Hanoi (Vietnamese: Hà Nội), the capital of Vietnam, and also its second largest city, is a fascinating blend of East and West, with Chinese influence from centuries of dominance, and French design from its colonial past. It is largely unspoiled by modern architecture of the 1970s and 80s, and is now going through a modernization that is making it a rising star 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 of Đại La in 1408 and renamed it Tống Bình. Le Loi repelled the invaders in 1428 and applied the name of Lê Thái Tổ (黎太祖); for his efforts, he received the crown and a slew of legends about his heroic exploits, many centered 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 Hanoi the capital of all 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; upon reunification in 1975, it assumed that title for the entire country.
The first western-style universities in Vietnam were founded in Hanoi, and today, it is the leading center of scientific study and research in the country. Hanoi retains much of its older colonial charm, 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 center 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 (bewilderingly, the blow-up of the old town is missing making it useless in that part of town) and other English-language advice, as well as limited free Internet. They aren't completely without bias.
Ho Tay/West Lake, Hanoi
The Tet holiday (Lunar New Year’s Eve) is in the Spring. Flowers are the most beautiful during this time of the year. The weather starts to warm up with light rain here and there during the week. Hanoians believe that these light rains bring prosperity and luck for the New Year.
The Summer, on the other hand, is quite intolerable. The heat alone would be alright but there is the humidity which would start to manifest in the air since Spring. Visitors also have to be very careful with mosquitoes because there are a lot in Hanoi due to the level of moisture in the air and the temperature. Hanoi has a good climate for many insects to proliferate, not just mosquitoes.
There is something unique about Hanoi’s Autumn. The weather is perfect with less humidity in the air. The temperature would drop by now, offering people a chance to take out their fleece and jackets. Moreover, there is this type of tree – “cay hoa sua” which only has flowers in Autumn. The flower has a very distinct smell. If you have the chance to visit Hanoi during Autumn, make sure you ask the local people about this type of trees and where you can experience their distinct aroma.
Winter can be quite brutal because it is not only cold, but also very humid. The winter in Hanoi feels even colder due to the fact that Vietnamese houses typically don’t have a central heating system. Many houses don’t have any types of heating at all.
As of November 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. Several airlines run flights from Noi Bai, including:
Taxis to downtown Hanoi can be hired at Noi Bai . There is a fixed price taxi stand right outside the exit, offering fares between US$10=16 into the city. It is slightly more expensive than the tout taxis, but you pre-pay for the trip, so no hassles about the fare. Other drivers may try to take you to a hotel of their choice to collect a commission, but if you are specific about your destination, they usually give in. As you leave the airport all sorts of US$ prices will be quoted by taxi agents, ranging from around US$15-$30. Be sure you have a clear price agreement 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 prevailing rate at the end of 2010 seemed to be around 350,000 dong.
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.It is not a bad idea to book an airport transfer service at http://www.vietnamtransferservice.com
Public buses to the city center from Noi Bai airport take about an 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 center 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 4,000 dong and 5,000 dong, respectively. To catch buses 7 or 17, go to the 2nd floor of the terminal, proceed outside, and walk along the ramp to your left. The ramp, like a highway overpass, will take you to the other side of the road than if you had just exited on the 1st floor arrivals section. Buses 7 and 17 depart from right at the end of the ramp. 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 from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m.
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 5km from the office - it is much cheaper to go to the Vietnam Airlines office and switch to a taxi (or walk, it's 2km MAX 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.
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 substatially higher.
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 anymore, 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.
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. 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. Do keep an eye on the meter during the journey.
By motorbike driver
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$12) 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. This is good for making lots of trips around the city for individuals or duos, but be careful: Hanoi traffic is very difficult place to sharpen motorbike skills. 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). 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.
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 3,000 dong and off you go. If you are unfamiliar with the city, make sure to inform the 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.
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. 24 hrs. 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 the mausoleum is closed for a couple months around the end of the year, when the body is taken abroad for maintenance. free..
