Getting around Hanoi

Getting around Hanoi

Hanoi is the capital city of Vietnam, and its roads accommodate more than 7 million vehicles. A glance down at the street from any high rise building will stun you with a canal-system of motorbikes, with large numbers of buses, cars and bicycles in between. Although many regard Hanoi as one of the most chaotic traffic systems in the world, it somehow manages to work. But amidst all of this vehicular anarchy, how do you plan to get around during your stay in this fast-moving capital?

The type of transportation you choose for your work commute will depend on many important factors. How far away is your place of business? How quickly do you need to get there? How much comfort do you need during your trip?


Go with the flow. Traffic generally moves slowly here but is quite unpredictable at times, so never drive faster than necessary.

Public transport

The buses, trains and Skytrain system are by far the cheapest modes of travel in Hanoi but can become very crowded during peak hours. A bus ride to another part of the city will be as low as 5,000 VND, so this is perfect if you are here on a budget. Train tickets are a little more expensive, especially if you are looking for a private berth. If you are travelling to another city in Vietnam, be cautious and book your ticket at least one day before departing.


With over 5 million motorbikes in the city of Hanoi, this is clearly the preferred choice of the majority of locals and expats alike. Renting a motorbike in Hanoi can cost as little as 1 million VND (around US$42) per month. A motorbike commute is also the quickest way of getting from place to place. However, getting from Tay Ho district to say Hoang Mai will still take the best part of an hour during peak times. Therefore, during your first few months here, leave in plenty of good time until you get used to Hanoi’s code of the road!

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If you feel that driving a motorbike will just drive you up the wall, taxis may be a convenient alternative. This mode of transportation is undoubtedly the most comfortable, but if you’re relying on local services, it is the easiest way of being ripped off too. Local cabbies will often try to charge you triple the regular price, so for peace of mind, it is best to stick to international brands like Grab. If you are embarking on a night out or have a disability, Grab taxi is by far the best choice.

Xe Om

This is fundamentally a motorbike taxi, and the name literally translates to ‘motorbike hug’. They can be easily identified by their worn-out viz vests and are normally seen lurking on street corners. The basic price is around 10,000 to 15,000 VND per kilometre, but you should always negotiate your fare before jumping on. When you arrive at your destination, try to pay with exact change to avoid any difficult situation.

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