As I was preparing to leave for Hanoi it hit me that I had not figured out how to get from the airport to Hanoi Old Quarter yet. After lots of research, and having testest out the various options, these are my recommendations for you:
You have four options for transport from the airport to Hanoi Old Quarter.
1. Public bus which is cheap and slow.
2. Private bus or minibus. More expensive but more convenient.
3. Taxi which is quick and convenient but costly
4. Grab which is cheaper than taxis, and convenient
Below we will have a closer look at each option, and give you some information on costs and how long it will take. There are also a few scams you need to be aware of.
Taxi from Noi Bai Airport
Taking a taxi from Noi Bai Airport is the quickest and simplest way to get to the Old Quarter. It is also the most expensive. A taxi ride for the 40 minutes or so it will take to get from the airport to the old quarter will cost you approximately 400 000 VND (17.5 USD).
The taxis are easy to locate as they are available at both the international and the local flights’ terminals, right outside. Please be a bit wary of people inside the airport offering you their taxi services, as you will very likely be overcharged heavily.
If you are arriving at the airport after the public buses stop running, you may want to consider booking a taxi pick up through your hotel in advance.
While this will cost you a bit more than the standard taxi rates, we have heard stories of the taxi drivers drastically increasing the prices at night when you don’t have as many options to walk away from them.
By far the easiest way to avoid getting scammed right out of the airport.
Simply download the grab app on your smartphone in advance and order a car to the address you wish to go to in the Old Quarter when you get outside the airport terminal.
Grab works like Uber, by giving you a flat fee that you will pay through the app. So you don’t need to pay by cash.
Also, this rarely happens but never cancel your ride in the app if the driver asks you too. This will cause you to have to pay a fee to Grab. It is better to do everything through the app, the same goes for any toll fees.
Keep transactions it in the app.
We also recommend buying a sim card at the airport for your own convenience. It is inexpensive at around USD 10, and you will get a lot more freedom to move around. Otherwise, you need to use the wifi in the airport. “Noi Bai Airport Free Wi-Fi” is the name.
Public bus from Noi Bai Airport to Hanoi Center
To find the public bus, walk out on the right side of the terminal. Every 15-20 minutes marked 17 leaves the airport for the bus station closest to the Old Quarter in Hanoi.
Taking the public bus from the airport is a bit more of a hassle as you will need to walk from the Long Bien bus station to your hotel. If you have a lot to carry you could also consider taking a taxi from here. This will set you back another 30 000 VND (1.50 USD). If you are the walking type, you should get there in about 20 minutes.
The buses runs every 15-20 minutes from 5 AM to 10 PM, and will only cost you 5000 VND (less than 0.25 cent). The second drawback of taking the bus is that the ride will last for 90 minutes or so, compared to half that of taking the taxi. So if you are traveling as a group, or are strapped for time, taking a taxi could be a better option for you.
Tip: Bring smaller notes, as the bus may not be able to break your large ones.
Private Bus and Minibus from Hanoi Airport to the Old Quarter
The last transport option from Noi Bai Airport into the city is taking a private bus or minibus. This is a great middle ground between the slow and cheap public bus, and the quick and expensive option of taking a taxi.
Riding a private bus into the city of Hanoi is going to cost us foreigners a minimum of 32 000 VND (1.40 USD). These buses are often privately owned by the aviation companies, and will drive to their offices in for example Quang Trung if you don’t specify otherwise. Make sure to check this with the company you are flying with.
Since we are not going to the standard destination of most of the buses, expect to pay up to 4 USD to be dropped off at your hotel in the Old Quarter. Especially when riding a private minibus.
Obviously taking a private bus is a lot cheaper than taking a taxi from the airport to Hanoi, but the drawback is that you will need to wait for them to fill up the buses before they leave. You will arrive faster than the public bus, as there will only be stops along the way for the other passengers at their destinations.
There is also a matter of comfort and safety. If you’re going the private bus route, you may want to stick to the larger coach buses instead of going for the slightly quicker minibus. If this is your first time riding a minibus in Asia, I will make the analogy of being a sardine in a can being shot down the road at a very high speed.
The privte coach buses, public buses and taxis options will offer a bit more comfort for you if you don’t want to start your adventure in Hanoi by being scared off.
Here are a few hotels & guesthouses that may interest you (Agoda affiliate link).
Renting a car in Hanoi
This is not one of the options I would recommend for a tourist in Hanoi. But it is possible to rent a car from the airport if you are comfortable driving around.
You can find all the various car rental companies like Avis, Hertz, Eurocar, etc offering you cars at the airport.
Heres our article on how to get from Hanoi to Halong Bay.
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