Hanoi, the Capital of Vietnam and also its second largest city, is a fascinating blend of East & West, combining traditional Sino-Vietnamese motifs with French Flair. It is largely unscathed from the decades of war, and is now going through a building boom, making it a rapidly developing city in Southeast Asia.
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a). By Plane
Most people arrive at the Noi Bai International Airport about 35km (45-60 min depending on traffic) north of the city. For decades, the Noi Bai Airport was small and heavily congested. Queues used to be long, but still shorter than Ho Chi Minh City’s Tan Son Nhat. With the 2015 opening of the International Terminal, immigration has become a lot faster, usually taking around 10-15 minutes. The new terminal is clean and modern with lots of sunlight. Shopping options however are overpriced and limited.
i). Express Bus 86
The bust stop is directly in front of the two terminals; most airport employees would be happy to direct you there as well. The bus runs from 0505 am in the morning at Hanoi station and 0630 am in Noi Bai Airport, with an interval of every 20-30 minutes. It finishes at 2240 pm in the evening in Hanoi Station, and 2330 pm in Noi Bai Airport. You’ll spend about 1 hour / one way for a transfer of 30.5 km from the airport. The authorities expect that having 80-94 round trips/day with only 35.00 VND/one way.
To the city centre from Noi Bai Airport take about 1.5 hrs. Bust #7 corosses the Thang Long Bridge and goes to the Daewoo Hotel on the western part of Hanoi (almost an hour on foot to the historical centre of Hanoi). To catch bus #7 form the international terminal, exit the arrivals level and then left, keep walking right past the taxis and minibuses, past the outside restrooms and to the bust stop which is located in the corner of the parking lot and is equipped with an easily noticeable shelter. Ticket price for bus is VND 9000. So cheap right.
iii). Taxis to Central Hanoi
There are fixed price taxi stands right outside the exit, offering fares ranging from USD 15-25 into the city. These are provided by various taxi companies and are slightly more expensive than the tout taxis, but fixed price, so no hassles about the fare. Later into the night, there don’t seem to be any physical taxi stands, however you can still negotiate directly with taxi drivers for fixed prices all the same. Some taxis will engage in negotiations while others will agree only to metered fares so shop around. Drivers in general may try to take you to a hotel of their choice or even a hotel pretending to be the one you named (your passenger door being opened by a person showing you your hotel name and correct address on a clipboard, insisting you should come in) as destination, to collect a commission, so be very specific about your destination ahead of time and on arrival if this happens, as they usually given in.
Be careful of agreeing to operating the taxi meter: the meter may be tampered with, and can run upwards of USD 40-60 or more to get to central Hanoi, and the upper limit is entirely out of your control. If you have changed money into dong at the airport you can, of course, pay in local currency. Do not use you USD money!!!
iv). By Train
Trains to Nanning, Beijing, China depart from Gia Lam Station about 5 km north-east of Hanoi Station. Tickets can be purchased from Hanoi Station, too. In Hanoi Station, International ticket booth clerk may go to work much later than other booths’, like 0930 am. A ticket for a soft sleeper compartment (4-berthe compartment) costs 1,060,000 dong per person. Be cautious buying there tickets from hotels or travel agents in the Old Quarters, as they may quote prices substantially higher. If you are taking the evening train out of Nanning, you will arrive at Gia Lam very early in the morning. Be sure to change some of your money at the border so you can get a cab to take you to the city when you arrive in Gia Lam. Exchange the rest of your money for a better rate in the city the next day.
All other trains use the main “Hanoi train station for daily services from cities in the South including Hue and Nha Trang. The Reunification Express” goes all the way to Ho Chi Minh City, although there is very little “express” about it.
v). By Cyclo
Negotiate first or avoid using the cyclos services, the can demand 200,000 dong (USD 10) for a short ride of less than 100m (330 fit). At the end of the journey, a few men will come over to translate, and they will pretend to help and later insist that you pay the demanded amount. (VND 100,000 for 1 hour is good price, included tip – you have to agree this beforehand).
Be aware that it is common for cyclo drivers to agree to a price, then take you to a different place, pretend to be confused and hit you up for more money when you reach your destination.
If you chose to travel by cyclo, be clear on your destination, negotiate your fee first (100,000 dong is more than fair for a 30-35 minutes ride in any direction), be willing to get out and walk away (if your driver tries any monkey business), also be willing to walk away at the end of the journey if the driver won’t stand by your original agreed price.
a) Vietnamese Women’s Museum (Bao Tang Phu nu Viet Nam)
This often overlooked museum has recently benefited from an extensive renovation of its permanent exhibitions. The modernised interior is well laid out with information in Vietnamese, French and English, and contains a huge amount of information on the fearsome female heroines of Vietnamese history. A particular highlight are the regularly updated special exhibitions on a diverse range of subjects, from contemporary issues such as single mothers and street vendors to traditional medicine and Mother Goddess worship. English language tours are available here. >> 30,000 dong.