Ho Chi Minh Museum
Ho Chi Minh Museum, 19 Ngoc Ha St, Ba Dinh, ☎ +84 4 846-3572 (firstname.lastname@example.org). 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 postmodern confections integrated with the main story of the man's life and his country's struggle. One of the more informative museums in Vietnam, and perhaps one of the oddest in the world. Guides are available in English, French, Chinese and Russian, but don't bother; the displays are labeled in English and French, and it's hard to imagine the guides doing much other than belaboring the point.25,000 dong.
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.15,000 dong.
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.
Fine Arts Museum - Bảo Tàng Mỹ Thuật, 66 Nguyen Thai Hoc St. Only party-approved art is shown here and there is no information in English and only little in Vietnamese. But 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.
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).
Air Force Museum - Bảo Tàng Không Quân, Truong Chinh St (SW of the city center). 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.
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 and the such. 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.
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.
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 8:30AM-5:30PM. 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.25,000 dong for foreigners.
Hanoi Museum - Bảo tàng Hà Nội, Pham Hung St, Cau Giay district. 
Temple of Literature
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. 10,000 dong.
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.10,000 dong.
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 God (the god defends the east), confer a title of “Thang Long Capital of Nation royal tutelary god". Xuan Nguu presenting rite.
Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi
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' favorite leisure spot, and a great place to watch people practicing 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.) Rumor has it the giant turtles still inhabit the lake.
Ho Tay - West Lake, (northwest of the city). mostly a residential hub of the well-to-do. Sofitel Plaza Hotel is on this lakefront. The shores are occupied by numerous fishermen
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.
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. 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.
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 freedom fighters. 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 detail. 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 propaganda 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.10,000 dong.
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 (possibly with the help of flying turtles) retook the enemy's eight-engined, 100-ton sword and sent it too, to the shallow bottom of the lake, where it remains today.
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.
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.
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. Tickets are 60,000 and 100,000 dong. There are several performances throughout the day, but it's virtually impossible to buy tickets for the same day, and most performances for the following day will be sold out as well. Camera passes are an extra 15,000 dong, but whether you buy one or not is purely on the honor 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.
Megastar— is on the 6th floor of the Vincom City Towers, 191 Ba Trieu. The tickets range from 50,000-80,000 dong depending on the movie and the show time. The movies are relatively new, perhaps one or two months later than in the U.S. 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)— is 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. 15,000-30,000 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 20,000 dong per session as of November 2009. 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 your last rep you are able to place the bar back 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 - ☎ +84 914 548 903. ,\. Hanoi has a climbing gym that opened on April 5, 2011. It is located at So 40 Ngo 76 An Duong in Hanoi. Opening hours: 2PM-10PM from Tue-Sun. VietClimb has a 200 m² climbing surface, a 50 m² café & terrace to chill out, and a climbing pro-shop. VietClimb is also a great source for finding out where to climb immediately outside of Hanoi.
Hidden Hanoi, 137 Nghi Tam Road (aka Duong An Duong Vuong), Tay Ho, (email@example.com), . Located on the bund road in the Tay Ho district, Hidden Hanoi runs walking tours and cooking classes. There are many options, but the 1 hour walking tour of the local market, followed by the 3 hour cooking class, was a foody's delight (approximately US$50 per person). 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.
Vietnam Culinary School, Located right in the heart of Hanoi Administration Departments, (firstname.lastname@example.org). A food center place where you will discover and experience the culinary wonders of Vietnam Cuisine. The Culinary Class has fully equipped facilities offering you the chance to put your hand to practicing Vietnamese Cuisine. 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, . Hanoi Cooking Centre is a cooking school, retail outlet and beautiful court yard cafe with an excellent menu of asian and western favourites. It offers hands-on cooking classes and short courses in a relaxed atmosphere, designed by chef Tracey Lister
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. 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.
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.
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.
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 negotiatable but watch out for the "foreigner pricing" which is fairly common.
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.
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 the driver will drop you off. Cobras are not cheap at around 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 along the Red River that specialize in it. 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.
In Hanoi, there are hundreds of street restaurants in small kiosks on the sidewalk, with plastic tables and chairs on the pavement. Eating at these restaurants 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 20,000 dong (Jan 2011) and market food stalls offer fruit portions, sausages, donuts, and other eats for 10,000 to 20,000 dong (Jan 2011). 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.
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.
