At a Glance
When to Go
Many international airlines fly into Hanoi’s Noi Bai Airport from other parts of Asia and also from European hubs such as Frankfurt, Paris, and London. As of now there are still no direct flights from North America, but plenty of connecting services via cities such as Beijing, Seoul, and Tokyo.
Taxis are generally safe and efficient, though a bit more expensive than other options. Taxi scams are not uncommon but can usually be avoided by riding only with a trusted taxi company. Mai Linh and Hanoi Taxi are two of the capital’s most reputable companies.
Food and Drink
In Vietnam, Hanoi is regarded as the high-minded counterpart to Ho Chi Minh City’s upstart glitz. The reality is that both cities have plenty of cultural highlights to show, with Hanoi offering everything from reminders and celebrations of Vietnam’s tumultuous past to cutting-edge art galleries and regular live music events.
Late January to mid February, you can breathe in the excitement of Tet, the lunar New Year (the date each year changes based on the Chinese lunar calendar). The lead-up to the celebration sees the city come alive with displays of moon cakes, red banners, joss sticks, and red envelopes for giving lucky money (mung tuoi) to children. February and March are the months to join the mass Buddhist pilgrimage to the Perfume Pagoda, just south of Hanoi.
What the Locals Know
After arriving on something of a whim, Duncan Forgan has spent the past eight months living and working in Bangkok. In a previous life he was a features writer for the national newspapers in his native Scotland, an editor of various travel guides in the Middle East and a long-term freelancer in Vietnam. Now he prefers to discover new street food and to drive his motorbike around the sois. When he’s not comparing venues for Isaan food he writes and broadcasts for a variety of outlets worldwide on Asian travel, culture, and cuisine.