Transportation matters, Hanoi
Rikshaws are nice to look at and it is a slow and agreable means of transportation, but the drivers! To negociate the price can drive you crazy, they all want to rip off the clueless tourists. About 10.000 DONG should bring you everywhere in the towns centre.
Fun Alternatives: Take a motorbike by asking SE HOMME? They take you on the back of theirs and drive you around, great fun!
If it’s necessary taking a taxi cab, please beware of ‘faster-than-usual’ meter rates. So fast, and so incredibly overpriced (again -- the can making money out of every kind of this thing)!! I recommend riding a Cyclo (tricycle taxi) for short trips, and for longer trips maybe motorbike taxi is the best choice and don’t forget to ask ‘HOW MUCH?’ before you jump on.
For traveling to the airport, there’re fixed-rated taxis available at Sinh Café or just ask your hotel’s front desk for around 10 USD but way more comfortable.
Unique Suggestions: If possible get a Vietnamese friend with you.
Fun Alternatives: Cyclo for short trips and motorbike taxis for longer trips.
Twice I was told by the travel agents that my reentry to Vietnam ( after a visit to Cambodia or Laos) would be facilitated by them. Only 20 usd and I got some official looking paper, and was told that if I show this paper to the viet consulate, they would issue a visa free of charge. Both times, I showed the paper to the consulate, they were not impressed and the "re entry" visa was just another tourist visa and I was charged as such.
Unique Suggestions: First of all to know that re entry permits as such do not exist and if they do, are not necessary for tourists, who have to get a new visa each time you enter Vietnam. Dont be fooled by their making telephone calls on your behalf and the resultant official looking paper.
I really wish Vietnam would soon have a Visa on Arrival like Laos and Cambodia which would make entries into the country far easier
Fun Alternatives: Vietnam does issue a multiple entry visa, but the cost varies. If you could plan an itinerary such that you could avoid re entry, do that, but Vietnam Airlines being the best choice in the region, you may have to transit, some times more than the airports at HCMC or Hanoi. There also seems to be a transit visa eventhough I have never had it.
I took 'tourist' bus from Vientiane to Hanoi and apparently it stopped somewhere out of the city about 16km.
There was no other means of transportation to reach the city except motorcycle. On the way to the center, suddenly the driver asked for VD 100.000 from the initial agreement VD 20.000!!!
Unique Suggestions: Better to check where the bus will stop or just take a meter taxi to the center
When you are taking taxi in Hanoi be very careful, if you don't speak Vietnamese. There was once I wanted to go to a Pub. I wave for taxi and out of no where the taxi is right infront of you. Before I board the taxi I ask the taxi man. " Do you understand English?" Few taxi I stop don't speak English so I did not hire them but the last one driven by a very young man, I think 19 years of age, I ask him do you understand English, he said Yes, second question do you know the Pub that I want to go, he said yes again. So I hire the taxi, but a 20 miniutes he drove me to a Pub which is not the one. I told him this is wrong Pub, do you do the Pub, he said yes again, after about several Pub hopping we finally arrived at the Pub I want to go but the taxi bill was US25 dollars that I refused to pay unless he rebate for the wrong journey he took. But this young man wanted to pick a fight, if I don't pay. I have no choice but to ask him to wait and I went into the Pub where the manager understand English, I told the manager the situation. After some unpleasant argument, the taxi finally agree to accept US$10. So be careful when you stop a taxi. Check with them how much it will cost, if they understand English. Becasue like this young taxi man, he only understand one word of English "Yes"
Unique Suggestions: Always ask the price for your designation, if you are alone or not with a local. Or else you will meet a taxi man that can understand "Yes"
Fun Alternatives: Besides travel by taxi, you can hire motorcycle taxi which is very convenience and fast. If you know how to ride a bike, you too can rent a bike but bear in mind, no insurance all at you own risk.
being ripped off multiple times is the spoiler in this vietnam trip.. it's so rampant esp in transportation.. sighs. the taxi meters are so not reliable - 1 of which we were on went at a rate of 1000doug per 5 seconds! we got off immediately! other than that there were the cyclos - once, we agreed on 30000duog for 2, but at the end, he demanded 30000x2!!! another time we got on one cyclo and agreed on 15000duog per person. when we got off, the driver insisted he meant 115000 duog. we were so livid that we quarrelled with them and said either to take the 15000duog or leave it. i really dunno how we can avoid all these.. in the end we ended up so wary and tired.
You will be harrased beyond belief by the cyclo drivers.
Having said that, its a fun way (and not too expensive) to see the city, especially at night
Remember to bargin the price though if you do use one.
