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The Ultimate Travel Guide to Hanoi

Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, is a city rich in culture and history. It serves as a gateway to the wonders of Southeast Asia and provides an enchanting experience for travelers. From magnificent colonial architecture to numerous Buddhist temples, picturesque lakes, and narrow alleys lined with shops selling handmade wares, Hanoi’s charm and energy will captivate you.

Weather in Hanoi

Hanoi's climate is tropical monsoon, characterized by high humidity and slight annual temperature fluctuations. Average temperatures range from 17 to 19 degrees Celsius in the winter months and 28 to 30 degrees Celsius in the summer months.

Winter in Hanoi

Travel to Hanoi in winter

During winter, from December to February, temperatures can drop below 10 degrees Celsius. The combination of humidity and frequent drizzle makes the cold feel more intense, often described as feeling the chill in your bones. It's advisable to bring a sweatshirt or windproof jacket, which can be easily bought in Hanoi’s Old Town area. Students might get days off when the temperature drops below 11 degrees since there is no indoor heating available in Vietnamese schools.

Summer in Hanoi

Travel to Hanoi in summer

In the summer months, from June to August, temperatures can rise up to 35 degrees Celsius, plus the added humidity, which can be quite uncomfortable in the densely built areas of the city center. You might see many locals sitting by West Lake or Hoan Kiem Lake to cool down. Additionally, Hanoi also experiences a high number of rainy days each year, with as many as 169 days of rain. Sudden summer rains are common and help cool down the heat.

The best time to travel to Hanoi is in Spring (from March to April), and Autumn (from September to the end of November). However, with proper preparation, you can enjoy Hanoi pleasantly all year round.

How to reach Hanoi?

Hanoi is accessible by air, train, and bus, making it easy to reach from various locations. If you are traveling by air, your destination will be Noi Bai International Airport, located 30 km north of Hanoi. A taxi ride from the airport to the city center takes approximately 40 minutes. Alternatively, you can opt for a bus or a private van, though buses usually take longer, sometimes over an hour.

For those traveling by train, Hanoi can be reached from various cities in Vietnam. Hanoi Central Station, located at 120 Lê Duẩn street in the city center, serves as a hub for routes going northwest to Lao Cai (Sapa), east to Hai Phong and Ha Long, and south to Da Nang and further to Saigon.

Hanoi is also located about 200 km from the nearest border gate to China (Tan Thanh). This makes it possible to reach Hanoi from several southern Chinese cities such as Nanning, Hekou, and Kunming. When planning a longer journey to Hanoi with transfers, it's advisable to book all individual tickets in advance, especially during important Vietnamese holidays like Tết (Lunar New Year), tickets can be expensive and difficult to obtain.

How to get around Hanoi?

Navigating Hanoi can be an adventure. You might have seen viral videos of Vietnamese people riding their scooters in a chaotic yet orderly manner. When crossing the streets, stay observant and cautious. Each mode of transportation in Hanoi offers a unique way to experience the city. Whether you prefer the local charm of a scooter, the comfort of a taxi, the cultural experience of a rickshaw, the economy of a bus, or the independence of a bicycle, you'll find a method that suits your travel style to get around attractions in Hanoi.

Motorbike (Scooters)

Riding scooter motorbike in Hanoi

Riding a scooter is one of the most popular ways to get around Hanoi and gives you a true local experience. However, it requires an international driving license. Renting a scooter or semi-automatic motorbike with 110-125cc costs about 150,000 VND per day and 3 to 4 million VND per month. Always wear a helmet and follow local traffic rules to ensure your safety. Scooters allow you to weave through traffic and reach your destination quickly, but the bustling streets can be challenging for new riders.

Taxis

Getting taxi in Hanoi to get around

Taxis are the fastest and most comfortable way to get around, but they can also be costly, ranging from 13,000 to 17,000 VND per kilometer. We recommend using reliable national brands like Mai Linh and Vinasun. You can also consider using ride-hailing services like Grab, Be, or Gojek. These apps allow you to enter your favorite destinations, know the price upfront, and pay by cash, debit or credit card. Just remember to have a ready local SIM card with Vietnamese number to use the app.

Rickshaws (Cyclos)

Cultural experience in Hanoi rickshaw Vietnam cyclo

Rickshaws, also known as cyclos, offer a perfect way to explore the city cheaply and at a leisurely pace for the experience. This low-cost, slow-paced mode of transport allows you to take the time to appreciate the sights and sounds of your destination. Rickshaw rides are particularly enjoyable around the Old Quarter, where the narrow streets and historical architecture offer a unique perspective on Hanoi’s charm. Prices can vary, so it's advisable to negotiate a fare before starting your journey.

