TRAVEL AGENTS & TOURS
There are plenty of Travel Agents in Hanoi to choose from.
There is no need to book before you come, and you also save money by booking on arrival.
WORD OF WARNING......................
Get prices from 2 or 3 agencies, prices do vary.
I learnt this the hard way, But at least I didn't pay anywhere near as much as another couple I met on the Tour though!.............
They paid $40 more each for the same tour that I did.................
as you can imagine, they were not happy one little bit!!!
Also, just because you book with a certain Travel agent, doesn't mean that you will go with that company.
It seems like if they haven't many people booked for the Tour, then you get combined with another company, and end up on a FULL BUS.
One tour I did, was over full, we were packed in like sardines!
I should think in "High Season", it would be a different matter.
- Road Trip
the old switch-a-roo
If you want to take a taxi from the airport to any destination in Hanoi there is a flat rate of 10 US dollars or 160,000 VND. Now the danger part. The taxi drive brought me to the right hotel, but pulled up to the side exit (being that it was the first time at the hotel I didn't realize this right away. I tried to pay him in US dollars and he told me "no", "only dong". I protested and told we agreed on dollars and that's what he was going to get. He then pulled out a card which told me that he only took VND and that the fee was 800,000. I'm sure there some people who can't do the 16,000 to one dollar math in their head, but I knew this was *** as soon as told me he wouldn't take US dollars. Long story short, I sent my girlfriend into the hotel to call the police and informed the driver that we would settle this with the police and as soon as she went in he got scared and took the 10 dollars.
TIP- don't get ripped off by the airport taxi.
In Hanoi, the motorbikes overwhelm you with their sheer numbers. They are the kings of the road and it is the cars that need to “tread” cautiously among them. For the young men taking their girls out, the bikes were obviously ideal for hugging in public.
Crossing a busy road, cutting through a seemingly endless stream of bikes is hair-raising as the bikes weave around you at speed.
At this T- junction (pic), I stood awhile and watched in amazement as seasoned Hanoi bikers & cyclists cut across oncoming traffic of other bikes and bicycles with serene ease. Hardly stopping & hardly looking left or right, it was as if their sixth sense could avoid near certain collisions.
- Family Travel
The Brothel Quarter
When visiting Titanic Bar or Phuc Tan Bar near Song Ho River, be careful! The area is one of the poorest of Hanoi and is definitely not safe! The two bars are still worth visiting and very popular by Westerners living in Hanoi. You should especially be careful when you walk around in the area - every second person will try to get you into one of the brothels near there. Best to come by taxi or motobike and leave the place the same way. By the way, during daytime, Phuc Tan is well worth a visit if you want to get an impression of the less known parts of the city. Although poor and pretty run-down, it's interesting for those who do not have the chance to visit the surroundings of Hanoi.
Kids, careful when crossing over !
Yes, traffic can be dangerous in Hanoi, you may see lots of cars and bicycles in the pictures of this page; drivers are usually very careful, but they act as if you were a local, knowing the (unknown to Western people) hidden and not written rules of traffic here; even in small streets were you do not expect any vehicle, there may suddenly appear a crowd of bicycles, and best is to give way; like in many places the foot goer is the one who is the least considered! Best thing to do is to try to apply western rules very carefully (ah, right hand driving here, so look left first when crossing a street), and be wise; a good thing is to follow closely a local who knows the tricks to get across a traffic jam. Another way to avoid lots of traffic dangers is to go from one place to another by motorbike-taxi or regular taxi, but you will miss a lot of the hectic city life!
- Arts and Culture
At Tamcoc - Your head and your pocket
While enjoying Tam Coc, the boatman or boatwoman can start off very friendly.
1) Beware of your head when going under the caves. It is dark and can get very close especially if your boat person want to go close to the side to avoid other boats.
Get off like every other tourist to walk over rather than stay with the boat to go under the low bridge. Even if your boatperson challenge you.
2) Someone else is likely to climb on board in complicity with the boatperson to sell you all kinds of souvenir. Of course, they are priced more than the market value.
Do not buy unless you have some dongs to unload and want to contribute to the local economy.
Also the boatperson will try to get a tip from you after the end of the boat journey. And the friendly face will turn angry when you say that you have no extra to give.
Overall, best to not to be too friendly. Just enjoy the view and taking of photography.
Walking across the road - motorcycles beware
There are so many motorcycles swishing down the road, sometimes eight in a row.
When crossing the road, the golden rule is do be predicatable. The motorcyclists have learnt to avoid hitting moving pedestrians. So expect them to see you and avoid you.
WHen you cross, go ahead steadily, do not stop suddenly or move backwards unpredictably. There is space in front of you or behind you for the motorcyclist to pass you.
Watch how the locals do it. Then follow them. If you cannot handle it, just hold the hand of a local and take brave steps. After awhile you will get used to it. Remember this way of road crossing may not work in other countries.
Small little green taxis
Watch out for cheats when you take one of those small little green taxis.
We took two of them (they work hand in hand) and the trip from Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum to Museum of Enthnology costs us VND 70,000 per car, instead of VND35,000.
