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Thread: Vietnam (Hanoi) - Any tips ?

  1. #1

    Default Vietnam (Hanoi) - Any tips ?

    Am going to Vietnam in August. Any advice on the hotel and places ?. Photography

  2. #2
    Member NoiNoi's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vietnam (Hanoi) - Any tips ?

    Do consider Sapa. Take a train from Hanoi (est. 8 hours) and enjoy the beautiful nature site there. For cheap and friendly hotel, try cat cat hotel at Sapa.

    Its pretty cold there, grab some warm clothes...

  3. #3

    Default Re: Vietnam (Hanoi) - Any tips ?

    Accommodation: Basically, most hotels recommended in lonely planet is OK. But, please check the address and make sure you are brought to the correct hotel. All hotels and shops have their address written on the sign board. Hotels that are highly recommended in guide books are easy targets of scams.

    Transport: You can either take a cab from the airport to your hotel or take a bus to old quarter. Always ask to use the meter if you take a cab. I personally like the cab which are white and with a green top. The drivers wear a white shirt with a green tie. These cab drivers speak good English. If you get into a cab, and you notice that the meter jumps super fast, you are in some kind of trouble. What i suggest is, come up with some excuses like you need to go to the washroom and get the cab to stop. pay whatever is on the meter and leave. If i'm not wrong, there are also private buses which bring you from the airport to the old quarter as well.

    Food: I cannot really comment on this. This is kind of personal preference. I do not really like the beef noodles or whatever noodles that the locals eat for almost every meal. But, that's just me.

    Money: It is good to have some USD with you. But generally, I would still think its better to work with Viet Dong. You can change Dong at the Airport. USD would be good for paying things like the hotel etc.

    Navigation: If you really have difficulties doing this, take a cab. Its not really expensive compare to Singapore. But, walking around with a map is easy. All shops have their addresses written on their signboards. So by just looking at the signboard, you will know which street it is.

    Safety: Dont worry too much.

    People: The locals there are really friendly. Spend some time interacting with them (or maybe I'm the only weirdo who goes around talking to random strangers). But be prepared that most people at Hanoi do not speak english.

    Places to visit:
    1.) Sapa. I recommend you to do a homestay. But be prepared that the living condition is nothing great compare to your hotel. For me, It was'nt too much of a photography trip. I spent more time talking to the people there than to take photos. But the scenery there is lovely. Bring a sweater with you. If it ever rains, it's going to be cold. You can either book a Sapa tour from your hotel in Hanoi, or buy your own train tickets to Sapa and book a tour there(I think you cannot do home stay without a tour guide). It is definitely cheaper to book a tour in Sapa but i need to warn you that getting a train ticket during peak season is not easy. Tour operators usually buy in bulk (Thats what they told me).

    2.) Halong Bay. Some people think its too touristy. But not for me. Spend at least 2 days here. Do not go for the 1 day tour. The journey from Hanoi to Halong Bay takes like 3-4 hours IIRC. So basically the 1 day tour you will only spend a couple of hours there. For me i stay 1 night on the boat. Other backpackers i met along the way told me the resorts along the beach is really nice. But that is for the 3 days tour.

    3.) Water Puppet. Watch the water puppet show. Its really interesting.

    4.) I'm not sure if you will like this, but i do think that Dong Xuan market in the old quarter is worth a visit.

    5.) Others. Of cos, there are lots of Pagodas and Museums you can visit in Hanoi. I think you can easily find information on the Internet so i will leave you to decide where you want to go.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Vietnam (Hanoi) - Any tips ?

    Definitely recommend going to Sapa. you can arrange with a tour company while you're in the old quarter and take the night train up there. I went with handspan tour company and the ecolodge package. It was great.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Vietnam (Hanoi) - Any tips ?

    I definitely recommend going to Handspan for tours and more info. The restaurant is great there too. Be on the lookout for motorcycle snatch thieves in Hanoi, a friend of mine recently lost wallet, passport and Canon camera to them so it's not just a scare story.

    If you go to Sa Pa (thoroughly recommended) also try to get to Cat Ba market which only happens on Tuesday or Wednesday (Handspan will be able to tell you).

  6. #6

    Default Re: Vietnam (Hanoi) - Any tips ?