Buses

Vietnamese public bus in Hanoi

Traveling by public bus requires some practice in deciphering the bus routes and finding individual stops. Buses are equipped with air conditioning and are a good option for longer distances within the city. You can buy bus tickets once you are inside the vehicle, and the fares are very affordable. However, buses can be crowded during peak hours, and the routes might be confusing for first-time visitors. It’s helpful to have a bus map or a transit app such as BusMap, Moovit or Google Maps to navigate the system.

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Things to do in Hanoi

Experience the hustle and bustle of Hanoi, a city where tradition meets modernity. The vibrant streets are filled with the sounds of street vendors, the aroma of delicious local cuisine, and the sight of colorful markets. Hanoi seamlessly blends ancient architecture with contemporary skyscrapers, creating a unique atmosphere that will captivate you.

Walk around the Old Quarter

What to do in Hanoi? Hanoi Old Quarter

The oldest part of the city and its heart is the Old Quarter, consisting of several dozen streets located around Hoan Kiem Lake. Historic buildings and narrow streets filled with shops and workshops create a unique atmosphere. This is the best place to start your visit to Hanoi. In the Old Quarter, you'll find many beautiful temples, the most famous being the Ngoc Son Temple, nestled on a small island in Hoan Kiem Lake. An iconic red bridge, The Huc Bridge, leads you to the temple. Nearby, Turtle Tower (Tháp Rùa) stands as another unique structure. Hoan Kiem Lake is a popular meeting place and a romantic spot for photo shoots.

Visit the majestic Hanoi temples

What to do in Hanoi? Must see temples in Hanoi

Two other must-see temples in Hanoi are the Temple of Literature, dedicated to Confucius and the oldest Vietnamese university, and the One Pillar Pagoda, which resembles a floating lotus flower. The Temple of Literature is a complex of larger and smaller buildings and gardens in a Chinese style. Hanoi also has four amazing temples built based on feng shui principles to guard the city: Bạch Mã (White Horse) on the East, the oldest temple in Hanoi, built in the 9th century. Voi Phục (Knelt Tusker) on the West. Kim Liên (Golden Lotus) on the South. Finally, Quán Thánh (House of the Gods) on the North, dedicated to Huyen Thien Tran Vu, a Taoist god.

Water puppet shows

What to do in Hanoi? Water puppet show

Discover the ancient art of water puppetry at the renowned Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre in Hanoi. As the curtains part, actors take to a water-filled stage, bringing to life colorful characters from Vietnamese folklore. Skillful puppetry such as dragons dance across the water, farmers till the fields, and mythical creatures enchant audiences with their antics. Accompanied by traditional live music, this enchanting performance offers a glimpse into Vietnam's cultural heritage, captivating audiences of all ages.

Hoa Lo Prison Museum

Attractions in Hanoi - Hoa Lo Prison Museum

Step into history at the Hoa Lo Prison Museum, also known as the "Hanoi Hilton." Located downtown, this museum offers a somber reminder of Vietnam's past. As you explore the prison's confines, you will learn about the struggles of political prisoners and prisoners of war during colonial rule and the Vietnam War. You can see the original cells, including the cramped conditions and the various artifacts that tell the stories of the inmates' resilience and hardship.

What to eat or drink in Hanoi?

Enjoy a delicious journey through the flavors of Northern Vietnamese cuisine while exploring the streets of Hanoi. Here are some of our must-try Vietnamese dishes and drinks when visiting Hanoi.

Hanoi must-try dishes

What to eat in Hanoi? Pho cuon

When you're in Hanoi, you must try some special foods. Bánh mì, a tasty sandwich with different fillings like eggs, ham, or paté, along with fresh herbs and cucumber. Another delicious dish is Phở cuốn, which is beef and veggies wrapped in soft noodles, served with a tasty sauce. Don't forget to taste Bún chả, a famous dish with grilled pork and noodles, full of delicious flavors.

Hanoi must-try coffee

What to drink in Hanoi? Vietnamese egg coffee

For drinks, Vietnamese coffee is a must-try. It's strong and sweet, and you can find it in many cafes. Don't forget to try egg coffee (Cà phê trứng)! It's unique and delicious. Additionally, try coconut coffee (Cà phê cốt dừa)! This creamy and refreshing beverage combines rich Vietnamese coffee with creamy coconut milk, creating a delightful tropical twist. So, enjoy these delicious drinks during your visit to Hanoi!

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