Planning your trip to Hanoi

Hanoi Old Quarter
Hanoi Old Quarter

Planning a trip to Hanoi can be an exciting and rewarding experience. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you plan your trip to this vibrant city:

Research and choose the best time to visit Hanoi

Hanoi has a tropical monsoon climate, with hot and humid summers and cool winters. The best time to visit is during spring (March to April) and autumn (September to November) when the weather is pleasant and rainfall is minimal.

Spring in Hanoi brings pleasant weather with temperatures ranging from 17 to 24 degrees Celsius (63 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit). The city comes alive with beautiful flowers blooming throughout the streets, especially during Tet (Vietnamese New Year) celebrations in February. However, it can be slightly humid with occasional light drizzles.

Autumn is another ideal time to visit Hanoi as the weather becomes cooler and drier. Temperatures range from 20 to 28 degrees Celsius (68 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit), making it comfortable for exploring the city on foot. The autumn foliage offers a picturesque backdrop, and it is characterized by clear blue skies.

Avoid visiting Hanoi during the summer months (June to August) as the heat and humidity can be intense, with temperatures often exceeding 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit). Additionally, this period experiences frequent rainfall, which can disrupt outdoor activities.

The winter season (December to February) in Hanoi is dry and cold, with temperatures dropping to an average of 15 degrees Celsius (59 degrees Fahrenheit). While it may not be as favorable for outdoor activities, it is an excellent time to explore cultural sites and try local winter delicacies.

Overall, spring and autumn offer the most pleasant weather and vibrant ambiance to explore the city of Hanoi.

Determine the duration of your trip

Decide how many days you can spend in Hanoi. A minimum of 3-4 days is recommended to explore the city and its attractions.

Book your flights

Look for the best deals on flights to Hanoi. Check different airlines and compare prices to find the most affordable option. You can visit popular travel websites such as Skyscanner, Kayak, Expedia, or Google Flights to search for the best deals on flights to Hanoi. These websites allow you to compare prices from multiple airlines and often provide filters and options to find the most suitable and affordable flights.

Additionally, it’s a good idea to set up flight alerts or sign up for airline newsletters to stay updated on any special promotions or discounted fares to Hanoi.

Consider flying into Noi Bai International Airport, which is about 35 kilometers from the city center.

Find accommodation

There are many accommodation options available in Hanoi, ranging from budget guesthouses to luxury hotels. Some popular areas to stay in Hanoi include the Old Quarter, French Quarter, and West Lake.

In the Old Quarter, you can find a wide range of budget guesthouses, hostels, and boutique hotels. This area is known for its narrow streets, bustling markets, and vibrant nightlife. Some popular accommodations in the Old Quarter include Hanoi Moment Hotel, Hanoi Elegance Diamond Hotel, and Hanoi La Siesta Hotel & Spa.

If you’re looking for a more upscale experience, the French Quarter offers luxury hotels and big brand chains. This area is known for its French colonial architecture and wide boulevards. Some popular options in the French Quarter include Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi, Hilton Hanoi Opera, and Mövenpick Hotel Hanoi.

West Lake is another popular area to stay in Hanoi, offering a more tranquil atmosphere with beautiful lake views. This area has a mix of upscale hotels, resorts, and serviced apartments. Some popular options in West Lake include Sheraton Hanoi Hotel, InterContinental Hanoi Westlake, and Fraser Suites Hanoi.

Overall, Hanoi has a wide variety of accommodation options to suit every budget and preference. It’s advisable to book in advance, especially during peak travel seasons, to secure the best deals and availability.

Plan your itinerary in Hanoi

You can refer to the 7-day itinerary to explore Hanoi below:

Day 1:
– Arrive in Hanoi and check into your hotel.
– Explore the Old Quarter, the heart and soul of Hanoi. Wander through the narrow streets lined with bustling shops, cafes, and street vendors. Don’t forget to try some local street food such as banh mi or pho.
– Visit Hoan Kiem Lake, a picturesque lake with a significant cultural and historical importance. Take a leisurely walk around the lake and visit the Ngoc Son Temple located on a small island in the middle of the lake.
– In the evening, watch a traditional water puppet show, a unique form of Vietnamese art that dates back to the 11th century.

Day 2:
– Take a day trip to the famous Halong Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Cruising through the emerald waters and limestone karsts of Halong Bay is a must-do experience. Enjoy a seafood lunch on the boat and explore caves and grottoes.
– Return to Hanoi in the evening and have a relaxing dinner at one of the local restaurants.