    Quoting liveevil "If you get into a cab, and you notice that the meter jumps super fast, you are in some kind of trouble. What i suggest is, come up with some excuses like you need to go to the washroom and get the cab to stop. pay whatever is on the meter and leave."

    This is very true and if you can, look for uniformed cab drivers, they are less likely to have tampered meters from my experience. If the meters are jumping super fast, ask to stop the cab immediately, pay up and go. It'll be cheaper to get into a new cab than to travel in that all the way to your destination.

    My heart was beating as fast as the meters.. unbelievably fast! HCMC seems to have less of such problems. Good luck and have fun!

  7. #7

    Default Re: Vietnam (Hanoi) - Any tips ?

    For the cab, go for those sedan cab. They are the more established one. Don't go for the small cab or those like hatchback type. This is advice given by my local friend there. But if you are taking the cab from the airport, just take the airport cab there. It should be around US$15 or 16, or Dong equivalent.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Vietnam (Hanoi) - Any tips ?

    Quote Originally Posted by kethyun View Post
    For the cab, go for those sedan cab. They are the more established one. Don't go for the small cab or those like hatchback type. This is advice given by my local friend there. But if you are taking the cab from the airport, just take the airport cab there. It should be around US$15 or 16, or Dong equivalent.
    Wah thats very expensive man for a place like vietnam!

  9. #9

    Default Re: Vietnam (Hanoi) - Any tips ?

    Quote Originally Posted by thunderflash View Post
    Wah thats very expensive man for a place like vietnam!
    I agree, the taxi there are expensive in comparison to other stuff. You can get a decent accom with wifi for about 20-25usd/night/room but that is the standard rate to get from airport to the city. they have alot of those motorbike taxis which are a lot cheaper and you fix (read:haggle) the price for your destination, so they can be cheaper if you are willing to give that a try.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Vietnam (Hanoi) - Any tips ?

    Quote Originally Posted by thunderflash View Post
    Wah thats very expensive man for a place like vietnam!
    Yah, it is considered expensive but it is far from the city also (~40km).

    Cheapest taxi to airport is the airport taxi because they need to go back airport after fetching u guys to city, so they have promotion. It is cheaper go from city to airport than the opposite direction.

    You can find the number here http://noibaitaxi.com.vn/english.aspx

    The city taxi that some of u mentioned (green-white, driver in uniform) is Mai Linh taxi.

    http://www.mailinh.vn/Web/ContentDet...126&lang=en-US

    Booking for a cab in Hanoi is free, so u can ask the hotel/restaurant to call for you.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Vietnam (Hanoi) - Any tips ?

    Quote Originally Posted by thunderflash View Post
    Wah thats very expensive man for a place like vietnam!
    If you dare to, you can take those "scam" taxi that does not use the meter. Bargain really hard. I manage to bargain to 10USD after talking to like 3 different drivers. If you are traveling alone, like i did, you can ask people on the flight if they want to share a cab with you. Or, you can take those private buses (I think its 2-5USD, not sure). But one thing about the private buses is that they will try to fill the buses in order to maximize profit, so you might have to wait for like 5-15mins.
    I know there are 2 public buses that goes to Hanoi (old quarter) but i cant remember the bus number. You can refer to travel guide for these as well.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Vietnam (Hanoi) - Any tips ?

    Quote Originally Posted by liveevil View Post
    If you dare to, you can take those "scam" taxi that does not use the meter. Bargain really hard. I manage to bargain to 10USD after talking to like 3 different drivers. If you are traveling alone, like i did, you can ask people on the flight if they want to share a cab with you. Or, you can take those private buses (I think its 2-5USD, not sure). But one thing about the private buses is that they will try to fill the buses in order to maximize profit, so you might have to wait for like 5-15mins.
    I know there are 2 public buses that goes to Hanoi (old quarter) but i cant remember the bus number. You can refer to travel guide for these as well.
    Hi thanks for being so helpful!!!!!

  13. #13

    Default Re: Vietnam (Hanoi) - Any tips ?

