Are you thinking of traveling to the exotic capital of Vietnam and have no idea what awaits you? Do not worry! Here I’m going to tell you about ten things you need to know before you travel to Hanoi, the second-largest city in the country.
Ten things you need to know before you travel to Hanoi
The journey is very, very, long.
No matter which flight you choose, the minimum it will take to get to Hanoi is 24 hours. The most direct route, although not necessarily the cheapest, is via Tokyo (CDMX-Tokyo-Hanoi). If you’re making a stopover in the United States or Europe, get ready for a trip of about 40 hours.
To avoid suffering so much, a good option is to buy your trip on a vast scale or with several sections, so that you have a little time to rest and pass, know a new place. Use a combination of Airwander and Skyscanner to find the best route at the best price.
It would help if you processed a visa.
To enter Vietnam, you need to process a visa, no matter how long you plan to stay. You can do this directly at the embassy or via email, and it costs around USD 120. The regular visa is delivered to you in five business days. Know the requirements here.
Hanói es una ciudad muy barata
Like the rest of Southeast Asian countries, Vietnam is an amiable destination with a pocket, and its capital is no exception. On average, you’ll spend between $300 and $700 a day on a low-medium budget, with everything and lodging.
We’re talking about a city where a bedroom in a hostel costs between $50 and 100 pesos and one night in a three-star hotel, between $300 and $500. A meal on the street comes out like $35, and a restaurant, between $60 and $100. Of course, the most touristic areas have much higher prices.
Don’t worry about planning every moment of your trip.
If something abounds in Hanoi, and especially in the most touristic areas, they are travel agencies. There are all kinds and for every budget, and they are ideal for hiring tours, buying train or bus tickets, and booking hotels and experiences.
Overall, travel agencies are very reliable, but better to do some research online before booking. It also trades before buying, significantly since hotels and hostels inflate prices a lot.
However, if you will buy an excursion to Ha Long Bay, pay special attention because the photos are not always updated, and you can get an unpleasant surprise.
During your trip to Hanoi
Traffic is crazy
If you thought the traffic on the CDMX was chaotic, get ready for a big surprise. The first thing you need to know is that in Hanoi, there are more bikes than cars. And, motorbikes are not limited to walking on the avenues, but on the neighborhoods’ sidewalks and narrow streets. So get ready to listen to clerics all the time.
It is usually quite impressive because traffic lights and pedestrian crossings are more suggestions than anything else. That’s why crossing the street is quite an adventure. People often travel anywhere; motorbikes and a few cars are used to surrounding pedestrians. Sounds risky, yes, but that’s the way it is. When you arrive, follow the locals, and you’ll get used to it quickly.
Tickets can be confusing.
Another fundamental thing to know before traveling to Hanoi is that the Vietnam currency is the dong, which has the following equivalence: 1 Mexican peso s 1143 dong. That’s why with you swapping 500 pesos, there’ll be more than half a million dong in your wallet. This amount of zeros becomes quite confusing, especially since the banknotes look a lot alike. Pay special attention to the VND 10,000 and VND 100,000 (green) banknotes and VND 50,000 and VND 200,000 (red) banknotes.
Vietnamese is an unfriendly language.
Unless you’re great with languages or have taken a couple of Duolingo levels before you travel (and who knows), be prepared not to understand anything. Vietnamese is a very complex language, with a slightly different alphabet (Latin with Vietnamese variant) and an intricate pronunciation.
Nor does it help that other languages are spoken in Vietnam…
There are several ideal areas to stay in.
The city is quite extensive and safe almost everywhere, but the best are The Old Quarter (Home Kiem), the oldest, most traditional and touristic part of the city; Tay Ho, an ex-patpat neighborhood, more modern and Western; and Ba Dinh, where many of Hanoi’s attractions are concentrated.
It’s not that easy to communicate in English.
If you leave the most touristic areas, people will most likely not speak English, especially if they are not young. Therefore, it is better to go well prepared and carry your downloaded maps and access the internet. However, the Vietnamese are hot people and always willing to help you, regardless of the language barrier.
To move, you can use apps like Grab.
Another thing you need to know before you travel is that to get around. You can use apps like Grab, similar to Uber. And, most curiously, it has not only cars but also motorbikes, which is the fastest way to get around.
More things to know before traveling to Vietnam
What to know before traveling to Vietnam?
- It’s widespread to haggle, so don’t be afraid to. However, give the right value to the objects.
- If you’re going to eat on the street, follow the basic rules. Eat where locals eat, avoid raw vegetables, and track your instinct. Be sure to try the pho, egg coffee, and Bahn mi.
- The best seasons to go to Hanoi are spring and autumn, as they have a pleasant temperature and little rain. Avoid summer, if you don’t like heavy rain, and winter, if you don’t like the cold (the temperature can drop from 10 oC.
- Be careful on your first trip to your hotel. It is common for taxis to take you to another “better” or a hotel with the same name, but it is not yours (look at the address!)
- The minimum time to enjoy the city is three days.
In addition to all of the above, one important thing to know before traveling to Hanoi is that a cultural shock awaits you. If you’ve never traveled to Asia, Hanoi’s chaos can be overwhelming. You must also know that the city does not cause love at first sight for many. But give him a chance, and after a couple of days, he’s going to fall in love with you.