Explore Vietnam like a pro – this Hanoi Travel Guide shares everything you need to know including where to stay, how to save and what to see and do.
As Vietnam’s beautiful and energetic capital, Hanoi offers visitors an insight into Vietnam’s history of revolution and war alongside ancient pagodas, scenic lakes and an abundance of street side restaurants.
Scattered with temples, museums and lakes, there is an array of things to see and do in Hanoi. The city is a popular stopover for those looking to take a boat trip to see one of the natural wonders of the world; Halong Bay. Read about our wonderful Halong Bay Cruise.
Budget: Dorm beds can be found from as little at $1.50 USD with private rooms available from $10.
Midrange: $20 – $40 for basic but private ensuite rooms.
Luxury: $50+ for that little something extra.
Transport: Bikes can be rented for $3 a day, buses cost 3000 VND ($0.13USD) and taxis start at 20000 VND for first 2 Km, then an additional 15000 VND for every kilometre after that.
Average cost of food:
Vietnam offers excellent street food, with meals average 15,000 – 40,000 VND, for sit down meals you are looking more at 60,000 – 90,000 VND and 100,000+ VND for meals at themed or fancy restaurants.
Best time to visit Hanoi
October and November is the best time to visit Hanoi as the weather is warm, you can experience clear skies and there is less rain. April to June are also warm months but it can rain and there are more tourists at this time.
For those that want to avoid the heat, visit in December through to March but pack layers. July to September is very hot and humid with a chance of showers.
Avoid visiting during the Tea holiday or Lunar New Year, which normally falls around February.
Where to stay in Hanoi
Green Street Hotel offers a convenient location near the sights of the Capital, with dorm beds starting at $3USD and private rooms starting at $14USD.
Hanoi Central Hotel is another popular hotel for those looking for a great base with top ratings, private rooms start at $22USD.
Hanoi Chic Boutique hotel offers spacious and stylish rooms, just a short walk from the Dong Xuan market, with rooms starting at $30USD.
Sunline Hotel is a modern, 4 star hotel with top ratings, just a few yards from many Hanoi attractions. Each room includes a balcony and starts at $50USD.
At the edge of Hoan Kiem Lake, it is worth spending a night or two at Apricot Hotel; a neo-classical, luxurious hotel with rooftop pool – ideal for those humid afternoons, rooms start at $140 USD.
Save money in Hanoi
South East Asia destinations are cheaper countries to visit and Vietnam is no exception. However, there are still some more ways you can save money in Hanoi, great for those on a tight budget.
- Eat local – There is no better place that this tip applies to. Eating local food will always save you money and in Vietnam it can make a huge difference. The local street food is delicious so stick to the stalls, vendors and hole-in-the-walls.
- Happy hours – Hanoi has many bars to choose from but check the deals and happy hours to make the most of your drinking budget. Many of the bars have a Facebook page, so you can always double check offers online too.
- Bia Hoi – Beer is cheap in Vietnam but Bia Hoi is said to be the cheapest beer in the world. You can get this for as little as 30 cents (or 10p).
- Haggle – When buying items in markets, make sure you haggle the price. We found it easier to buy items from those that advertise their prices but if you want to buy something without a price, make sure you haggle for it.
- Get walking – Hanoi offers many attractions to see and do (most of which are free). Save money on taxis by walking everywhere or renting a bike for as little as $1.
- Pay in VND – VND and dollar are accepted everywhere but pay in VND. When we first visited Vietnam in 2013, everyone preferred dollars, but now in 2020, we found everyone preferred VND. Some places would accept dollars but would massively overcharge you.
- Fly – Flights and trains are cheap so make sure to compare prices around Vietnam. Booking flights in advance, directly with VietJet can save you a lot of time and money.
- Overnight buses – If you aren’t booking your trip ahead of time and flights are too expensive when you are travelling, have a look at the overnight buses. You can save money on both the transport and accommodation.
- Private rooms – Hostels are all over Vietnam and are cheap. However, private rooms in hostels and hotels are also cheap here, so if you are travelling as a pair or group, you will likely save more money by having a private room.
- Shop around for tours – You are likely going to want to visit Halong Bay whilst you are in Hanoi. We recommend you compare prices of boats online before arriving and contact the companies directly; they often offer you better prices when booking directly. Alternatively, if you prefer to book whilst in Hanoi, make sure you shop around for the best price and the best tour for you.
Best things to do in Hanoi
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
Temple of Literature
Notre Dame Cathedral
Hoan Kiem Lake
Water Puppet Theatre
The Perfume Pagoda
Imperial Citadel Thang Long
Vietnam Museum of Ethnology
Ba Vi National Park
Halong Bay Cruise
How to get to Hanoi
Fly – There are a few direct international flights to Ho Chi Minh City, with most people using Ho Chi Minh City, Singapore, Hong Kong or Bangkok as a stop over. Once at the Hanoi Noi Bai International airport, you can take the public bus 17 from outside the arrivals hall to Long Bien Bus station on the edge of the Old Quarter. This can take up to 90 minutes. Airport Taxis cost around $20 USD from the airport to hotel, at the terminal look out for the official taxi drivers wearing bright yellow jackets. Vietnam Airlines offer a minibus from airport to Hanoi’s city centre and vice versa, leaving every half hour costing $3 USD. Jetstar also offer an airport bus from 206 Tran Quang Khai.
Bus – There are several private companies offering day and sleeper buses between Hanoi and various other cities of Vietnam and South East Asia. You should always book these through your hotel or directly from the bus terminal to make sure you are not over charged.
Train – Trains across the south coast of Vietnam can be found, offering both hard and soft seats and sleepers and all start and end at Hanoi Train Station. These trains can connect you to Hue, Da Nang, Nha Trang and Ho Chi Minh City. An array of private trains are also available to and from Sapa (Lao Cai). Trains to China and Hong Kong are also available from Tran Quy Cap Station, to be booked in advance; please note Chinese Visas can not be applied for on arrival, they must be done in advance of arrival.
How to get around Hanoi
Some choose to cycle around Hanoi to avoid the traffic, but be careful of these roads; very little regards for road safety is given in Vietnam.
Hanoi has an extensive public bus system that is worth checking out, whilst the eco-friendly electric train gets your around the Old Quarter and Hoan Kiem Lake without the traffic and pollution.
Taxi’s are a popular choice, with most using the meter and flag fall costing around 20000d ($0.90USD) taking you between 1 – 2km then 15000d ($0.70USD) for every km after that; take a reliable company taxi such as: Taxi CP, Taxi Hanoi or Mai Linh Taxi.
Hanoi also has the Grab taxi service (similar to Uber) which will tell you the price of your journey in advance and can help you communicate your destination.