Things to know when traveling to Hanoi

21, August, 2016

Things to know when traveling to Hanoi

Hanoi tour package is a perfect combination of old and new Vietnam, with its French and Chinese influence, broad tree-lined boulevards, colonial architecture, ancient culture and beautiful lakes.

A peaceful lake that is perfect for a morning stroll to food stalls spilling out into the streets and late night beer joints, Hanoi is the capital city of Vietnam and a magnificent introduction to this country. The Vietnam tour packages often start in Hanoi and can extend as far and wide as you want.

The Old Quarter with its narrow and bustling streets gives access to shops selling virtually everything you can imagine, from locally grown coffee to flip-flops. Plus, you can always see the locals preparing authentic food over an open fire, while scooters are never far away.

The food fanatic is certain to be at home with the wide range of street stalls or carts that are everywhere throughout the Old Quarter, as well as the scenic Hoan Kiem Lake. Vietnam has some of the most delicious food in Southeast Asia with popular choices including Banh mi (baguettes with fresh leaves, chilli and cold cuts) which combine fresh bread with Asian flavours. The seafood in Hanoi is also legendary

Hanoi is rich in colonial history with plenty of old and new buildings. The Ho Chi Minh mausoleum is a great stop off point for travellers experiencing the tours in Hanoi. Large crowds gather at this site everyday to honour the former president Ho Chi Minh.

This city has a wide range of cultural delights, from the politically charged and thought provoking Hoa Lo Prison to the peaceful gardens of the ancient Temple of Literature.

hanoi travel guide

Hanoi highlights

•  Start a cultural odyssey by exploring the thriving art scene or the rich history and culture of the city's museums or galleries
•  Explore the Old Quarter and walk the narrow streets to see the street vendors, shops, bars and cafes.
•  Enjoy a gastronomic adventure and try the wide range of authentic dishes served at the street stalls and restaurants
•  Experience the modern aspects of Hanoi with the cutting-edge live music venues and arty bars

Why not read our Hanoi travel guide to really get a full appreciation of what this magnificent city has to offer the traveller.

When to go to Hanoi
For the Vietnam tour from Hanoi the best time to go is between October and December when the heat isn't so intense, but still comfortable enough to explore the capital city and surrounding area. The temperature for this period can range from 60 degrees to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. However the temperature at night can set start to get quite chilly and cold. The climate is quite pleasant throughout the brief spring period of March to April. The summer starts in earnest in May to August when the monsoons can start to bring the heavy rains and floods can follow. The winters can bring persistent drizzle so it can benefit to take along the waterproof jacket and rubber footwear.

Travel to Hanoi
Travel to Hanoi is relatively easy with plenty of direct and indirect flights. For instance, Vietnam Airlines offer a direct service from London to Hanoi. Plus there are plenty of other options with a single connection via cities like Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok and Frankfurt. There are several countries that do not offer direct flights to Vietnam, including the United States. The most cost-effective time to travel to Hanoi is by avoiding the main seasons and festivals, including the Tet holiday, New Year, Christmas and school holidays

A direct flight can take in the region of 11 hours from a London airport, while a flight with a stopover can take 19 hours from New York, 13 hours from Australia, 18 1/2 hours from Toronto, and 18 1/2 hours from Los Angeles.

The major Noi Bai International Airport is about 35 km north of Hanoi and includes plenty of public bus and metered taxi services to complete the journey to the capital. The simple transport routes means the tours from Hanoi are easy to enjoy with plenty of different passages to make it possible to explore the northern, central or southern regions of the country.  

Getting oriented
Even though Hanoi is quite a large city, the most interesting sites to see for visitors are within a quite congested area. The Old Quarter is the city's most famous neighbourhood and is much like a warren like maze with plenty of small and narrow streets. By travelling west of the Old Quarter you get to explore the historical and cultural monuments in the Ba Dinh District. Moving further north-west makes it possible to arrive at West Lake. Walking around the streets of Hanoi can get quite tiring, so you may want to look at using the popular cyclo (pedicab) for a more relaxed travel experience. Other travel options include the taxis and xe om (motorcycle taxi).

tours in hanoi

Tours in and around Hanoi
There are plenty of opportunities to sign up for a tailor-made tour with the private Hanoi travel guide. The Vietnam travel package can include absolutely everything needed to experience a fun and enjoyable time, including the guided tours, transportation, hotel bookings and other relevant information. The tours can range from an extended itinerary that covers everything in Hanoi and the northern region of Vietnam to the shorter one or two day excursions that can include highlights like Sapa, Mai Chau, Halong Bay and Ninh Binh. Additionally, the type of tour can be tailored to your particular preference, and ranges from the cultural, luxury or adventure tours. It is even possible to organise the specific excursions that can include a detailed tour of the local architectural heritage, its markets, or the city and its amazing street food culture.

