What to know before traveling to Hanoi

  • Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam. The city is situated in the Northern part of the country.

  • If you fly to Hanoi, you will land at Noi Bai International Airport.

  • The city streets are dominated by motorbikes.

  • USD is not commonly used in daily transactions here. You need to exchange money for Vietnam Dong (VND). Currently, 1 USD = 24,000 VND.

  • Hanoi is safe for all visitors. The capital is also known as the 'City for Peace.' However, you should remain cautious to avoid pickpocketing and small scams.

The best time to visit Hanoi

best time to visit Hanoi

When should you visit Hanoi?

Hanoi has a tropical monsoon climate with four seasons:

  • Spring (February - April): Pleasant weather with a slight chill, mild sunshine, and sometimes drizzle. Spring is also a time for trees and flowers to bloom brightly. The temperatures in this season range from about 20 - 21°C.

  • Summer (May - July): Due to urban influence, summers in Vietnam can be scorching hot, with temperatures ranging from 26 - 40°C. There are occasional prolonged heavy rains.

  • Autumn (August - October): Mild and cool pleasant weather with temperatures ranging from 20 - 27°C. It can be a bit dry so you should moisturize your skin carefully.

  • Winter (November - January): Hanoi's winter alternates between sunny and chilly days. There is no snow in Hanoi during the winter. Temperatures range from 10 - 20°C.

In my view, the best time to explore Hanoi is during the Spring and Autumn months, which means from September to April. The Autumn season, in particular, provides pleasant weather both during the day and at night. Winter also holds up well with warm and dry days.

Summer with its high temperatures and intense sunlight requires adequate hydration and sun protection during your visit time. You should check for extended rain as Hanoi streets are prone to flooding after heavy rains. Overall, there is not much to worry about.

The best area of Hanoi to stay in

best area of Hanoi to stay in

Which is the best area of Hanoi to stay in?

Hanoi is divided into multiple districts. Then where should you book your hotel for convenient transportation, sightseeing, shopping, and access to services? I have a few suggestions for you in this Hanoi Travel Guide:

  • Hoan Kiem: This is the central and most famous area for tourists. This area has the Old Quarters and Hoan Kiem Lake attractions. It is not difficult for you to search and choose a hotel within various budget ranges, from budget to upscale in Hoan Kiem, especially in the Old Quarters area. 

Additionally, services like renting a vehicle, currency exchange, buying a SIM card, spa treatments, street food, traditional handicraft shopping, etc., are easily accessible.

  • West Lake: Known for being home to the largest lake in Hanoi, this area is a hub for expats seeking a peaceful and spacious environment. Services for foreigners here are also highly developed and convenient.

  • Ba Dinh: Situated not too far from Hoan Kiem but offering a quiet atmosphere, Ba Dinh is a viable option to stay in. It is also home to numerous important historical sites of Hanoi like the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and the Thang Long Imperial Citadel.

Ways to get to and get around Hanoi

Ways to get to and get around Hanoi

Cyclo in Hanoi's vibrant streets

You can opt for flights to Noi Bai International Airport and there are various affordable, speedy, and safe transportation options within the city. Getting around in Hanoi was a breeze for me. You just need to avoid getting out during the rush hours in the morning (7 - 8:30 AM) and afternoon (5 - 6:30 PM) when people are commuting.

I have compiled a list of transportation options in this Hanoi travel guide for you:

  • Grab: Through apps like Grab, Bee, and Xanh SM, you can manage to book motorbikes, taxis, and other transportation services at reasonable prices. The fare for a 2km ride is about 15,000 VND (0.6 USD).

  • Taxi: If you opt for a taxi from Noi Bai Airport to the city center, the fare for a 4-seater taxi is around 250,000 VND (10 USD).

  • Motorbike Rental: Renting a motorbike is a good choice for those who want to explore Hanoi streets and alleys on their own. With the assistance of Google Maps, it becomes much easier. The motorbike rental cost is normally from 100,000 to 150,000 VND (4 - 6 USD) per day. With 4 USD for fuel, you can travel a distance up to 90 km.

  • City bus: Hanoi's bus system spans the entire city. The bus ticket price for a ride is from 0.3 - 0.8 USD. You can utilize Google Maps to review bus routes and fare details. 

  • High-speed train: This alternative offers quicker travel compared to the city bus and you don’t need to worry about traffic congestion. The ticket costs 30,000 VND (1.3 USD) per day. However, you should note that its network isn’t as widespread as the bus system.

Moreover, in the Old Quarter tourist area, you can opt for the double-decker bus (ticket 7 USD/adult) or cyclo (4 USD) ride for a short and unique city sightseeing trip. Even on foot, you can explore many nearby city attractions.

Must see things in Hanoi

things to do in hanoi

A list of must-see things in Hanoi

The Hanoi capital boasts numerous captivating attractions and activities. Check out this list of must-see things in Hanoi that I recommend trying in this Hanoi Travel Guide:

  • Ancient architectural sites: Hoan Kiem Lake, Thang Long Imperial Citadel, Temple of Literature.

  • Historical sites: Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Hoa Lo Prison, The Old Quarter, and French Quarter.

  • Traditional villages: Bat Trang Pottery Village, Quang Phu Cau Incense Village.

  • Art shows: Water puppet show, The Quintessence of Tonkin.

