This isn't so much a tip about using a motorcycle as advice about avoiding motorcycles safely. They are everywhere in Hanoi, if you want to cross the road, very very bravely put one foot in front of the other into the onslaught of oncoming bikes. Or if you aren't that brave, hide behind a local as they cross, the first time is definitely the worst, just don't make any sharp movements. :S
For getting around the city, it’s fun to take a motorbike taxi (Xe Om or hugging motorbike, you must hug the driver :p ). You can find them everywhere in the streets, a man with his motorbike. You can easily go and stop anywhere you want. Try your best to bargant, it’s about 2.000 vnd/km. Almost drivers can not speak well English, so just show him where you want to go on the map and bargant with your fingers hehe…
Remember to choose the driver with good and clean motorbike (SYM, Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki), ask them not driving too fast and don’t forget to wear hamlet or the police will stop you (the driver has the hamlets for you & him too).
It’s easy and fun, believe me!
Whilst trying to negotiate a ride back from the ethnology museum, I chanced upon Nguyen, a pleasant and friendly (disabled) rider with hanoi's answer to the tuk tuk in Bangkok.
Apart from taking the ride back to the old quarter, I engaged Nguyen for a half day trip to the Air Force museum the following day. I made 2 unplanned stops at the money changer and a silk shop along the way. Upon completion of the trip, I expected a request for a tip but to my surprise, none came. I gladly tipped him for the service.
I would highly recommend Nguyen to anyone who needs a ride around town, he speaks some English and can provide basic explanation for some of the cultures of locals.
Unfortunately Nguyen doesn’t check his email often but you can make arrangements via a local phone call at your hotel for 5000 dong. His mobile phone number is 0983076095
hotel > HCM Museum, HCM Mausoleum, One pillar Pagoda, HCM stilt house>temple of literature>Hanoi Hilton>hotel.
above are the itinerary...was it a ripped off??i dunno...
if he does ripped me off because i'm not local..well, that was his sin...
Avoid the taxis and the crowded pavements and hire a motorbike. You need to provide some ID (I usually leave my driving licence) to the hire company and indemnify them for the possible loss of the bike (usually set at USD800). The daily hire rate is about USD5-8 per day. Petrol is very cheap. Riding the bikes is childs play. However, many tourists are put off by roads that are full of motorbikes, bicycles, cyclos, pedestrians and hawkers. However, I've found that this chaotic state of affairs actually makes riding a motorbike safer. Because the roads are so congested no one can go very fast. Just take your time; keep your eyes fixed firmly in front; and don't make any sudden or unexpected movements and you'll be fine. Parking a motorbike is very easy. There are areas all over Hanoi attended by parking wardens who look after your bike for 3-5 Dong. That said don't leave any valuables and lock the bike if possible. Once you've enjoyed the freedom of a motorbike I guarantee that you'll never go back to taxis (and all those tedious negotiations about the fare).
Traffic jams are a plague in every big city, and Hanoi is no exception! Motorbikes are the most common vehicles on the streets here, and their number increased drastically in the last 10-15 years, taking over the bicycles; as wealth is growing, cars are beginning to replace the motorbikes; traffic congestion threatens to develop more and more.
Anyway! Riding as passenger on a bike is quite fun and interesting here (and if you like the smell of exhaust gases, it is the place to be! Haha); it is a bit faster than the cars, your driver sidles acrobatically in the traffic, you have a close view on the fellow commuters, hear really the traffic, and even are able to make some pictures.
There are 4 categories of taxi motorbikers in my classification:
--1 Men waiting for the tourists nearby tourists spots, and proposing their services; be prepared to demonstrate excellent bargaining skills (they propose fares higher than cabs! Example: ethnological museum to Old Quarter: 100.000 Dongs; end of bargaining: 60.000, still expensive).
--2 Women (quite few) waiting for the tourists nearby tourists spots, and proposing their services; be prepared to demonstrate excellent bargaining skills again.
--3 Men and women (very few), about everywhere, parked, or driving, waiting the customers call them; I do not know about prices.
--4 The fourth category is represented by quite nice looking young ladies who hook foreigners for a ride on their bike, and then to seventh heaven, probably; they operate in the area between the Opera and the southern side of Hoan Kiem Lake. I did not try to know how much the fare for that special destination was! They are quite few in Hanoi, compared to what I have seen in Ho Chi Min City 3 years ago.
The Vietnamese population thrives on riding motorbikes, and Hanoi is no exception to that rule. While visiting, tourists are privy to a constant stream of “motobike, motobike” as they walk down the street. So finding a ride around town is never difficult. It’s quite an experience to take one of these two-wheeled rides around town. It always feels a little like you’re taking your life into your own hands. But what a thrill! If you’re walking, take care as you cross the street because these bikes have the right of way. I recommend getting a birdseye view of the traffic to learn the ebb and flow of it all. It’s got it’s own kind of beauty.
I would recommend on foot, but if you want, motorbike taxis are all around to take you to sites of interests. It's one of the most common ways to get around. Bargain, it's probably around 5,000 (for locals) but you can get them for 10,000.
this is THE best way to go around Hanoi, if you're brave enough that is. Rent your own, don't hitch a ride with the cyclos. It only costs about $5 - $6 for the entire day. It's a great way to see the Old Quarter and immerse yourself with the locals. It also makes it easy for you to stop as you please to take photos.
Looking at the traffic it is not so difficult afterall riding a bike in Hanoi. It is a very easy way to get around this big city if you really want to see most of the city attractions in one day. You can rent a bike for USD5 for 24hours but they normally would take your passport as a guarantee.
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.
Not that long ago, traveling by bicycle was the way to go. Now, with the influx of millions of inexpensive Honda knock-offs from China, $500 gets you a new motorcycle! Everybody has them now.
These women were on their way to a wedding.
For a cheap thrill ride hop on the back of a moto-taxi and ride around town for around $1.
The picture confirms you that this sure is the city of Hanoi. Its where you will see a flood of motorbikes all around. If you dare, rent a motorbike and join the honking parade. I bet it'd be a fun experience.
If you wanna rent one, walk around the Old Quarter. When you spot tens of motorbikes lined up..that is where you can rent one.
Within the town centre you can easily ask people for a ride on their motorbike. This gives them an extra pocket money. For ca. 6000 DONG (US 0,40) you go everywhere whithin ca 4 KM on the backseat. Very fast and efficient. This service is called: SE HOMME, that´s what you must ask for.
Just like other areas of Vietnam, motorcycle is the way to go. Everyone is willing to give a ride to the "rich Westerner," so you never have to wander far until you find a willing driver. It is cheap, usually negotiated down to $1 or $2 per hour. These guys also know where the big tourist sights are so they may take you places you didn't know existed or hadn't planned to visit.