Hanoi is the 1000-year-old capital of Vietnam which welcomes millions of travelers each year. Its streets are crowded with noisy motorcycles, all odd hours of the day – with the constant blaring of horns, its difficult to find a peaceful moment. And yet, amidst the din, there is a certain serenity about the place… the layers of history reveal periods of French and Chinese occupation – were the old meets the modern, the resilience of Hanoi folk are evident no matter where you look.
Here are our 5 Top Travel Tips for Hanoi…
The best time to visit Hanoi
Although the weather is divided into two main seasons: rainy season (from January to September), and dry season (from October to April), thank to transition months, Hanoi still experiences all four seasons – spring, summer, autumn and winter. Lasting from February to April, Hanoi’s spring is humid and wet with drizzle. Hanoi is also definitely the most beautiful and romantic in autumn where copper autumnal colors flood the land. Hanoi’s autumn begin in September and ends in November.
There are two famous places attract to many foreign travelers when they come to Hanoi in the autumn: the old quarter of Hanoi and the Sword Lake. The old quarter of Hanoi is a historical site. It featured small twisty roads which surround old houses. The design of this quarter like mysterious maze game which makes visitors very excited to walk around and to find the way to exit.
How to Get Around
There are three main modes of public transportation:
Taxis now abound in Hanoi. They are metered, inexpensive, and reasonably safe. Most drivers are quite honest; a few would rather bargain for the price of a ride (and keep the fare themselves) than turn on the meter. Taxi drivers frequently do not have small change and often hope that foreign passengers will simply forego getting change for their big bills. Carry small change or stay in the taxi until the driver procures change.
Xe om (seh ohm), or motorcycle taxis, are even more abundant than taxis. They can be identified by the green pith helmets their drivers almost invariably wear. Riders must bargain with drivers for the price of the ride before getting on the back of the bike. Xe om drivers often drive carelessly and frequently spend their time between fares drinking at local beer stands. Riders are not provided with helmets and are in the traffic segment most vulnerable to accidents.
Cyclos (seek-loh), bicycle-powered taxis, are used on the streets of Hanoi for everything from carrying passengers to moving entire contents of houses. The front “cab” of a cyclo is designed for two passengers but it is not unusual to see a driver straining to pedal a cab loaded down with four or five. Cyclo fares must also be negotiated up front. Cyclos are the slowest and least maneuverable vehicles on Hanoi streets, although they tend to stay along the edges of traffic and are not as vulnerable to higher-speed accidents.
In order to actively control the schedule, many people choose to use personal vehicles such as motorbike or cars. There are plenty of public vehicles in the cities, such as bus or taxi, but the most recommended way is to rent motorbikes and explore the city.
With the small street system, using motorbike in the city is the best choice
Where to Stay
Being a capital and also a tourism city, Hanoi has many hotels with different standards and price ranges, from luxury to average priced hotels. Opt for hotels located around Hoan Kiem Lake (the lake at the center of the city). If like us, you shy away from mainstream 5 star hotels, then here are 10 boutique budget hotels in Hanoi, Vietnam you should check out.
What to Eat
Hanoi’s cuisine culture is totally different from other provinces in Vietnam. Some “must try” foods of the city are Pho, Bun Cha, Vietnamese hamburger or Trang Tien ice-cream. Those foods could be found in numerous places, especially at the central of the city, from the streets to the restaurants. Here are also 10 great foods to try if you’re ever in Hanoi.
What places to Visit
Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital city is also a unique blend of western and oriental charm. The city serves as a gateway for visitors looking for some adventure in Vietnam’s mountainous north and the rocky islands of Halong Bay. Temples and pagodas blend with elegant colonial villas, narrow streets, alleys, and magnificent tree-lined boulevards. The city attracts a great deal of artists and writers to the Temple of Literature, the first National University of Vietnam, which is a historic and cultural relic. The Old Quarter is also worth a visit.
Hoan Kiem lake
The area was the focal point of trade in ancient times and now houses galleries that sell candlesticks, traditional musical instruments, and more. A short distance from the Old Quarter is Hoan Kiem Lake, a tourist resting place with a number of shady spots and park benches. The place is peaceful and you can watch local residents begin their day with a Tai Chi workout. If you want to experience some of the greatest colonial architecture, the magnificent Opera House and History Museum are worth a visit. The city is home to numerous temples that are worth a visit for their architecture. It’s also a nice place to do a bit of museum hopping. Some of the notable museums include the Fine Arts Museum, Vietnamese Women’s Museum, and the Ho Chi Minh Museum that portrays the life of the father of modern Vietnam. Right next door is the imposing Huong Vuong mausoleum where the embalmed body of Ho Chi Minh lies. Make sure to stop by the Golden Bell Show Theater to catch up with a traditional Vietnamese art performance. Hanoi is a city on the move with plenty to explore. From discovering its rich history to sampling market wares and tasting fresh, complex, and delicious Vietnamese street food, the city offers all this and much more.
The Cathedral is also one of the typical and famous architecture of Hanoi, where young people often gather with lemon tea cups to tell endless stories to each other.
The Old Street
The Old Street is also very peaceful place filled by houses from late 19th to early 20th century. West Lake is also a very good choice for sightseeing. This is the largest lake of the city where it’s not unusual to see couples sharing romantic moments with each other.
Jim is a writer at Asia Marvels. he loves traveling around Asia and sharing stories with readers. He wants people from all over the world to see the beauty of the landscape, people and culture of Asia.