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Getting around

Getting around

Hanoi is divided into districts. Most sights and accommodations are in Hoan Kiem District (downtown), centered around picturesque Hoan Kiem Lake, and Ba Dinh (west of town) or Hai Ba Trung (south) districts. Most addresses include a district name. You'll want to plan your travels accordingly because getting from district to district can be time-consuming and expensive.

By bus and minibus

Hanoi has a number of local buses that ply regular routes through the city, but Hanoi's smoke-belching lorries are extremely crowded, and using them is difficult if you don't speak Vietnamese. With the ready availability of fast, affordable local motorbike taxis and good metered taxis, few tourists bother with local buses.

Bus service is always available to transfer from Hanoi to other cities and provinces. There are five bus stations in the area of Hanoi.

Gia Lam Bus Station
Address: No. 9 Ngo Gia Kham Street, Long Bien District, Hanoi.
Tel: 84. 4. 3827 1529

All minibus and coaches depart from Gia Lam Bus Station to Hai Phong, Halong Bay, Lang Son and to the Northern, Eastern, North-western and the Nort-eastern provinces of Vietnam.

Kim Ma Bus Station

Address: 116 Nguyen Thai Hoc Street, Hanoi.
Kim Ma Bus Station is now an inner transition station of Hanoi.

My Dinh Bus Station
Address: 50 Pham Hung Street, Cau Giay District, Hanoi
Tel: 84. 4. 37685549

From My Dinh Bus Station, coaches depart daily to the northwestern provinces and towns, such as Son Tay, Hoa Binh, Lao Cai, Sapa, Tuyen Quang, Yen Bai …

Southern Bus Station (Giap Bat Bus Station)
Address: Km6, Giai Phong Road, Hoang Mai District, Hanoi
Tel: 84. 4. 38641467

Coaches are available to depart daily for all Southern provinces, cites and towns, for examples: Ninh Binh, Thanh Hoa, Nam Dinh, Vinh, Hue, Danang, Nha Trang, Da Lat, Qui Nhon, Ho Chi Minh City.

Luong Yen Bus Station
Address: No.3 Nguyen Khoai Road, Hai Ba Trung District, Hanoi
Tel: 84. 4. 39720477

Daily coaches depart from here to Cao Bang, Lang Son, Tuyen Quang, Ha Giang, Son La, Phu Tho, Thanh Hoa and Nghe An province.

Yen Nghia Bus Station
Address: Ha Dong District, Hanoi.
Tel: 84. 4. 85884227

Coaches depart daily for the Northwest Province.

Nuoc Ngam Bus Station
Address: Km8 Giai Phong Road, Hoang Mai District, Hanoi
Tel: 84. 4. 38618264

Coaches depart daily for Southern Provinces.

By taxi

Taxis can be hailed on the street, at hotels, and at major attractions. The meter should read between 10,000 VND and 15,000 VND (depending on the company and size of the cab) to start, and 4,000 VND to 6,500 VND for every kilometer (about 1/2 mile) thereafter. The three most reputable companies are Hanoi Taxi (tel. 04/853-5353), Hanoi Tourist Taxi (tel. 04/856-5656), and Mai Linh (tel. 04/822-2555). You (or the concierge) can call ahead for pickup. Make sure the cabbie turns on the meter. Be sure to get your change; drivers often seek a surreptitious tip by claiming that they don't have the right amount to give back. Smile. Tell the driver that you'll wait until it's obtained, and it will materialize. Tips are greatly appreciated, but don't feel pressed to give any certain percent; just round up the meter or offer 5,000 VND, and you are being quite generous by local standards.

Warning: Rigged Taxi Meters -- Be sure to go with an accredited taxi company, either one mentioned above or a company connected with your hotel. Smaller companies and individual operators sometimes rig the meter and charge up to double the price. If you protest, these shifty characters just point to the meter as evidence. If you think you're being overcharged, don't pay, but ask the driver to wait while you get someone from the front desk of your hotel to verify the rate.

There are many companies in Hanoi serving metered taxi services that you can trust:

  • Mai Linh Taxi: 04 3 8616161 / 04 3 8222666
  • Noi Bai Taxi: 04 3 8868888
  • Hanoi Taxi: 04 3 8535353
  • Ba Sao Taxi: 04 3 2202020
  • My Dinh Taxi: 04 3 8333888
  • Taxi CP: 04 3 8262626

The rate of taxi is around 8,000 VND - 10,000 VND per kilometer.

By car

Renting a car is convenient, but driving yourself is not recommended. Book a car with a driver from $40 a day (or $5 per hour, minimum 3 hr.). If an upscale hotel quotes you more, call one of the tourist cafes or any of the travel agents listed above. A rented car or shared taxi is a great way to make your own itinerary around the city or to destinations throughout the north. Note that in the city center, however, a big car can get stymied by the heavy traffic, so if your constitution is hearty and you like to throw caution to the wind, go for a cheap and maneuverable motorbike taxi to get you through the city traffic and small alleyways of the city.

By motorbike

Motorbike taxis are a cheap and easy way to get around the city, but drivers go like madmen. Be forewarned: This is transportation for the brave. Haggle hard with these guys. No matter the distance, drivers will start off asking for a few dollars, but with relentless haggling (you'll have to walk away a few times) they'll come down as far as 15,000 VND for short trips. Motorbike taxi drivers have a pretty hard lot, though, and most expats and longtime Vietnam travelers usually compromise and pay a little extra, 10,000 VND to 15,000 VND, to avoid a long time spent haggling. Motorbike taxi drivers in Hanoi can also be hired by the hour for 30,000 VND to 40,000 VND, and showing the driver the written address of where you want to go is a better alternative than trying to have your bad Vietnamese understood. I've even given a driver a day's worth of addresses and had him create my itinerary because these drivers know the streets and the traffic best. Give a tip and you've got a friend for life, or at least someone who'll show up at your hotel the next day to see if you need any further assistance.

