Getting around Hanoi can be easy and difficult at the same time. Why?
It can be easy because there are many kinds of transportation to choose based on your budgets. Also, numerous attractions, restaurants, shopping venues, and hotels are located close to each other so it’s easy to move from this place to another.
But surely there is a difficulty in language and communication as Vietnamese cannot speak English well. And above all is the fear of scams of tourists.
So think carefully about where you want to go and how you want to get there; what might cost you the least may take up the most time, and a bigger transportation budget may actually save in terms of more sights seen and less hassle along the road.
For getting around Hanoi, I have listed down every kinds of transportation with detailed information including price and some advices for each. So read on.
Map Of Noi Bai Airport To City Center (Hanoi Old Quarter)
Noi Bai Airport (IATA: HAN, ICAO: VVNB) is the only airport in Hanoi and the biggest one in Northern Vietnam. Noi Bai Airport is located in Soc Son District and is 45 kilometers (25 miles) from the city center (Hanoi Old Quarter). It takes around 45 minutes to get from Noi Bai Airport to the city center.
There are several ways for tourists to get to the city center from Noi Bai Airport. We list out some with advices for you:
If you have Grab app in your phone, that’s great. If don’t, you have to download the app in order to book a car. Noi Bai Airport has free wifi everywhere so it’s easy to do so.
However, remember you need to pay them the 2-way gate fare of 30.000VND ~ 1.5 USD. Choose a proper pick-up and drop-off point to avoid communication issues. If you decide to use Grab, you won’t have to exchange money at the airport since you can pay by credit card.
If you find using modern technology to book a Grab inconvenient, then just go with the traditional taxi. It’s not hard finding a taxi outside the airport. There will be a taxi lineup the moment you walk out of the airport. These are notable and reliable brands you should choose are:
The average price of a cab from the airport to the Old Quarter should be around 250,000 – 300,000 VND ($11-14 USD). This includes airport gate fare. Do not pay more than this and if you are quoted a higher price, you are most likely being scammed.
Another option for you in case you want higher certainty and safety is to book a private pick-up car from a travel agency. This is properly the safest way and fastest way of transportation. The driver will wait for you outside, and once you arrive and done with the procedures in the airport, you can immediately get on the car and transfer to the exact location you need.
The price of a private car is around $16 - $18. With a group of 4 - 5 people and above then the price is $5/each person. Contact us for the Private Car.
If your luggage is not too big and you want a cheap transportation, look for the 86 Bus Line at Terminal 2. The approximate time of transportation is an hour, with a 30,000 VND ($1.4 USD) ticket fee and bilingual instruction.
The earliest time you can catch the bus is 5:10 AM and the bus departs at 10:30 PM. One small drawback is that the bus contains only 25 seats, while its capacity is 80 people. Perhaps prepare yourself to stand during the 60-minute drive.
Taxi is an easy and common transportation in Hanoi. You can hail a taxi on the street or for safety, ask your hotel receptionists to help you out. Fitted with reliable metres, the starting price for a taxi costs between VND 10,000 and VND 15,000 per a kilometer.
However, there’re a few things I need to remind you for getting around Hanoi by taxi:
>>Taxi CP (+84 43 826 2626)
>>Hanoi Taxi (+84 43 853 5353)
>>Mai Linh Taxi (+84 43 861 6161).
By far the most unique way if getting around Hanoi, or three-wheeled bicycle. A front seat will be enough for maximum of 2 people. However, cyclos only go around Hanoi Old Quarter and you cannot find it anywhere outside this area. Cyclos are only used for exploring the Hanoi Old Quarter.
If you decide to take a cyclo, make sure you pay between 100,000 – 150,000 VND per hour ($4.6 – $6.9USD) riding around the Old Quarter. Watch out these things:
There can be scams as some peddlers are not honest about pricing. Agree on the price up front before you boarding.
If the peddlers charge you more once you finish, pay the price you agreed at first and be firm about it. However, you can tip the peddlers as he/she pedaled your entire body weight for the past hour.
Have the correct change ready, as cyclo drivers (like their taxi counterparts) hate to give back change.
I recommend booking cyclo tours with your hotel or with a trustable party. Check these tours out: Sans Souci (the oldest and most well-known cyclo brand in Hanoi), TNK Travel, and Hanoi Cyclo Tour.
