ways! Our room is spacious, clean and reasonably quiet with only 10 rooms in the hotel! The hotel is well situated in the Old Quarter. For reservations and other information, you can call the hotline on: +84 439985677 US$30 min. (21.0346642,105.8534539)edit
Trung Nam Hai Hotel (Trung Nam Hai Hotel), No 27 Hoan Kiem, Hoan Kiem (Nearby Hoan Kiem Lake), ☎ +84 4 3928 8228 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +84 4 3928 8268), . In Old Quarter, located on main street, easy walk to main tourist points such as Hoan Kiem Lake (10 minutes), Saint Joseph Church (10 minutes), Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and Museum (20 minutes), etc. All bedrooms have en-suite bathroom with FREE WIFI, INTERNET ACCESS, bathtub and shower, air-conditioning and heating, mini bar, safe deposit box, flat screen TV with cable television, hairdryer. All floors can be reached by an elevator. There is a HSBC ATM on-site to drawn Vietnam Dong.US$30-50, breakfast included. edit
An Hung Hotel, No1 Ngo Gach street, Hoan Kiem District, ☎ (+84-4) 339290702, . Their Hanoi hotel accommodation offers rooms equipped with Wifi access, iron (upon request), wardrobe, satellite channels or cable channels with flat screen TV (32 inches), in-room safe, well stocked mini-bar, air conditioning with individual climate control, bath tub and jacuzzi. Some of its facilities and services are bar, restaurant, business center, laundry/dry cleaning, reception 24 hour, Wi-Fi in lobby, concierge, car pick up/drop airport, baby sitting, car, motorbike and bicycle for rent.Rates start at 60.00 USD. edit
Vietface Hotel formerly name Trung Nam Hai 2 Hotel (Vietface Hotel), No 14 Chan Cam, Hoan Kiem (Nearby Hoan Kiem Lake), ☎ +84 4 3928 9868 (email@example.com, fax: +84 4 3928 9868), . In Old Quarter, all bedrooms have en-suite bathroom with bathtub and shower, air-conditioning and heating, mini bar, free WiFi, safe deposit box, flat screen TV with cable television, hairdryer. All floors can be reached by an elevator.US$35-50, breakfast included. edit
Serenade Hotel, 58 Hang Dao St, Hoan Kiem District, ☎ +84 4 3928 6666, . Deluxe double, junior twin, city view and Serenade suite, all have A/C, free internet and mini-bar. Restaurant, bar, room service and sauna massage.From US$ 55. edit
Lucky Hotel Hanoi, 12 Hang Trong str, Old Quarter, Hoan Kiem District, ☎ +84 43825 1029, . , with 20 rooms, all clean and spacious. Staffs skillful with good English speaking and courteous. Walking distance to Hoan Kiem lake. Equipped with Mini-bar/refrigerator, LCD cableTV and A/C. Free internet access and WiFi, Restaurant and 24 hr room service.From USD 35. edit
Lucky 2 Hotel Hanoi, 46 Hang Hom str, Old Quarter, Hoan Kiem District, ☎ +84 43928 8170, . , with 22 rooms, all clean and spacious. English speaking and courteous staff. 5 min walking to Hoan Kiem lake. Mini-bar/refrigerator, LCD cableTV , A/C. Free internet access and WiFi, Restaurant and 24 hr room service.From USD 35. edit
Lucky 3 Hotel Hanoi, 81 Hang Bong str, Old Quarter, Hoan Kiem District, ☎ +84 43938 1988, . , New open from 2011 with 35 modern rooms, all clean and spacious. Staffs skillful with good English speaking and courteous. 5 min walking to Hoan Kiem lake. Mini-bar/refrigerator, LCD cableTV , A/C. Free internet access and WiFi, Restaurant and 24 hr room service.From USD 35. edit
Hanoi Value Hotel, 90B Nguyen Huu Huan str, Old Quarter, Hoan Kiem District, ☎ 84 439264537-38, . Superior, deluxe and family room, all equipped with Mini-bar/refrigerator, LCD cableTV , A/C. Free internet access and WiFi, Restaurant and 24 hr room service.From USD 41.60. edit