  • Museums: Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, Vietnam Women’s Museum, Vietnam Military History Museum.

  • Nightlife: Ta Hien Beer Street, Rooftop bars.

Entrance tickets to the above attractions range from 1 to 4 USD. However, admission to shows and performances can cost more, from 8 to 30 USD.

Delicious dishes you shouldn't miss

hanoi egg coffee

Hanoi signature egg coffee

As the cultural and cuisine hub of Vietnam, Hanoi offers a diverse array of local specialties that you could not miss. Here, I will introduce you to some of Hanoi’s must-try dishes:

  • Pho: This renowned worldwide dish is known for its aromatic broth and tender rice noodles.

Recommend restaurant: Pho Bat Dan (49 Bat Dan, Hoan Kiem).

  • Banh mi: With a diverse and compact filling, it can be enjoyed and found anywhere not only in Hanoi but throughout Vietnam.

Recommend restaurant: Banh Mi 25 (25 Hang Ca, Hang Bo, Hoan Kiem).

  • Bun Cha: Rice vermicelli is served with a delightful sweet and sour dipping sauce and flavorful grilled meat.

Recommend restaurant: Bun Cha Dac Kim (1 Hang Manh, Hang Gai, Hoan Kiem). 

  • Bun Dau Mam Tom: This can be a challenge for foreign visitors due to its pungent shrimp paste dipping sauce. However, if you can't tolerate shrimp paste, you can dip the vermicelli, fried tofu, spring rolls, and more in fish sauce.

Recommend restaurant: Bun Dau Hang Khay (31 Hang Khay, Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem).

  • Cha Ca La Vong: A famous Hanoi dish featuring seasoned and grilled fish that is deliciously golden. This dish is also served with shrimp paste.

Recommend restaurant: Cha Ca Thang Long (21 Duong Thanh, Hoan Kiem).

  • Coffee: Vietnam coffee is so famous. The predominant variety here is Robusta. It has a bitter and robust flavor compared to Arabica. Many famous variations of Vietnamese coffee are worth trying such as egg coffee, coconut milk coffee, and iced milk coffee. Having a different type of coffee every day is a wonderful thing I did when in Vietnam. Another day, another cup of mesmerizing coffee!

Recommend coffee shop: The Note Coffee (64 Luong Van Can, Hang Trong, Hoan Kiem).

Suggested itinerary for your trip

How long to spend in Hanoi

How long to spend in Hanoi?

How long to spend in Hanoi? It is a frequently asked question among travelers. The longer your stay, the deeper your understanding and exploration of life in Hanoi will be. 

For visitors, I recommend you spend from 1 - 3 days in Hanoi to discover the city inside, suburban, and further day trips from Hanoi:

  • Hanoi City Tour (destinations in Must-see things in Hanoi block).

  • Hanoi Street Food Tour.

  • Hanoi Countryside: Visit traditional villages and cycle in the outskirts.

  • Evening activities: Ta Hien Beer Street, rooftop bars, water puppet show, or the Quintessence of Tonkin show (only on Saturday night).

  • Visit Ninh Binh: A 2-hour car ride takes you to the charming Ninh Binh countryside for a boat trip amidst limestone mountains, hiking in Mua Cave, and visiting scattered temples.

  • Visit Halong Bay: Just another 2-hour car ride away, enjoy a 2-day cruise in Halong for beach time, delightful boat meals, and visits to islands and fishing villages in the bay.

To get the full picture, visit our article on Vietnam travel guide!

Tips for your best experience while visiting Hanoi

Hanoi Travel Guide

Hanoi Travel Guide - Tips for you

  • Don't be intimidated when you cross the road: Most travelers feel uneasy with the bustling traffic, lack of stopping signals, and constant honking in Hanoi. You have likely heard this advice multiple times: don't be afraid, confidently step forward, as no one wants to hit you. Simply extend your hand to signal and stay observant.

  • Sidewalks are crowded with parked vehicles: Then sometimes, you will need to walk on the road.

  • Currency exchange and SIM card services: You can find these services in stalls at Noi Bai Airport and the downtown Old Quarter. You can also ask your hotel reception where you stay for guidance and support.

  • QR code payments and bank transfers are widely used: Even small street vendors selling fruits or tofu can accept bank transfers. However, if you prefer the experience of using cash or want to avoid any transfer hassle, you still should have some cash prepared.

  • Vietnamese basic words: “Xin chào (sin chao)" means Hello, and "Cám ơn (kam on)" means Thank you. This can be useful for basic communication with the locals.

  • Handle your belongings with care: Always keep a close watch on them. While most Vietnamese individuals are courteous and willing to assist foreigners, residents in the capital city may encounter occasional incidents of minor theft or motorbike theft.

  • Haggle when buying items: This is to ensure a fair price for your desired purchase, particularly when shopping at markets and local establishments in the Old Quarter.

Hanoi Travel Guide

Optimal Hanoi travel guide for travelers

To wrap up this Hanoi Travel Guide, I can affirm that Hanoi is a secure and hospitable destination for foreign visitors. Beyond the urban chaos, there are beautiful decorations and intriguing local culture to discover. I hope that this article assists you in addressing the question, "Is Hanoi worth visiting?" And if you have any specific questions or looking for Vietnam tours, feel free to inbox and leave a message for New Asia Tours!