We are arriving at the Hanoi airport at about 1 AM on DEC 23rd. Have a few questions as I'd like to make the transition from the 20 hour flight to hotel as smooth as possible.
Our hotel is in the old quarter, booked 2 nights from the 23rd-25th.
If we arrive at 1am ON the 23rd, do you think the hotel will have a problem checking us in early, impose a surcharge etc?
From what I've gathered: the trip from the airport to the old quarter should be about $16 U.S which leads to my question:
1) Should I exchange for VND at the airport? Should I/must I pay the taxi in dong?
2) Being that we'll land around 1am, shuttle bus etc is out of the question. I know people recommended Hanoi Taxi - will they be around? Any other viable, relatively scam/scum free options? I'm not worried too much, being New Yorkers we can smell a scam a mile away, but I'd (wouldn't everyone?) love a drama-free intro to the city/people.
#1 toxic8 has been a member since 19/10/2009. Posts: 19
There's a travel desk where you can safely book your cab. You should also be able to get Vietnam dong out of an ATM at the airport.
Ring before you leave and let the hotel know ahead what time you will arrive and ask about costs then. Given that it's the high season you might find that the hotel is full. Most hotels don't give you access to a room until 2pm when they have cleaned the room after the previous occupants have left. Anyway I don't imagine they will want to book you in too early if you are not staying that night, because they will have to wake up (at maybe 3 in the morning). I have arrived at 5am once but I'd been staying at the hotel the week before. I still didn't get access to my room straight away, but was able to leave my luggage.
#2 violets has been a member since 6/7/2009. Posts: 151
Thanks violet. Arrived late, worn out etc etc. So I wondered out and was accosted by swarms of taxi dudes, turned em down but saw nothing "official" looking so I weent with some dude who had an ID badge on his neck saying taxi etc. He quoted 15 I accepted. Then the fun part started, my hotel was closed. The driver called up some people and his friend jumped in and took us to a place where we booked for 40 a night. I gave the driver 20 bucks total, for his "troubles."
Btw, I saw many people getting visas on arrival at the airport. Cheaper than the $75 I paid in NYC I'm sure. I wanted to ask but they were busy when I approached, though a passanger getting one on an aircraft told me it was something like 30$ + a 25$ fee of some sorts.
Hanoi is absolutely insane! I love it already.
#3 toxic8 has been a member since 19/10/2009. Posts: 19
hey fellow NYer~
I was living in Hanoi for a while and I can say that you are often looked at as a dollar bill with arms and legs.. The taxi at $15 was fair.. 250k is the "standard rate" though, it is common to get them down to 200k.. dont settle for less on the way back to the airport if you need to take a taxi that way too..
About the hotel, sorry to say, but it wasnt closed.. The doors/gates were down, as 90+% of them are after 1 or 2am in Hanoi, but all you needed to do was bang on it and/or call them.. Not to burst the bubble, but you got jerked on spending $40 for a room that was probably worth $20 and your driver and his "friend" got their commission from it as well as your tip.
There are "soft" scams abound in Vietnam.. Most famous being; If you go to Halong Bay, which i assume you will, be careful about the "upgrades".. you will likely be talked in to paying nearly double for the same experience that the person sitting next to you paid for..
As for the Visa, its ok that you got yours in advance.. but it was possible to organize a visa-on-arrival from vietnam-visa.com for $15-$30 and then pay $25 cash (in dollars only) at the airport..
Hope Hanoi treats you well.. its a great city and one of the last inhabitable authentic cities left in southeast asia.. Make sure you rent a motorbike from Ta Hien and go to Cheeky Quarter, Tet and Mao's for after hours drinks when you thought everything else was closed, both also on Ta Hien.
#4 autourdumonde3232 has been a member since 26/3/2009. Posts: 4
Hmmm!! Nice experience there toxic8. Thanks for sharing it to us would be first timers also.
autourdumonde3232, thanks a lot for your reflections. These will help us a lot when we go there in February.
Can you name a hotel that is a stone's throw away from Hoan Kiem Lake?
#5 tigershark15 has been a member since 14/12/2009. Posts: 11
Autor, thank you For your comments, very helpful. I am getting my bearings on the 2nd day here. The Hanoi street scene can be intense to a stressed out flight worn jet lagged first time SEA traveller. I will Try and find ta hien, assuming it's an area? Though I don't know about renting a motorbike, unless it's well out of the city - this place makes new York look like a senior citizen rally. Tigershark15 - I highly recommend my hotel , it is very close to the lake , booked it for around 20 a night for the regular room, very very nice and helpful staff, honest, informative, etc. Holidays Hotel 24 Hang Manh Street old quarter.
