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Getting around Hanoi

Public transport

The public bus system in Hanoi is cheap but confusing, and few short-term visitors to Hanoi attempt it. There are around 70 bus routes operated by several different bus operators, but information for all routes can be found on the website of the Hanoi Urban Transport Management and Operation Centre (http://tramoc.com.vn). Monthly passes are available.

Taxis

Taxis are the best way to travel around Hanoi. Restaurants, bars and hotels are quite happy to summon a taxi, otherwise vehicles can be hailed on the street. Visitors are advised to check that the meter is turned on. Reliable taxi companies are Airport Taxi (tel: +84 4 3886 6666) and Hanoi Taxi (tel: +84 4 3853 5353).

Motorcycle Taxis (Xe Om) is another cheap and popular way to get around Hanoi. As they aren't fitted with meters, do bargain hard before hopping onto one.

Driving

Most visitors to Hanoi are quite traumatised when they encounter the traffic for the first time. The streets are crammed with bicycles and motorbikes, which dart between the growing number of cars. Happily, visitors are only allowed to hire cars with drivers.

Car hire

It is not possible to hire a car to drive yourself but you can hire one with a driver from tour operators such as Exo Travel (tel: +84 4 3828 2150; www.exotravel.com), Vidotour (tel: +84 4 3734 5429; www.vidotourtravel.com), and Buffalo Tours (tel: +84 4 3926 3425; www.buffalotours.com).

Bicycle hire

In a city that is home to thousands of bicycles, you can hire a bicycle for a day or longer period from a number of outlets on Hang Bac Street in the Old Quarter. Good-quality bicycles and helmets are available to hire from Marco Polo Travel (tel: +84 4 3997 5136; www.bikingvietnam.com) at 49 Nguyen Khoai.

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Featured Hotels

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Zéphyr Hotel

Located right by Hoan Kiem Lake, and within walking distance of the Old Quarter, this classy hotel offers good value. The rooms are smart and well-maintained, while the restaurant serves both Vietnamese and Western cuisine. The rooftop bar, with panoramic views across the city, is a great place for a drink.

Flower Garden Hotel

This stylish hotel on the edge of the Old Quarter has large, well-lit rooms decorated in Vietnamese style. There are two restaurants serving Western and a fusion of Asian food, one being on the top floor with great views across the city. There’s also a fitness centre and spa, including a sauna and Jacuzzi.

Maison d'Hanoi Hanova Hotel

The narrow entrance is barely noticeable, but this boutique hotel is well known for its stylish combination of colonial and art deco design. It’s within walking distance of Hoan Kiem Lake and ideal for exploring the Old Quarter. With its own restaurant and spa, this is a real find in an excellent location.

Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi

An old colonial hotel steeped in history, the Sofitel isn’t called ‘legend’ for nothing. With three excellent restaurants (Vietnamese, French and Italian), as well as bars, swimming pool and gym, it’s the most prized luxury choice of the city. Rooms in the historical Metropole Wing have maintained the original features, while the Opera Wing has rooms designed in classic French style.

InterContinental Hanoi Westlake

This is one of the best 5-star business hotels in Hanoi, built entirely over the West Lake, featuring large rooms, restaurants and bars, swimming pool and spa facilities. The hotel's Vietnamese, Italian and French restaurants all have good reputations. Rooms overlook the lake or the Hanoi skyline and are stylishly Vietnamese.

Hoa Binh Hotel

A consistently popular choice on the Hanoi hotel scene, the Hoa Binh is a renovated colonial hotel dating from 1926. Located within walking distance of Hoan Kiem Lake, it boasts more than 100 rooms, all large and comfortable with good facilities for a 3-star hotel. There are also French and Vietnamese restaurants.