    On the contrary, I thought the cabs are pretty affordable. Take those white green cabs or from Vinataxi.
    Hanoi is quite small if you look into the tourist areas. You can cover them on foot actually. I stayed near the lake, which was not too bad. The hotel was great too. PM me if u need the details. But I spotted ALOT of locals peeing by the roadside!
    Food wise, i cant take the local, so i head to those home cafes where they have american servings which are quite ok to my taste.
    Shopping wise, basically, it is dead for me, even at the wholesale market.

    For trf from the airport to the hotel, i think i paid around $15USD or something. It is arranged by the hotel i stayed in.
    I had local currency for daily transactions, and USD for hotel and payment like to Sapa, or HalongBay.

    Halong Bay i took the 2 days 1 nite package which was quite sufficient for me already.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Vietnam (Hanoi) - Any tips ?

    Hi,

    I just came back from Hanoi 3 weeks ago with 3 of my friends. We went to Hanoi-Sapa-HaLong Bay, total 8 days.

    Our tour agency is highly recommended. They have number of hotel in Hanoi city. The contact as follows:

    Sunshine Travel
    Tel: (04) 3926 1559 - 39262239
    www.vietnamsunshinetravel.com
    email: vietnamsunshinetravel@yahoo.com

    Sunshine will arrange the full package for you at around US$250 for 8 days, including 80% of the male and all transportation.

    I have taken some photos of Sapa paddy field, woman and children, HaLong bay. check it out at:

    2suns2moon.jalbum.net

    Have fun.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Vietnam (Hanoi) - Any tips ?

    For taxi, if not wrong, there are 2 reliable operator. One is Meilin if not wrong, remember one is green and another is blue.
    My experience, to be safe, ask the hotel to call a taxi for you. Ask, and double confirm again it is a metered taxi. And ask again when board the taxi.
    From old quarters to the 'new town' area, like the one pillar pagoda, cost roughly 30000 VND if not wrong (about less then 2 USD)

    Of course airport taxi is a different story.

  16. #16

    Default Re: Vietnam (Hanoi) - Any tips ?

    Quote Originally Posted by 2sun2moon View Post
    Hi,

    I just came back from Hanoi 3 weeks ago with 3 of my friends. We went to Hanoi-Sapa-HaLong Bay, total 8 days.

    Our tour agency is highly recommended. They have number of hotel in Hanoi city. The contact as follows:

    Sunshine Travel
    Tel: (04) 3926 1559 - 39262239
    www.vietnamsunshinetravel.com
    email: vietnamsunshinetravel@yahoo.com

    Sunshine will arrange the full package for you at around US$250 for 8 days, including 80% of the male and all transportation.

    I have taken some photos of Sapa paddy field, woman and children, HaLong bay. check it out at:

    2suns2moon.jalbum.net

    Have fun.
    To me, I felt Sunshine is reliable, and thus, slightly more expensive on certain tours compare to other operators/ provider. I have ask for about 5 -6 shops and realize sunshine quote higher price.

    Just ask around if you need cheaper deal. But you don't mind paying about 5 to 10% more, then will be fine.

    Yet from my observation, usually higher price means you get better stuff, like nicer boat during the trip, slight more variety food, slightly nicer van, etc....

  17. #17

    Default Re: Vietnam (Hanoi) - Any tips ?

    I had been to Hanoi/Sapa/Halong in April, these are my comments :

    Taxi - Fares are not that expensive if you take the right kind of taxi with proper meter.
    Reliable ones are : Hanoi Taxi, MaiLinh, ABC & CP Taxi. Names are shown on front
    doors of taxi.
    Tours - There are many local tour agents in Hanoi's old quarter, but you must hunt
    around to get best deal. You pay higher price if book thru hotel, due to commissions
    etc.. You would be surprised by the vast difference quoted by those agents. Before
    booking, make sure what accommodation (hotel) they offered. For example in Sapa,
    better hotels are situated on hillside as compared to those in the town. When
    taking the train, try to book 4 berth softbed sleeping compartment as they are
    more comfortable
    For Halong bay tour, ask for picture of boat bcos there are of different qualities.
    I personally was quite disappointed by the Halong bay tour - lousy food, poor
    communication and chaotic arrangements.

    Anyway, wish you have an enjoyable holidays !!!