If you're feeling especially brave, you can rent your own motorbike. Navigating Hanoi's busy streets is harrowing, though, and most motorbike riders use their rented two wheels to get out of town instead of around in town. Most tourist cafes and mid- to low-range hotels can arrange rentals, and there are a few good storefront rental agencies. Try Mr. Cuong's Motorbike Adventure, at 1 Luong Ngoc Quyen St., on the east side of the Old Quarter near the city's major ring road (tel. 04/3926-1534) -- the best place to rent a big honkin' Russian Minsk motorbike for $7 per day -- or Mr. Hung's Vietnam Adventure Tour, at his in-town office just north of Hoan Kiem Lake, 5A Dinh Liet St. (tel. 04/3926-0938), or at his repair shop on the city ring road at 162 Tran Quang Khai St. (Mr. Hung's provides bike rentals as well as comprehensive in-town and rural tour options and guides.) One-day rentals of 100cc motorbikes start at $6. A 1-month rental of a little hair dryer-style model (a Honda Dream or Wave) can cost as little as $50. Wear a helmet (it's now a well-enforced law, and all the locals are doing it), go slow, honk to alert other vehicles when passing, and stay alert. Inexperienced riders might want to think twice about cutting their teeth on a motorbike in crazy Hanoi traffic.

Warning: -- Riding on a motorbike, whether your own or on the back, presents a Catch-22: It's the fastest and most affordable way to navigate city roads, but it's also your best bet for a trip to the emergency room or worse. Take caution and, wherever possible, try to put as much steel between you and the chaos of the road as possible. In other words, take buses and cars when possible.

By cyclo

Cyclos are two-seated carts powered by a man on a foot-pedal bike riding behind you. You can flag them down anywhere, particularly near hotels and tourist attractions, where they're certain to find (or follow) you. Being trundled along among whizzing motorbikes isn't always very comfortable, but it can be a nice choice for touring the Old Quarter's narrow streets. Bargain with the driver before setting out. You can pay as little as 20,000 VND for a short ride, and 30,000 VND for a longer haul. You can also hire by the hour for about $2. If you're inclined, most drivers will even let you take a short ride -- around the block or so -- just for fun.

By Bicycle

Rental costs for a bike are about $1 per day from a hotel or tourist cafe. The traffic is daunting, but the brave quickly learn how to just stay to the right and join the flow. Helmets are generally not available.

Motorbike rental

Motorcycles can be rented for around USD5-6 a day, and can be arranged by most hotels. A typical bike will be given with 1 litre of fuel, so top up at the nearest petrol kiosk. Queue up with the other bikes, unscrew your fuel cap and hand over your money (USD1 per litre) to the attendant who will top up your bike for you.

This is good for making lots of trips around the city for individuals or duos, but be careful: Hanoi is a great place to sharpen motorbike skills, provided you emerge alive. Park on the sidewalk with other bikes, and be sure to lock the front wheel. Locals will help arrange the bikes near their stores. Many shops that have bike attendants will give you a ticket in exchange for parking your bike. This may or may not come with a fee (typically ranging from 2,000-5,000 dong). However, parking at Hoan Kiem lake on a weekend can go up to 10,000 dong. The ticket will either have your license plate number written on it, or the ticket itself will be numbered, with that number subsequently chalked somewhere on your bike. In such cases (where you've been given a ticket), the attendants may ask that you NOT lock the steering column or front wheel of your bike so that they can rearrange the bikes as customers come and go.

Riding outside the city is a refreshing change. Winding through the alleys and through the local markets inaccessible by cars allows you to see Hanoi from a different perspective. Google maps are rather useless once you leave the city due to the number of small lanes, forked roads and roundabouts that do not show up on the map. Stop and ask locals for directions, so be sure to brush up on the correct pronunciation of your destination!

The Riverbank fields just past the flower market can be a great trip within the city stop at the KUB Cafe on route and the staff there will give you some suggested routes around the flower fields.

Motorbike sales

Motorcycles can be bought and sold by foreigners. Many travellers opt to buy their own bike and ride it throughout the country. A lot of riders prefer to start in Hanoi and ride to Saigon as popularized by the British "Top Gear" TV series (although they did it the other way round and swapped to the train for the second half). Many people are unsure about the legality of purchasing bikes in Vietnam. Technically it is illegal for foreigners to own bikes in Vietnam without the proper documentation. However, this law is not enforced and thousands flock to Vietnam annually to buy bikes and ride them all over the country. It is possible to convert your driving licence from your home country to a Vietnamese licence, but few people go through this trouble. It is a well-known fact among riders that the police in Vietnam are highly unlikely to carry out routine traffic stops on foreigners. As long as the rider cares for his or her own safety and the safety of other road users they can go the entire trip without hassles. Most vendors do not sell bikes, they only rent them. There are some trusted companies selling bikes in Hanoi with good track records. The KUB cafe (Kustom Urban Bike) #12 ngõ 264 Âu Cơ, Tây Hồ, Hà Nội offers a great starting point for your journey by motorbike or a great place to end your trip in Vietnam, It's run by bikers for bikers of all sizes.

By Metro

A part overground, part underground Metro is under construction. The first line is due to become operational in 2016. Construction began in 2010.

By Uber

As of April 2015 Uber can be used in Hanoi. Simply download the app. Expect responsible fares. A 15 minute ride costs about 60,000 dong. However you can also use the app's fare estimate feature.

See more Hanoi travel guide at here.