Hanoi Travel Guide

This article has been translated from Russian language using an artificial intelligence-based translation algorithm. We apologize for any inconvenience caused by the quality of the translation. You can read the original version of this article in Russian here, and ask questions on the topic of our travel forum in English here.

General information about Hanoi

Hanoi - the capital of Vietnam and the second most important industrial center of the country after Ho Chi Minh City. The name Hanoi literally translates as "the city between the rivers", as it is located on the banks of the Red River Hongha. Located in the north of the country (Hanoi on the map of Vietnam), and is visited by tourists all year round. The population of the capital is 7,600,000 people, which is almost two times less than Moscow. At the same time, the total area of Hanoi is 3.3 thousand square kilometers, which is three times more than Moscow. It is among the 17 largest cities in the world by area, as well as among the ten most attractive cities for tourists in Asia.

In 2010, Hanoi celebrated its millennium, and the city's birthday was celebrated throughout the country. The city received its current name only in 1831, from the date of its foundation in 1010, the city was named Thanglong (which means the city of the soaring dragon). Interestingly, in 1961-1962, the general plan of Hanoi was developed under the leadership of the Soviet architect Igor Alferov.

Ho Chi Minh City mausoleum in Hanoi / View photos in 3D

Holidays in Hanoi

For many tourists, Hanoi is just the starting point for a trip to the North Vietnam or Asia in general: not far from the capital is the world-famous for its picturesque landscapes Halong Bay (Ha Long), from here travelers go to the mountain town Sapa (Sapa), to the beaches Catba Islands, national reserves of the north of the country, or continue to travel through Asia to Laos.

However, Hanoi is not only the political capital of the country, but also the cultural center of Vietnam, full of sights. Here the unhurried spirit of ancient exotic Asia and modern business bustle are mixed. A crazy stream of countless motorcycles flows like a river between ancient monuments, temples and memories of recent history Vietnam, and authentic bicycle rickshaws ride tourists along the modern buildings of shopping centers. It's a place where you can wander in circles for hours around the same place – the famous Lake of the "returned sword" – and constantly see something new. Therefore, it is simply impossible to visit the north of Vietnam and not visit Hanoi. Be sure to schedule him to visit for at least two full days.

There is no beach holiday in Hanoi at all. For a beach holiday, you need to go to the coast, to resort cities of Vietnam. The nearest beach resort is located at a distance of more than 100 kilometers-This is Catba island. But Hanoi is very interesting for tourists for sightseeing holidays. The city has a rich history and is full of historical, cultural, architectural and religious attractions. There are preserved monuments that tell about the history of the city and the state from the beginning of its formation, and messengers of modern history of the 20th century, such as the monument to Lenin and the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. The city has several very significant and interesting museums. Like almost everywhere else in Asia, temples, pagodas and other active religious sites are scattered around the city, but there are not very many of them if you compare Hanoi with Bangkok, for example.

Pagoda on one pillar / View photos in 3D

However, it is worth knowing about some of the disadvantages of the capital. Today's Hanoi is rapidly developing and changing, losing its historical appearance. It is very noisy and there is a huge amount of transport, mainly motorbikes, which will not give you rest even on the sidewalks. Slowly and carelessly walking along the streets here will not work: all the sidewalks are occupied by goods, workshops, garbage, parked motorcycles. Entertainment for tourists, in addition to sightseeing, there is little, and almost nothing interesting for children. In general, as for children, in our opinion, Hanoi is an uncomfortable and dangerous place (due to traffic), and think a few times before you go here with the whole family.

South Gate, Hanoi fortress / View photos in 3D

The basic tourist infrastructure in the city is presented in full: there are a huge number of hotels of various prices and categories; there are plenty of opportunities for shopping both in the form of shopping centers and local markets and street shops; restaurants, cafes, travel agencies at every turn. Well, the system of excellent public transport and an abundance of inexpensive taxis will allow you to easily move around the city. Night entertainment in the city is poorly represented. At night, almost the whole city sleeps and there is not even transport on the street. After all, Hanoi can rather be called the cultural capital, hence the corresponding evening entertainment: walks around the lake of the returned sword or in the Old Quarter; opera; Puppet Theater on the water; and, of course, many restaurants and cafes. There are also discos, but their visitors are mostly local youth, and tourists should not go there.

Travel agency on the street

Well, if you are preparing for an independent trip to Vietnam and in particular to Hanoi, you can get the following information about Hanoi on our website:

On forum about Hanoi you can ask questions or share your impressions.