Continental Hotel, 24, Hang Vai, Hoan Kiem, . Boutique-style hotel which has clean and spacious rooms. Courteous staff, walking distance to Hoan Kiem Late.Single US$24, double US$28, breakfast included. edit
Davula Home, 33, To Ngoc Van St, Tay Ho District (Hanoi Bus #41 to Xuan Dieu Street terminal. Walk down To Ngoc Van St), ☎ +84 4 3718 5831 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . 1-bedroom boutique serviced apartment. Bright and spacious, cozy lighting, bedroom & living room DVD/LCD-TVs, work desk with computer & free internet, terrace with plants, views of Westlake villas. Great walks along the lake. Family friendly. On-site restaurant 8AM-11PM, tour arrangements, auto/motorbike rental and spa advice available.Single US$79-435, breakfast included. edit
Duc Thai Hotel, 95B Hang Ga St, Hoan Kiem (Nearby Hoan Kiem lake and night market), ☎ +84 9 1255 0388, . checkin: 24 hr. $US25 in nett price. edit
Elegance Hotel Hanoi, No 85 Ma May St & No 8 Hang Bac St, ☎ +84 4 926 3451 (fax: +84 4 926 3452), . In a street in the Old Quarter that thanks to a curb doesn't see as much through-traffic and thus is quieter than most. The newly built boutique hotel offers luxury accommodation in elegant settings with modern facilities & amenities served by professional staff. TV, fan, A/C, hot shower, bathtub or jacuzzi and optional breakfast. In-room computer with internet access is included. Friendly staff.US$28-70. edit
Grand View Hotel, no 50 Hang Be-Hoan Kiem, ☎ +84 4 3926 0084 (email@example.com), . Located in the Old Quarter. Rooms come with satellite LCD TV, individually controlled A/C, desk, personal safes, mini-bar, tea and coffee maker, bathroom with shower massage, bathtub, daily buffet breakfast served in the hotel’s restaurant. Cot and iron available upon request, Bicycle rental is available. Parking is available for guests who arrived with their own transportation. Baby sitting services are available. 24 hr front desk, luggage storage and fax services.From US$60-135, buffet breakfast included. edit
Hanoi A1 Hotel, No. 1, Cau Go St, Hoan Kiem (near the famous Hoan Kiem Lake. It is just a 2 min walk from the Water Puppet Theatre and a 3 hr drive to other well-known attractions in the city), ☎ +84 4 3926 4512, . Rooms equipped with A/C, cableTV, DVD player, Internet, private toilet and bath. Business centre, restaurant, room service, airport transfer and car rental. BEWARE-SCAM The room safes are not safe at all. Hotel staff steal out of the room safe. So do not leave anything inside. From US$35. edit
Hanoi Boutique Hotel, Hanoi Old Quarter, Hang Buom Ward, Hoan Kiem, ☎ +84 4 3929 0366, . In the old quarter, 7 min to Hoan Kiem Lake and Water Puppet Theatre.From. edit
The Hanoi Club Hotel, 76 Yen Phu St, Ho Tay (Close to Sofitel Plaza, just at the banks of West Lake), ☎ +84 4 3823 8115 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . A recreational club with 75 hotel rooms. Tennis courts, squash courts, fully equipped gym, 25 m length pool, 48 bays golf driving range, Chinese restaurant, lounge, and cafe. Very peaceful with hardly any sounds of traffic. Rooms are modern looking with some rooms facing the lake. Complimentary WiFi in rooms.From US$85++. edit
Hanoi Eclipse Hotel, No 24 Hang Quat St, Hoan Kiem, ☎ +84 43 824 3423 (email@example.com, fax: +84 43 824 6144), . Newly built modern boutique hotel which has very clean and spacious rooms. Friendly staff can speak English.US$30-55. edit
Hanoi Emotion Hotel, 26 Hang Bot St, Hoan Kiem (just next to Temple of Literature), ☎ +84 4 384 898 48 (Email: firstname.lastname@example.org), . A newly opened 3-star hotel, a few minutes walk to One Pillar Pagoda and Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. Large bathroom and welcoming fruit basket,rooftop restaurant and bar with city view. The hotel is especially good for business travel as the surrounding is very quiet while accessing other business areas is easy.From US$49. edit