Look to the Old Quarter for atmospheric street stalls and reasonably priced Western and local fare.
Bun Cha, (corner Hang Non and Hang Manh, Old Quarter). 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.
Cafe 69, 69 Ma May St (opposite Friendly Hotel). Good place to eat Western food in the heart of the Old Quarter, although some travellers find it expensive and the food inferior quality.
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.
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: 40,000+ dong.
DAC KIM, 24, Hang Ga, Hoan Kiem. 8AM-8PM. Try BBQ pork (slice) in soup with vermicelli and lots of vegetables. They serve spring rolls too.
Hebe Cafe, 33, Luong Van Can St (inside Hanoi Youth Hotel - near the Hoan Kiem lake, in the center of Old Quarter). Cheap local and Western food.breakfasts: US$1; pizza: US$2; hot pot: US$8.
Huy Café & Pizza Inn, 32 Dinh Liet St. large Italian dinner combo (garlic bread, soup/salad, pizza/pasta, drink): 65,000 dong.
Joma Bakery Café (Joma), 21 Dien Bien Phu, & 54 To Ngoc Van (near danish embassy, & 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.
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..
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.
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.
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.
Pho Tu Lun (Au Trieu), 10 Ly Quoc Su. Many pho varieties15,000-30,000 dong.
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.
“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.
Cam Chan Quan, 108 K1 Giang Vo Street, ☎ +84 12 3259 7696. This eatery has staff that speaks English, Chinese and Vietnamese that would be able to help you speak to the cab drivers to bring you to them. They serve asian fare, with a closer touch to the singapore cusines. It's one place where good clean toilet is expected, with free wifi. Try their noodles, its 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.
Cha Ca La Vong, 14 Cha Ca Street & 107 Nguyen Truong To Street. 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. 150,000 dong for a small portion, 1,000 dong charge per napkin.
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.
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)
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.
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.
Kaiser Kaffee Restaurant, 34A Ba Trieu. Interesting little place which has excellent Vietnamese and Western food.
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.
Little Hanoi, 21 Pho Hang Gai, ☎ +84 4 928 5333. Upscale cafe serving mainly Westerners in a pleasantly lit restaurant.
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.
Moka Café, (In Nha Tho St close to the cathedral). Excellent selection of Western and Vietnamese food served in a coffee shop environment.
Paris Deli, (Nha Tho St across from Moka Cafe). Offers delicious European fare for hearty appetites.
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.
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.
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.
Don's Bistro, 16/27 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Ha Noi, ☎ +84 4 3719 2460 (email@example.com, fax: (+84 4) 3719 5998), . From 8:00AM to 11:00PM. Don's is a 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.
Green Tangerine, 48 Hang Be (A few steps away from busy Hang Be street), ☎ 04/825-1286. Excellent French restaurant offering rich and delicious French fare with both an a la carte selection and a set menu. Popular with expats.
La Restaurant & Bar, 25 Ly Quoc Su, ☎ 9288933, 0913221971. 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 VND for a meal and drinks.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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$70.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Minh's Jazz Club, 92 Tran Vu (On the south side of Truc Bach Lake), . This longtime institution of the Hanoi music scene has recently 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.
Nola, 89 Ma May str (located in the heart of the old quarter), (firstname.lastname@example.org). 7PM-11PM. 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.
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 drinkis.
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.
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.
Hanoi hotel scams
Although many hotels in Hanoi are helpful and trustworthy, there are still some scam artists around. Touts will try to lure you into a hotel. If you decide to go, be sure to have them pay the transport, and don't hesitate to leave if you do not like the place. Also, do not believe anybody other than the front desk clerk if they tell you that a certain hotel is "full". They'd rather take you to a place that pays them a commission. Any hotel will be keen to have you book a Ha Long Bay trip through them, but wait a day to judge the quality of service you're receiving there - that'll give you some idea of what kind of travel agency they intend to refer you to.
