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 to look for yourselves. (Updated in November 2016)
Let’s start with the airport. Noi Bai airport in Hanoi is more than 30 km 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).
(i) Public bus:
– Local Bus 7: Noi Bai Airport – Cau Giay District (the local residential part of the city): 8,000 VND (0.3 USD) running from 5 am to 9 pm.
– Local Bus 17: Noi Bai – Long Bien Bridge (city center): 9,000 VND (0.4 USD) running from 5 am to 8 pm.
– High-quality Bus 86 (recommended): Noi Bai Airport – Hoan Kiem Lake (city center) – Hanoi Central Train Station (Le Duan street, the station for North-South rail transportation, NOT the station for Northern service to Sapa): 30,000 VND (1.4 USD), running time: opening hours: 5 am from Hanoi Train Staion; 6.20 am from Noi Bai Airport; closing hours: 9.40 pm from Hanoi Train Station; 10.50 pm from Noi Bai Airport.
(ii) Mini bus: Noi Bai airport to Vietnam Airlines Office (Quang Trung street, city center): 40,000 VND (1.9 USD), leaving whenever full.
(iii) Taxi: various taxi companies are available in front of the terminals, cost from 350,000 – 400,000 VND (16.5 – 19 USD). For the opposite trip (downtown to airport), Taxi Noi Bai is often the best choice, with comfortable cars and a fixed price.
So now, you’re in downtown Hanoi. What next?
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 a resident:
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 or on our National Administration of Tourism’s website.
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.
Another website called Citypassguide is also very useful with lots of insights and beautiful photos. However, it focuses more on high-end travelers, so beware of the possibly expensive choices they make for restaurants, hotels, cafes and such.
One more recommendation is Rustycompass written by Mark Bowyer, an Australian who has been living in Vietnam for more than 20 years.
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 totally by 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 (well, I mean, most of the time) but if you feel lazy googling stuff by yourself, just ask here. Beware of all the cynical Facebook personalities.
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 Hanoi Grapevine, 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 is the magazine for you. It’s run, written and edited by foreigners living in Vietnam.
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.
– Rock climbers click on VietClimb.
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:
Bonus: A lovely video by The New York Times in their “36-hours” travel series that I proudly helped out 😉