Hanoi is the capital of modern Vietnam, it was named capital of the unified country after the end of the war in 1975. It is a fascinating combination of cultures, as east meets west, in a glorious architectural mix of French colonial, ancient Chinese and modern design. Known as the City of Lakes, its main two are the West Lake and Hoan Kiem.
As one would expect with any capital city it is a center for great food and entertainment. The restaurants, cafés and bars in the city are both varied and numerous. Hanoi Old Quarter is the most interesting part of town. And it is here that many of the really excellent bars can be found. They set an extremely high standard. It is in Hanoi that Pho, the traditional beef broth eaten everywhere in the country, was created.
The body of the founding father of modern Vietnam tours, Ho Chi Minh, lies in state here. Hanoi is a wonderful base for a North Vietnamese holiday, being the starting off point for both Sapa and Halong Bay tours. Hanoi is a great all year round city, though its climate does make quite a a difference. In the north of Vietnam, which is generally cooler, the best time for weather is between October and April. Winters can become cold occasionally snow will fall in the sub zero temperatures of the mountainous areas.
Hanoi is milder than some northern areas and tends to get hotter and wetter in the season between May and October. Hanoi makes an excellent Christmas location for those wishes to get away from the western cynical approach and freezing temperatures. Temperatures here at this time of year tend to be between 14 and 22 ºC. Despite being a Buddhist country, Christmas is an important time for Hanoi. The streets and shops are completely bedecked with holly and baubles and the true Vietnamese sense of fun comes into play. People pour onto the streets on Christmas Eve in their thousands. All the big hotels are heavily booked for Christmas dinner. [divider]
By Plane: The Noi Bai International Airport is situated about 20 miles to the north of the city. Quite small by international airport standards, a brand new terminal is currently being built. It is however already a fully functioning International airport with in excess of 20 International carriers operating here. Internal flights are catered for using Vietnam Airlines and Vietjet, who provide flights to most Vietnamese cities. Vietnam Airlines customer service: +84 (0) 20 3263 2062 Vietjet customer service: +84 (0) 1900 1886 By Train: The reunification express runs from Saigon to Hanoi daily. It is a long and slow journey, but one that many consider to be worthwhile, as the views along the way are spectacular. This train also takes in most of the cities along the eastern coast of the country and as such provides a valuable train link from many other cities. There are also train services out to the north-west of Hanoi, including of course Lao Cai,for travellers to Sapa .
Always try and book well in advance. Buying your tickets as early as possible, is important as sleeper-tickets often sell out several days in advance. If you are informed that they have sold out, try local travel agents who made have pre-bought tickets. However this comes at a price. For more information on train journeys contact the main train station in Hanoi: +84 4 825 3949 By Bus: Vietnam tours reviews has a pretty good internal bus system in place, though roads are not great and therefore journey times are much greater than you would expect for the distances covered. Many of the “open-tour” bus journeys either begin or end in Hanoi tours. Hué is generally the next (or previous) stop From here to bus travellers can reach Hoi An, Nha Trang, Dalat, Mui Ne and of course Saigon in the South. Most of these buses will stop at their offices which tend to bet next to the old district or most backpacker hotels. Check when booking ticket and as always behave of scams. [divider]
As with every other city in Vietnam, taxis are generally pretty good as long as you stick with the reputable companies. In the case of Hanoi this means either of the following: Mai Linh Taxi: +84 4 3861 6161 or Hanoi Group Taxi: +84 4 3856 5656. Motor bike taxis are commonly used by many people and whilst some consider them dangerous, they are in fact pretty good. The drivers congregate on most street corners and prices are generally about half that of taxis. Cyclos are a great way of sight seeing and are fun at the same time. However always negotiate a fare in advance as they can prove to be an expensive option.