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Hanoi Getting Around Hanoi Travel Guide

Hanoi Getting Around Hanoi Travel Guide

Visitors often opt to rent a private car (and driver) when arriving at the airport in Hanoi.  This is considered to be an efficient and inexpensive form of transportation.  Car rental companies assign drivers as guides to assist visitors in getting around the area.  This is standard procedure and common way for visitors to get in and out of the city after arriving in Hanoi.  Having a private car hire and driver which serves as a guide as well is a good way to become acquainted with Hanoi and/or surrounding area when arriving.  Visitors interested in getting themselves around without a driver often rent motorcycles or mopeds instead of cars.
For those interested in motorcycle hire, its important to note that traffic patterns and driving styles are much different than what foreigners are used to in their home countries.  If you are planning to pilot your own vehicle, be warned that all of Vietnam is a "motorbike society", and as such motorbike driving follows Vietnamese patterns that visitors are not used to.   It could be considered alien, random, chaotic, or insane to the western visitor.  Even drivers in big trucks and buses drive as if they were sitting on top a small nimble motorbike.  You may want to seriously reconsider driving your own vehicle, at least until you have a good understanding of the local rules of the road in 'motorbike society' Hanoi.
Visitors should also know that, upon getting in to downtown Hanoi, it is relatively easy to get around on foot, so not much money will likely need to be spent on internal travel and visitors should feel free to splurge on tours when they get the chance.  Bicycling is another option for getting around and can be used not only within the city but also on the nature trails of Hanoi.  However, visitors should know that bicycle rentals do not come with helmet rentals so they may have to consider purchasing a helmet for their stay there in order to protect themselves while riding.
Visitors might be confused about crossing the road by foot in Hanoi.  Traffic is chaotic, with motorbikes generally, though not exclusively, driving on the right.  When it comes to junctions with traffic lights, red lights are treated as optional by a lot of motorbikes, so be as wary crossing the road at junctions as anywhere else.  Don't bother waiting for a gap in the traffic as there never is any.  Do what the locals do - wait for a big enough gap to step into the flow of traffic and then keep edging forward at as constant a speed as possible without stepping in front of anything that would need to swerve too much or brake to sharply to avoid hitting you.  There is one basic rule for traffic in Vietnam - "Don't hit anything".  Besides that, pretty much anything goes, though the system seems to work quite well and accidents are relatively rare.
The bus system in Hanoi is a possibility for travelers but it is sometimes considered a safety risk and is generally considered uncomfortable.
To rent a motorcycle
Your hotel can easily rent a motorcycle for you. They may ask you keep your passport. The rate is roughly VND 90,000 per 24 hours.
Taxis, Cyclos and Xe Oms
Another common way of getting round is to rent by the journey.  Taxis can be flagged down on the larger, busier roads, and some (though not all) are metered.  Xe Oms (motorcycle taxis) are everywhere - at least at every street corner in Hanoi.  Men sitting on motorbikes will give you the gesture, and ask "Motorbike?" .  First ask how much to where you are going, and agree on a price before getting on 9exact change is best).  Typically should be  $1-2 USD, depending on distance-- but since there are so many of them, you can bargain down to lowest, and/or move on to the next.  Finally there are the Cyclos, a special kind of bike with a seat at the front, attached to the handlebar column.  These are offerred regularly to tourists. Cyclos cost VND 40,000 per hour for visiting the Old Quarter.

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