Be aware that unscrupulous hotels will promise deals that are poorly explained until check-out - for example, "daily free water and fruit" that is only free on the first day. In the Old Quarter, Thien Tan Hotel, Omega Hotel, Old Street Hotel and Ocean Star Hotel indulge in this scam, so avoid them. (Update December 2010 - The Ocean Star has been renamed the Hanoi Phoenix and now seems to have stopped operating this scam!) If you've booked into a rotten hotel and you're planning to leave, don't be shy about taking photos of the minibar right before you leave, lest a few bottles go missing while the staff are "checking" your room. Also, ask explicitly whether tax is included in your room rate. Better hotels will include the tax, but scam-havens like the Old Street Hotel see it as an opportunity to squeeze an extra dollar or two out of you.
You might return late at night to your hotel room to find that all your belongings have been cleared out and you will be accused for not having called during the day. They will then make you believe that there was something wrong with the plumbing in your room, that they were fully booked and you have to change to another hotel which is, of course, much more expensive. There are some hotels that will tell you their room is facing an electricity or water leaking problem and arrange you to stay at a much cheaper, maybe lousy hotel on the 1st day.
With the overwhelming amount of motorbike traffic and the common rule to honk a few times before even considering the brakes, it is wise to check your hotel room's location before taking it. Having a room on the street side means being exposed to the honking which doesn't end till 1AM and starts again around 5AM. If you go more upmarket, chances are there will be sound-proof glass, but it is still wise to check first.
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 Emperor Hotel, No 16 Hang Buom St, Hoan Kiem, (email@example.com), . is one of the cheapest private rooms you can find in the old town. Twin, Double rates start at $15 per room, breakfast incl. while Triple beded and Squad Room rates start at $ 20 usd per room. Free internet is available with 02 computers in the lobby, free Wifi within the building. Staff are friendly and helpful. Since the hotel has only 14 rooms so book in advance if you can
Hanoi Bed and Breakfast, No 58 Au Trieu St, Hoan Kiem, (firstname.lastname@example.org), . is one of the most popular place for backpackers and tight budget travelers with room rate start from US$15 for single, double, twin, triple, including breakfast and internet service. All of its room have A/C, a fan, cableTV, phone, refrigerator, and mini-bar. You'll be treated like a member of family, owner and staff speak good English, very friendly and hospitable. while staying there you can enjoy draught beer for US$0.10/glass, sharing travel experience with others. Book in advance if you can.
Hanoi Rendezvous Hotel, No 31 Hang Dieu St, Hoan Kiem (In the Old Quarter), ☎ +84 4 3828 5777 (email@example.com), . Boutique Hotel/Hostel run by an Australian couple. Private En-suite rooms and Shared rooms. Air con, 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. Rates US$7.50-35. Full breakfast included in all rates. Laundry service. Good music in cafe. Free internet PC's with Skype and free wifi in rooms.
Green Hanoi Backpackers Hostel (firstname.lastname@example.org), 39D, Ly Quoc Su, Hoan Kiem District (15 min by walk from train station and 5 min from Hoan Kiem Lake), ☎ +84 4 3938 1650, . checkin: 2pm; checkout: 12 noon. Only one year old but a crazy good and friendly staff. Dorms for $4 without breakfast. 4 bed dorms available for private use. Free Wifi. It also offers cheap tours to interesting places such as Sapa and Halong Bay. 4$US$4.
Camellia Hotel 5, 81 Thuoc Bac St (about 10 mins walk from Hoan Kiem lake), ☎ +84 4 828 2376, +84 4 828 3128 (email@example.com, fax: +84 4 828 2404), . checkout: 12 noon. Small hotel on the heart of Old Quarter. Clean rooms and baths with good air-con, satelliteTV, free internet and breakfast. Friendly English speaking staff.US$14-16.
Especen Hotel, 28-38 Tho Xuong & 41 Ngo Huyen Sts, Hoan Kiem dist (30 m from St. Joseph's Church (Cathedral) on a quiet alley off of Au Trieu St), ☎ +84 4 3824 4401 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +84 4 3825 9460), . checkin: noon; checkout: noon. Rooms are new, clean, bright, quiet, friendly staff.Single US$17, double US$19. (21.029094,105.848511)
Friendly Hotel, 68 Ma May St, Hoan Kiem (opposite Cafe 69 and ANZ bank ATM), ☎ +84 4 3926 2464 (email@example.com), . Good value budget priced mini hotel with quiet rooms in great location. Rooms have en-suite,A/C, wifi and/or cable internet, cableTV and fridge. Free filtered water, refill your water bottle.US$10-15. (21.0346642,105.8534539)
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. Dorm US$7.50, double US$30, breakfast included.
