Biker is a very strenuous job in Hanoi!
During the day, walking in the streets, you may see lots of these guys having a rest on their bike! The pictures here demonstrate following: if these guys are able to sleep on their narrow bike, they must be very dexterous in the traffic! So do not be scared when taking that kind of transportation, guys sleeping on their bikes must be good at driving. But all guys sleeping on their bikes are not taxis, so do not wake them up for a ride, you never know in what mood they wake up. . . . . Ah! The guy on the third picture is a goods transporter, he has no space on his vehicle. . . . and the biker on the fourth picture just woke up
Treking to Nearby Villages
When in Sapa, you can't leave without spending at least a day trip trekking to one of the nearby villages. Alot of the hotels in Sapa or Hanoi have package deals where they provide a tour guide to take you into Mt. Fansipan and you trek along the many rice terraces to nearby Hmong villages. This was my favorite part of my trip to Vietnam. The views of the landscape that you see are breaktaking. If you are in good health, I definitely recommend doing this. Make sure if you do this that you wear a good pair of hiking shoes that you don't mind getting muddy and a pair of pants that you don't mind getting dirty because you will get quite muddy and dirty on this hike trying to manipulate the mountainside. A walking stick is a must. It will help you get out of a lot of sticky situations and will help you maintain your balance if you feel like you are going to fall. Don't worry, little girls on the hike will sell you a bamboo stick for $1 that works quite well as a walking stick.
Trang Tien Shopping Centre
If you wish to avoid the heat, head to Trang Tien Shopping Centre.
They have two banks on level 1 where you can get good rates for changing USD to Dong. The bank on the right gives you the exact amount while the bank on the left round it down.
You can find clothings, shops, costmetics and supermaket in this shopping complex.
Prices are on the high side but you can just do some window shopping and enjoy the aircon.
The most exciting traffic in the world...
Visitors of Hanoi have plenty of possibilities to get around in the city. Most of them have some advantages, but be careful with some!
1. Bus - Hanoi has a pretty good bus system that gets you almost everywhere for an incredibly cheap price (2500 VND, i.e. 0,15$) per ride. However, there are several drawbacks. First, buses are literally always overcrowded. When I'm talking about overcrowded, I don't mean the European or American way of overcrowdedness. I mean the Asian way, and believe me, that's not the most convenient thing... Second, there is no timetable - buses run frequently, but sometimes you have to wait quite long (just to find that your bus is completely overcrowded and it's almost impossible to get in!). Third, if you don't know Hanoi well, it is rather hard to find out where and when to get out of the bus. Bus stops don't have a name and are hardly visible in the hustling and bustling on the sidewalks. For those with a lot of time and the sense for some adventure, going by bus is a good idea.
2. motorbike - The first experience in Hanoi is some Vietnamese man shouting "Motobai?" at you. Just shake your head if you don't want to drive with him. If you want to go with him, tell him the adress (be sure about the correct pronunciation, or it will be impossible for him to find the place) and start bargaining. In any case, you'll pay much more than the average Vietnamese and you'll still think "How incredibly cheap this is!". A good price can be reached only through good bargaining skills - and these have to be developed! Try 5000VND for a short ride and 10000VND for a long ride. DON'T pay with dollars - you will definitely be ripped off! If the drivers don't agree with your price idea (and they certainly won't), just walk away - this will quickly change their minds... Pay with small money as most drivers don't have enough change for anything bigger than 10000 VND.
A motorbike taxi is called Xe Om (pronounce Se owm) and can be found easily everywhere. Late at night, it's more difficult and prices double.
Fantastic service in a wonderful location.
I came across this place while trapsing around the old quarter, got talking to the owner, Matt Law. The freshly squeezed juices and great coffee kept me there for a while and returning often during my stay in Hanoi. The service is fantastic (many of the staff are graduates from KOTO) and there is even free wifi. The place is relaxed during the day and becomes very busy at night with a mixture of travellers and expats. I was dying for a good burger and the freshly made burgers with homemade bread are excellent, as are the potato wedges.