Getting around Hanoi

Getting around Hanoi can be a difficult task at times, especially for the uninitiated. But, backpacking through Vietnam need not be difficult and a few helpful tips here and there will make it more enjoyable trip through Vietnam.

So here at Vietnam Backpacker Tips we have a few helpful hints and tips for the backpacker travelling in and out of Hanoi.

Getting into Hanoi

from the airport

Local Bus

The cheapest way to get from Hanoi airport to Hanoi would be using the local buses from Noi Bai airport.

The local buses number 7 and 17 will take you from Hanoi airport in to Hanoi city centre but please be aware it may not be exactly where you want, such as close to your hotel in Hanoi.

The number 7 bus from Hanoi airport will drop you off in the area around Kim Ma street which is a further local bus or a taxi ride in to the Old Quarter.

The number 17 will drop you just over the river from the old quarter at Long Bien bus station. If you are staying in hotels in the Old Quarter of Hanoi, then you will need a short taxi or motorbike ride across Chuong Duong Bridge, it is not permissible to walk across.

The price is around 7000 VND and there may be extra charges for your luggage.

Buses run every 15-20 minutes from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Tourist Bus

For more comfort and FREE WiFi & on a newer bus we would suggest using bus number 86.

This bus is located just to the left as you walk out of Terminal 2 (international) & will take you from Hanoi airport in to the Old Quarter with a number of stops along the way.

Expect to pay 30k - 35k VND for this trip and will take you around 45 minutes from start to finish.

Click here for the bus route and the stops included.

Shuttle Bus
The next step up for getting from Hanoi airport in to Hanoi centre is with the shuttle bus.
A 16 seater bus which will only leave once it is nearing full capacity, is run by a partner of Vietnam Airlines.
This bus will collect from just outside the arrivals hall at the airport and costs 40k VND - 45k VND per passenger.
This bus also leaves from Hanoi at The Vietnam Airlines Office at 1 Quang Trung.

Next in the chain in how to get from Hanoi airport in to Hanoi city centre is of course by using a taxi.
Taxis are a very convenient way to get from A - B without much effort in between. Located outside both terminals and ready to be haggled with (sometimes) but always check the price before you get in otherwise you could be paying well over the odds.
Taxi Group & Mai Linh are two recommended taxis but again, always make sure you know the price. Some taxi metres around the City are rigged and jump up in high increments but from the airport we think it is quite rare.
If in doubt, ALWAYS ask to be dropped at the front of your hotel, so you can make sure the hotel staff can help with any problems with high charges etc. Don't be fobbed off with one way street or can't access the street, unless this is obvious.
Expect to pay in the region of 300 - 400k VND per car, so if you have others who are going to the same hostel, share! If you aren't, they won't stop at multiple hotels or hostels, so agree on 1 destination and all jump out there.

Grab Car
One of the more comfortable ways getting from Hanoi airport to Hanoi City is by Grab.
Make sure you download the app before you arrive and get yourself a SIM card in Noi Bai Airport on arrival.
Once you have set up your local SIM card at Hanoi airport you can then check the Grab App for any nearby drivers in the terminal and wait outside the arrivals hall to await your car to Hanoi Old Quarter and to your hotel or hostel.

Private Car
The highest priced transfers from Hanoi airport would be by private car.
Your hotel or travel agency can arrange a private car for you and you will be certain of pick up without any stress of being scammed, you are staying with them after all.
These cars will generally be in the region of $20 - $25 per car for 4 seater.

Getting out of Hanoi

Ninh Binh

There are various options getting from Hanoi to Ninh Binh and we will show you the best below.


Hanoi "Le Duan" train station to Ninh Binh train station

Duration: 2.5 hours


For the local bus option, you will need to get to the bus station Giap Bat (6 Giai Phong). You can take local bus no. 3A which is the line from Gia Lam to Giap Bat. Three stops which are close to the Old Quarter are 80 Tran Nhat Duat, 162 Tran Quang Khai & 198 Tran Quang Khai, costing 7000 VND p/p.