#6 toxic8 has been a member since 19/10/2009. Posts: 19
Btw, I'll be going to Ha Long Bay tomorrow , hopefully it'll be worth it for the 3 days.. As Its supposed to rain for 1 or 2 of them, though the temp will be pretty warm. I was quoted 95$ through my hotel and the cruise "menu" said Christina cruises though the receipt said sinh cafe. Hrm: wonder Those "deluxe" upgrades are worth it.
Though after the street scene here 3 days in relative luxury sounds fantastic.
As an aside, I read recently that inflated "foreign guest" prices are Government mandated (such as for hotels etc) versus the local population - is this true?
#7 toxic8 has been a member since 19/10/2009. Posts: 19
Sorry for rapid posts - I'm typing this from an iPhone - for the sake of clarity, that cruise price is forthe maxed out deluxe tour, 3 days, 16 ppl max on new 3k horsepower junk, upgraded holday hotel at cat ba, etc.
And btw the hotel I'm staying at gives a great rate, 19k dong to th dollar. That's all for now it's Tiger time!
#8 toxic8 has been a member since 19/10/2009. Posts: 19
Try a couple of my favourite restaurants.
Quan An Ngon, which also has a branch in Saigon, has stalls that make a sort of upmarket version of street food from different parts of Vietnam and there’s a big outdoor area. It's reasonably priced too, 18 Phan Boi Chau, on a corner. Go early to ensure a seat or book ahead.
Near Craftlink is a restaurant, Koto, (59 Pho Van Mieu, 747 0338) where street kids are trained . The food is good and the decor and ambience are very pleasant. I like the top floor where there is a balcony. Run by an Australian Vietnamese /www.koto.com.au.
There are also lots of great coffee shops in Hanoi- try Pho Co. You go through a souvenir shop at 11 Hang Gai and up stairs until you get to the floor which overlooks HO An Kim lake. (order at the bottom of the stairs first.They have ca phe trung, which has whipped egg in it and is like drinking coffee meringue. You can get soup too and spring rolls). There are several places to sit, two floors overlooking the lake, but the top one is rather exposed, or inside the garden is very quiet.
#9 violets has been a member since 6/7/2009. Posts: 151
toxic8 - Ta Hien is a street in the old quarter. Also try 'Little Hanoi' restaurant on Ta Hien, and 'Funky Buddha' bar - both well worth a visit.
toxic 8 - thanks for the posts. I would love to hear comments about your Halong trip. I'm thinking about staying at Holidays Hotel myself when I arrive in a couple of weeks.
#12 foieslinger has been a member since 11/11/2009. Posts: 36
There are plenty of beautiful boats I saw when I went to Halong Bay earlier this month. I was on board with Pinta Gold from Columbus and I like their services. You should try it yourself. I have posted some thoughts in another thread.
#13 silversnapper has been a member since 5/12/2009. Posts: 24
I am currently on Phu Quoc - have done Hanoi, HLB, Hue, Hoi An, Nha Trang, Mui Ne, and Saigon so far.
I have so much to tell my newbie fellow travellers, but alas I didn't bring a laptop and wifi is sporadic in sub 15$ high season lodging.
Foieslinger - in short, it was a great trip, as for many, the highlight of my stay in the North. No complaints, and the 10$ upgrade is absolutely worth it (the hotel has GREAT food ersus the standard which expats told me was eh). Highly recommend the 3 day tour as well, hike up cat ba is great and monkey island is a laugh and a half.
Will post more detailed report asap, are there any others who would benefit from info On the route? ( travelfish's BIG one backwards?)
#15 toxic8 has been a member since 19/10/2009. Posts: 19
Had a truly amazing experience at Ha Long aboard the Cristina. Thank you so much Toxic 8 for the recommendation. Monkey Island was a laugh and a half and I never thought in a million years that I would ever be able to tell my friends and family that I was chased by a wild monkey. The little bastards are slightly aggressive, aren't they ?
This last week in Northern Vietnam has been one of the highlights of my life. Off to Hoi An on Wednesday !
#16 foieslinger has been a member since 11/11/2009. Posts: 36