Old meets new in charming Hanoi
With its unique blend of heritage and modernity, Hanoi is one of the most fascinating capitals in South-East Asia. It’s charming, serene, chaotic and traditional. And with much of local life lived out on the streets, it’s easy to experience the city in just a few days.
Get a sense of more than 1,000 years of history in the 36 streets – that’s the customary number; there are many more – making up the Old Quarter. There’s a photo-op on just about every corner. Get lost, stop to drink iced lemon tea with the city’s cool kids and do lap or two of Hanoi’s celebrated Hoan Kiem Lake. Savour world-class cuisine by undertaking a street-food tour, see Vietnam’s revered revolutionary at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and dig into the city’s speakeasy scene once the sun goes down. Get in as much fun as possible before the midnight curfew.
Book a flight to Hanoi
When to go
Hanoi and northern Vietnam are best visited during the early autumn, around late October/early November and in the spring; go in April to catch the “golden four weeks” before it gets hot. For trekking in places like Sapa, go during the area’s dry season from October to late March. Be advised that December and January can get quite chilly.
During Tet (Lunar New Year), which is usually in February, the city becomes ghostly quiet for two days as everyone heads home to spend time with family and give gifts – for some this is heaven.
Flying with Jetstar
Jetstar flies direct to Hanoi from Danang, Ho Chi Minh City, Phu Quoc, Da Lat (Lien Khuong Airport) and Bangkok.
From September 7, 2015 Jetstar Pacific will fly direct from Hong Kong.
Find cheap flights to Hanoi
Hanoi is a relatively small place, so don’t be afraid to pack some water and walk it. The motorbike taxi – known locally as a xe om (motorbike hug) – is a great way to get a feel for the city. Most journeys in the city centre shouldn’t cost more than VND60,000 but you should agree on a price before getting on. Taxis are everywhere and fares are cheap. Look for the more reliable companies like Mai Linh, whose drivers are less likely to have dodgy meters or take you the long way.
Travel time 1 hour
Taxi Approx VND350,000 (US$17)
Airport minibus to the city centre costs VND32,000 (US$1.50)
City buses 7 and 17 takes about an hour and costs VND5,000 (US$.025) per person