Climate: Humid subtropical
Currency: Dong (VND)
Official Language(s): Vietnamese
Before you Arrive
Most countries are required to obtain a visa to visit Vietnam. If you live in Southeast Asia you are exempt for 3-4 weeks.
Here is a list of requirements you must have:
1. A passport valid for 6 months at the time of departure
2. Sufficient funds
Vietnam has the Visa on Arrival (VOA) option which allows you to obtain a visa at the airport. Make sure to apply online first for the Vietnamese approval letter, without it you cannot get a visa.
Noi Bai International Airport is the biggest airport in northern Vietnam and is 45 km from the city center. There are three different ways to get to the city center from the airport; minibus, taxi and public transportation.
Taxi fare is charged by meter. The ride is about 30 mins and typically costs about 300,000 VND ($18 CAD).
The airport minibus costs 32,000 VND ($2 CAD) one way to the city center. Depending on where you want to go in Hanoi the price might be slightly higher. The minibus will only leave when it's full so you may need to wait awhile.
Public transportation is obviously the cheapest method. Buses 7 and 17 go to the city center every 15-20 mins from 5 am to 10 pm. The cost is 5,000 VND ($0.30 CAD) but takes about an hour. For the price the hour commute is worth it!
Buses, cyclos and taxis are the best way to get around in Hanoi. Cyclos are super cheap because you can bargain prices before you get on the bike. Also, there are so many cyclo drivers that want your money. Buses I found were better for longer rides as they are not seen very often. Taxis are more expensive and people usually only take them to and from the airport.
A lot of Vietnamese can speak a little bit of English but it's always nice to know some phrases in Vietnamese. Check out some of these phrases:
Hello- Xin Chao
Goodbye- Tam Biet
Thank you- Xin Cam on
What to See
Hanoi has a lot of great sites to see. There are a lot of places with so much history and importance to the people who live here. You need to visit some temples like Tran Quoc Pagoda, Ngoc Son Temple and Quan Thanh Temple.
Also visit Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Long Bien Bridge, Hoa Lo Prison and Old Quarter.
What to Eat & Drink
Vietnamese cuisine is just about everywhere in North America. A lot of people are very familiar with Vietnamese foods because they are so prevalent, which is great. Sometimes these foods can differ in the Western world so be sure to try them in their native home.
Must try Dishes:
Pho, Bahn Mi, Bun Cha, Banh Ran, Popiah, Cha Gio and so much more!
Where to Stay
The best area to stay in Hanoi is the Old Quarter. There is a lot going there with bars, night markets, restaurants and temples. Most of the affordable hostels are located in the Old Quarter and you can do a lot of walking in this area.
Ha Long Bay-- About 4 hrs east of Hanoi, Ha Long Bay is probably one of the most visited places in Vietnam and for good reason. Take a day or a week boat ride on the bay and check out some of the beautiful islands Vietnam has to offer.
Hue-- Located in central Vietnam, Hue encompasses the Imperial City. Hue is about a 12 hr drive from Hanoi.
Hoi An-- Hoi An is 15 hr drive from Hanoi. It is located in central Vietnam along the coast. Hoi An is a well preserved ancient town with colourful buildings and French colonial architecture.
Sa Pa-- Located in Northwest Vietnam, Sa Pa is most popular amongst backpackers who like to trek. They also have beautiful rice fields to explore.