Getting to Hanoi:
Whether you are backpacker on a budget or the annual leave adventurer, the I would seriously consider flying within Vietnam. Cheap flights can be purchased with either Jetstar and/or Vietnam Jet. The time and comfort cannot be matched and you will often find there really is not much of a difference between transportation ticket prices. For instance a flight from Danang to Hanoi with Jetstar was only $35 booked 2 days prior to departure.
From the airport you have a few options to get into the city/ old quarter;
- The local bus- despite what the internet may tell you, you must exit the arrival gate and head to your left. Here you will see a bunch of older looking buses that head to depots near enough to the old quarter and surrounds. If hearing to the old quarter you want bus #17 and this should cost no more then 7,000 VND. From the destination you can walk or catching any of the dodgy taxis or motorbikes offering you rides to your hotel/hostel.
Bus #7 will take you closer to the West Lakes area of Tay Ho but I am not personally exactly sure as to where this drops you. This bus is slightly cheaper at around 5,000 VND. The local buses run from 5am-10pm.
- Shuttle bus- From the arrival gate head to your right. These buses are mini van type vehicles which drop you around the same area as the local buses and cost 40,000 VND.
- Taxis- Taxis are much more higher from the airport and in Hanoi in general. You will expect to pay anywhere from 350,000 VND but be weary of the meter as many of the taxis are dodgy and you can/ Will be scammed. Also expect to pay a bit more if you require more then 1 stop.
For returning to the airport I would definitely recommend contacting Mai Linh on and pre ordering a taxi. They charge 220,000 VND from Tay Ho with no hassles upon taking payment. The perfect way to end your trip stress free.
I was fortunate enough to stay with some buddies in Tay ho but I would definitely recommend Hanoi Backpackers. We spent a lot of I time there chilling out, partying and eating as the food is phenomenal and super cheap. The staff are friendly and helpful and the location is greatly accessible to all you need to Hanoi.
When in Hanoi you must try Bun Bo Num Bo. This is a divine noodle dish with beef, crispy garlic with beans and greens. It costs only 55,000 VND and can be found at the below address.
If in Tay Ho you must eat the TET cafe for an amazing brunch along with El gaucho. Both of these places are more expensive but boast delicious meals rich in flavour. At El Gaucho you get a free appetiser of bread, with roasted garlic, garlic butter and a salsa thing. The burgers are close to some of the best burgers I have EVER had. Burgers range from 320-390 000 VND.
For a good start to your night head to Ta Hien street, near Hanoi and old Quarter Backpackers with it’s many Bia Hoi’s for 5,000 and delicious cheap eats you cannot go wrong.
Things to do:
In Hanoi itself there is not too much to do but chill out and explore at your leisure. That being said cruising around the old quarter can be interesting particularly if you need/ want to do some shopping.
The Temple of Literature is pretty and nice to stroll though and costs 20,000 VND.
The Old Prison – Hoa Loam – is interesting and worth a visit. Like any monument with a past it can be quite overwhelming and confronting. This too costs 20,000 and 10,000 for students.
The Water Puppet Shows cost 100,000 and are super weird, interesting and entertaining all at the same time. It’s worth going at least once for a puppetry review of Vietnam culture… In Vietnamese.
If you want to see the city the chilled out way, I would recommend the Eco tours. They are a little electric carts that take you around seeing the sights of huge city for either 30 minutes= 150,000/cart or 60 minutes = around 240,000/cart.
Before you allow the excitement of visiting this world wonder take over you it is incredibly important to ensure that you are booking through a legitimate booking company. I would never wish for anyone to have a similar experience to myself.
I was not fortunate enough to have a positive experience booking through a hotel who I had thought were legitimate. Instead they were completely disrespectful and incompetent. I was overcharged for my trip and had difficulties throughout my entire journey at Halong Bay with them initially not even acknowledging my ticket as authentic. Mr Linh was the person who sold me my ticket. Charlie’s is also a fake booking company. From travellers I met, at the time of writing, Hanoi Backpackers are a legitimate source to book through.
The average price is around $40-55 USD for a 1 night 2 day trip including hotel transfers. The boats all look the same, with similar if not the same inclusions, so don’t be fooled by the ‘luxury/superior’ boats they offer to sell you like I was. There was no free drink, morning Tai Chi or exciting games and the food was relatively shitty. You also cannot take your own alcohol on board so I would recommend filling up a large water bottle with clear liquor, like vodka, and having a few sneaky drinks up top deck.
The 1 night trip was definitely enough time. As stated by most travellers I met, Halong bay is absolutely beautiful but is ruined by Vietnamese people trying to rip you off and scam you at every and any opportunity.
I hope you are blessed enough to have the awesome company of people similar to what I had on my boat. They completely made my experience worth every minute eradicating the not so enjoyable experience.
Yoga is available all year round through Zenith Yoga which has two separate locations. One in the old quarter and one in Tay Ho. They have multiple classes per day including time for self practice and Pilates.