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.16-bed dorm US$5, double US$29, breakfast included.
Hanoi Guesthouse, 14 Bat Su St (located in historic Old Quater), ☎ _+84 4 3824 5732 (email@example.com), . A small hotel very popular with backpackers. Good value for money with friendly and reliable staff. A great friendly atmosphere. All rooms air conditioned with ensuite toilet and shower.Double US10, including breakfast.
Hanoi Guesthouse 2, 43 Ly Thai To St (Old Quarter), ☎ +84 4 3935 1091 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . Opened 2010, twin of Hanoi guesthouse. Good value for money with friendly and reliable staff. A great friendly atmosphere. All rooms A/C with ensuite toilet and shower.Twin US$24, including breakfast.
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, satelliteTV, 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 wifi, free beer, free tea, free coffee, free breakfastDorm bed US$4.5-6, private room US$15-30.
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, satelliteTV 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.
Kangaroo Hotel, Hang Luoc St 71 (about 10 min walk from Hoan Kiem lake), ☎ +84 4 825 8044 (email@example.com). 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 satellite TV, free internet and bathtub. Helpful staff with good English. The famous Cha Ca restaurant is less than a 4 min walk.From US$4.
Little Hanoi Hotel, 60 Au Trieu St, Hoan Kiem (just north west of the lake in the old quarter), ☎ +84 4 3938 8648 (firstname.lastname@example.org). Comfortable, modern, clean A/C rooms and dorms.Doubles US$20, dorm bed US$6, breakfast and internet included.
Mai Dza Hotel, 52 Yen Phu St, Tay Ho, ☎ +84 4 3715 2222 (email@example.com, fax: +84 4 37152815), . checkin: 6PM; checkout: noon. Maidza hotel offers 50 rooms with 3 star standard. All the rooms are very 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.
Old Quarter Hostel, 91 Hang Ma (Just a few minutes by walk to Dong Xuan Market), ☎ +84 9 0229 1886 (firstname.lastname@example.org). Clean, spacious and secure rooms. Staff are incredibly helpful. Free internet and breakfast.Dorm bed US$6, single US$10-15.
Real Darling Café Guesthouse, 33 Hang Quat (Old Quarter - 2 min walk from the N side of Hoan Kiem Lake), ☎ +84 4 3826 1212 (email@example.com, fax: +84 4 3824 6010). This guesthouse has basic but cheap rooms with a fan, hot showers and optional A/C; there's a steep climb up to all the rooms but they'll help with your bags for a tip. There is no housekeeping service in the sense that rooms won't be cleaned while you're occupying them. Helpful and friendly staff; "free" internet access on the ground floor (the fine print limits this to 15 min/day). The café offers cheap food; they run a cheap and fair travel agency downstairs that doesn't try to rip you off; bicycles and motorbikes for rent. Keep an eye out for construction on Hang Quat (Fan Street). Dorm bed US$3-6, discounts for long-term guests.
Stars Hotel, 26 Bat Su (Old Quarter), ☎ +84 4 828 1911, +84 4 828 1912 (firstname.lastname@example.org). Clean rooms with impressive bathroom. Breakfast available. Just a few mins 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.
Venus Hotel, . checkin: 2PM; checkout: 12 noon. Run by a Vietnamese family with 10 years experience. The rooms are furnished with traditional decor and Asian accents. The rooms are very clean with amazing air conditioning and satelliteTV. Also, the hotel is very quiet blocking out noises from the street. Single US$10, double US$15.
Hanoi Emotion Hotel, 26 Hang Bot St, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, ☎ +84 4 384 898 48, . A newly opened 3-star hotel located on the old Hang Bot Street, just next to Temple of Literature, few minutes walking to One Pillar Pagoda and Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. Full amenities and services, very big bathroom and welcoming fruit basket, nice 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, without trafic jams like other crowded streets.US$60++.