Tickets from Giap Bat bus station (make sure you go to the ticket office inside and not the touts outside) to Ninh Binh are around 70,000 - 100,000 VND p/p. You will then need to take a local bus or taxi to Tam Coc or Trang An whichever you prefer.


There are now a number of tourist buses departing from inside the Old Quarter with better services these days and also dropping you off in Tam Coc which is where you want to be anyway. It is worth every penny when you think of the trouble needed to get to Giap Bat bus station above.

They usually depart at 8am and 2pm. These are slightly more than your local bus but half the hassle & typically 120,000 VND - 150,000 VND p/p.


There are options to take a limousine bus from Hanoi Old Quarter to Ninh Binh with pick up and drop off from your hotel. This is the most comfortable option and with far less changes between. Of course this costs more than your typical backpacker route but it is an option for you flashpackers out there. Contact us for details!


This is by far the most expensive option so will need to get a group of you together to make it manageable. Contact us for details!


Again there are various options to get from Hanoi to Sapa and here we have a few below.


A local bus to Sapa will be the absolute cheapest but with a bit of a trek to get to the start, it may be worth going the sleeper bus route. You need to make your way to My Dinh bus station, which is approximately 9.5 km away from Hoan Kiem Lake and enter the ticket office to ask for Sapa, I am sure you will be asked by many touts outside the station but please be aware they will probably charge you more.


There are overnight sleeper buses termed “backpacker buses” which will take you from Hanoi to Sapa taking around 6 hours. This would mean leaving around 9pm and arriving at 3am, not the best time to arrive in the town with no hostel. But being that this is the cheapest option and generally about $12 - $15 per person it is maybe worth taking.

A word of warning about taking these buses though, don’t expect lavish treatment from the staff onboard these buses as they can be pretty pushy and rude, it is what it is unfortunately and it needs to be taken with a pinch of salt.


A limousine bus is for me the most comfortable and convenient of all the options here. With 7 seats in the back all in comfortable airplane type seats with armrests, seatbelts and a USB socket to power up your smartphone, along with WiFi (although admittedly they aren’t the best) you are sure to enjoy more than the sleeper buses. You will be picked up from your hotel and dropped off at your hotel in Sapa. This also works both ways of course and is priced usually between $20 - $25 per person. Contact us for a better price!


A private car is by far the most convenient with private pick up from your hotel in Hanoi and drop off service at your hotel in Sapa. With plenty of stops in between if you wish for toilet or drinks break. This of course is much more expensive than the other options but any flashpackers who need this then we can organise for you.


Just kidding...although I believe an airport is in the planning stages...god help Sapa then!!

Mai Chau

Here we have a few options for how to get from Hanoi to Mai Chau.


This route as always, tends to be the most labour intensive of the options offered to get from Hanoi to Mai Chau. This will involve a taxi/motorbike ride to My Dinh bus station and to obtain your ticket at the office once you arrive. Then once you arrive in Mai Chau you will need to arrange a transfer to your homestay. This tends to cost around 70k VND per person.


There are agencies who can offer this option costing around $15 - $20 per person and taking approximately 4 hours to reach Mai Chau from Hanoi.

You will be collected by the driver from your hotel and usually drops off at a set location in Mai Chau whereby you would need to arrange a ride to your homestay or hotel.


An option to get to Mai Chau and enjoy activities once you arrive would be to take a tour. You can opt for a 1 day or 2 day tour and enjoy pick up and drop off services in Hanoi and Mai Chau. This option will include a homestay and meals so its whether or not this option works in to your budget.

Tours including transfers, accommodation, English speaking guide and meals can start from as low as $55 per person.

If you don’t want to come back when the tour does, you can organise directly with the guide to have them pick you up in a few days time, which is usually possible.


Taking a private car with personalised service and door to door transfers is the best option and can work out not so much if travelling with friends. We can offer this service so contact us now for details and price!