If arriving at Noi Bai International Airport and take a taxi, be prepared. In some instances, it matters not where you tell the taxi driver the address of your hotel in the old city! He will still take you to where he wants you to go! Obviously on commission, its apparently one of the major problems for people first arriving in Vietnam/Hanoi. Unless you have paid in advance, its unlikely to matter that much - hotels are fairly similar throughout the old city. Cost will be an issue (in effect you will end up paying, through the rates charged, the commission) but compare that with your 'target' hotel and decide.
Unique Suggestions: The old city is not that big so you may find that your original destination is only a couple of minutes walk away (as long as you don;t have too much luggage).
Fun Alternatives: Not all taxi drivers do this! And if you have no spcific destination in mind and are arriving 'cold', can be quite useful for taxi driver to turf you up at a hotel that will not break the bank anyway!
I felt into the traps 3 times, even I am extremely careful:
1. Took a taxi from one of the museum to the city, should cost around 40,000 Dong. The meter jumps so fast that I ended up paying about 5 times more. BUT, this is not the end of it. After I tried to consult the driver the price per kilometer and failure to do so, my wife passed me two 100,000 notes (green) and I gave it straight to the driver. He then grapped my arm and tried not to let me get off the car and showed me two 10,000 notes(red), suggesting I had paid him insufficient amount. God, what a bloody city it was.
2. Took a taxi from airport hotel to airport. After my previous experience, I am become even more caution. Booked a taxi from Vietnam Airline, checked the price, even check it again at the hotel front desk (as the driver didn't speak much English) to avoid misunderstanding. When we arrived at the airport, this guy suddenly spoke in English, telling me that the agreed fare was double what we agreed, because it is a peak time of the day and it would take him a much longer time to the City.............oh, my business......right.
3. Went to a local restaurant, didn't ask the price and ordered 4 bowls of noodles, costed over US$20 each.......................same size of bowl of noodles, I was charged less than US$1.......what a retard I was not to ask the price from the first time.
When you look at the Vietnam Air (VN) schedule you will be glad to find flights between Ho Chi Minh (SGN) & Hanoi (HAN) every two hours, sometimes every hour. Unfortunately, our 20:00 HAN-SGN flight was cancelled and merged with the next flight (ATD 21:59) and we were just given a coupon to have a limited meal and a drink in the airport snack bar.
Actually the flight was announced to be delayed twice before we realized that we are going to be merged with the next flight.
It was much later did we learned from friends that VN always do that if they do not have a full flight.
Unique Suggestions: Prepare for the worst and hope you do not miss your connection (if any).
To go around the town:
-When u make a decision take a moto ( the person will drive u ),you must ask for the price from where you are to where u want to go in order not get CHEAT THE COST .
-If you travel under 5 then take a taxi ,save a lot of money then take a moto by individual.
-Don't feel bad when you are sitting in small boat to get inside the cave .The tours already include this cost .If u want to give some small amount money away for the boat worker ( who bring you to inside the cave ) then give some ,don't let other see it ,they will be jelous and getting fight who get a nice guess ! What's a mess .
Here is one of office tour in Hai Phong (if u fly direct to this city) ,contact them to rent a car or boat or buy ticket for tour go Ha Long bay .Please don't hire a car by yourself if u don't know how negotiation ,u will get CHEAT for the price !
Ocean tour .
20 Le Dai Hanh str.
Hai Phong city .
phone:822.766 or 821.115
Taking a cyclo in the city is a good fun. However, make sure you make the price as well as the destinations very clear (show the map if necessary) before you get on. The drivers like to calculate by 'hours' while you'd mean to take it by 'distance'. They are generally friendly but communication seems to be a problem.
Sometimes they seem to agree with your bargain very easily but once you arrive, they start to negotiate again. It frustrated me a couple of times.
Small cabs' meters run faster than you blink. Better go for the humble cyclos --- for a mere 10,000 VND you can practically scour the nooks and crannies of old Hanoi at a much slower, leisurely pace. Just arm yourself with some bargaining skills at the start.
Heading straight to the information desk in the arrivals hall I asked the guy there what my travel options were to get to my downtown hotel. He said, 'only by taxi costing $30 and this man beside me will take you now'. I passed on his generous offer and headed towards the outside followed by the taxi driver who discounted the price with every step I took. Across the road outside the terminal there are two taxi companies who wil fight for your business(and luggage)and get you downtown for $15.
Unique Suggestions: On exiting baggage claim hold on to your luggage and head outside to the taxi stands unless you can strike a better deal than $15 en route.
Fun Alternatives: My understanding is that Vietnam Airlines operate a minibus service from close to their downtown office to the airport for $2 but you may need to check timetables.