Hanoi Eternity Hotel, 32 Yet Kieu St, Hoan Kiem, ☎ +84 4 3941 2262 (email@example.com), . checkin: 2PM; checkout: noon. Business boutique hotel with 28 rooms, just next to Hanoi Train Station. Large bathroom and welcoming fruit basket, sound-proof windows.US$45+. (21.0231628107075,105.843465328217)edit
Hanoi Newday Hotel, 31 Hang Dieu St, Hoan Kiem (Nearby Hoan Kiem Lake and night market), ☎ +84 4 3456 7890, . checkin: 24 hr. $US30 nett price. edit
Hanoi Pacific Star Hotel, 32 Cuanam St, Hoan Kiem, ☎ +84 4 3936 4520 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . A short walk from the Old Quarter, with bright and spacious rooms. Breakfast, free wired internet in each of the rooms, a bar, and room service are available.US$30 double, includes breakfast. edit
Hanoi Rose Hotel, 59B Duong Thanh St, Hoan Kiem, ☎ +84 4 3938-1826, . Non-smoking and A/C rooms, all equipped with LCD TV and CD player, mini-bar, and coffee/tea maker. Bar and restaurant, airport and city transfer, fitness room/gym, spa, massage services, and internet access.Rates on official website start at US$27.5. edit
Hanoi Royal Palace Hotel, No 18A Quan Su str, Hoan Kiem, ☎ +84 4 3938 1763 (email@example.com, fax: +84 4 3938 1765), . In the Old Quarter. Doesn't see much through-traffic and thus is quieter than most. Newly built boutique hotel with modern facilities and professional staff. TV, fan, A/C, hot shower, bathtub or jacuzzi and optional breakfast. In-room computer with internet is included.US$40-85. edit
Hanoi View 2 Hotel, 48 Ngo Si Lien Alley, Dong Da District, ☎ +84 4 62679888, . Deluxe, standard, superior and junior suite rooms with A/C, cableTV and internet. Restaurant, sauna, travel agency and massage service are available.edit
Jospeh's Hotel, 5 Au Trieu (just behind Joseph's Cathedral near Hoan Kiem Lake.), (firstname.lastname@example.org), . 10 room, western-managed boutique hotel. Some rooms have a large window. Rainshower, plasmaTV with cable, wifi, minibar and coffee/tea making facilities. Many rooms have a balcony and there is also a lift. Comfortable beds, spotless rooms, tasteful artwork and an included breakfast.US$45-55. edit
Indochina Queen II Hotel, 67-Pho Thuoc Bac St, Hoan Kiem, ☎ +84 4 3923 3993, +84 4 3923 3996 (email@example.com, fax: +84 4 3923 3966), . New hotel, rooms with flat satelliteTV, A/C, safebox, tea&coffee maker, and en-suite bathrooms. An on-site restaurant serves breakfast, bar, carpark, bicycle rental, and babysitting are available.edit
Khanh Sinh Hotel, 95 Hang Chieu, Hanoi Old Quarter, Hoan Kiem, ☎ +84 4 3938 2014, . Comfortable rooms, A/C, cableTV, and well stocked mini-bar. Airport transfer, currency exchange, restaurant, and car rental.From US$30. edit
Kings Cross Linh Dung Uyen Hotel, 3 Tong Duy Tan St, Hoan Kiem, ☎ +84 4 2215 8030 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . Not far way from Hanoi’s business district. The hotel is the tallest building in its area. Guest elevator, meeting facilities, business centre, 24 hr security camera system on public areas available. All rooms and apartments offer views over the city.US$31 double, includes breakfast. edit
Ocean Stars 2 Hotel, 10 Ngo Dao Duy Tu Ln, Hoan Kiem (this hotel is not located on Dao Duy Tu St, instead on Ngo Dao Duy Tu. Look for the alley at 52 Dao Duy Tu St.), ☎ +84 4 828 1711 (email@example.com, fax: +84 4 9263745), . Located in the Old Quarter. 25 rooms with hot water, private bathrooms, and fan or A/C. Fridge, satTV, telephone access, internet in the rooms and the lobby.US$16-30. edit
