Updated: Just realised I had to update this tip, which was written some years ago. After my last trip to Hanoi in Dec 2006, I must say that NOOO... you don't have to go searching for cyclos anymore... they're EVERYWHERE! And it can get very annoying when they cycle along with you as you're walking along the roads... every street corner there'll be at least one or two and they'll even holler at you from across the street "Woo-oo, woo-oo!" "Hello hello? Hello miss!!! Missss??!!! Cyclo ride??? One hour???" *sigh*
Original tip: Like the "beca" or trishaw in Penang, and the tuk tuk in Thailand, these cyclos are a must ride in Hanoi! They're not available in all street corners though, you do have to walk around a bit and come upon some of them by chance... they're not more expensive than the motorcycle taxis so try one sometime!
The Melia Hanoi hotel have a few of their own cyclos too, but these guys I found outside the Sofitel Metropole Hotel
15 Ngo Quyen Street, Hanoi.. which is also where the Malaysia Airlines office is.
Cyclo is a cheap transportation around Hanoi. It is fantastic of watching the crowd and the chaotic traffic.
When we are tired of walking we catch cyclo. Make sure you know where you want to go. Negotiate with the price before you hop on. Don't bargain to hard remember they have low income and they work hard, physically probably harder than you.
Around the Old Quarter we usually pay the cyclo driver around $2 to $3. They will accept US dollar.
Cyclos in Hanoi are now mainly for tourists, although many locals do still use them from time to time. The riders ring their bells constatly trying to attract attention, especially near tourist attractions.
Hanoi cyclos are apparently known to be wider than those in other parts of Vietnam so can accommodate 2 people but we took pity on the riders and took one each on the couple of times we used them: after all we are big women and it is very hot!
It is important to negotiate the price before setting out and to have the correct money as they often don't seem to have change.
It is also a good idea to place your life in the hands of a higher power as the ride can be nerve wracking: you are out there in front just inches away from the traffic: bikes, motor bikes, cars and trucks.
That said, it is a wonderful way to see things in style, and at a human pace rather than whizzing past in taxis.
Unlike the cyclos in Ho Chi Minh City, the cyclos here will actually take you to where you want to go and only of you’re interested. Otherwise, they will leave you alone.
This ride across town cost us 16,000VND ($1US). We sat and watched as traffic swerved to avoid us. Great fun!
Prepeare yourself. You must know how much is a fair price, and you must be confident. NEVER ask them how much it will cost. You will tell them. There is an oversupply of cyclo drivers, so you're in the driver's seat, so to speak. Pay by the hour: $2 (30K dong, it should be 15K, but that's another story). Be prepared to walk away if they don't accept this price. Feel free to walk to another cyclo driver. Carry exact change, otherwise the cyclo ride will cost exectly 50,000 dong, the minimum size bill you typically have in your pocket. They never have change after the ride. Also, any time you have to renegotiate, you will lose. They will use that to their advantage. Avoid problems by paying up front, and withholding the tip until the end.
Tell them in advance how long you want to travel, and structure the deal to your benefit. Let's say it's 1PM, you could say something like "I want a tour of the Old Quarter, and I want to be be back here in 2 hours. Here's 30,000 dong now (show it to them), and I'll give you a 10,000 dong tip IF I like the tour AND you have me back here by 3PM, not one minute late. Do you understand? Here's a map, can you show me where we will go? I want to make sure we see everything I want to see." Make it clear they've already been paid, and that you only pay the tip if you're VERY happy.
Near the end of your ride, remind the driver of when you have to be back, and how his tip is tied to him returning you on time. 9 times out of 10 you'll probably be quite happy and everything went according to schedule. In that case, you promised them a 10,000 dong tip, give them 15,000 dong and everything will end on a great note. Just don't let them turn the tables and tell you how much it is. If you're going to pay a lot for a cyclo ride, make sure you feel good about doing so, and make sure you get a good ride (and not taken for one).
Good luck. I don't take cyclos anymore, I prefer to walk, it's less of a hassle. Or buy a bicycle, you can get 1 for 15 hours of cyclo time ;-)
Cyclo is not a type of transport I want to use around in Vietnam. The city traffic is too dangerous for those bicycle it took me awhile before I've tried it
While we were in Hanoi I've noticed is less traffic than Ho chi minh and there were many of empty cyclo waiting for passengers. I approach one of the cyclo and ask how much.