Day 3:
– Visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, where the preserved body of the revered leader Ho Chi Minh lies. Explore the surrounding complex including the Ho Chi Minh’s stilt house and the One Pillar Pagoda.
– Proceed to the Temple of Literature (Van Mieu), the country’s first national university, and an outstanding example of traditional Vietnamese architecture.
– Head to the Museum of Ethnology to learn about Vietnam’s diverse ethnic groups, traditions, and customs.
– In the evening, explore the French Quarter and have dinner at one of the French-inspired restaurants.

Day 4:
– Take a day trip to the Ninh Binh province, known as the “Halong Bay on land.” Visit the Trang An Landscape Complex, a stunning landscape of limestone mountains, rice paddies, and peaceful rivers. Explore the area by taking a boat trip through the caves and enjoying the breathtaking scenery.
– Visit the ancient capital of Hoa Lu and explore the temples dedicated to the Dinh and Le dynasties.
– Return to Hanoi in the evening and spend some time shopping for souvenirs or exploring the Night Market.

Day 5:
– Take a leisurely bike ride around West Lake, the largest freshwater lake in Hanoi. Enjoy the serene surroundings and visit some of the temples and pagodas located around the lake.
– Visit the Vietnam Museum of Fine Arts to admire a collection of Vietnamese artwork, ranging from ancient to contemporary pieces.
– Spend the rest of the day exploring the various markets in Hanoi, such as Dong Xuan Market or Hang Da Market, where you can find a wide range of local products and handicrafts.
– In the evening, indulge in a delicious Vietnamese dinner and enjoy a traditional Vietnamese coffee at a rooftop café overlooking the city.

Day 6:
– Depending on your interests, you can spend the day exploring specific areas or activities in Hanoi. For example, you can take a street food tour to discover more local delicacies, visit the Bat Trang ceramics village to learn about traditional pottery making, or visit the Hanoi Opera House to watch a performance.
– In the evening, enjoy a farewell dinner at a rooftop restaurant with stunning views of the city.

Day 7:
– Check out of your hotel and depart from Hanoi, or continue your exploration of other parts of Vietnam.

Prepare necessary documents

When planning to visit Hanoi, Vietnam, it is important to have the following necessary documents prepared:

1. Valid Passport: Ensure that your passport is valid for at least six months beyond your planned departure date from Vietnam.

2. Vietnamese Visas: Check the visa requirements for your country. Most nationalities require a visa to visit Vietnam. You can apply for a visa online or through the Vietnamese embassy or consulate. Make sure to have the necessary forms, photos, and fees ready for the application.

3. Flight Tickets: Arrange your flight tickets to and from Hanoi. Keep a copy of your flight itinerary with you.

4. Travel Insurance: It is advisable to have travel insurance that covers medical expenses, trip cancellations, and unforeseen emergencies during your visit to Hanoi.

5. Accommodation Confirmation: If you have booked your accommodation in advance, print out the confirmation details to present if needed.

6. Itinerary: Prepare a detailed travel itinerary for your trip, including information about the places you plan to visit, activities, and arrangements you have made.

7. Currency: Ensure you have some Vietnamese Dong (VND) currency ready for your arrival. You can exchange it at the airport or local banks.

8. Important Contact Information: Make a list of emergency contact numbers, including your embassy or consulate, local police, and important phone numbers for your accommodation.

9. Health and Vaccination Records: Check if any vaccinations are required for your visit to Hanoi. It is recommended to carry your vaccination records with you.

10. Copies of Important Documents: Keep photocopies or digital copies of all your important documents, including your passport, visa, travel insurance, and flight tickets, in case of loss or emergencies.

Remember to check for any updated travel advisories or requirements related to COVID-19 before your visit. It is always best to have your documents organized and ready before traveling to Hanoi to ensure a smooth and hassle-free trip.

Learn basic Vietnamese phrases

While English is spoken in most tourist areas, learning a few basic Vietnamese phrases like greetings and thank you will be greatly appreciated by the locals.

Sure! Here are some basic Vietnamese phrases that you can use:

  • Hello: Xin chào (pronounced “sin chow”)
  • Thank you: Cảm ơn (pronounced “kam un”)
  • Yes: Vâng (pronounced “vung”)
  • No: Không (pronounced “kh-uh-ng”)
  • Please: Làm ơn (pronounced “lam uhn”)
  • Excuse me: Xin lỗi (pronounced “sin loy”)
  • Goodbye: Tạm biệt (pronounced “tam byet”)
  • How are you?: Bạn khỏe không? (pronounced “bun khoy kh-uh-ng”)
  • What is your name?: Bạn tên là gì? (pronounced “bun ten la gi”)
  • I don’t understand: Tôi không hiểu (pronounced “toy kh-uh-ng hy-uh-w”)

It’s always a good idea to practice these phrases with a native Vietnamese speaker or use language learning resources to improve your pronunciation.