Phoenix Hanoi Hotel (formerly Ocean Star Hotel - and one with a scam warning), 43 Bat Su St (Hoan Kiem district, Old Quarter), (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +84 4 9263745), . The 30 rooms with hot water, private bathrooms, and fan or A/C. There is also a fridge, satTV, telephone access, free internet in the rooms and lobby. Some of the rooms have a desktop computer.US$11+. edit
New Century Hotel, 12 Cha Ca St, Hoan Kiem, ☎ +84 4 3824 4005, . checkout: noon. New opened hotel with spacious, clean rooms and a friendly owner. Rooms have TV, computer, bathtub and internet.US$18-22. edit
ThaiSon Hotel, No 7-9 HangVoi, HoanKiem (nearby Hoan Kiem Lake), ☎ +84 4 3935 1666, +84 4 3935 1612 (email@example.com, fax: +84 4 39351611), . Boutique-style hotel with clean and spacious rooms. Hotel staff is courteous, friendly and warm.US$35-55, breakfast included. edit
Trung Nam Hai Hotel (Trung Nam Hai Hotel), No 27 Hoan Kiem, Hoan Kiem (Nearby Hoan Kiem Lake), ☎ +84 4 3928 8228 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +84 4 3928 8268), . In Old Quarter, all bedrooms have en-suite bathroom with bathtub and shower, air-conditioning and heating, mini bar, free Wi-Fi, safe deposit box, flat screen cable TV, hairdryer. All floors can be reached by an elevator.US$30-50, breakfast included. edit
Viet Anh Hotel, 11 Ma May St, ☎ +84 4 926 1302 (fax: +84 4 926 1306), . Newly remodeled rooms, located on a shady street in the Old Quarter. Internet and a good buffet breakfast (with chef on hand) are included in the room rate.US$15-60. edit
Hanoi Hibiscus Hotel, 52 Ngo Huyen Str, Hoan Kiem Dist, ☎ +84 4 3938-2113 (email@example.com, fax: +84 4 3938 2115), . Centrally located in the charming historic Old Quarter, 3 minutes' walk from Hoan Kiem Lake. 3-stars. 15 min walk from Dong Xuan Market and Hanoi Opera House. Free Wi-Fi and flat screen TV. Ensuite all rooms, breakfast included and travel services available.US$30-35. edit
Sans Souci IV, Old quarter, Au Trieu street off of Nha Chung. Very nice rooms, mid-range price, Air-con units are useless, some cheap generic brand which are underpowered and barely cool the room. It's a pity because the owners have gone to a lot of trouble to make the rooms of a superior quality than is offered elsewhere.edit
Hong Ha Hotel, No 204 Tran Quang Khai St, Hoan Kiem District, ☎ +84 4 3938-7786 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +84 4 3938-7785), . Right next to the famous Vietcombank Tower and BIDV Tower. Just 5 min walk to Hoan Kiem Lake, 2 min walk to Vietnam National Museum of History. Newly built 3.5 star hotel offers luxury accommodation in elegant settings with modern facilities & amenities served by professional staff. TV, fan, Aair-con, hot shower, bathtub or jacuzzi and buffet included. Wi-Fi and cabled access to Internet is free. Friendly staff.US$40-105. edit
Daewoo Hanoi Hotel, 360 Kim Ma St, Ba Dinh District (15-20 min by taxi from the centre of town), . 5 star hotel, but 4 stars by international standards. Part of a larger apartment and business complex that includes 7 restaurants and cafes, 2 banks, and a dance club. There is a large pool, exercise room, business centre with translation services, and free internet in the rooms.US$170+. edit
Hanoi Viet Hotel, 61 Hang Than St, Hoan Kiem District, ☎ +84 4 3927-4705 (fax: +84 4 3927 4707), . checkin: 12:30; checkout: 11:30. 3 star hotel. 38 rooms and suites with private balconies.US$45. (,Long)edit
InterContinental Hanoi Westlake, 1A Nghi Tam, Tay Ho District (on the waters of Westlake, adjacent to the 800 year-old Golden Lotus Pagoda), ☎ +84 4 6270-8888, . 5 star hotel of 359 rooms and suites with private balconies.edit