b) Ho Chi Minh Museum
This gleaming white museum and its gloriously ham-handed iconography are the perfect chaser to the solemnity of the mausoleum. The building, completed in 1990, is intended to evoke a white lotus. Some photos and old letters are on display on the second floor, but the main exhibition space is on the third floor. It includes cars crashing through walls to represent the chaos of post-war American capitalism, soldiers charging around with electric plugs, a cave hideout re-imagined as the inside of Ho Chi Minh’s brain, and several other post-modern confections integrated with the main story of the man’s life and his country’s struggle. >> 25,000 dong.
c) One-Pillar Pagoda
Travellers find the One-Pillar Pagoda either charming and lovely or utterly pointless, depending on how many tour groups are crammed into the small grounds at the time of their visit. >> Free.
d) Army Museum – Bao Tang Quan Doi
Vietnam’s military history extends back some two millennia, and this museum covers it on four buildings with interesting pieces. Item descriptions on museum exhibits are in Vietnamese, English and French. On display outside are the ubiquitous MiG-21 jet fighter, T-54 tank and many bombs and articles captured on Indochina and Vietnam wars. Closed on Monday and Friday. >> 30,000 dong, additional 20,000 dong to take pictures.
e) Fine Arts Museum – Bao Tang My Thuat
Only party-approved Socialist art is shown here and most of the rooms have an small board explaining the history, aesthetics, and techniques of the paintings in that exhibit in Vietnamese, French and also English. It is an interesting museum at any rate, with pieces such as the wonderful pictures of soldiers on boats depicted on prehistoric bronze drums, revolutionary art of the 20th century wars and Buddhist art. >> 20,000 dong.
f) National Museum of Vietnamese Revolution – Bao Tang Lich Su Viet Nam
This is a collection from Vietnamese history from about 1,000 years back until 1945. Many antiques along with replicas where the originals are in situ. >> 15,000 dong, students 8,000 dong and under 15, 2,000 dong and for a camera 30,000 dong for a video.
g) Temple of Literature – Van Mieu
|National Museum of Vietnamese Revolution – Bao Tang Lich Su Viet Nam|
The Temple of Literature was founded in 1070 and established as the country’s first university six years later. The courtyard features numerous stone tablets, each mounted on the back of a tortoise, with the names of graduates over the centuries. >> 30,000 dong.
h) Hoan Kiem Lake
A pleasant park in the centre of town, within easy walking distance from anywhere in the Old Quarter. It’s the locals’ favourite leisure spot, and a great place to watch people practising tai chi in the morning or to sit and read in the afternoon. Hoan Kiem menas “returned sword”, and the name comes from a legend in which King Le Loi was given a magical sword by the gods, which he used to drive out the invading Chinese. Later, while boating on the lake, he encountered a giant turtle, which grabbed the sword and carried it down to its depths, returning it to the gods from whom it had come. Rumour has it the giant turtles still inhabit the lake. A mummified specimen is on display at the Ngoc Son Temple.
i) Hanoi Food Tasting Tours
Hanoi Food Tasting Tours is dedicated to building food tasting itineraries that will surely meet expectations of all tourists, from novices to culinary experts. An exciting way – through local cuisine – to gain insight into Vietnamese culture.
j) Lang Toi – My Village at Hanoi Opera House.
Lang Toi - My Village is a 60 minute journey to Vietnamese culture. The show recreates poetic Vietnamese village life with breathtaking cirque techniques, stunning acrobatics, graceful contortion, metaphoric juggling performed by skilled artists. The music is uniquely composed from around 20 exotic folk instruments and played live by seasoned musical scholars cum artists. Lang Toi performs regularly at the Hanoi’s architectural landmark Hanoi Opera House. Schedule & ticket at the Opera House Box Office opens from 0900 am – 1800 pm.
k) Imperial Citadel of Thang Long
The Imperial Citadel of Thang Long is an intriguing relic of Vietnam’s history and, signifying its historical and cultural importance, is now a UNIESCO World Heritage Site. Standing 40 metres high, the central flag tower is the most recognizable feature of the Imperial Citadel and is often used as a symbol of Hanoi. This was the centre of ancient Hanoi and served as the political centre for eight centuries. Located in Ba Dinh, the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long is close to many other tourist attractions.
l) Water Puppet Theatre
The ancient art form of water puppetry has a long association with Hanoi and there are several theatres where guests can enjoy this uniquely Vietnamese take on Asia’s puppet tradition. The original – and widely regarded as the best –theatre in town is the Thang Long Puppet Theatre. Puppets dance and slide elegantly over the liquid stage, controlled by a whole troupe of puppet masters hiding behind a screen. Most shows also feature the famous Legend of the Restored Sword of King Le which tells the tale of Hoan Kiem Lake and the giant tortoise.