Weather, tourist seasons in Hanoi

Weather in Hanoi is rarely bad. The climate here is subtropical, and therefore tourists are comfortable here at any time of the year, although there are some features, which are further discussed:

From May to September, the rainy season (low season) lasts. The average temperature in summer is plus 30 degrees, humidity is very high, it often rains. If you plan to visit the capital at this time, you should take care of protection from mosquitoes and other insects, because there are especially many of them at this time. But the summer months due to heat and rain are a low tourist season, and prices at this time are reduced.

September to April is the high tourist season. Visiting Hanoi in autumn (especially September-October) and spring (February-April) is the ideal time: humidity and rainfall are decreasing, and the temperature has not yet had time to fall. This is also a great time to visit other popular resorts in the north of Vietnam (Halong Bay, Catba island, Sapa) for the same reasons – comfortable temperature and low humidity.

November to February winter or mid season. This time is not a contraindication to visiting Hanoi, but you should be prepared that at night the temperature can drop up to 15 degrees Celsius. The low temperatures are compounded by the fact that buildings in Vietnam generally don't have heating systems, and you can get cold at night. During the day, the temperature does not fall below 20 degrees Celsius.

Tourist seasons in Hanoi by month, when is the best time to go

Jan Feb March Apr May June July Aug Sept Oct Nov. Dec

*best time to visit;
acceptable time to visit;
not recommended time to visit

Current Hanoi weather and forecast

Hanoi time

In summer and winter, Hanoi time is +4 hours ahead of Moscow time.

Current time in Hanoi*
Разница по времени с городами:
Москва: +4 Самара: +3
Казань: +4 Нижний Новгород: +4
Екатеринбург: +2 Новосибирск: 0
Иркутск: -1 Владивосток: -3
* - если время неверно, обновите страницу Ctrl+F5:

Where and what to eat in Hanoi

Vietnamese fast food on the streets of Hanoi

There will be no problems for tourists with food in Hanoi. All kinds of cafes, restaurants, food stalls and baguettes are sold at every turn, especially a lot of them in the tourist areas near the lake of the returned sword. All international cuisine is represented (Korean, Japanese, Italian, Chinese, and even Russian and Ukrainian). There are also global chain restaurants Burger King, KFC, Mcdonalds, but their prices are almost one and a half times higher than in Russia. You can eat one of the simplest dishes (fried rice with vegetables or egg, or pho soup) in a cafe for locals from 30,000 VND (approximately 1.18 USD, see currency of Vietnam), breakfasts also cost from 30,000. You can eat in a clean cafe for tourists with drinks from 100,000 VND per person (3.95 most hotels offer breakfasts from 30,000 (usually include a choice of tea, coffee or juice, and scrambled eggs with a baguette), sometimes they are included in the room rate.

You can eat very sparingly if you buy semi-finished products or ready-made food in supermarkets. For example, an Intimex supermarket west of returned Sword Lake sells ready-made rice and chicken dishes on plastic trays (starting at 15,000 VND). They are sold still hot, so you can buy them and use them at the hotel.

Hanoi shopping

Hanoi shopping, souvenirs

Hanoi is a huge marketplace, here everyone is selling and buying something, and shops stretch endlessly along the roads. And at first glance it may seem that this is a real paradise for shopping, where tourists can buy for a song a lot of inexpensive useful things and souvenirs. However, in fact, everything is not so, and in shopping in Hanoi there are many features that are worth knowing about.

The famous World Travel guide Lonely Planet does not recommend shopping in Hanoi, but do it in other major cities of the country. In part, this is true, and the peculiarity of the capital is the very high prices for all goods that can only attract the attention of tourists.

However, not everything is so bad, and with the ability to communicate, you can bring down the price well and buy manufactured goods at prices lower than in the Russian Federation. It is customary to bargain here with a smile and not aggressively. Sometimes the desire to agree to the price you offer arises from sellers only after you allegedly lose the desire to buy, and you leave the store.

Also, low fixed prices can be found in supermarkets and large shopping centers. At the same time, keep in mind that even in stores with price tags, in hotels, travel agencies, you can bargain, with the exception of, perhaps, only chain supermarkets and grocery stores.

Read more about shopign and prices in Hanoi here...

