• Hanoi Transportation: Getting In, Getting Around and Getting Out

    Tran QuangMay 3, 2024
    581 views

    As anyone who comes to Hanoi can probably see, the majority of its traffic is made up of scooters. As of recently, there are approximately 6.5 million scooters in Hanoi (number update 2023)

    Taxis are the fastest and most convenient option, but also the most expensive and risky in terms of scams. Bikes can be rented from your Hanoi hostel for as little as a dollar per day, but are very dangerous for those not used to Hanoi’s chaotic traffic.

    Consider carefully where you want to go (such as what to do in Hanoi) and how you want to get there. The cheapest option may take up the most time, and spending more on transportation may actually save you time and hassle in the long run, as you can see more sights and experience less stress along the way.

    Transportation from Noi Bai Airport to Hanoi city center.

    If you’re flying to Hanoi, you’ll arrive at Noi Bai International Airport (IATA: HAN, ICAO: VVNB), which is about a 40-minute drive from the city center.

    To get to the city center from Noi Bai Airport, you can take the bus, minibus, taxi, or hotel airport transfer. Buses and minibuses are the cheapest options, but they take the longest time. Taxis are the most expensive option, but they will get you to the city center the fastest. However, be careful of touts and scammers when you arrive at the airport.

    The best way to arrange airport transfer is by booking a hotel transfer. Alternatively, you can use the Grab app (similar to Uber) to make your own booking. Payment can be made using a credit card or Vietnamese currency.

    You can also exchange money at the Hanoi airport or purchase a sim card.

    Transportation Around Hanoi

    Grab (like Uber)

    Uber used to operate in Vietnam as it does in Europe, the US, and the rest of the world. However, since early 2018, Grab has taken over Uber’s entire branch in Southeast Asia, making Uber unavailable in these countries.

    There are several reasons to use the Grab app to explore the city. First, the app displays the exact price you have to pay for your trip, so you don’t have to worry about a taxi driver charging you extra because you are a tourist. In most cases, it is also cheaper than a regular taxi.

    Another reason is that many taxi drivers in Vietnam do not speak English, making it difficult to explain where you want to go. With the Grab app, you only need to set your destination in the app. However, if you cannot find the exact place or are not entirely sure, this can be more challenging.

    Grab offers a motor taxi option that not only gets you to your destination faster during rush hour but also provides a unique experience. This is how most people travel in Vietnam.

    Grabcar in hanoi

    When deciding between a car or motorcycle taxi

    Consider that a car is better when traveling with several people or with a lot of luggage. A Grab motorcycle taxi can only take one person, so each person needs their own motor taxi when traveling with others. The motorcycle taxi is also the fastest option, except when it is not busy in the city, which usually only happens in the middle of the night.

    Grab motorbike in hanoi

    Xanh SM

    Xanh SM is a highly reputed Vietnamese application that allows users to conveniently order eco-friendly vehicles such as electric cars and bikes. This innovative platform offers incredibly competitive pricing, making it an attractive choice for those who aim to travel around the city in an economical manner. The standout feature of Xanh SM is its strong commitment to promoting environmental sustainability by providing users with the option to choose green vehicles for their travel needs. To access this service, all you need to do is download the Xanh SM application from the Apple store and install it on your device. Once the app is installed, you can start booking your eco-friendly rides right away.

    Xanh SM bike

    Taxis

    If you are unable to book a Grab, you can call a taxi. However, we do not recommend this because there is a risk of encountering money scams at times.

    Getting around Hanoi by taxi can be tricky. Not all taxis use their meters, and some drivers may try to charge you a flat rate instead. Even when the meter is used, it may not be accurate.

    To avoid being overcharged, it’s best to choose one of the reputable taxi companies in Hanoi, such as Hanoi Taxi, Mai Linh Taxi, or Taxi CP. You can even call one of these companies to request a taxi to your location.

    Taking a taxi in Hanoi can be challenging due to the language barrier. Vietnamese is a tonal language, which can make it difficult for English speakers to communicate with taxi drivers. To avoid this problem, show the driver a written address instead of trying to pronounce it.

    Finally, be aware that taxi drivers in Hanoi may not give back change. To avoid this, have smaller bills on hand to pay the exact fare.

    Walking

    Walking is quite limited if you only go around the old quarter. We recommend going with a local guide to see more hidden places and learn the stories behind them, which will make your walking tour more memorable.

    Block "old-quarter-tour" not found

    Bicycle

    Exploring Hanoi by bike can be challenging due to the absence of traffic rules and the high likelihood of accidents. Additionally, bicyclists must brave hot and humid weather between April and August. However, if you’re up for the challenge, many hotels in Hanoi offer bike rentals for as low as $1 a day.

    @PaulMcDougal

    Renting an electric bicycle or a regular bicycle in Hanoi is incredibly easy and convenient with this service. All you need to do is download the app. The fees are very affordable. I was able to rent an electric bicycle for 45 minutes for just 20,000 VND, and it was a fantastic experience.