On the steering, beside the signal indicator, there is a hidden button that the driver manually triggers every few seconds. Whenever he clicks it, the meter jumps.
So if you guys notice any clicking sound and that affects the meter, get that bugger to stop the car immediately and get off!.
Flag down white color metered taxis. They're from big companies and usually more honest (I never had problems whenever I took these). One driver even took us the shortest way possible while we were on our way back to hotel. I tipped him well.
- Road Trip
Old Quarter Traffic in Hanoi
The dreaded Honda Dream has become the bane of the Old Quarter. The footpaths are clogged with these parked bikes often forcing pedestrians on to the road. It is really dangerous.
My wife and I were walking on the edge of the road behind an old lady when a bike hit my wife who was third in the line. Luckily she was not hurt too badly but the worst part was having to run away from the scene as all the shop owners were telling us we would be held responsible because we were Westerners.
- Budget Travel
I returned from Halong Bay to North Hotel 1 and found that half of my things were out of the backpack and the receptionist lifted plastic bags asking if they were mine. I was really annoyed and angry, too, and wondered what had happened. It was not possible that those bags would have fell out of my backpack because I had tightened it carefully, so somebody must have been through my things. I had already suspected it earlier, but wasn't sure so I didn't say anything. I just knew that some things in my room weren't in the places I had left them. In my room I unpacked my backpack to see if something was missing and realised that my film rolls were gone. All the photos I had taken during my holiday! The most valuable things for me and then I just couldn't control my temper. I rushed downstairs and screamed to the poor girl (who probably didn't understand what I was saying, because her English was very poor) and asked where my film rolls were. First she lifted the blue suede bag where they had been to ask if it was mine and I said it was. It was empty so I asked where the film rolls were and she obviously didn't understand what I meant but kept looking and finally found the plastic bag with my film rolls and smiled broadly when giving them to me. I wasn't amused at all, took the bag and went back to my room. Luckily all the rolls were there. I think that I should have left the hotel and get a room in another one, but I was too lazy to do it. I stayed three more nights there and after that nobody touched any of my things. Everything was exactly in the place where I left it when I went for a walk.
- Women's Travel
- Hiking and Walking
Don't dash across the road
It will be scary and a culture shock to cross the road of Hanoi as there may not be any traffic lights found on those busy streets.
Even if there is a traffic light no motorist really obeys them (except at government buildings areas).
Please be very careful not to dash across the road.
Take the 1st baby step by placing one of your feet off the pavement and onto the road. Just cross and the motorist will avoid you. Do not hesitate or take a step back. All the motorist are very skillful and will horn at you.
The best way to cross the road is to follow behind the locals.
The cars are left hand drive.
Cheated Riding A Cyclo
If you want an experience of a cyclo ride in the Hanoi's Old Quarter, prepare to bargain. Also, have some small bank notes in your pocket. Once we bargained down to 30.000 Dong for a ride, we ended up paying 40.000 Dong cos he said he did not have any change! So tricky!
- Budget Travel
Traffic lights, Accidents and Road Crossing
Traffic is horrendous in Hanoi. Traffic lights are a rare sight and there are no designated lanes for pedestrians and motor-cyclists. Everyone uses the same road. Accidents are a common sight. You will have to beware of how you cross the road. Once you have done it a couple of times (and survived!), you will get the hang out of it and will be able to cross like any other locals.
Here's how you should cross a road in Hanoi
Crossing on your own
1. Look right, left, right, left (pray a little, he..he..he..) and cross.
2. While you are crossing and suddenly a motorbike turn towards your direction, you need to keep pace going forward and not turn and return backwards. Reason is that the motor-cyclists in Hanoi are "trained" in such a way that they know you are crossing over to other side of the road, and will avoid knocking you. If you turn to return backwards, they will be confused and an accident will happen.
The tag along method.
If you are so confused and afraid on how to cross the road or the round-about, follow and tag along a local who is crossing the road. Follow as closely as possible and you will be fine.
* do not hold hands when crossing the road
- Family Travel
Food and Water Hygiene
While at Hanoi, try to drink mineral water as the local water may not be suitable for tourists. One of the attractions in Hanoi is to try the many variety and delicious local street food, but do take note that the hygiene standard is not too high and bring some medication just in case. As for me, I managed to survive the local food without much problems, in fact I enjoyed them as they are delicious and cheap :)
- Family Travel
- Food and Dining
ENGLISH IS NOT SPOKEN EVERYWHERE
This is not any danger, but a word of warning: I went to a restaurant to have dinner and the waitress spoke only a few words of English and there must have been a misunderstanding between us as I ended up having two different meals! Luckily they were not very big ones, so I could easily finish both of them. I had asked the waitress if the noodle portions included the meat as well but obviously she didn't understand what I meant. Never mind. I ended up having two different meals, which had chicken in each! The staff must have thought that no wonder that Westerners are so fat if they eat that much always! It was still cheap and the service was very good. The waitress was very friendly and taken by this foreign customer! Both of the meals were most delicious as well, so I really enjoyed them very much.
- Food and Dining
- Hiking and Walking
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