How to get to Hanoi

Hanoi airport

You can get to Hanoi from Russia and other countries by plane, including with transfers. There are bus services from neighboring Laos and China, in addition, Hanoi is connected to China by rail, and theoretically you can get here through Beijing even from Moscow. From other cities and resorts in Vietnam, the cheapest way to get to Hanoi is by bus, a little more expensive by train, and, of course, by plane. Here are the main directions and modes of transport:

  • Sapa is from Hanoi. You can get to the mountain town of Sapa and back by local or tourist buses (5-6 hours on the way), or by train with a transfer to a bus in the city of Laokai (8-10 hours on the way).
  • Cat Ba from Hanoi. It is best to get there by tourist buses (4-6 hours), which include both the ferry and the bus to Catba town from the pier. You can also get there by train + bus + ferry, but this is not the best route. Island
  • Halong Bay. It is possible to get there by local or tourist bus, but it is best to buy a tour at travel agencies on the street of Hanoi.
  • Hue, Da Nang, Nha Trang, Ho Chi Minh City. By train or plane. There are also bus services, but it is very far and long to go further than Da Nang.
  • Vientiane (Laos). There is a daily bus service without changing the bus, and it is best to use it than to get to the border yourself and change there. The journey is 24 hours. There is also an option to get through Sapa, making a stop there for several days.
  • Hoi An. Hoi An can be reached from Hanoi either by direct buses or by train to Da Nang and then by taxi or local bus.

Learn more about all the ways to get to Hanoi on your own here.... Also see for the cheapest way to get from the airport to the city.

Transport Hanoi, what to move

City bus

Hanoi has a developed network of city buses, but, unfortunately, there is no metro. You can also travel by taxi, special tourist buses and electric cars, and even bicycle rickshaws. However, it should be borne in mind that tourist transport is very expensive here, especially if you do not bargain.

You can also rent a bicycle, motorcycle or car, but the traffic in the city is very chaotic, almost no one follows the rules. Therefore, we would highly recommend not to move behind the wheel yourself.

In most cases, in order to get acquainted with the city and its main attractions, it is enough to walk around all the most interesting places of the Old City (the tourist area near the lake of the returned sword), and to get to several remote attractions by taxi or city buses.

Learn more about transportation and all the ways to travel around Hanoi here...

Security in Hanoi

The capital is quite safe in terms of crime and crime in our usual concept, but the peculiarity of doing business here is that tourists are constantly and everywhere trying to cheat for money. This happens through a seemingly innocent deception, but as a result, inexperienced tourists have to significantly overpay for everything. It is quite easy to avoid this, you just need to be more careful, and book all services in advance if possible: do not succumb to offers from strangers on the street to buy or book something; always find out prices in advance before buying; instead of searching for hotels on the spot, it is better to book in advance via the Internet, instead of a street taxi, use the Grab application for ordering, etc.

Cases of pickpocketing or theft of things from hotels are not uncommon. The usual precautions will help here: do not carry a backpack on your back in crowded places; hide cash and valuables in your pockets away; hand over valuables in the hotel safe.

A serious danger that every tourist in Hanoi faces is traffic. Local drivers do not respect pedestrians at all: they never let them pass at pedestrian crossings, disperse them with a signal on the sidewalks, park on footpaths. It is necessary to look at both when walking, and in the evening it is better to wear reflective stickers.

Useful information

  • Where to choose a hotel. If you have not yet decided on a place for a hotel in Hanoi, then without hesitation, head to the tourist quarter north of the lake of the returned sword. There you will find any hotel for cost and comfort. See the best area in Hanoi for tourists...
  • Currency exchange, where to change. changing currencies in Hanoi is most profitable on Hang Bac Street (in the tourist area) and Ha Trung Street (west of the lake). There you need to go to jewelry stores and ask if they change the currency, since there are no signs anywhere. It is better to go around a few jewelers and compare courses. For example, on one day, different banks offered rates of 23,200 and 23,400 per US dollar. Usually the same favorable rate in stores where many locals and Chinese accumulate, and they actively buy gold and jewelry, bargain loudly. At the same time, be very careful when recalculating money so as not to be deceived.
  • Hanoi Taxi the meter is very cheap. You can even make a trip within the old quarter for 20,000 VND (0.79 USD). But taxi drivers on the street usually refuse to transport tourists on the meter, so it is better to order a car through the Grab application (analogous to Uber). Uber does not work in Vietnam.
  • Pedestrian safety. Walking through the streets of Hanoi is dangerous because of traffic, especially in the evening. It is best to use reflective stickers on clothes or shoes.

Reviews of Hanoi

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