m) Hoan Kiem Lake and Ngoc Son
Hoan Kiem Lake is a central feature of Hanoi and is a popular hangout spot throughout the day with locals and tourists. Ngoc Son Temple sits on a small island in the centre of the lake and linked by a bridge, makes a beautiful background for a few photos. Around sunrise and sunset, this area becomes especially busy with joggers, couples enjoying the relaxing views across the lake, and the elderly practising Tai Chi and line dancing. Hoan Kiem Lake is free of charge, but there’s a fee of VND 20,000 to visit Ngoc Son Temple, which sits on a small island in the centre of the Lake.
n) Dong Xuan Market
Dong Xuan Market is the largest of its kind in Hanoi. Housed within a four-storey Soviet-style building, this sprawling complex offers an extensive collection of fashion, apparel and souvenirs at some of the best prices in the city. Even if you’re not interested in printed T-shirts or cheap sunglasses, it is still fascinating to see the comings and goings of the local traders, and there is a wet market on the ground floor where the sights and smells of exotic produce assault the senses.
o) Ba Vi National Park
Ba Vi National Park is a nature reserve of stunning beauty located around two hours (48 km) from downtown Hanoi. Famous for its three-peaked mountain that juts steeply up into the sky and is often topped by cloud, Ba Vi National Park has dramatic scenery and a diverse range of jungle plants and animals. At the summit of the tallest mountain is an 11th century temple offering expansive views of the surrounding countryside and on the forest floor are natural hot springs.
p) Halong Bay
Towering limestone pillars and tiny islets topped by forest rise from the emerald waters of the Gulf of Tonkin. Designated a World Heritage Site in 1994, Halong Bay’s scatter of islands, dotted with wind - and wave- eroded grottoes, is a vision of ethereal beauty and, unsurprisingly, northern Vietnam’s number one-tourism hub.
Sprawling Halong City (also known as Bai Chay) is the bay’s main gateway, but its high – rises are a disappointing doorstep to this site. Most visitors opt for cruise tours that include sleeping on board within the bay, while a growing number are deciding to eschew the main bay completely, heading straight for Cat Ba Island from where trips to less – visited but equally alluring Lan Ha Bay are easily set up.
All visitors must purchase entry tickets for the national park (40,000 dong) and there are also separate admission tickets for attractions in the bay, such as caves and fishing villages (30,000 dong to 50,000 dong).
Another location with nice environment is Sapa.
“Sa Pa” or Sapa is a frontier township and capital of Sa Pa District in Lao Cai Province in north-west Vietnam. It is one of the main market towns in the area, where several ethnic minority groups such as Hmong, Dao (Yao), Giay, Tay and Pho Lu live.
They left in the entire valley hundreds of petroglyphys, mostly composed of lines, which experts think date from the 15th century and represent local cadastres. Then came the highland minorities of the Hmong and Yao. The township is more of the market ones in the area.
In Sa Pa, the best you must visit is the Hoang Lien National Park. The geology of Hoang Lien National Park includes metamorphosed sediments and a granitic intrusion. The metamorphosed sediments strike from north-west to south-east along the Muong Hoa valley. On the north-eastern side of the valley is a craggy ridge of marble and metamorphosed carbonate rocks that exhibit a karst style of weathering. These formations are currently being quarried of road building. The valley floor is characterised by schist and, to a lesser extent, gneiss. The granitic intrusion extends from the Muong Hoa River to the summit ridge of Fansipan and beyond. Due to the high humidity and rainfall in the area, chemical weathering is prevalent. This is reflected in the clay nature of the soil.
>>> How To Get From HANOI to SA PA ?
Sapa, Hanoi, Ha Long Bay are the most visited places in northern Vietnam. Sapa is among the top3 most visited places in northern Vietnam after Hanoi and also Ha Long Bay. It is good to know and visit it. If you do not like the places full of tourists, it will be better you skip this place and you can go for example to Ha Giang. Sa pa is a good place for outdoor activities especially trekking in Vietnam. Sapa is overcrowded by tourists and travellers. You will find there the highest mountain in Vietnam – Fansipan about 3, 143 metres and you can visit this place very easily, by a new cable car from the town.
>>> From HANOI to Sa Pa is about 320 kilometres. Awesome !!!
Lots of visitors travel by the overnight train from Hanoi to Lao Cai (Tickets about = USD 7.00/pp). It takes about 8 hours by overnight train and you will arrive to Lao Cai in 5-6.30 am. Lao Cai is about 30 km from Sa Pa and you can travel on this route by a local public bus (mush cheaper = USD 9 – 22/pp) or private bus companies. There are also some very comfortable direct tourists buses from Hanoi to Sa Pa (Hung Thanh, Ha Son Haivan, Good Morning Sapa, EcoSapa and Inter Bus Lines). But also some private luxury taxi or minivans (cost about = USD 16-22.00/pp). Travel time by bus to Sapa is about 6 hours. It is the most frequented travel route in northern Vietnam. Take note….>>> Please book your train or bus tickets from Hanoi to Sa Pa Online an must do early.
That are some tips when you want to TRAVEL ALONE to HANOI, VIETNAM. Manage your self, travel alone, see the world and opened your mind.
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@ Jackie San