    The rental electric bike in Hanoi
    To use it, you only need to download the App

    Cyclo

    Cyclo are bicycle rickshaws in Hanoi. They have a front cab for passengers and a driver behind. Cyclo cabs can fit two passengers and are great for short trips within Hanoi’s city center. A ride should cost around VND 100,000 (about $5) for an hour. Negotiate the price before getting on. Stick to the agreed price when you get off and tip the driver for their service. Have the correct change ready, as cyclo drivers don’t like giving change.

    Buses

    Hanoi has a local bus system with routes covering famous attractions such as Hoan Kiem Lake, The Old Quarter, Hanoi Train Station, Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum, and The Literature Temple. Standard tickets cost between VND 7,000 and VND 10,000, and can only be paid for in cash. It is recommended to carry smaller bills if you plan on traveling via bus.

    To get to the Old Quarter, you can take the following bus lines: 04, 14, 36 (to Hoan Kiem Lake), 03, 11, 22, 18, 34, 40 (to O Quan Chuong Gate), and 31 (to Dong Xuan Market). Avoid peak hours (6:30 AM – 9 AM and 5 PM – 7:30 PM).

    Getting Out of Hanoi

    Hanoi’s transport system caters to tourists who want to travel overland to other destinations in Vietnam. The capital is the main gateway to Ha Long Bay and the mountain town of Sapa. The following transport options provide overland links to these and other destinations in Vietnam.

    Train: The train station is located downtown at 120 Ð Le Duan. You can purchase tickets for trains that travel all the way south to Saigon or north to Sapa and past the border to China. Counter 2, to the left of the main entrance, sells tickets for southbound stations. To the right of the entrance, you can find a ticket office for tickets to Sapa (via Lao Cai), and Counter 13 for tickets to China. Make sure to buy tickets at least a day before the trip to ensure you get the kind of berth you want.

    • Travel by Rail: Read about our experience traveling from Hanoi to Hue on a Livitrans train, or find out more about train travel in Vietnam.

    Bus: 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 fares and schedules. As with the train, buy your tickets at least a day before you travel to ensure you get a seat.

    • Gia Lam Bus StationAddress: 9 Ngo Gia Kham, Long Bien, HanoiLocation: Google MapsDestinations: Serves northeast destinations, including Ha Long Bay, Lang Son, Haiphong, and Lao Cai/Sapa.
    • Luong Yen Bus StationAddress: 1 Nguyen Khoai, HanoiLocation: Google MapsDestinations: Hai Phong, Saigon, Hue, Da Nang, Nha Trang, among others.
    • Kim Ma Bus StationAddress: 1 Kim Ma, Dong Da, HanoiLocation: Google MapsDestinations: Serves northwestern Vietnam, including Dien Bien Phu and Hoa Binh.
    • My Dinh Bus StationAddress: 20 Pham Hung, My Dinh, Tu Liem, HanoiLocation: Google MapsDestinations: 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 NamAddress: Km 5, Duong Giai PhongLocation: Google MapsDestinations: Hue/Da Nang (first-class sleeper bus), Saigon, Da Lat, among others.

    Minibus/Tourist Bus: Tourist agencies in Hanoi can book you a ride on a tourist-style minibus heading to Ha Long Bay and other points in northern Vietnam. You can also book “open tour” buses through travel agencies like Sinh Tourist. These buses travel the length of Vietnam.

    FAQ for Hanoi Transportation

    What is the most common form of transportation in Hanoi?

    Scooters are the most common form of transportation in Hanoi. As of 2023, there are approximately 6.5 million scooters in the city.

    What is the best way to get from Noi Bai Airport to the city center?

    The best way to get from Noi Bai Airport to the city center is to book a hotel transfer or use the Grab app to book a ride. Buses and minibuses are the cheapest options, but they take the longest time. Taxis are the most expensive option, but they will get you to the city center the fastest. However, be careful of touts and scammers when you arrive at the airport.

    Is it safe to travel around Hanoi by bike?

    Exploring Hanoi by bike can be challenging due to the absence of traffic rules and the high likelihood of accidents. Additionally, bicyclists must brave hot and humid weather between April and August. However, if you’re up for the challenge, many hotels in Hanoi offer bike rentals for as low as $1 a day.

    What is Grab and should I use it?

    Grab is a ride-hailing app similar to Uber that is available in Hanoi. It can be a convenient and affordable option for getting around the city, but be aware that during peak hours, prices may surge. Additionally, some Grab drivers may not be able to speak English, so it’s best to have your destination written down in Vietnamese.

    Are there any other options for getting around Hanoi?

    Other transportation options in Hanoi include walking, cyclos (bicycle rickshaws), and local buses. Walking is best for exploring the Old Quarter, while cyclos are great for short trips within the city center. Local buses are a cheap option for getting around the city, but be aware that they can be crowded and slow.