Melia Hanoi Hotel, Ly Thuong Kiet St (within walking distance of Hanoi Towers and Hoa Lu prison, and is about 15 min slow walk from the Old Quarter), . Rooms are big and offer views of the city.US$139+, breakfast included. edit
Mövenpick Hotel Hanoi, 83A Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiem District (in walking distance to Hoan Kiem Lake and Old Quarter), ☎ +84 4 3822-2800 (email@example.com, fax: +84 4 3822-2776), . checkin: 14:00; checkout: noon. 154 rooms and suites, 93 of which are non-smoking rooms, and 20 connecting rooms. All rooms are equipped with LCD flat screen TV, wide selection of international cable TV channels, Mini-bar, IDD telephone, personal safe, tea and coffee making. Broadband cable and Wi-Fi is accessible in all rooms and throughout the public areas of the hotel.US$140+. (21°1'29.29N,105°50'38.52E)edit
Sheraton Hanoi Hotel, K5 Nghi Tam, 11 Xuan Dieu Rd, Tay Ho District (On the shore of West lake), . Large gardens and courtyards. Rooms are furnished with traditional décor and modern amenities.edit
Sofitel Metropole Hanoi Hotel, 15 Ngo Quyen St (Within walking distance of the Hanoi Opera House), . French Colonial style hotel patroned by mostly older European travellers. The cuisine served by the restaurant is tasty and fresh.edit
Sofitel Plaza Hotel, 1 Thanh Nien Rd, Ba Dinh District, . 317 rooms. Renowned as the most scenic hotel in Hanoi with a zig-zag facade and stepped architecture. Hotel is spotless and well maintained with very friendly staff.edit
Somerset Grand Hanoi, No 49 Hai Ba Trung Street, ☎ +84 4 3934-2342 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +84 4 3934-2343), . The residence offers 185 apartments that range from one to three-bedroom layouts, as well as the three-bedroom penthouse. Each apartment has a kitchens, IDD telephone with a private number and furnishings are provided. Daily rates starts from 2,625,000 dong. edit
Traditional Vietnamese Homestay with Tour, . checkin: 10:00; checkout: 09:00. 2 night stay at a traditional Vietnamese house in Ky Son village located 55 km to the west of Hanoi. Meals are provided and includes a tour package: embark on a bicycle ride to the farming communities, visit ancient ritual sites and learn about their traditional customs. Traditional steam bath (which uses fragrant herbs like lemon grass, pomelo leave and holy basil leaves)and foot spa around US$275. edit
Hanoi is a dangerous city, both by Asian and Western standards. Pickpockets are well organized and operate in groups, scams are around every corner, very aggressive hawkers grab tourists by the arm and won't let go unless they buy something, hotel staff members try to pick padlocks on travelers bags, thieves on motorbikes snatch bags from cafe tables, fake mechanics throw nails at tourists on motorbikes to cause flat tires and the police, probably the worst crooks of them all, are known to steal from people (both locals and tourists) and ask for a bribe to get the items back. There is also a dual price policy: tourists usually pay ten times more than locals; this price can increase even more if, in restaurants, you start eating before asking for the price of the meal.
Be vigilant when taking a taxi - driver jumps out at destination and dumps most of your bags out of the trunk. While you're busy putting rucksack on he has taken off with your other bags. Ask your hotel which taxi companies are reliable - stories abound of meters that run at an adjusted (much faster) rate.
Also keep all eyes on your belongings, especially in crowded area like Dong Xuan night market, or just don't go at all if it's not worth the risk; expect female pickpockets and don't let them surround you.
