Getting Around, Hanoi Travel, Transport and Car Rental
It is best to fly to Hanoi where possible. The capital has an international airport, albeit with flights solely originating from within Asia, and daily services from Ho Chi Minh City and other prominent Vietnamese cities. Travel by road or rail to Hanoi is slow and uncomfortable.
Transportation within the city is by way of metered taxis, motorbike taxis and pedicabs. The city centre is easily negotiated on foot, however, and you may never need to use public transport for getting about. Be warned, although most the traffic in Hanoi is still motorcycles, it can be chaotic and intersections are negotiated seemingly in random fashion with no rules or lights. Trying to navigate between this as a pedestrian takes some nerve, but somehow everyone gets through unscathed, but with plenty of hooting.
Noi Bai International Airport (HAN) / Arriving by Air
Address: Phu Cuong, Hanoi, Vietnam, VN
Tel: +84 04 886 5053
Noi Bai International Airport is second to Ho Chi Minh Airport
for connections and passenger throughput, and mostly receives flights from within South-East Asia. It is north of the town by about 35 km / 22 miles and is modern with all convenient passenger facilities. Taxis provide the best option for getting to town, while car rental is also available - with personal drivers. Public bus transport takes approximately an hour, while those coming in with Vietnam Airlines can make use of their free shuttle bus.
As tourists are not permitted to drive in Vietnam, most forego car hire. This is just as well as the traffic is often congested and the roads aren't great out of town either. If you absolutely must hire a car, you will need to rent a driver as well - that's the de facto way here.
Buses and Coaches
Buses serve Hanoi from all over the north and there are also long-distance services from Ho Chi Minh City. While certainly adequate for backpackers and others needing to budget their travel, this is not recommended for families or couples on short visits, as it is supremely long and uncomfortable. Most will find that negotiating your way around bus routes and timetables within the city really is nothing short of a nightmare!
Trains come in from Nanning in China, as well as up from Ho Chi Minh City on the Reunification Express line via Nha Trang, Hue and other prominent cities. While the train is more comfortable than travelling by bus, it is also very slow. There is no rail service within Hanoi itself.
Regular taxis are in use on the streets of Hanoi and the white, registered versions have meters. Ensure the driver turns the meter on - if not, try the next one in line. Motorcycle taxis (xe om) are ubiquitous, cheap and fast but potentially very dangerous. Another alternative for getting about is by 'cyclo' - a kind of Chinese rickshaw.