PIN ME & SAVE FOR LATER!
If you’re arriving or departing by air, you’ll fly into or out of Nội Bài International Airport but depending on where you’re flying in from (or to), you’ll either arrive/depart from the domestic or international terminal. The two terminals are not close OR connected to each other (as is the case at other airports), so make sure your driver knows which terminal to take you to. Even though I had arranged my transfers in advance and obviously provided where I’d be flying to when leaving Hanoi (I was flying to Saigon), the driver (who didn’t really speak any English) incorrectly dropped me off at the international terminal, assuming that since I was a Westerner, I must be flying somewhere internationally. By the time I realized the mistake and learned there was no way I could walk to the domestic terminal , he was long gone. Thankfully there was a bus that takes passengers and workers between the two, but you may wait a while for it to come (and as a result, spend stressful moments as you are).
Minus the hiccup at the end, I had booked my round-trip private transfers with Hanoi Transfer Service and I would definitely recommend them. It cost $27USD and the driver who greeted me was also my only driver the entire trip. Also, he was actually there waiting for me and not the other way around as was the case in Singapore and Saigon. That’s not what you’re paying for, especially when one’s flights are on time.
The two neighborhoods you’ll (probably) spend the most time in
Mostfirst time visitors to the Vietnamese capitalwill either stay in the Old Quarter or the French Quarter as that’s where most hotels and hostels are located. The Old Quarter is the historic heart and soul of the city as it’s been the site of trade, commerce, and activity for over 1000 years. It’s also incredibly noisy and chaotic at what seemed to be all hours of the day. That’s not to mention the traffic here and more importantly, crossing the streets, can be quite a stressful affair. But the maze of the Old Quarter’s backstreets will definitely intrigue you and make you want to stop for a glass of the ubiquitous Vietnamese ice coffee at every turn. The French Quarter, which as its name suggests was settled by the French colonialists, is a quiet, much more subdued, and relaxed locale than the Old Quarter. The streets are also infinitely easier to navigate here.
O’Gallery Majestic Hotel & Spa
38 Trần Phú|Điện禁令|Ba Đình
I booked a classic suite with a standing balcony; the room got stuffy at times, even with air-conditioning, so it was nice to be able to go outside and get a burst of fresh air occasionally. It was incredibly spacious, the bathroom too. All rates include breakfast in the hotel’s basement restaurant, and this was also quite lovely. In addition to continental breakfast offerings, you could also order an entree from the menu, which included both Western and Vietnamese options. I also dined at the hotel’s restaurant for dinner one night as I had been out all day and was exhausted. Hence, I opted for the convenience of just riding the elevator to the basement instead of braving the chaotic mess of Hanoi’s streets (or trying to find my way too).
设施：There is a small fitness center and outdoor pool but during my time in Hanoi the weather was cool (for Vietnam) and overcast so I never partook of the latter. There’s also a spa and I treated myself to a 60 minute foot massage as I had trashed my feet during my time in Singapore. With all the walking I did and the intense heat too, my feet swelled badly. The massage was only $24USD. And because I was traveling for so long and was (incorrectly) told that there would be no laundry facilities aboard my湄公河游船，我有我的衣物在酒店做了。十五项（其中一些按下）为$ 29USD，返回当天过。
It was a Hilton, so a generic chain property, featuring none of the unique beauty or details of the O’Gallery Majestic; the room was also in need of a renovation. But I was primarily staying here for convenience and that it gave me as I had the chance to really explore the French Quarter and specifically make the short five minute trek to the famed Metropole Hotel (more on that below). My final day in Hanoi was also the sunniest it had been the entire time I was there and so I enjoyed a lovely walk (along with everyone else) around the beautiful Hoàn Kiếm Lake.
For my one night stay it came out to around $100USD.
I personally preferred the French Quarter and wish I had stayed the bulk of my time here instead. Visiting Hanoi for the first time can be a bit overwhelming, especially if you don’t have a ton of experience traveling in a developing country and I found it would have been an easier introduction and assimilation to the city.
What to see & do
5 Trần Phú, Hàng Bông, Hoàn Kiếm（位于之间Le Duan and Kham Tien street在老城区）
Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum
The final resting place of Vietnam’s great leader is only open for a couple of hours each morning (8AM-11AM, the last entrance at 10:15AM) because as my Hanoi tour guide told me, “he becomes like ice cream by the afternoon.” I was lucky enough to walk through Ba Dinh Square to get a decent outside photo of the mausoleum because my guide also told me that sometimes it’s not open to pedestrian traffic at all.
