To/From the Airport
Hanoi’s Noi Bai airport is about 35km north of the city and the journey can take from 45 minutes to and hour. The airport freeway is one of the most modern roads in Vietnam, although you’ll see oxen herded by farmers dressed in rags crossing it. The freeway suddenly terminates in the suburbs north of Hanoi.
Vietnam Airlines minibuses between Hanoi and Noi Bai airport charge US$2 a seat. There are few information signs inside the new terminal building; you need to go outside and look for the signs for taxis and minibuses. Coming from the airpite, the driver will drop you at the office of Vietnam Airlines at Pho Quang Trung. From here it is a short walk north into the Old Quarter, or you can hire one of the countless cycle or motorbike drivers to deliver you your hotel. A ride from here to any place in the city center should not cost more than 5000d pre person; if you can’t agree on the fare, just start to walk away – the drivers will likely have a change of heart. Be prepared to pay a bit more if you have heavy bags that the drivers needs to balance on the bike.
The airport minibus service works OK but there are a few scams, especially at the airport. Occasionally local touts (well dressed and posing as employees of Vietnam Airlines) board the official minibuses. They are skilled at befriending newly arrived passengers, and by the time you reach the city will offer to recommend a ‘good, cheap hotel’. If you want to avoid the sales pitch, just tell them that you’ve already got a hotel reservation, even if you don’t.
To get to the airport from town, you can take one of the minibuses that depart roughly every half-hour from opposite the same Vietnam Airlines office on Pho Quang Trung. IT’S best 0 though not essential – t book the day before. Tickets are sold inside the booking office.
Airport Taxi (873 333) charges US$10 for a taxi ride door-to-door to or from Noi Bai airport. They do not require that you pay the toll for the bridge you cross en route. Some other taxi drivers require that you pay the toll, so ask first.
Inside the terminal, touts will offer taxi services. The ‘official’ taxi rank is outside the concourse and you buy tickets from the seller at the head of the taxi line. There is presently no booking desk as such in the new terminal building, but this may change.
In central Hanoi, there is always a collection of taxi drivers just outside the Vietnam Airlines office – it doesn’t take much effort to find one. Don’t pay more than US$19, including the toll.
There are share cabs/private minibuses from travellers’ cafes for about US$2.
The Hanoi public bus company has started a service from the airport, which stops at the Daewoo Hotel and then goes onto the Opera House. Line No 7 (2500d) departs every 15 or 20 minutes, between 5am and 9pm daily. It’s worth considering as it’s cheaper than the taxi.
There are 31 public bus lines in Hanoi. Figuring out exactly where the buses go can be a challenge, and service on some of the lines is infrequent. Still, when it comes to economy, only walking is cheaper. Bus fares are typically 1000d depending on the route.
A long-awaited city bus-route guide was published in 2001. Presetly, the only place to get a copy is from the Traffic Management Center (16 Cao Ba Quat; 747 0403; [email protected])/ The guide also shows interprovincial routes and bus interchanges.
Though many travellers have rented motorbikes and scooters to tour Hanoi, it is not recommended that you drive in the city. It’s extremely dangerous for someone who isn’t accustomed to Vietnamese driving style, not to mention dealing with the hassles of traffic, parking, and so on. It’s also easy to unknowingly vilate road rules, which the police will happily remind you of.
If you are set on exploring Hanoi on tow wheels, do it on a bicycle.
There are several companies in Hanoi offering metered taxi services. All charge similar rates. Flag fall is about 2500d, which takes you 2km; every kilometer thereafter costs about 5000d. Competitors in this business include the following companies.
Airport Taxi: 873 3333
City Taxi: 822 2222
Red City: 856 8686
Taxi PT: 856 5656
Viet Phuong Taxi: 828 2828
A good way to get around Hanoi is by bicycle. Many hotels and café offer these for rent for about US$1 per day.
IF you want to purchase your own set of wheels, Pho Ba Trieu and Pho Hue are the best places to look for bicycle shops (see the Central Hanoi map).
The cyclos in Hanoi are wider than the HCMC variety, making it possible for two people to fit in one vehicle and share the fare. One common cyclo driver’s ploy when carrying tow passengers is to afree on a price, and then double it upon arrival gesturing ‘no, no, no…that was per preson’.
In any case, you should pay around 5000d per person for a journey in the city centre. Longer rides (for example from t Old Quarter to ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum) can be as much as double that. Try to negotiate in dong, not dollars. You’ll also find that a little bit of Vietnamese foes a long way when talking about prices.
The cyclo drivers in Hanoi are even less likely to speak English than in HCMC, so take a map of the city with you. A notebook and pencil to wirte your destination and to negotage prices is useful! It’s a thankless job, so don’t agonize too much about giving a cyclo driver that extra thousand dong or so.
You won’t have any trouble finding a xe om in Hanoi. Just stroll along any major street and you’ll get an offer from a driver almost every 10 seconds.
The official cost for a xe om is 1000d per kilometer. In reality, tourists are expected to pay around 5000d per person for rides in the city center, or 10,000d for longer rides.