Motocycle - King of the Road
Judging from the amount of motorcycles on the road in Hanoi, they must surely be the king of the road. At any one time, there are swamps of motorcycles on the roads especially the Old Quarter area, and crossing the roads (some of them do not have traffic lights) is an adventure in itself (see my warining section on how to cross road in Hanoi). Why are there so many motorcycles? Contrary to what you might think, this is not because the people of Hanoi cannot afford cars. According to my Vietnamese friends, the main reasons are because motorcycles are easier to move on the roads of Hanoi which are mostly quite narrow. Secondly, parking a car is a big problem in Hanoi as parking space is limited and very very expensive to the locals.
Recommend one suitcase and definitely bring some form of a light, small/medium backpack. That way you can carry your guide book, camera, water inside.
No point in bringing something too big, after all who wants to go walking or exploring carrying a bigger (and no doubt heavier) backpack?? Plus you'd be more inclined to fill it with junk! Wear hiking shoes. I'm talking about a light shoe type of hiking shoe, not the heavy/boot type! Also DEFINITELY recommend bringing a waterproof coat or jacket. Of coarse you could just buy one of the cheap, local polythene or plastic type of 'coats' which the Vietnamese wear. Although i must warn you; Westerners look completely ridiculous in them!
Don't Take Pics Without Permission
Ok the Hmong people are very shy and they don't want you taking pictures of them without asking first. The pictures that I did get of the people while I was there were of girls that I bought things from or who I had made friends with during my visit to Sapa or ones that I just happened to catch in a picture while I was snapping a picture of the landscape. So don't take pictures of the people without permission first. Its rude. Don't worry if you try without permission, the Hmong will turn away from you anyway.
Have a Bia Hoi
Not sure what to do at night?
take a seat on those low plastic stools and have a cheap and good bia hoi for only 1,500VND.
You can have a people watching session or talk to others sitting near you.
Order some crackers or peanuts to go with your bia hoi. You can throw the peanut shells on the floor .
CHEERS, Bottom Ups, Gan Bei or Yum Seng!
Zig-Zag goes the Bike
You can also move around Hanoi in a rented motocycle or you can flag down a motorbike . It is a convenient and fast mode of transport within the town of Hanoi. The motorbike can zig-zag its way in heavy traffic areas.