1 Hoả Lò, Trần Hưng Đạo, Hoàn Kiếm
Temple of Literature
58 Quốc Tử Giám, Văn Miếu, Đống Đa
Đ. Thanh Niên, Yên Phụ, Tây Hồ
Imperial Citadel of Thang Long
It served as the seat of the Vietnamese court until 1810 when it was abandoned when a royal capital was established just over 400 miles (700 kilometers) south in Hue, which is in the center of the country. During the colonial era, the French used the abandoned buildings and grounds of the citadel as a military post and you’ll see some French-style architecture here too (my favorite).
19C Hoàng Diệu, Điện Bàn, Ba Đình
Hanoi Opera House
The first time I saw Hoàn Kiếm Lake was at night and I ended up with terribly blurry pictures. The second time I saw it, the day was incredibly gray and dreary. The third time was pretty sunny and beautiful. So it was neat to have three visual perspectives of this stunning and peaceful area of Hanoi which even has its own temple that’s accessible by a historic scarlet footbridge (admittance fee) and is perfectly illuminated at night.
Every morning around 6AM, local residents practice traditional t’ai chi on the shore.
Most of the sights I mentioned above can be found in the Old Quarter, but I also recommend just wandering its streets with no set plan in mind (just make sure you have a phone with data to turn on the GPS when you’re done aimlessly wandering). I did a lot of this (some planned…some unplanned when unable to find certain addresses) but it sure made for great photos and experiences.
Take a cooking class
Go on a food tour
Other popular Vietnamese coffee drinks include egg coffee (cà phê trứng) which is traditionally prepared with egg yolks, sugar, condensed milk, and robusta coffee, and coconut coffee which is essentially Vietnamese coffee but with the addition of icy hills of sweet and frothy coconut slush. The French love their coffee and that is one long lasting legacy of French rule that the Vietnamese love and proudly tout, too.
Note about ice: You’re advised not to drink the water in Hanoi (or anywhere in Vietnam) not even to brush your teeth. Unlike in Mexico where I have been indoctrinated to always say “sin hielo” (without ice) when ordering a soft drink at a restaurant, the first time I got a Vietnamese coffee I was asked if I wanted it hot or cold. Always a fan of cold drinks, I without thinking said “cold.” It came with ice and even though I had an internal struggle going on in my head for about 30 seconds before taking the first sip and not wanting to be plagued with bathroom problems, I drank it. I was fine. And even the second time I ordered a Vietnamese iced coffee at a random coffee shop and still had the same internal struggle, I drank on. I think any stomach issues I had were a result of my paranoia making it worse in my head. Long story short-I can’t confirm this but it seems that venues do not make their ice from the taps. My opinion, since I never had issues all the times I had drinks with ice in Vietnam.
Get a drink at the Sofitel Metropole
之一(也是最昂贵的)最豪华的酒店in Hanoi is the Metropole, a grand dame that’s been accommodating guests since 1901. For most people, staying there is out of their reach, but thankfully, having a drink and a delectable pastry is not. Just be sure to dine al fresco at La Terasse (just like Thomas Fowler does in Graham Greene’sA Quiet American)。
One restaurant you don’t want to miss
59 Văn Miếu, Đống Đa
在河内的我整天游览与私人导游（我们到处走，所以我很疲惫，断炊）他推荐我试试KOTO。我很快了解到，江东表示知道一教一，它是由吉米·范，一名越南裔澳大利亚公民，谁在越南战争期间逃到与他的家人在全国开始了餐厅。Pham is definitely a person worth reading up more on。但餐厅的目的，正在越南街头儿童，教他们正当的职业技能（在餐饮业工作），而不是沿街乞讨或出售无用的商品。
Here I overindulged and had bún chả (grilled pork and noodles, the famous Hanoi dish that President Obama and Anthony Bourdain shared together when they were in Hanoi), and chả giò (fried spring rolls).
The food was really good and I was happy to patronize such an establishment.
Walking alone at night
Even with all the walking I did at night (and most of it was when it was dark out due to it being mid-February), I never felt uneasy on Hanoi’s streets. Most of this was due to the fact that there were always people out and about, especially in the congested Old Quarter. But also, with Vietnam being a communist country, I think crime is not AS big an issue as it is in other places. I obviously received looks because of my personal appearance, but none disquieted me, just more looks of curiosity than anything else.
For me, probably the most dangerous and unnerving part of Hanoi was crossing the street. I’ve never been one to shy from jay walking but it’s a lot different when the stream of traffic never lets up…and there are no stop signs or traffic lights…and even when there are they’re often blatantly ignored. Hanoi’s streets are truly a clusterf*&% free for all and your first day or so there witnessing it can be a bit unsettling.
越南是有声调的语言或像有些人提到它，“音乐语言”，因为T他拐点你把一个字改变它的意义。因此，我掌握了什么，除了“谢谢”的字样（C凌晨）and “hello”（鑫超）我发现更容易说。我知道，我从来没有得到正确的拐点对Cảm ơn but I always tried and I think the people appreciated my (meager) efforts.