If you carry a backpack or rucksack, do NOT carry it on your back especially in crowded areas with high tourist traffic eg Hoan Kiem Lake area. Pick pockets will open your bag behind you and help themselves to your belongings. Carry it in front of you instead.
Also, be careful around the streets of Hilton prison museum, a lady will approach you and insist on introducing herself with her pick-up line "Hello, I'm a student." (Who cares?)
Be careful of hustler hawkers. Anywhere else in Vietnam, they have a two-tier pricing system - for locals and for foreigners. No other place in Vietnam is this experienced more emphatically than in Hanoi (and also in Ho Chi Minh Ben Tanh Market) where vendors charge you differently according to how you make an impression. Hawkers may charge 3x more their going rate for an item even if your appearance is similar to them simply because you are not a Viet Kiew, you don't speak the language, and you are sporting an expensive-looking wristwatch. They think you deserve this treatment even if you are eating the humblest food.
Always ask the price first, and give the hawkers exact change if possible. Mobile hawkers (carrying food hung on poles across their shoulders) have been known to pocket the (significant) change and stuff more food than you had intended to buy into your hands, and than quickly take off, leaving the bewildered tourist by the road with his hands full of food he cannot finish.
Like everywhere else in Vietnam, traffic in Hanoi is dominated by an incredible number of motorbikes, all of which seem to be making a mad, desperate dash for something just out of reach — all of the time. All the while blowing their horns incessantly. In other words, pedestrian traffic can be overwhelming for visitors, especially in the narrow streets around the Old Quarter. When you leave the curb, look not only both ways but left, right, back and front, and take each step slowly and patiently allowing them to pass because even an eye contact is not enough with the oncoming drivers and actually before you know it, someone is also on your back since there is no such thing as one-directional traffic in Vietnam. The key word here is slowly — don't rush. This way the drivers are aware of you, and can take you into account (along with all of the other motorbikes). It may look, and indeed is somewhat chaotic, but be patient and pay attention when you're crossing any street, large or small, and you should be fine. Definitely, the streets of Hanoi has no place for faint hearted people, with hypertension and heart problems on top of the disabled and the old.
You should look everywhere as you proceed. Holding out your arm toward the stream of vehicles as a "slow down, I am crossing" sign may be a good idea but not acknowledged most of the time. Don't stop suddenly when you see one coming a little fast or rush your steps when you are crossing. Just even your pace and walk slowly. The motorbikes will find their way to avoid you themselves.
As in any Southeast Asian city, Hanoi is hygienically challenged especially where locals congregate more to dine. Expect that there may be a non-existing Health Department, or this is not in the priority of the city government.
3G internet is very cheap and readily available everywhere in Hanoi. Buying a SIM card costs between 45 000 and 55 000 dong. Unlimited internet for a month costs 40 000 Dong on Viettel (as of March 5th 2012).
Do not buy a SIM card at the Vinaphone counter at the Hanoi airport. The lady at the counter will tell you that unlimited internet for a month costs 500 000 dong, SIM card included. She will give you a SIM card, wont set it up correctly, give you no credit and pocket the 500 000 dong. Also, be aware that she writes fake invoices.
There are plenty of internet cafés all over the city. Most are used by Vietnamese teens playing online dance or battle games. Rates vary, but can be as low as 3,000 dong/hr. Some of the better cafés, particularly in the Old Quarter, have computers that are Skype-capable for international phone calls. Close to Hanoi Youth Hostel there is a cybercafe that charge tourist ten times the actual cost. It is next door, and has no name. If you are not in a hurry use another one.
The cafes that charge you for using the Internet usually provide desktop computers. There are also cafes where they have free wireless. All you have to do is order something from their menus and use their wifi for as long as you want. The wifi cafes are usually concentrated around Hoan Kiem lake area.
If you are the adventurous type or simply bored temporarily of the city atmosphere, then consider a cruise in the northern countryside. A round trip will bring you to a lot of charming villages and through hills and valleys with stunning nature. Main roads are generally in good condition and you can easily do a couple of hundred kilometers a day. The villages and provinces are generally safe at night, and you get to see a lot of Vietnamese culture such as various tribe folks. While bus services are in fact available (albeit not always reliable), a recommended alternative is to rent a bike or car and make the trip on your own. Motorbikes in decent quality can be rented for as little as US$5 a day, and many places have suggestions for routes.