Pack accordingly to visit Hanoi

When visiting Hanoi, it is important to pack accordingly to ensure you are comfortable and prepared for your trip. Here are some essential items to consider packing:

1. Lightweight and breathable clothing: Hanoi has a tropical climate, so it tends to be hot and humid. Pack lightweight and loose-fitting clothing made from natural materials like cotton or linen to stay cool and comfortable.

2. Comfortable walking shoes: Hanoi is a city best explored by foot, so it is crucial to have a pair of sturdy and comfortable walking shoes. Avoid pack high heels or uncomfortable footwear.

3. Rain gear: Hanoi experiences a rainy season from May to September, so it is advisable to pack a compact raincoat or an umbrella to stay dry during unexpected downpours.

4. Sun protection: Due to its location, Hanoi receives intense sunlight. Pack a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen with a high SPF to protect yourself from the strong UV rays.

5. Light jacket or sweater: Evenings in Hanoi can be cooler, especially during the winter months (December to February). Pack a lightweight jacket or sweater for cooler evenings.

6. Insect repellent: Mosquitoes can be prevalent in certain areas of Hanoi, so be sure to pack mosquito repellent to protect yourself from bites.

7. Power adapter: Hanoi uses electrical sockets of type A and C (two-pin and three-pin plugs). If your devices have different plug types, consider bringing a portable power adapter to ensure you can charge your electronics.

8. Medications: If you take any prescribed medications, make sure to pack enough for the duration of your trip. It is also a good idea to bring a small first aid kit with basic supplies such as band-aids, antiseptic cream, and pain relievers.

9. Travel documents and money: Don’t forget to bring your passport, visa (if required), and any other necessary travel documents. Additionally, carry some cash in Vietnamese Dong for small purchases and emergencies.

10. Camera and/or smartphone: Hanoi is a picturesque city with many beautiful sights and attractions. Make sure to bring a camera or use your smartphone to capture the memories.

Remember to check for any specific requirements or restrictions before packing, and consider the length of your stay and planned activities to determine additional items you may need.

Exchange currency

Get some Vietnamese Dong (VND) before your trip or upon arrival in Hanoi. Exchange rates may be more favorable in Vietnam than in your home country, you can follow these steps:

1. Research the current exchange rate: Before exchanging currency, research the current exchange rate between your home currency and the Vietnamese dong (VND). This will help you understand how much money you will receive for your currency.

2. Choose a reputable currency exchange provider: Look for reputable currency exchange providers in your home country or in Hanoi. Banks and official currency exchange booths are usually reliable options.

3. Decide on the amount to exchange: Determine the amount of money you will need during your trip to Hanoi, considering your planned expenses for accommodation, food, transportation, and activities.

4. Visit a currency exchange provider: Go to a currency exchange provider and present your home currency (such as US dollars, euros, or pounds) to exchange for Vietnamese dong. They will provide you with the equivalent amount in VND based on the current exchange rate.

5. Check the exchange rate and fees: Before finalizing the exchange, remember to check the exchange rate being offered by the provider and inquire about any fees or commissions they may charge for the service. Compare rates and fees to ensure you get the best deal.

6. Exchange your currency: After agreeing to the terms and conditions, complete the transaction by providing your home currency in cash, and the provider will give you Vietnamese dong in return. Count the money you receive to ensure the correct amount.

Note: It’s advisable to only exchange a portion of your cash at once, as you may find better exchange rates and lower fees by comparing rates between different providers in Hanoi. Additionally, keep your exchanged money safe during your trip, preferably by carrying smaller denominations and using a secure travel wallet.

Plan transportation within Hanoi

There are several transportation options available within Hanoi to help you get around the city:

1. Taxis: Taxis are widely available in Hanoi and are a convenient way to get around the city. Look for reputable taxi companies such as Mai Linh or Hanoi Taxi to ensure a reliable service.

2. Ride-hailing apps: Grab (similar to Uber) is widely used in Hanoi. It’s convenient to use and offers a range of vehicles from cars to motorbikes. Just download the Grab app on your smartphone, input your destination, and choose the type of vehicle you prefer.

3. Public buses: Hanoi has an extensive public bus network that covers most areas of the city. Buses are an affordable way to travel around, but the routes and schedules can be confusing for foreigners. It’s recommended to research your route in advance or ask for help from locals.

4. Motorbike taxis (xe om): If you are comfortable riding on a motorbike, motorbike taxis are a popular and fast way to travel around Hanoi. You will see xe om drivers wearing green vests on street corners. Negotiate the fare before starting the journey.

5. Cyclos: Cyclos are traditional three-wheeled bicycle taxis with a seat attached in front. They are best suited for short distances or leisurely sightseeing. Agree on the price before getting in.

