A Few Usefull Tips For Travelling To Hanoi

Since I often see questions on Twitter asking where to go and what to do in Hanoi, I’ve decided to collect all of the most useful resources in one place, so that you newbies know exactly where and what to look for yourselves.

Let’s start with the airport. Noi Bai airport in Hanoi is more than 30km away from the city center, and there is no direct train like in Kuala Lumpur or Bangkok.  The website you should know is Hanoi Airport Online, where you can find your flight status, a location map, and means of transportation (such as taxi, public bus, or mini bus). However, the information there is not very up-to-date, since a taxi going downtown now costs more than 300,000 VND ($15). However, there’s one trick: if you go upstairs to the departure terminal, you can try catching a Mai Linh taxi.  They offer a 50% discount for the airport-to-downtown trip. Or you can even try negotiating with any of the small taxis around to get a fixed price of 150,000 to 200,000 VND ($7.5-10). (Update: recently I hear that taxis are not allowed to pick up guests from 2nd floor so I don’t rely on my own trick anymore. Luckily, my flights back to Hanoi nowadays always arrive in daytime so I just use buses to travel into the city). For the opposite trip (downtown to airport), Taxi Noi Bai is often the best choice, with comfortable cars and a fixed price.

Of course you already know Lonely Planet and Tripadvisor, so I would like to suggest some more frequently updated local sites.  Here are all the sites you will need, whether you are here as a tourist or in it for the long haul as an expat:

1. If you’re “fresh off boat”, meaning you seriously have no clue what Hanoi has to offer, then you should spend some time reading the intro about the city on Travelfish. Travelfish also has a Hanoi blog written by an expat living in Hanoi that you might be interested in.

2. You also want details on what to see, where to eat and how to get around,  basically you can find all the necessary info on Travelfish, too. FYI, I’m 100% Vietnamese, I have been living in Hanoi for most of my life and I’m going to Travelfish ALL THE TIME to check my travel itinerary.

Another website called Citypassguide is quite new and still being built, so the info might not be very in-depth, but it’s a good looking website with fantastic photos.  However, it focuses more on high-end travelers, so beware of the money you may have to spend if you choose to take one of the options suggested there.  Obviously not a very informative site for budget travelers.

A good tip for tourists: If you feel like engaging with the locals, I suggest you book a tour with Hanoikids, this is a non-profit organization run by mere students. They lead free tours for tourists coming into town with the sole purpose of improving their English language skills and social knowledge. They are nice, friendly, honest and willing to learn from you as much as you want to know about our city.

3. When you think Hanoi is interesting enough to consider moving here for a while, then it’s time to take a look at the every-Hanoi-expat’s website TNHVietnam. There you can find all the necessary info for starting a new life in Hanoi: jobs, housing, restaurants, bars, cafes, shops, spas, etc. And you can add new spots in, as well as rate and review everything listed there.  A very interactive site!

Regarding job searching, you also should take a look at Vietnamworks, the biggest job listing website in Vietnam. However, it’s a bit local. On another site, NGO Resource Centre, you can find all the job opportunities with NGOs and UN agencies in Vietnam.

Furthermore, in this booming era of social media you can find this Facebook group called Hanoi Massive useful. The things posted on the group can be a bit non-sense sometimes but you can be sure that your questions will be answered by expert expats or locals, so feel free to ask.

4. Now that you’ve got a job, a flat and friends, it’s time to explore the city. What’s happening in town?  The best source for local events is HanoiGrapevine, a wonderful site that I’m proud to be part of.  Here you can find out what’s happening in art, culture, charity, theater, music, and film. We also feature reviews and opinion pieces.  Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and check our calendar frequently for all updates!

Now, once the sun goes down, where can you party animals go for late night hangouts? Check out Link Hanoi for the latest info on all parties, clubs, and bars in town.

And because you need to read news too, The Word Hanoi is the magazine for you. It’s the only expat magazine here so far.

5. After your boring hours at work, you feel like doing something a bit artistic or athletic in your free time?

– Musicians go to Synergy Music Production to connect with other musicians in town and gather members for your new band!

– Performers and theater lovers check out Hanoi International Theatre Society.

– Adventure seekers click on VietClimb (rock climbing).

Above are roughly all the info sources you may find interesting when visiting or living in Hanoi. If you know of any others that should be listed in here, please don’t hesitate to contact me! I would be thankful!

So, welcome you all to my city Hanoi, the city of beautiful lakes and busy traffic:

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