Hanoi Rose Hotel, 59B Duong Thanh Street - Hoan Kiem District, Ha Noi, Vietnam, ☎ +84 4 3938-1826, . The hotel offers non-smoking and A/C rooms, all equipped with LCD TV and CD player, mini-bar, and coffee/tea maker. Some of its facilities and services are Rose bar and Restaurant, airport and city transfer, fitness room/gym, spa and massage services, and internet accessRates on official website start at USD 27.50.
Khanh Sinh Hotel, 95 Hang Chieu, Hanoi Old Quarter, Hoan Kiem, ☎ +84 4 3938 2014, . Comfortable rooms, air-conditioner, cable TV, and well stocked mini-bar. Facilities and services are airport transfer, currency exchange, restaurant, and car rental.From USD 30.00.
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 which has clean and spacious rooms. Hotel staff is courteous, friendly and warm. Walking distance to Hoan Kiem Lake and with easy access to restaurants and shopsUS$35-55, breakfast included.
Hanoi Eclipse Hotel, No 24 Hang Quat St, Hoan Kiem, ☎ +84 43 824 3423 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +84 438246144), . Newly built modern boutique hotel which has very clean and spacious rooms. Friendly staff can speak English.US$30-55.
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 (email@example.com), . One-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.
Continental Hotel, 24, Hang Vai, Hoan Kiem, . Boutique-style hotel which has clean and spacious rooms. Hotel staffs are courteous, friendly and warm. Walking distance to Hoan Kiem Late and with easy access to restaurants and shops.Single US$24, double US$28, breakfast included.
Duc Thai Hotel, 95B Hang Ga St, Hoan Kiem (Nearby Hoan Kiem lake and night market), ☎ +84 9 1255 0388, . checkin: 24 hr. * 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. US$28-70.
Hanoi Boutique Hotel, Hanoi Old Quarter, Hang Buom Ward, Hoan Kiem District, ☎ +84 4 3929 0366, . In the old quarter, 1 min walk to the Night Market, 5 min to Dong Xuan Market, 7 min to Hoan Kiem Lake and Water Puppet Theatre.From.
Jospeh's Hotel, 5 Au Trieu (located 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.
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 freindly staff. TV, fan, A/C, hot shower, bathtub or jacuzzi and optional breakfast. In-room computer with internet is included.US$40-85.
Grand View Hotel, no 50 Hang Be-Hoan Kiem, ☎ +84 4 3926 0084 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . 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.
Hanoi Pacific Star Hotel, 32 Cuanam St, Hoan Kiem, ☎ +84 4 3936 4520 (email@example.com), . checkin: 24 hr; checkout: 24 hr. A short walk from the Old Quarter, with bright and spacious accommodation. Breakfast, free wired internet in each of the rooms, a bar, and room service are available.US$30 double, includes breakfast.
Indochina Queen II Hotel, 67-Pho Thuoc Bac St, Hoan Kiem, ☎ +84 4 3923 3993, +84 4 3923 3996 (firstname.lastname@example.org, 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.
Kings Cross Linh Dung Uyen Hotel, 3 Tong Duy Tan St, Hoan Kiem, ☎ +84 4 2215 8030 (email@example.com), . checkin: 24 hr; checkout: 24 hr. Not far way from Hanoi’s business district. The hotel is the tallest building in its area. Guest elevator, meeting facilities, business center, 24 hr security camera system on public areas available. All rooms and apartments offer views over the city.US$31 double, includes breakfast.
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +84 4 9263745), . Located in the Old Quarter. 25 rooms with hot water, private bathrooms, and fan or A?C. Fridge, satelliteTV, telephone access, internet access in the rooms and the lobby.US$16-30.
Phoenix Hanoi Hotel (formerly Ocean Star Hotel - and one with a scam warning), 43 Bat Su St (Hoan Kiem district, Old Quarter), (email@example.com, fax: +84 4 9263745), . The 30 rooms offer hot water, private bathrooms, and fan or A/C. There is also a fridge, satelliteTV, telephone access, free internet free in the rooms and lobby. Some of the rooms have a desktop computer.US$11+.