6. Electric bicycles (xe dap dien): Electric bicycles are a popular mode of transportation for short distances within Hanoi. You can easily rent one from various designated rental stations or bike-sharing platforms like Go Bike or DecaBike.

7. Walking: Hanoi’s Old Quarter and some other areas are best explored on foot. The city is relatively compact, and walking allows you to take in the sights, sounds, and vibrant street life.

It’s important to note that traffic can be chaotic in Hanoi, especially during peak hours. Be cautious and look both ways when crossing the road, as motorbikes may not always stop for pedestrians.

Explore Hanoi cuisine

Hanoi is renowned for its rich and diverse cuisine. Influenced by both Vietnamese and French culinary traditions, Hanoi cuisine offers a delightful range of flavors and textures. Here are some iconic dishes and culinary experiences to explore in Hanoi:

1. Phở: This beloved Vietnamese noodle soup is a must-try in Hanoi. Enjoy a steaming bowl of phở consisting of aromatic beef or chicken broth, rice noodles, tender slices of meat, and fragrant herbs and vegetables. Popular variations include Phở Bò (beef) and Phở Gà (chicken).

2. Bún Chả: This traditional dish from Hanoi features grilled pork served with rice noodles, fresh herbs, and a savory dipping sauce. The combination of smoky grilled pork, sweet and tangy sauce, and refreshing herbs creates a delightful mix of flavors.

3. Bánh Cuốn: A popular breakfast choice, bánh cuốn are delicate steamed rice rolls filled with a mixture of minced pork, mushrooms, and herbs. They are often served with a side of fried onions, crispy shallots, and doused in a savory dipping sauce.

4. Cha Ca: Hailing from Hanoi’s Old Quarter, Cha Ca is a specialty fish dish that’s worth trying. Typically made with firm white fish marinated in turmeric, dill, and shrimp paste, it is then pan-fried and served with noodles, peanuts, fresh herbs, and fish sauce.

5. Egg Coffee: A unique Hanoi creation, the egg coffee (cà phê trứng) is a creamy and sweet beverage made with a blend of coffee, sweetened condensed milk, and a whipped egg yolk topping. It is a must-try for coffee lovers.

6. Bánh Mì: Although bánh mì can be found throughout Vietnam, Hanoi offers its own distinct variations. Look out for crusty baguettes filled with a range of delicious fillings, such as grilled pork, Vietnamese sausage (chả lụa), pâté, pickled vegetables, and fresh herbs.

7. Xôi: A popular street food, xôi is sticky rice topped with various ingredients like fried shallots, shredded chicken, steamed mung beans, and soy sauce. It makes for a hearty and filling snack or quick breakfast.

8. Che: Hanoi offers a variety of Vietnamese sweet desserts, known as che. From che ba mau (three-color dessert) made with mung bean, red bean, and jelly, to che troi nuoc (glutinous rice balls in sweet ginger syrup), there are many sweet treats to explore.

While these dishes represent some of the culinary highlights of Hanoi, the city’s food scene is vast and diverse. Exploring the bustling street food stalls, traditional markets, and local eateries will allow you to discover even more hidden gems in Hanoi’s vibrant cuisine.

Is Hanoi safe?

As of now, Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam, is generally considered safe for travelers. The city has a low crime rate compared to many other major cities around the world. However, it is always advisable to take precautions to ensure your personal safety.

Here are some tips for staying safe while traveling in Hanoi:

1. Be cautious of your belongings: Like in any crowded tourist areas, it’s important to be mindful of your belongings and guard against pickpockets or theft. Keep your valuables secure and be vigilant in crowded places.

2. Traffic awareness: Hanoi is known for its hectic traffic, so be careful when crossing the road and follow local traffic rules. It’s a good idea to use designated pedestrian crossings and look out for motorbikes and bicycles.

3. Be aware of scams: Some common scams targeted at tourists include overcharging for taxis or services, fake tour operators, and counterfeit goods. Research reputable companies, negotiate prices in advance, and be cautious when dealing with unfamiliar individuals.

4. Health precautions: It is always recommended to take necessary health precautions when traveling. Stay hydrated, use mosquito repellent, and consider getting necessary vaccines before visiting Hanoi. As with any destination, it is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional or travel clinic before your trip.

5. Stay updated on travel advisories: Before traveling, check the current travel advisories issued by your government or local authorities. It’s important to stay informed about any potential safety concerns or travel restrictions that may be in place.

In summary, Hanoi is generally considered safe for travelers. However, it is important to stay vigilant, take necessary precautions, and stay updated on travel advisories to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip.

Remember to be flexible and open to new experiences during your trip. Get ready to immerse yourself in the bustling streets, rich history, and vibrant culture of Hanoi. Bon voyage!