He said 250.000 Dong for two of us while it was just a short distance ride to the Mausoleum. I start haggle and he said no, so, we walk away and he yell after us. We got our ride for 50.000 Dong
Just as in all other cities in Asia, cyclos (also called trishaws) are widely available in Hanoi to give tourists rides around the city. There is no doubt that they are a nice relaxed way to see a city. The thing that I generally don't like about them is that invariably the guys pedeling them are quite elderly, making me feel guilty, as if my grandfather were pedeling me around town. Also, as in the case of the guy shown in the photo, often they speak very poor English, making them not particularly effective tour guides. Definitely much safer than hopping on the back of some random guy's motorcycle though (amazingly tourists do this all the time).
It can be used for short distance trips especially after your shopping adventure. The damage should be USD 1 or less if you bargain. If not, the cost will be doubled or tripled. In addition, there are many to choose as they will flocked to you. Try to take those who are cycling around instead of those who are staying out in a spot. Pay only when you reached your destination!!
It¡¦s very excing to get around Hanoi by cyclo. I recommend you hiring cyclo through tourist agents since you will make sure where they take you and how much you will have to pay.
If you want to take it by yourself be sure that you are good at bargaining ƒº Just tell them the places you want to go and bargant, jump on it and let the tour begin!
The most popular Cyclo provider is from Sans Souci Tourist Company or you can get any cyclo you meet in the old streets.
Price: Around 50.000 VND (3 usd) for 2 hours trip to get along old streets.
Very educational experience to first-timer, like me. Cyklodriver with understandable english is worth of gold: he knows everything about everything - and more. Only problem is to find the common language, because most of them speaks as fluet english as I speak vietnamese! Other only problem is money: agree the price always before trip. Otherwise they can demand enermous amount of money! Its cheaper to rent driver to all day than only one hour.
On every corner are cylco owners who try to get you to hire them for an hour or two. They charge 200,000 dong an hour and dont worry if the two of you cant fit in the one carriage as they always have a friend on stand by waiting to assist. If you do decide to take a ride please be firm and make sure you know how long you want to go for . It is a very relaxing way to see the city.
The best way to have sightseeing in Hanoi, especially in Old Quarter, is to hail a cyclo. You can pay by trip or hourly. The cost is about 30000VND per hour for 1 person or 40000VND per hour for 2 persons. It's quite worth as you can enjoy sitting and taking picture along the 36 streets in Old Quarter.
For trips outside of the Old Quarter but inside the city itself cyclos were my favorite form of transportation. The Cyclos in Hanoi are wider than the Saigon version so two fit Westerns can usually cram into one…although they are pretty inexpensive so you can easily hire one for yourself.
Cyclos are amazing contraptions where you are sitting IN FRONT of the driver who is on a bicycle behind you so you really feel part of the crazy street traffic without the vulnerable feeling of being on the back of a motorbike (also available). The breeze often kept you cooler than in taxis (Vietnamese have an aversion to using AC in cars they think it takes too much gas)
When taking a cyclo make sure you agree on a price BEFORE you get on and write it down. If your putting two people in one cyclo make sure you get the price for both people…or you will get to your destination and find the price has doubled. I found it easier to hire the cyclos by the day or by the hour then by the trip. Most of the sights in Hanoi don’t take a lot of time so having the drive wait while your in the museum.
From a letter home
It's not quite lunchtime so we are off for another one of Mr. Toad’s wild rides on a cyclo to see more of Hanoi. There is just no way to describe the traffic here. We actually saw our first red light this morning and we almost took a picture since it is so rare. Imagine thousands and thousands and thousands of bikes and motorcycles on the roads with no stops signs or apparent rules. When you hit an intersection, everyone just keeps on going. On a 4 way intersection on a one or two lane road you may have 100 motorcycles in the intersection at once...all going different directions...about 50% coming straight at you. I really enjoy being on the cyclo (where you sit in FRONT of the driver in a buggy) and are part of it all.
We took one cyclo trip while in Vietnam -- from the Old Quarter to Apocalypse Now late one evening. It cost about $2, but it took almost 30 minutes with our drivers pedaling like mad. We had two cyclos and we talked the drivers into racing... it was entertaining, but don't expect this to be your primary means of transportation.
Eventhough I mentioned in the warning section that I got cheated by a tricky cyclo guy, I still encourage you to take a ride around the town. Some will offer you a trip around the town for 15-30 mins. We paid about 40.000 Dong. Anyway, you can practice your bargaining skill.