There are many convenient ways to get around and to Hanoi. Here’s what you need to know about your Hanoi transportation options.
It is a long, 45 minute drive from the Hanoi airport to the center of the city. Grab a taxi at the airport and negotiate the price before you leave. There is a toll on the road from the airport to the city. As of 2016, you should still negotiate a fare, but the drivers are much less likely to scam you.
If you wish to go to the airport from the city center using public transit, you must take two buses. First, take bus 9. The stop is behind the Tourist Office near Hoan Kiem Lake. Get off at the last stop at Cầu Giấy. Take bus 7 to Noi Bai airport. On both buses you pay the driver directly.
Hanoi Bus is the biggest public transportation company in Hanoi. Just find Bus Stop signs on the street and board the bus. The driver’s mate will find you and sell you a ticket. Be sure you get on the right bus. Routes are posted on a board.
The xe om (zay-ohm) is a motorbike taxi. Xe means motorbike, om means hug (or hold), so you get the picture. Getting around by xe om is easy, as long as you don’t have a lot of luggage.
Fares are comparable with those for a cyclo, but negotiate the price beforehand. There are plenty of xe om drivers hanging around street corners, markets, hotels and bus stations. They will find you before you find them…
Hanoi train station is divided in two, and the station where you catch the train to Sapa is on the western side of the tracks. The part of the station where you catch the train south to HCMC is on the eastern side of the tracks. The entrance to the station for Lao Cai trains is on Tran Quy Cap. The ticket office is normally open from 4 to 6 am and 4 to 10 pm. You can buy a train ticket through your hotel or agency, but you can also buy your tickets at the station. When you arrive at the station, walk through the main gate toward the tracks. You will see a counter where you exchange your booking receipt for your boarding pass and bunk assignment. Trains normally leave and arrive on time.
For most visitors one of the most frustrating aspects of travelling in Vietnam is the perception that they are being ripped off. Here are some guidelines to help you navigate the maze.
Airfares Dependent on when you book and what dates you want to travel. No price difference between Vietnamese and foreigners.
Boat fares Ferries and hydrofoils have fixed prices, but expect to pay more for the privilege of being a foreigner on smaller local boats around the Mekong Delta and to places like the Cham Islands.
Bus fares More complicated. If you buy a ticket from the point of departure (ie the bus station), then the price is fixed and very reasonable. However, should you board a bus along the way, there’s a good chance the driver or conductor will overcharge. In remote areas drivers may ask for four, or even 10, times what the locals pay. Local bus prices should be fixed and displayed by the door, but foreigners are sometimes overcharged on routes such as Danang–Hoi An.
Rail fares Fixed, although naturally there are different prices for different classes.
Taxis Mostly metered and very cheap, but very occasionally some taxis have dodgy meters that run fast.
Xe Oms & Cyclos Fares are definitely not fixed and you need to bargain. Hard.
Note for Hanoi transportation
Hanoi – City of Motorbikes
Hanoi is an incredibly busy and traffic-packed city. There are 7 million people in Hanoi with an astonishing 3 million motorbikes. Motorbikes have become a central form of transportation in recent decades for all walks of life. It is not uncommon to see families of 4 or 5 including babies riding on a 100cc motorbike. Women often ride side-saddle. Also, sidewalks are not for walking but are used for parking bikes, cars, bicycles. Additionally, many motorbikes are parked in peoples homes.
Ride a Cyclo
When you first arrive in Hanoi you will probably feel a great culture shock. The first thing you should do is hire a cyclo (the drivers will ask you non-stop if you would like a ride, so they are not hard to find). A cyclo is a small 2 person (preferably 1 person) rickshaw that is pushed by a pedal bike. You can get an hour ride for approximately 50,000 dong ($3). This mode of transportation takes you around the old section of town and starts to provide you an ease with the overwelming traffic and congestion of people. However, you must ensure you make it very clear what the price is going to be as these cyclo or rickshaw riders have a habit of asking for more after the trip with excuses that it has actually taken more time, that it is actually quite far, etc. Make sure you have to correct change to avoid this as they may attempt to give you back less. Also, when sitting in this mode of transportation please ensure that your bags or camera, etc are securely strapped as otherwise, you could make an easy target for snatch thieves on motorcyles.
Taxis in Hanoi
Taxis are very inexpensive and normally go by the meter without a problem. Taxis do not stop at intersections nor do they have any regard for motorcycles – they honk their horn and stick right on the motorcyles bumper until they move. Vietnamese are not fased by this – they simply take it in stride. Big taxis operated by ‘Hanoi Taxi’ would be a safer bet compared to the more gung-ho smaller taxis that have a reputation of meters being ‘fixed’.
Market Hub Streets and street intersections
Interestingly, in Old Hanoi, each street serves as functional hub where businesses each focuses on one task (ie silk, metal, travel, cds, etc.). Traffic at intersections is like weaving a needle. All traffics merge and pedestrians walk right through the middle. Once accomplished you will find yourself at home in Hanoi. Do not run nor stop – the traffic is watching you at your pace. This is truly scary.
Hanoi is a fabulous, culture rich city. Once you get used to the 24/7, non-stop honking, the aggressive driving, endless stream of pedestrians and street-vendors mixing all together, you will love your experiences here.
Source: Smartertravel and Tripadvisor