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While the noise, chaos and scooter-clogged streets might be an overwhelming welcome to Hanoi, give the city a chance and it will inevitably show you its many charms. If you’re curious about visiting, our local Hanoi tour guides have shared everything you need to know before you go, and what to do once you arrive. (Psst! Our Hanoi Highlights tour provides a great overview of the city for first-time visitors.)

1. Getting to and from HAN

Metered taxis are available to get you into the city on the arrivals level at both the domestic and international terminals. A taxi ride to the city centre takes about 30 minutes and costs approximately VDN 380,000. Buy a ticket at the stand and wait in the line. The price should include the toll, so don’t pay extra for it.

Hanoi city buses numbers 7 and 17 also connect the airport with the city centre. The bus stop is just on the right side of the terminal exit. Travelling by bus costs VDN 5,000 per person and takes about one hour. Buses run every 15-20 minutes from 5am to 10pm

2. Getting around Hanoi

There are a few ways to get around once you’re in Hanoi. Walking is a great way to explore the Old Quarter thanks to its manageable size. Just be mindful of the busy roads and keep your wits about you. If the Hanoi heat starts getting to you, cyclos (three-wheeled two-seated carts powered by a man on a foot-pedal bike) are an option for short distances, or if you just need a bit of a break. These can be flagged down anywhere in the Old Quarter and you can expect to pay around VDN 50,000 for a short ride.

Another option for getting around Hanoi is via motorcycle taxi (xe om). These can be found almost everywhere in the city and an average trip in and around the centre costs VDN 15,000 to 20,000. Agree on a price before you hop on.

3. Things to do in Hanoi

The Imperial Citadel of Thang Long is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Built in the 11th century, the citadel was the hub of political power in Vietnam for a whopping 13 centuries. You can easily devote a few hours to exploring the grounds here at a leisurely pace, taking in the many centuries of history and admiring the buildings. And despite being right in the heart of the city, this is actually a peaceful spot to wander.

A visit to Hoan Kiem Lake in the centre of the city is a must when visiting Hanoi. There’s something going on here all hours of the day and a stroll around the lake makes for some good people-watching and a chance to relax in a picturesque setting. On the northeastern edge of the lake you’ll find Ngoc Son Pagoda, which is open to visitors and always popular among locals and tourists. In addition, Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre can be found in the area. Pick up tickets in advance if you want to catch a show. We also recommend sipping a cold beer from one of the terraces overlooking the lake.

Hanoi Old Quarter is a chaotic maze of narrow streets housing shops, cafés, street vendors, restaurants, bars, tour operators and temples. Located just a few minutes from Hoan Kiem Lake, this area can feel like a bit of a sensory overload, but it’s worth exploring. Take a deep breath and dive right in, carefully navigating the Old Quarter’s alleys, nooks and crannies. Shop for souvenirs, grab a coffee from a streetside vendor, or fill up on street food as you make your way around. Still hungry? Our evening street food tour makes a tasty stop in the Old Quarter.

Also in the Old Quarter you’ll find Bia Hoi Corner, a popular nightlife spot for both locals and visitors. This is where, as soon as the sun starts to go down, plastic chairs fill the sidewalk and spill out into the street, populated with people drinking cheap Vietnamese beer. The atmosphere is low-key but lively and a fun way to spend a couple of evening hours people-watching.

Hanoi’s sprawling Temple of Literature complex was first established in 1070 and later became the site of Vietnam’s first university. Walking through the serene temple grounds offers a welcome break from the hustle and bustle of the city, and features five walled courtyards connected by gateways where you’ll find hanging flowers, pretty gardens and reflecting pools.

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