  18. #18

    Default Re: Vietnam (Hanoi) - Any tips ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rollsch View Post
    I had been to Hanoi/Sapa/Halong in April, these are my comments :

    Taxi - Fares are not that expensive if you take the right kind of taxi with proper meter.
    Reliable ones are : Hanoi Taxi, MaiLinh, ABC & CP Taxi. Names are shown on front
    doors of taxi.
    Tours - There are many local tour agents in Hanoi's old quarter, but you must hunt
    around to get best deal. You pay higher price if book thru hotel, due to commissions
    etc.. You would be surprised by the vast difference quoted by those agents. Before
    booking, make sure what accommodation (hotel) they offered. For example in Sapa,
    better hotels are situated on hillside as compared to those in the town. When
    taking the train, try to book 4 berth softbed sleeping compartment as they are
    more comfortable
    For Halong bay tour, ask for picture of boat bcos there are of different qualities.
    I personally was quite disappointed by the Halong bay tour - lousy food, poor
    communication and chaotic arrangements.

    Anyway, wish you have an enjoyable holidays !!!
    Halong bay tour can be very different, agree. Check around before commit. The one I followed, food is really not nice. But as I paid for only USD22 if not wrong, so nothing much to blame. However, for the same group of people on the same van depart from Hanoi, there are 2 of them paying only 21 USD. Again, it is just 1 USD. Most agent quote 24 or 25 USD. But I suspect those are more 'high class' boat....

    For the poor communication, just have to be patience. Hanoi is relatively difficult to communicate in English, compare to Ho Chi Minh City.

  19. #19

    Default Re: Vietnam (Hanoi) - Any tips ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Shen siung View Post
    Halong bay tour can be very different, agree. Check around before commit. The one I followed, food is really not nice. But as I paid for only USD22 if not wrong, so nothing much to blame. However, for the same group of people on the same van depart from Hanoi, there are 2 of them paying only 21 USD. Again, it is just 1 USD. Most agent quote 24 or 25 USD. But I suspect those are more 'high class' boat....

    For the poor communication, just have to be patience. Hanoi is relatively difficult to communicate in English, compare to Ho Chi Minh City.
    I had asked around those in the our boat, they paid ranging from US25-35 for one night trip. I don't mind if they charge a bit higher as long as they can provide decent meals.

    I was referring to Halong bay tour when talking about poor communication. Nobody explained to us on where were we going or what activities could we expect, simply because those boat people couldn't communicate in english. On the contrary, in Hanoi those who deal with tourists like shopkeepers, hotel & restaurant staffs and even some in departmental store, can adequately converse and understand in english.

  20. #20

    Default Re: Vietnam (Hanoi) - Any tips ?

    Well, I'm Hanoi local
    Transport : Basically, like liveevil said, you can take bus from Airport to Old quarter ( it takes 30k VND ). If you prefer taxi, you can ask taxi driver to pay all @ 200k VND ( without any meter, so they can't trick you ). Remember, if it gets more than 200k, you are tricked. In side the city, you can call a cab ( quite cheap compare to singapore, at rate about 60 cent / km ). Else, you can enjoy tricycle bike ( for tourist only, i don't know the rate ), or motobike ( depend on how far, but you can take half the price of taking taxi for starting bargain )
    Food : we don't eat noodle every meals >"< Just try it if you want, since there are many more cuisines than just beef noodle. If you need, PM me , and I will give you details
    Money : USD is fine, but remember to exchange to at least 500k of VND cash in your wallet. In Vietnam, no cards are used. SGD to VND is very cheap compare SGD > USD > VND
    Accommodation : you go for tiger air website , budget accommodation page, you find a lot of good hotel at the rate of about 20SGD / room.
    If you find difficult in communication, you can go for some forums like vietabroader.org and ask people there for help. There are a lot of students who are eager to help foreigners ( especially English speakers ) enjoying Hanoi. Else, you can hire them at very low rate ( i think about 10-20$ / days , you can get a very good one )
    if you are going to have a photo trips, my suggestion is you must secure your cameras and lens. Robbers are getting more intelligent today, and they aim photographers more frequently. Some of Vietnamese photographers got robbered recently.
    One more think to add : You can find very cheap manual focus lens in Vietnam. Try google translate in photo.com.vn or vnphoto.net .
    Last edited by HoangHung; 14th June 2009 at 12:50 AM.

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