Ha Long Bay's spectacular ocean karst topography is the most popular side-trip from Hanoi. 2 day 1 night Ha Long Bay cruise could be bargained at 45 USD at travel agencies. If contacting directly to the guide (on the pier in Halong city or when the bus comes to pick up tourists) price could be 40 usd or less. This price includes transportation, accommodation, all tickets and entrance fees, kayaking and food. Ask all the options to be written on your receipt and take foto of your receipt, since guide will collect it. Guide will try to scam you - ask to buy admission ticket, pay for kayaking, etc... Food is very limited on the boat, so it might be good idea to book tour without food (10 USD less) and bring your own. Drinks (even water) are not included and are quite expensive on the boat. Boats and cabins are ok (it is well-controlled industry). There are hundreds of cruise boats leaving everyday, most are quite similar. People who pay more, for 'deluxe' cruise often are being send on the same tour with who pays minimum price. All cabins on the same boat are nearly same, just specify in advance whether you need twin or double. Be carefull in kayaking, they might give you half-broken paddles, but if it finally breaks completely, they will charge you.
The Sapa mountain region, home to ethnic minorities, gorgeous mountain scenery, and trekking paths connecting many tiny mountain villages is the second most popular trip. It is accessible by bus or train to Lao Cai, then onward by minibus or hired motorbike.
Interior of the Perfume Pagoda cave
Perfume Pagoda, (Not reasonably reachable by public transport. Tours are available anywhere in Hanoi.). An ancient Buddhist pilgrimage site about 60 km southwest of Hanoi. A full-day excursion that involves a boat trip to the main site, where you will hike (30-45 min) or take a cable car up a mountain. Near the top is a large limestone cave containing Buddhist shrines and statues. There are various other temples and grottoes along the way.Tour from US$15 including transport, lunch, and admission. edit
Bat Trang, a village world-famous for its pottery, 9 km southeast of Hanoi. It is accessible by taking Bus 47, which originates at Long Bien. Just hop on (the bus will be clearly labelled with the number 47 and the text "Long Bien - Bat Trang"; bus fare is 3,000 dong one-way as of 2008) and take it to the last stop, which is directly opposite the pottery market (haggle for lower prices, and insist on paying in Dong). Head back up the street to the factories to see artists at work.
Cao Bang, featuring the beautiful Ban Gioc waterfall, is five hours away by bus, near the Chinese border.
Co Loa is the oldest ancient capital in the region; a little visited site slightly northeast of Hanoi.
Tam Coc/Hoa Lu: Located in Ninh Binh province, this day trip is a combines heritage tourism and natural landscape tourism. Hoa Lu is the site of the first capital of Vietnam in the 10th century, and was home to two kings-- Dinh Bo Linh (Dinh Tien Hoang) and Le Hoan-- there are now two shrines dedicated to these two kings. About 30 min away from Hoa Lu is Tam Coc [three grottoes]-- also known as Halong Bay on land. It features karst landforms surrounded by paddy fields, and is accessed by little wooden boats. Boats, with a boatman, are for hire at US$3.50/trip, 2 passengers to a boat, which takes about one hour. Obviously, the front seat is the better seat. This is an excellent alternative to Halong Bay for those who have short attention spans, as the boat trip takes a mere hour versus Halong Bay tourist boats which take 5 hours. One minor annoyance involves pedlars on boats hawking their wares, and your boat rower trying to sell you embroidery. This is especially trying at the halfway point when the boats are about to turn around for the return trip. A large number of hawkers on boats will be waiting at that point and will attempt to pressure the passengers to buy souvenirs or snacks, while your boatman makes no attempt to move away. Either buy a small item/snack/drink, or politely but firmly turn them down. They'll generally give up after a few uncomfortable minutes. Trip can be booked in Hanoi for about US$20.
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