Ranked 12th in TripAdvisor’s latest list of top 15 global destinations, Hanoi has been welcoming more worldwide travellers than ever. Get lost in its colonial charm but not its traffic options! Are you ready to be the next explorer in the thousand-year-old capital of Vietnam? Getting around bustling Hanoi is indeed easier than it looks, thanks to the variety of transportation on the menu. Find out more about Hanoi transport below to discover every hidden corner of the city with confidence!
From Noi Bai Airport to the City Centre
Best area to stay in Hanoi during your trip would be the city centre, a.k.a Hoan Kiem District (particularly the Old Quarter), which is in close proximity to most well-known attractions. Noi Bai International Airport is around 30 kilometres away from the area and transport options are diverse.
A car drive from Hanoi airport to Old Quarter normally takes about 45 minutes. If you have Internet access and a Grab app downloaded to your phone, booking a Grab car is the number one option to go for. It is safe, transparent and usually cheaper than traditional taxis. The estimated price from the airport to the Old Quarter is around 200,000 – 300,000 VND, depending on demand and traffic.
Note: You need to pay additional 30,000 VND for the 2-way gate fare.
If you are not a tech-savvy person, taxis tend to be the fastest and most convenient yet the most costly option (around 250,000 – 400,000 VND), including the airport gate fare. Though fare calculation is often based on meters, some drivers may take a longer route to overcharge you. So don’t just go with a random taxi driver waving at you with a huge smile on his face for the chance of being scammed is high.
Instead, look for reputable brands at the airport entrance for professional service, namely, Mai Linh Taxi in green or Taxi Group in white colour. You can call 024 38 222 666 for Mai Linh Airport service and 024 38 51 51 51 for Taxi Group Airport service in Hanoi.
Note: Show the driver the address in writing to avoid miscommunications.
Choose the bus if you are in no rush and look for the cheapest way. Airport line Bus 86 takes around an hour from both Terminal 1 & 2 to Hanoi centre. This orange bus terminates at Hanoi Railway Station. The ticket fee is only 35,000 VND ($1.5), with more open space and air-conditioning, Wi-Fi connection and bilingual instructions are available. No need for a reservation. New bus comes approx. every 20 minutes and runs between 6:18 – 22:58. You can make use of a Map app to check the nearest drop-off point to your hotel.
Public buses (bus 07 to Cau Giay bus station, bus 17 to Long Bien bus station, bus 90 to Kim Ma bus station) are even cheaper (around 7.000 – 9,000 VND). However, this option would take much more time due to several stops and traffic jam. Also, these buses are often crowded, thus we do not recommend them especially if you carry big-sized luggage (extra charge may apply).
Note: With these buses, prepare yourself to stand for an hour or more due to limited seats available.
AIRPORT SHUTTLE BUSES
Airport shuttle buses/ minivans departing from Terminal 1 gate, operated by Vietnam Airlines, Jetstar and VietjetAir are cheaper options to consider, with 40,000 VND (about US$2) per pax. For the 45-seat buses of Jetstar and VietjetAir to depart, you may have to wait until seats are filled. If you want to get off at any stop on the way, make sure you tell the driver or bus assistance personnel beforehand.
- Vietnam Airlines: The 16-seat minivan leaves every 30–40 minutes from 4:00 to 21:00 and drops you off at 1 Quang Trung (near Hoan Kiem Lake) or even at your hotel if you give the address to the driver.
- Jetstar Pacific: You can purchase a seat on the flight. The bus departs 30 minutes after landing. Last stop is Quang Trung bus station.
- Vietjet Air: The bus leaves every 1-2 hours from 4:00 to 21:00. You must book a seat via a hotline or VietJet official website at least 24 hours before the flight. Drop-off points near Hanoi Old Quarter include Nguyen Thai Hoc or Quang Trung Street before the last stop at 69 Tran Nhan Tong (next to Central Circus Theater).
Note: You may still need to take a cab to get to your hotel from there.
Getting around Hanoi
Pick up a Cab
You will find no difficulty in hailing a taxi in Hanoi. But as said, you should make sure the meter is on and turn on the Map app if needed. Also, using services from trustworthy companies is recommended since drivers won’t scam you by taking a longer route. Depending on the company and size of the cab, the average cost is somewhere around 15,000 per kilometre.
Meanwhile, app-based companies such as Grab and FastGo are more popular among people for being economical, reliable, and above all, saving them from the trouble of bargaining. You can either pay by credit card or in cash. If you have a local SIM card, prepare yourself for the fact that Grab driver will always call/text you upon arrival, and he may not speak English. If that’s the case, pass your phone to a local standing nearby and tell them “Grab”. They would be pleased to help and tell your driver the address.
Board Local Buses
Hopping on a bus is a great way to experience the local lifestyle. Public buses cover most regular routes and famous attractions throughout Hanoi with high frequency and rock-bottom fares between 7.000-9000 VND. You pay to the driver or bus assistant in cash only, so remember to fill your wallet with small change.
Also, make sure you print out a bus map or download the BusMap app to your phone in advance. Just in case, once you get on the bus, show the bus driver, the ticket collector or fellow passengers your destination in writing so you know when to get off.
This is, however, not an ideal transport option particularly during peak hours.
Tour on a Cyclo
Cyclo (Xich Lo) is a three-wheeled Vietnamese rickshaw. If a long walk tends to tire you out, this vehicle is an ideal, unique, laid-back way that you can enjoy a peaceful Hanoi. Cyclo can only be used for a short-distanced ride around the Old Quarter and French Quarter. Price ranges from as little as 20,000 VND for a short ride to 50,000 – 100,000 VND per hour, depending on your haggling skills. Overcharging is popular with this mode of transport, so make sure you agree on a price before boarding. Alternatively, you can book through your hotel or a trustworthy cyclo tour provider like Sans Souci.
Pedalled on a Motorbike Taxi
Driving a scooter yourself during your very first visit here would be risky. A motorbike taxi (xe om) ride, instead, is a “speciality” of Vietnam you must give a try. You can pick up a random xe om in mostly every street corner. However, no meter system is applied and drivers often suggest a fixed charge based on the distance, therefore the chance of getting scammed is even higher than a cab. It’s important that you negotiate the price in advance. The average cost is around 20,000 – 40,000 VND within 2-3 kilometres. Preferably, for your own peace of mind, booking through phone apps like GrabBike or FastGo is recommended as being cheaper, more straightforward and also popular among locals and expats.
Hire a Bicycle
Cycling is another fun way to explore the vibrant local life around the quaint Old Quarter and your hotel area. You can rent yourself a bike from hotels or cafes within the area for just about $1 per day, then freely look for your nearby spots of interest, or stop by at any street food vendors you find tempting. The traffic can be chaotic, but as long as you stay alert and ride on your right, you are fine. So pluck up your courage, turn on the Map on your phone and get ready to experience authentic Vietnamese streets!
Take a stroll around Hoan Kiem Lake and the Old Quarter to have closer insights of local everyday life. Crossing the streets is a skill you would master in any country after Vietnam. As long as you watch out for vehicles coming and walk steadily so drivers can avoid you, have no fear. When you want a break for drinks, don’t forget to drop by one of the oldest coffee houses in town and take a sip of Hanoi‘s signature egg coffee while soaking up the colonial charm of the capital.