Trung Nam Hai 1 Hotel (Trung Nam Hai 1 Hotel), No 27 Hoan Kiem, Hoan Kiem (Nearby Hoan Kiem Lake), ☎ +84 4 3928 8228 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +84 4 3928 8268), . Save up to 75% at Trung Nam Hai Hotels. Located at Old Quarter of Hanoi, the guest rooms are designed for comfort and convenience with private bathroom with bathtub, shower, heating. Hotel staff is courteous, friendly and warm. Walking distance to Hoan Kiem Lake and with easy access to restaurants and shopsUS$30-50, breakfast included.
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.
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. Great value for money. Rooms have TV, computer, bathtub and internet.US$18-22.
Indochina Queen II hotel, No 67 Thuoc Bac St, Hoan Kiem District (From Hoan Kiem Lake, you pass Luong Van Can St then turn L to Hang Bo St, at the cross you will see Thuoc Bac St), ☎ +84 4 3923 3993 (email@example.com), . checkin: 2PM; checkout: noon. All rooms are air conditioned and have minibar, bathtub & shower, LCD TV with international channels, internet.US$30.
Hanoi Newday Hotel, 31 Hang Dieu St, Hoan Kiem (Nearby Hoan Kiem Lake and night market), ☎ +84 4 3456 7890, . checkin: 24 hours. $US30 nett price.
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 sitting just by Westlake added with 75 comfortable hotel rooms. Facilities includes tennis courts, squash courts, fully equipped gym, 25m length pool, 48 bays golf driving range, chinese restaurant, lounge, and cafe. Sit in their pool terrace to enjoy the sun and full view of the Westlake. Very peaceful with hardly any sounds of traffic. Rooms are modern looking with certain rooms facing the lake. Complimentary wifi internet access in rooms. 5 star standard with 4 star price.From US$85++.
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 access in the rooms.US$170+.
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.
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.
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: 2PM; checkout: noon. There are 154 rooms and suites, 93 of which are non-smoking rooms, and 20 connecting rooms. All rooms are equipped with LCD flat screen TVs and a wide selection of international cable TV channels. Mini-bar, IDD telephone, personal safe, tea and coffee making are also available. Broadband cable and wifi is accessible in all rooms and throughout the public areas of the hotel.US$140+. (21°1'29.29N,105°50'38.52E)
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 decor and modern amenities.
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.
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.
Hanoi Viet Hotel, 61 Hang Than St, Hoan Kiem District, ☎ +84 4 3927 4705 (fax: +84 4 3927 4707), . checkin: 12:30PM; checkout: 11:30AM. 3 star hotel in Hanoi. 38 rooms and suites with private balconies.US$45. (,Long)
Like everywhere else in Vietnam, traffic in Hanoi is dominated by an incredible amount 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 both ways, and take each step slowly and patiently while trying to make eye contact with any oncoming drivers. 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.
You should look directly into the vehicles coming to you and keep your pace. Holding out your arm toward the stream of vehicles as a "slow down, I am crossing" sign may be a good idea. 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.
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.
Hanoi code: 4. Note the recently added '3' in front of all local numbers. Example:
Old dialling style: 1234567 (from within the city) or 04 1234567 (inter-provincial) or +84 4 123456 (from overseas)
New dialling style: 3 1234567 (from within the city) or 04 3 1234567 (inter-provincial) or +84 4 3 123456 (from overseas)
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 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.
Immigration department, 40A Hang Bai, Hanoi, ☎ 8266200. for visa extensions and others
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.
The Halong Bay tour— Staying overnight in a boat on the breath-taking Ha Long Bay (or in a hotel on Cat Ba Island) is the most popular side-trip from Hanoi.
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 (30-45min) 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.
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 3000 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.
The northern village of Sapa, home to ethnic minorities, gorgeous mountain scenery, and trekking paths connecting many tiny mountain villages, is also a popular two or three day trip. It is accessible by train (to Lao Cai) followed by a minibus link to the town. The trekking paths have no signs, so a hiring a guide is well-advised.
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 padi fields, and is accessed by little wooden boats. Boats are for hire at US$3.50/trip, which takes about one hour. 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 boat trips, which take 5 hr-2 days. One minor annoyance involves peddlars on boats hawking their wares, and your boat rower trying to sell you embroidery. Trip can be booked in Hanoi backpacker cafes at about US$20.
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