Shopping in Hanoi
Very popular items to shop for in Hanoi include the lacquer ware and hand embroidered tablecloths. Many of the Hill tribes sell colourful clothing and woven bags in the city's markets. Other great gifts and souvenirs include the hand-painted greeting cards, silk paintings and ceramics.

Great places to shop in Hanoi include
The Old Quarter: a visit to the popular district of the Old Quarter makes it possible to visit an area jam-packed with shops. Great choices include the shops on Hang Bong and Hang Gai. Clothing is a popular item with the option to buy the off-the-peg items or even order the bespoke outfit. Also, the Hai Ba Trung Street has plenty of excellent shops to visit.

Markets: on Dong Xuan Street you have Dong Xuan Market, which is the largest retail and wholesale centre in Hanoi and includes virtually everything you could want.

Shopping centres: there are several shopping malls in Hanoi selling the latest domestic and international brands, including the VinCom City Towers, the Parkson and the Trang Tien Plaza.

With so much to see and do in this wonderful capital city, this Hanoi travel guide should really help to tempt you into experiencing a Vietnam holiday with family or friends.

street food in hanoi

Food and drink
The restaurants in Hanoi have a diverse mixture of French, Chinese and Vietnamese traditions that include plenty of regional variations. Most of the dishes are based on noodles or rice with seasonal fruits and vegetables, as well as fresh fish.

Many of the most popular dishes like pho come from Hanoi. It's very easy to find the authentic restaurants and street stalls when touring the city, while it is also possible to experience the high-end options in the major city hotels.

Things to see in Hanoi

The Old Quarter
The Old Quarter is a maze of narrow streets with many that have been named after the actual products that are traded along each street. Hanoi's Old Quarter has a shop for virtually everything with common items including the traditional medicine, silk clothes and home ware. Even though this area is quite congested it is still quite pleasant to wander the 30 plus narrow streets that make up the Old Quarter, especially as there are also several boutique shops, bars and hotels in the local area. But, there is usually a constant throng of mopeds that need to be avoided.

Vietnam Museum of Ethnology
The Vietnam Museum of Ethnology has a long list of artefacts that include musical instruments, jewellery and clothing that cover the 50+ ethnic tribes that are living in Vietnam. Additionally, on the grounds are samples of Yao and Tay stilt houses. Other things to see include a Garai traditional tomb and an Ede long house.

Fine Arts Museum
The Fine Arts Museum exhibits an impressive collection of prehistory to present-day art and housed in a 1930s French colonial house. The exhibits include precious items of artwork from the Vietnamese ethnic minorities, oil and silk paintings, and sculptures of the ancient Cham.

Ho Chi Minh Museum
The Ho Chi Minh museum is entirely dedicated to the achievements and life of the revolutionary leader, Ho Chi Minh. The Museum has a shape that is much like the lotus flower and designed by Soviet architects. The Museum depicts the leaders struggle for the country's liberation from imperial powers.

vietnam tour packages in hanoi

Vietnam Military History Museum
The Vietnam Military History Museum has a rich array of military artefacts and memorabilia and is regarded as one of the finest museums in the capital. The Museum houses plenty of exhibits related to the long fight for independence, as well as the war against the United States that concluded in 1975. The grounds of the Museum display a wrecked B-52, as well as an old Huey helicopter, tanks and planes.

Ho Chi Minh's House
The Ho Chi Minh house is based on a traditional communal home and a quite simple stilt house. This house was occasionally used as living quarters for the president until his death in 1969; its bedroom and study still retain a lot of his personal effects, while his personal cars are also on display nearby. This stilt house was often used in preference to the colonial Presidential Palace that is just next door.

Tran Quoc Pagoda
Hanoi's Tran Quoc Pagoda is among the oldest pagodas in the country and a common destination for the locals to make offerings, pray solemnly, and perform simple ceremonies. This is a great destination for the traveller that wants to get a little peace and quiet from the noise of the city, with its spectacular tiered tower and tranquil garden.

Vietnam National Museum of History
The Vietnam National Museum of history is a great stop for those wishing to find out more about the early Vietnamese history that dates back to the prehistoric settlements. The history of Vietnam is displayed using a wide range of artefacts, such as tablets, sculptures and ceramics.

Health and safety
The climate in Hanoi can start getting quite hot in late spring/summer with the average daytime temperature in the region of 100°F or more. For this reason, it is essential to drink enough water and take the necessary cautions to avoid issues with heatstroke or dehydration. Wearing sunscreen is a practical option. There is a risk of Dengue fever in the country, so for those that aren't taking prophylaxis it certainly helps to use a high-quality mosquito repellent.

Travelling around Hanoi is generally safe and little common sense can help to avoid issues with the locals. Try to leave valuables like jewelery at home or at least in the hotel safe when out walking the streets. The congested roads aren't likely to be what you are used to at home, so it is essential to be cautious when crossing the streets in the cities and towns. It can also be quite safe at night, except for certain bar areas in the city.

By relying on the guidelines in our Vietnam travel guide it is possible to experience the safe and fun trip with the entire family.