FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Where can I find musical instruments in Hanoi?

Hanoi has plenty of instrument providers. If you go with local people and are not afraid of bargaining, you had better go to Hao Nam Street. This street is famous for instrument trading, since it is near Vietnam National Institute of Music. Shops here offer a variety of instruments, from foreign ones such as guitar, mandolin, bass guitar, violin, cello, piano, flute to traditional instruments like bamboo flute, bau luthier (dan bau), 16 strings zither (dan tranh), Vietnamese violin (dan nhi) or even t’rung (a Ba Na ethical instrument from Tay Nguyen). The price is not too high, but you should be careful because instruments here are not always as good as what they look like.

Hang Manh Street also has instrument shops, but the range is much narrower compared to those in Hao Nam Str., and the quality is not even as good. In general, shopping at these addresses is not always safe, and moreover they do not provide any warranty service at all. In order to buy good instruments with famous brand names in Hanoi, consumers just have 3 choices: Hoang Phuc, the officially distribution center of Ibanez and Roland instrument in Vietnam, located at Vincom tower, 191 Ba Trieu Str.; Yamaha official store, 24 Ly Quoc Su Str. and SolG, 13D2A Van Phuc Str. The prices are higher than those at Hao Nam and Hang Manh Street, but customers are given full information about the suppliers, the original countries and instrument's conditions, along with certifications and warranties. Price or quality, the choice is yours. 

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What is the weather of Hanoi like in January?

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.

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Where should I go to when I feel sick?

Vietnam has public, semi-public and private medical care facility. However, most of the quality ones concentrate in major cities such as Ha Noi, Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang. Public hospitals are large but often heavily cramped with patients and the staffs do not speak English well. You can visit other healthcare services as listed in our city pages, many of which have foreign doctors. Normally you do not have to book an appointment in advance unless otherwise noted.

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Hi, I have only 2 weeks in Vietnam and I want to include Hanoi, Hue, Hoi An, Nha Trang, Ho Chi Minh City in the trip. Is that over-ambitious? Should I just stay at some of these and if so, what would

Thank for your question. If you have only 2 weeks, it might be a bit over-ambitious to do all of those above-mentioned destinations. Instead, you can choose some of those for discovery. For example, a trip to Hanoi, Hue and Nha Trang is suitable for the 2 week length. In such an itinerary, you can have a 5 day stay in Hanoi capital to come and visit Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Ba Dinh Square, Old Quater, Hoan Kiem Lake. You might include Halong Bay in your itinerary as well.  

The next 5 days can be spent in Hue and Hoi An to discover the forbidden city and the surrounding areas such as DMZ zone, Hoi An, My Son Sanctuary, especially Hue's typical food.

The rest of the time can be finished nicely with a short visit to Nha Trang, a luxury paradise for travellers. You can also take a look at our suggested travel itinerary for more information how to spend your two weeks in Vietnam!

Have a meaningful trip to Vietnam!

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Where can I get a pair of flipflops or sandals in Hanoi?

Summer is the golden time of flip flops and sandals in general. The scorching weather prevents many people from wearing shoes; moreover flip flops/sandals are so much convenient to take off before entering some café, restaurants or even pagodas. There are two biggest places for this product, one is Le Duan Street and the other is Hang Dau Street.

As Le Duan Street mainly provides working clothes, like rubber boots, rain coat, security uniforms, flip flop/sandals are not their major products. The positive features are low price and durability, but the styles are limited and the design is quite rough (imagine Birkenstock and the likes).

Hang Dau has a better diversity of styles, colors and designs, and the prices are just slightly higher. Shops here also sell bamboo flip flops, which are very stylish in this hot weather, and high quality leather sandals, sometimes imported from Korean or Japan. You really should go outside and get one pair for your own. 

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Where is a good area in HCMC to start looking for rent?

Depending on your purpose and the length of your stay in Vietnam, you can find support for renting a house or a room from different people. If you are on a business trip to Vietnam, you might have useful advice from your colleagues about where to stay. A room at a hotel near your company will be ideal for a short stay while a rental room/apartment will work for longer stay (more than 1 month).

District 2 and District 7 offer high standard rooms which are suitable for foreigners who are willing to spend more on the accommodation part. However, it is a little bit far from the city center. Some rooms are also available in District 3, Tan Binh District at a lower price.

District 1 is the most expensive to rent a room for a permanent stay. Price also varies depending upon the size and amenities of the room.   If you are backpackers to Vietnam, you can find affordable rooms along the streets wherever you go. Price should not exceed $10/person/night for a hostel or motel. Again, do not hesitate to bargain

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Can you please advise me where to shop and massage / spa with good and reasonable price? So far I know the popular places to shop is Ben Thanh Market , is there any else you can advise for me?

Hi,

Some shopping venues that you should check out: Personally, I highly recommend Saigon Square (77-78 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street) which is the heaven for shopping with good prices. The shopping center is just a step away from Ben Thanh market. Yet, where to shop also depends on what you want to buy. For example, for camping facilities, you could only find at Dan Sinh market.

