Hanoi Travel Guide – Hanoi, the capitol of Vietnam, offers a unique combination of older style charm and modern convenience. This section provides information and advice for Hanoi travel, including advice on restaurants, hotels, sights, getting around, travel stories and other important travel tips.
Foundation as capital of the Đại Việt (Great Viet): 1010
Establishment as capital of Vietnam: September 2, 1945
Population (2015): 7,587,800
Time zone: ICT (UTC+07:00)
Booking a flight to Hanoi from Europe comes with several options. You can get direct a flight with Vietnam Airlines that flies to Hanoi daily from Paris and Frankfurt as well as other European cities. All major European airlines such as Air France, British Airways, KLM, Aeroflot, Finland, Polish Airlines serve Hanoi, but face some heavy competition from Asian and Middle-Eastern carriers: Korean Airs, Thai Airways, Singapore Airways, Malaysia Airlines, Eva Airlines and South China Air, too, are in for the business.
As for us, we highly recommend using the Middle Eastern airlines of Qatar Airways, Ethiad or Emirates Airlines which are well known for their good service and reasonable prices.
Don’t book your flights too soon, but don’t leave it too late either. Airlines tend to jack their prices up six months before the travel date, slowly bring them down until two to three weeks before travel, then start to raise them again.
Shopping in Hanoi is first class, a cornucopia of local and international goods that fulfils any shopaholic’s wildest dreams. At a more relaxed pace than the fevered browsing in Saigon and other Asian metropolises, shopping in Hanoi allows you take your time to find the perfect piece to bring home. The clothing scene is limited, especially for foreign sizes, but specialty outlets cater to silk lovers, fashionistas and casual browsers alike.
For those who wish to blend in with the locals, try a custom tailored ao dai, an elegant tunic that leaves just enough to the imagination. For all your shopping needs in Hanoi, head first to the Old Quarter, a maze of colonial streets that houses every product under the sun. If you don’t find what you’re looking for, you’re sure to find something better!
To accompany Hanoi’s booming tourist scene, souvenir shops have stepped up their game and offer a wide range of unique products to commemorate your stay. From traditional embroidery and handicrafts to stylish ceramics and housewares, there is something for everyone. You’ll find that most paintings are reproductions; however, there are genuine works of art created in Hanoi and the pieces are stunning. Galleries full of lacquer paintings and cultural touchstones are widespread and a burgeoning contemporary scene toes the line between gentle subversion and impressive artistry.
ATMs – many in international banks – are easy to find throughout Hanoi. U.S. dollars are the preferred currency of exchange, but other major currencies are easy to change at banks, exchange kiosks, and hotels.
There are around 22,000 Vietnamese dong to one U.S. dollar, so don’t freak out when the bar tab comes along. U.S. dollars are also widely accepted.
Vendors or small businesses in the countryside surrounding Hanoi will frequently not have change for a 500,000d note (a common denomination issued at ATMs). Make sure you have plenty of small change on hand. Credit card transactions often involve additional surcharges, usually around 3%.
International clinics in Hanoi offer the highest quality care but also cost more. Local hospitals are not quite up to the standards of Thailand, Hong Kong, or Singapore, but they are decent and often employ doctors who have been trained overseas, typically in France.
Temperatures in Hanoi can get extremely hot, with average daytime temperatures in late spring and summer exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit —drink plenty of water and use common sense to avoid dehydration and heat stroke. Sunscreen is also highly recommended. Dengue fever is a real risk in Vietnam; if not taking a prophylaxis, make sure to use mosquito repellent.
Hanoi is a generally safe city, and a little common sense should keep you out of harm’s way. Traffic accidents are not uncommon in Vietnam’s cities and towns—take care crossing the street. Pickpockets and thieves are an issue—keep an eye on personal belongings especially in public and avoid ostentatious displays of wealth. Bar areas can be less safe late at night compared to other parts of Hanoi.
Vietnamese usually will not initiate conflicts with foreign visitors, but if challenged they may resort to violence as a means for solving an argument. As an Asian tonal language, Vietnamese can sound aggressive to Western ears – keep in mind that someone might sound like they’re angry when they’re not. On the whole, the Vietnamese are usually friendly to visitors, though many see no problem whatsoever in charging foreigners more for goods or services. There is no foolproof way to avoid being overcharged from time to time. Make sure that prices are as clear as possible before making a purchase, and ride only in taxis with meters. When booking a tour, clarify what’s included in the price.
Hanoi features a warm humid subtropical climate with plentiful precipitation. The city experiences the typical climate of northern Vietnam, with 4 distinct seasons. Summer, from May until August, is characterized by hot and humid weather with abundant rainfall. September to October is fall, characterized by a decrease in temperature and precipitation. Winter, from November to January, is dry and cool by national standards. The city is usually cloudy and foggy in winter, averaging only 1.5 hours of sunshine per day in February.
Hanoi averages 1,680 millimetres (66.1 in) of rainfall per year, the majority falling from May to September. There are an average of 114 days with rain.
The average annual temperature is 23.6 °C (74 °F) with a mean relative humidity of 79%. The highest recorded temperature was 42.8 °C (109 °F) on May 1926 while the lowest recorded temperature was 2.7 °C (37 °F) on January 1955.
Most locals speak a few phrases of English, but don’t count on it. You could try your luck with a Vietnamese phrase book, but it’s a tonal language and so your pronunciation may not be quite up to it. Best bet is to hire a personal tour guide or just wing it with the international language of wild bodily gesticulation.Finally, the people of Hanoi are some of the warmest and most approachable in the country. Though English is not as commonly spoken as in the South, many of the older generation have a working vocabulary of French. Regardless of language, people will attempt to have a conversation with you irrespective of whether you can understand them. Many of the city’s cyclo drivers speak some English and often have intriguing pasts that they are now willing to discuss with foreigners.
Should you have any questions about Hanoi, Vietnam that you need for your records before your travel to Vietnam please feel free to Contact us. We would be more than happy to assist you.