You can call a GrabCar or GrabBike for getting around Hanoi. If you want to experience how it feels like to sit behind a motorbike and join in the crazy traffic like a local, booking a GrabBike can be a great consideration.
Bikes can easily zigzag their way through traffic so you don’t have to worry about being stuck in the congested streets behind lines of cars. The price might go up a bit during peak time though. However, it shall not be a big deal, as it is still going to be cheaper than catching a cab.
Local buses are also a very common transportation for locals in Hanoi. Local buses are noticeable with red, white, and yellow colors.
Hanoi has a number of local buses that ply regular routes through the city, most of which stopping nearby and in front of famous attractions such as Hoan Kiem Lake, The Old Quarter, Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum, Temple of Literature, etc.
A ticket is 7.000VND and you can only pay in cash. Make sure you carry smaller bills if you’re planning on travelling via bus. To prevent a miscommunication with the bus driver, you should write your destination on your phone. This way you can show him once you get on the bus. You also should be careful whenever you get on and off the bus because it pulls away quickly.
If your accommodation is not near to the attractions of the Old Quarter, there are ways to get there. You can catch the bus lines below. I recommend avoiding peak hours (6:30AM – 9AM and 5PM – 7:30PM):
To Hoan Kiem Lake: 04, 14, or 36
To O Quan Chuong Gate: 03, 11, 14, 22, 18, 34, 40
To Dong Xuan Market: 31
Getting around Hanoi by bicycle is not for the weak-kneed; traffic rules fly out the window as soon as you hit the road, and accidents are a definite possibility.
Bicyclists must also contend with hot, humid weather between April to August. If none of these faze you, then pedal on; many hotels in Hanoi offer bike rental services, often going for as low as $1 a day.
You can choose to walk around Hoan Kiem Lake and the Hanoi Old Quarter area. However, I suggest you not walking too far since it's not easy for first-timers to walk in the streets of Hanoi. The traffic can be crazy and you don't have the skills of walking through the traffic like the locals. It could be very dangereous and accidents can occur.
By walking in the Old Quarter, you could drop by a typical coffee stall of Hanoi, order a cup of ice tea and enjoy the capital’s morning charm in a really local way. If you want to make it an authentically interesting experience, let’s visit one of these oldest and most interesting cafes of the city.
>>> Hanoi Free Walking Tour With Local Tour Guide
Hanoi has only one train station which is the Hanoi Train Station in 120 Le Duan Street, Dong Da District.
Left of the main entrance stands Counter 2, where tickets for southbound stations are sold. To the right of the entrance stands a ticket office for tickets to Sapa (via Lao Cai), and Counter 13 for tickets to China. Buy tickets at least a day before the trip to make sure you get the kind of berth you want.
A series of bus stations are located around Hanoi, each one dispatching buses that travel only in a particular direction. Call or visit these bus stations for updated tickets prices and schedules. As with the train, buy your tickets at least the day before you travel to ensure a seat.
Gia Lam Bus Station
Address: 9 Ngo Gia Kham, Long Bien, Hanoi
Location: Google Maps
Destinations: serves northeast, including Ha Long Bay, Lang Son, Haiphong, and Lao Cai/Sapa
Luong Yen Bus Station
Address: 1 Nguyen Khoai, Hanoi
Location: Google Maps
Destinations: Hai Phong, Saigon, Hue, Da Nang, Nha Trang, among others
Kim Ma Bus Station
Address: 1 Kim Ma, Dong Da, Hanoi
Location: Google Maps
Destinations: serves northwestern Vietnam, including Dien Bien Phu and Hoa Binh
My Dinh Bus Station
Address: 20 Pham Hung, My Dinh, Tu Liem, Hanoi
Location: Google Maps
Destinations: Dien Bien, Hoa Binh, Bai Chay (near Ha Long Bay), Bac Kan (near Ba Be National Park), and Nho Quan (near Cuc Phuong National Park), among others
Southern Bus Terminal - Phia Nam
Address: Km 5, Duong Giai Phong
Location: Google Maps
Destinations: Hue/Da Nang (first-class sleeper bus), Saigon, Da Lat, among others
I hope that after this post, you can now know your way of getting around Hanoi based on your needs and budgets.