January is undoubtedly the coldest month in Hanoi (see Hanoi monthly average temperature). Though the idea of having 7-12 Celsius degree seems to be associated with a nice, cool and no-sweat atmosphere, the reality is rather dark and ugly. The drizzle that goes on days and nights - though not all the time - make the air wet, humid and chilly beyond imagination. The worst part is probably strong cold wind AND no central heating system available indoors!
The average temperature in Hanoi in January falls between 13 and 19 degree, not to mention the colder days which can make your trip rather miserable without warm clothing. The good news is that if you cannot afford to take them in your luggage from home, Hanoi has plenty to offer when it comes to shopping for clothes.
Tips: Essential things for Hanoi in January: scarf, mitten, thin layers of warm sweaters, socks and long-johns if you are from a tropical country.
Welcome to Hanoi, Vietnam. December is in the winter in Hanoi. Therefore, it is cold but is still ok for travellers, especially those from temperate zone like you will not have a difficult time at all. The temperature is about 16 Celcius degree on average, with light rain and windy weather. You can go out for sightseeing comfortably, but make sure that you bring some warm clothes because Vietnam does not have central heating system like North America so it might be colder than it sounds.
Many Hanoians talk about having ice-cream and walking around the tree-lined Hoan Kiem Lake as a leisure activity during the winter days. Winter food in Vietnam is not about apple cider and fresh-from-the-oven brownies, but there are sure things to enjoy: sweet potatoes grilled on charcoal or toasted corn on the cob; chicken skewer and a hot bowl of pho will definitely give your stomach a satisfying feeling like you never feel before.
Question: Where are the best places to enjoy Hanoi’s coffee?
Answer: If you want to enjoy Hanoi traditional coffee, Starbucks or Highlands Coffee are not the ideal choices. The coffee flavors in these cafés are pretty standard and popular all over the world, meanwhile, Hanoi traditional coffee is stronger, more condensed and tasty.
Here are some addresses for your references to enjoy the unique flavors of Hanoi Coffee:
1, Café Giang – No. 39, Nguyen Huu Huan Street or No. 109, Yen Phu Street
(Giang Café is well-known for its Traditional Egg Coffee, don’t miss it if you visit the café)
2, Café Dinh – No. 103, Dinh Tien Hoang Street
3, Café Pho Co – No. 11, Hang Gai Street
4, Cong Café – No. 152, Trieu Viet Vuong Street
Motor rental service is available in Hanoi and you can easily find the shops which offer this service on main streets like Ba Trieu, Hai Ba Trung, Tran Hung Dao, and especially small streets in Hanoi Old Quarter like Hang Be, Ta Hien, Luong Ngoc Quyen, Dinh Liet.
There are many kinds of motorbikes from the most popular ones in Vietnam like Wave, Dream, Viva… to favorite transportation means of backpackers like Simson, Minsk. The cost ranges from $6 to $50 per day depending on motor type.
Foreign tourists just has to leave one hard copy of his/her passport and one kind of identity papers like driving license or passport in the shop, then take the motor and begin a joyful trip. These rented motor taxi is usually empty of gas so you will need to find a gas station to fill it up (see How much fuel costs in Vietnam).
Monthly motorcycle rent is also available with Rentabike (www.rentabikehanoi.com/) starting from $50 a month. If you plan to stay long term in Hanoi, you may purchase a used motorbike from a fellow expat - such as visiting New Hanoian classifieds section.
Question: Hi there, I’ve been in Sai Gon for a week and now I’m looking for nice beach destinations nearby the city. Could you please suggest me some options?
Answer: If you are staying in Ho Chi Minh City, you should go ahead to Ba Ria – Vung Tau Province or Phan Thiet City which are well-known for its magnificent beaches. Vung Tau is one of the best destinations in the South Vietnam for beach fans. Some renowned ones in the province are the untouched and immaculate Ho Tram Beach and the famous Con Dao Island with blue crystal-clear beaches, white sand dunes, and amazing coral reefs. Another popular beach heaven in Vietnam is in Phan Thiet City with the prominent Mui Ne Beach, which is widely known by worldwide travelers. For more information about the best beaches surrounding Ho Chi Minh City, please visit our website http://www.vietnamonline.com/ho-chi-minh-city-beaches.html
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You have two options to obtain your visa to Vietnam from Hong Kong:
Option 1. Apply for a visa at the Vietnamese consulate in Hong Kong:
Address: 15/F, Great Smart Tower, 230 Van Chai Road, Wan Chai
Tel: (852) 2591 4517 or (852) 2591 4510.