In terms of spa, Spa Tropic is great place that provides you the best mind-healing treatment. (http://www.spatropic.com/). Happy Ending Massage Yuan is also a good choice for travelers with tight budget (about $10-15 for food and body massage) and it is quite central ( on Le Thanh Tong street). Good luck !

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The easiest and cheapest way to travel from Noi Bai Airport to Hanoi City Center?

Question: The easiest and cheapest way to travel from Noi Bai Airport to Hanoi City Center?

Answer: Noi Bai International Airport (HAN) is round about 35 km north of the city. It takes tourists 45 – 75 minutes to move from the airport to the downtown depending on which vehicle you will choose (taxi, mini bus, public bus, or private car) and how heavy the traffic is.

The cheapest way

The cheapest way travelling to Hanoi City Center is to catch a public bus. Currently, there are two bus routes connecting HAN with the downtown, namely, bus 07 and 17. The price for a one-way ticket is 9,000 VND for bus 07 and 7,000 VND for bus 17. Despite of the extremely reasonable price (less than 0.5 USD dollar), many foreign tourists don’t like choosing this way because the public bus is often teeming with local people. In addition, it will take a very long time (about 60 minutes or more) to reach the destination.

Beside public bus, you can choose mini bus which is less crowded and more comfortable. Airport Minibus will cost 50,000 VND (US$2.5) for one way trip from the airport to Vietnam Airlines Office on Quang Trung Street. Fares to other destinations are higher, around US$4. Please make clear about your destination and fares before getting on minibus. Minibuses will leave the airport when they are full. You can also hire a whole minibus for 500,000 VND (US$25).

The easiest way

Using a private transfer service offered by your local travel agent may be the easiest way. Nowadays, almost agents and hotels will include airport pick-up service in their package. Upon arrival, there will be a person waiting for you with your name written on a piece of paper and taking you to your private car.

The commonest

For extra convenience and reasonable price, a great deal of travelers prefers taxi to other vehicles. There are three famous taxi operated in Noi Bai Airport, which are Viet Thanh Taxi, Noi Bai Airport Taxi, and Dai Nam Taxi. For further information about prices, please visit http://www.vietnamonline.com/transport/taxi-from-hanoi-airport-noi-bai-to-city-center.html

Note: Please be noted that these information were written in January 2016. The price and all other information may be changed any time by service's providers.

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Where can I buy English books in Hanoi?

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. 

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How can I travel overland from China to Hanoi?

From China to Hanoi, you have some routes. Each of them has their own advantages:

1. Kunming - Hekou - Lao Cai - Hanoi:

Chinese side has no train in this route. From Kunming to Hekou border gate, if you travel by bus, it will take almost 10 hours, including lunch time. From Hekou to Lao Cai town, it lasts 10 minutes by motorbike/taxi. The next step is to go to Lao Cai railway station and find a train ticket to Hanoi (overnight train). So, it is about 790 km (490km by bus and 300km by train) from Kunming to Hanoi.

2. Nanning - PingXiang - Lang Son - Hanoi:

By bus: Huu Nghi Quan (Friendship Pass) is about 17km from Lang Son town. It is wise to arrive at Friendship Pass (customs and immigration) before 4:30 PM, because they do not stamp foreign passports after that time. After that you can take a minibus tour to Hanoi. It costs VND 60,000 ($3) for this trip and it takes 3,5-4 hours.

By train: Beijing - Nanning – Hanoi trip takes you about 40 hours. You will need to change the train at Dong Dang border town, since the rail width in China is 1,4m, while in Vietnam it is only 1m.

3. Nanning - DongXing - MongCai - Ha Long - Hanoi:

There are direct buses from Nanning to Halong Bay, which start 8:00 am in the morning, from River South Bus Centre (Jiang Nan Ke Yun Zhong Xing). The bus passes the border at DongXing border town instead of Gate of Friendship. Total bus travel time from Nanning to Halong bay is 9 hours and it costs VND 3,000,000 ($150). You can also go by express boat from MongCai to Halong Bay then by bus to Hanoi, but it takes longer.

Related Readings:

Crossing the border between China and Vietnam
Vietnam Railway System
Tips for taking night train in Vietnam

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How to get from Hanoi to Nha Trang?

The best way for the tourists to get from Hanoi to Nha Trang is traveling by train or plane because of safety and comforts. For tourists who can afford the time and would like to enjoy beautiful scenes along the way, train is the best choice. The most prominent scene is Hai Van pass, the famous beauty spot between Hue and Da Nang. Traveling by train is the best way for tourists to appreciate the marvelous beauty of this pass, especially in the dawn or sunset. It takes you about 27 hours from Hanoi – Nha Trang by train.

For those who want to save time, they can take a flight from Hanoi to Nha Trang. It only takes about 1.5 hour, and Vietnam Airlines maintain frequent daily routes between these two cities. One way ticket is about $90 and Nha Trang Airport is about 40 minutes from downtown area. 

Besides, tourists can travel by open tour bus offered by plenty of travel agencies in Hanoi Old Quarter.

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