The first time I visited Vietnam was 10 years ago to Ho Chi Minh City, that time there were not many tourists doing free and easy and more would prefer to book package tour from the tour agent in Singapore. I did free and easy in Ho Chi Minh City, went to the local travel agent and book for the day tour. Ten years ago it was so cheap to book the day tour including lunch at the local travel agent, cost only about USD 10-20. But now the price for day tour has gone up two fold or even more.
Lets talk about Hanoi! Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam while Ho Chi Minh or Saigon, the old name is also the business center of Vietnam.
Airport Transfers to Hanoi City – How not to get scammed!
Upon arriving in Hanoi, we get a taxi from the airport. I have tried the airport taxi for my arrival and the online booking taxi from Klook for my departure home. If you book taxi from online, it is safer and won’t get scammed. I have experienced the two and my conclusion is online booking is definitely cheaper and safer. Upon arrival, the taxi at the airport to Old Quarter cost me SGD 24.00 but if you book Klook, it only cost SGD 19.00! That is about 5 dollars difference but you won’t know when the meter stop. It was lucky for me just SGD 5.00 more that I have to pay but my taxi trip in the old quarters and Hanoi city cost me more damage!
My departure back home, I booked Klook online SDG 13.10 for airport transfer pick up. The driver came on time with a 4 wheel drive, spacious, fully air con and car in good condition.
We got taxi Scammed in Old Quarters Hanoi!
If you intend to do Hanoi City Tour, I strongly recommend you to book a day tour as it will bring you around to many attractions in town. We did not book the Hanoi City Tour so have to use the local taxi and got scammed. The distance is only few km ( 2 km ) from one place to another but the taxi meters run so fast that it cost about SGD 7-10, even more expensive than Singapore! We used two taxi, one did not even bother to return the change to me and run away with the money.
Lesson learnt, book a Hanoi City Tour online instead! You can always feedback online so the chances of getting scammed is lower.
These are some views from Hanoi Noi Bai International Airport to Old Quarter about 30 minutes.
On the way from Hanoi Airport to Old Quarter, you will pass by a historical bridge called Long Bien Bridge. Long Bien Bridge was designed by world renowned engineer Gustave Eiffel, who was also the designer of the famous Eiffel Tower in Paris 1903. Long Bien Bridge is one of the landmark in Hanoi. The bridge look very small in the below picture but the feature is very unique spanning over Red River.
Hanoi Old Quarter
Hanoi Old Quarter is one of the most busiest spot, the streets are packed with scooters, bicycles and cars swarming around pedestrian like a school of fish, honking every few seconds. In Old Quarter, you can eat and shop and experience what the local do.
Hanoi Lunch at Old Quarter
There are many local street food but we choose a decent looking restaurant to eat because we are not sure if our stomach can tolerate with the local street food. We don’t want to get sick on the first day in Hanoi.
The customers who came here are the well dressed office ladies. The restaurant look very clean and modern as compared to any others. We ordered three drinks, 2 lime juice and a fresh coconut. Two different type of fried noodles, including the fried “dong fen”/mung bean vermicelli and fried noodle. BBQ Mussel, pretty small – look like babies and Vietnamese deep friend spring roll/Cha Gio. I still prefer the Vietnamese steam rice paper spring rolls over the deep fried Cha Gio, the Cha Gio rolled with pork and some sticky stuff, may be is yam. Not sure what is that.
Total cost for the lunch is about 345,000 dong / SGD 20.00
Other local food you may like to try in Hanoi are :
- Banh Cuon – Sticky steam rice pancake wrapped around minced pork plus some black mushrooms fillings. It looks like our Chee Cheong Fen/ Rice Noodle Roll.
- Pho – Pho noodles is so popular around the world, rice noodles with broth cooked with herbs and meats. You will be served with plenty of fresh vegetables as topping. I still prefer Pho in Australia and US as the portion is bigger and meats are given generously but then the price is also higher by few times.
- Buncha – This is served with cold noodle and BBQ pork with the special fish source broth and plenty of vegetables.
- Xoi – This is serve as a dessert, sticky rice in yellow color.
Water Puppet Show
This is one of the must do if you have not seen any Water Puppet Show in Vietnam. I have seen one 10 years ago at Ho Chi Minh city. It was quite a surprised to see how skillful the puppeteers are as the string did not get tangle. You would get to learn a lot of Vietnamese culture and tradition from the Water Puppets Show. It is quite hilarious and entertaining too!
Ticket are selling like hot cakes especially for the evening shows. To avoid disappointment, it is best to come here to purchase the ticket upon your first day of arrival in Hanoi. We did not manage to get the tickets as all are sold out till 2 days later. Do check out the show schedule as below. Adult cost 100,000 dong / SGD 6.00
Hoan Kiem Lake/Sword Lake
Hoam Kiem Lake is located very near Old Quarter. The lake is one the major attractions and it get even more crowded during night time! You should also check out the night view, simply stunning.
Temple of the Jade Mountain/Ngoc Son Temple
Not far away from the red bridge in Hoan Kiem Lake, you will see Temple of the Jade Mountain. There is a small fees to pay for entrance. You will be given a rope if you are wearing shorts, same goes with guys.
Ngoc Son Temple/ Temple of Jade Mountain was built in 18th century in the center of the Hoan Kiem Lake. According to legend, an emperor was once given a magical sword which helped him defeat the Chinese Ming Dynasty and in doing so saw the return of the Golden Turtle God to the lake. So expect to see a giant turtle in the temple and go spot it.
Vietnamese man posing with a big fruit
Turtle God at the Temple
Big Old Tree grow in the temple near the lake
Expect to see a lot of Chinese words used in the temple.
Final Thoughts :
From my Hanoi City Tour, I have learn few lessons :
- Book taxi online for arrival pick up and departure to avoid taxi scammed
- If you intend to flag a taxi on the road to visit one place to another in city, then be prepared to get scammed. The meter jump faster than your heart beat. Book a city tour from online Klook.
- Book your Water Puppets Show immediately when you arrived in Hanoi to avoid disappointment. Tickets for Friday nights and weekends are mostly sold out and needed to purchase in advance.
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