Visa forms may be obtained by sending a self-addressed, pre-stamped envelope or faxing to the Number: (852) 2591 4524.
Fee and Duration: Tourist visas cost between $30-80, depending on the length and number of entry.
Option 2: Apply for a visa-on-arrival. Note that this type of visa applies to air travel only, and it costs $45 - 85, depending on the duration of stay ad number of entries. The process of applying online at a travel agency is very fast and you do not have to show up at the embassy to submit the application.
Normally you can bring any currency that you want to Vietnam, as long as you exchange that money into Vietnam Dong but USD is the most widely accepted one. You can also use USD or Euro to make payment in Vietnam, especially in hotel, restaurants or some shops in the tourists areas.
To exchange you currency into Vietnam Dong, there are many ways for you to choose. The first way is to do it right at the airport when you land. You can also exchange currency in any bank in Hanoi, but ANZ bank or HSBC branch are recommended as they are international banks with better customer service.
You should never exchange currency with the street vendors as their money might be not guaranteed in quality. About international credit card, you can use it in Vietnam to make payment, but there is only limited place, mostly big supermarkets, restaurants, hotel or malls accept this kind of payment. Therefore, prepare enough cash on your purse is more suitable in Hanoi than carry an credit card.
Pho is arguably the most popular food in Vietnam. It is served both at restaurants and in families, eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner. This famous dish is basically rice noodle soup but the broth is seasoned in a very unique way that appeals to almost everyone.
You can try pho in one of the street corners where every local gather or at more upscale restaurants such as Pho Vuong or Pho 24. Pho 24 also has a vegetarian option for pho, replacing beef and chicken with a variety of mushrooms.
Taking place every Sunday’s morning, Bac Ha is the local market where ethnic communities living in Lao Cai Province gather to exchange and trade goods. Bac Ha Market attracts tourists from all over Vietnam as well as foreigners for the original and diverse features of culture. People can visit Bac Ha Market by catching buses from Lao Cai Terminal or Sapa Terminal, as it is located 70km far from Lao Cai City and 80km from Sapa Town.
Every day, there are three buses departing from Lao Cai Terminal at 6 a.m., 11 a.m., and 1 p.m., with the fare around VND 70,000. In addition, passengers who travel by train can get off at Pho Lu station, which is only 50km far from the market; and then use local buses or motorbike service.
From Sapa, tourists have several alternatives to go to Bac Ha Market: buses or motorbike. There are direct buses from Sapa Terminal with the ticket price of VND 80,000; and it will take up to three hours to reach Bac Ha Market.
Tourists can also hire motorbike (Minsk is the most popular) for VND 100,000/day and enjoy the wildly picturesque sceneries on the way to Bac Ha. The route passes through Ban Phiet; then following Highway 70 for about 40-50km, turning left at the three-way crossroad leading to Bac Ha.
Tips: Use our Route Planner Tool (http://routeplanner.vietnamonline.com/) to find the best way to get from Sapa to Bac Ha.
It is quite hard to find a decent English bookstore in Hanoi, since the demand is pretty low and not frequent. The first and only English bookstore in Hanoi until now is Bookworm, which located on 44 Chau Long Street, near Truc Bach Lake. This bookstore trades only English books and magazines, both used and new, with a limitted French collection. There are also many discounted fictions if you want a quick read for your next trip.
Another bookstore, Trang Tien bookstore (44 Trang Tien Str., Hoan Kiem Dist.) also sells many English books, though it is mostly about learning and teaching. The majority of books here are still in Vietnamese.
In order to find English books, you might need to venture out to other book stores around the city. Phuong Nam company has three bookstores in Hanoi: one inside Vincom tower (191 Ba Trieu Str.), one at 20 Ly Thai To Str and one at 87 Lang Ha Str. All of them have foreign sections, with some books, magazines, artbooks and CDs/DVDs in English.
Fahasa bookstore (338 Xa Dan Str, Dong Da Dist) might be worth visiting as well, with around 100 English books of different types. Moreover, Fahasa recently open a new book store at 39 Kim Lien Moi Str., Dong Da Dist, doubling the number of English books, which include some famous classic novels such as Frankenstein, Gone with the wind, Breakfast at Tiffany, The lords of the rings, etc.
In addition, wandering around Dinh Le Str. (the so called book street of Hanoi), you can sometimes find good English books/novels/artbooks at quite low prices. In general, to find a good English book in Hanoi, you must have patience and time but the price is pretty reasonable.