Located on the banks of the mighty reddish-brown Red River, Hanoi is a 1,000 year old city that now buzzes with energy and modern ideals. While walking the streets of Vietnam’s capital, you’re just as likely to come across a designer boutique or a wine warehouse as you are to see an old-time noodle vendor or street market.
There’s plenty to explore in Hanoi, from the previously walled Old Quarter, where traditional stone masons and furniture makers and tinsmiths compete for space with herbalists and traditional restaurateurs, to the French Quarter, where yellowing Parisian-style building grace tree-lined avenues and boulevards.
Despite rapid growth and modernisation, Hanoi hasn’t lost its charm or spiritual roots. Temples, pagodas and dinh can still be found hidden among the modern buildings and facilities and plenty of locals still find the time to practice tai chi in the public parks.
Cruises to the region dock at Port of Haiphong in Haiphong, a large port city just 2 hours’ drive from Hanoi. Haiphong is actually the third largest city in Vietnam and is vitally important to the region as an industrial centre. The streets of Hiaphong rival Hanoi in attractiveness, with many French colonial buildings, pagodas, an opera house and a stunning flower market.
The cruise terminal at Port of Haiphong is part of the container port. As such, there are limited tourist facilities at the terminal. Tourists, however, will find all they need in terms of food, beverages, information and culture in the city centre.
There are a number of quality accommodation options in Haiphong and in nearby Hanoi.
How to Get AroundTaxi or private car are the best options for travel around in Vietnam, whether you’re staying in Haiphong or journeying to Hanoi. Be aware that many taxi drivers in Vietnam do not speak English. Many tour operators can also coordinate private shuttles between the port and your accommodation or tourist location.
Travel times from the port:
- It is a 2 hour journey to Hanoi
- It is a 2 hour and 15 minute journey to Noi Bai International Airport
- It is a 13 minute journey to Cat Bi International Airport.
Due to the high volume of motorcycle on Vietnamese roads, pedestrians are warned to be careful, especially when crossing the street.
- Currency - The local currency in Hanoi is the Vietnamese Dong (₫). Notes are available in 100₫, 200₫, 500₫, 1,000₫, 2,000₫, 5,000₫, 10,000₫, 20,000₫, 50,000₫, 100,000₫, 200,000₫ and 500,000₫ denominations. Please note that Dong coins are no longer in use in Vietnam.
- Time Zone - Hanoi uses the Indochina Time Zone, which is seven hours ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).
- Weather - Hanoi and Haiphong experience tropical monsoon weather. The summers (June - August) are hot, with temperatures ranging from 27 degrees Celsius to 32 degrees Celsius, and include heavy tropical rain on most days. The winters (December – February) fall in the dry season and are much cooler, with temperatures ranging from 14 degrees Celsius to 23 degrees Celsius.
- The Temple of Literature - Dedicated to the Chinese philosopher Confucius, the Temple of Literature is a sprawling collection of ancient temples, citadels, pavilions and monuments. The site was first established nearly 1,000 years ago, but as it has undergone many refurbishments, the architectural style of many dynasties is on display. The temple is also home to the Imperial Academy, Vietnam’s first national university that was established in 1076.
- The Old Quarter - Known locally as the Hoan Kiem District, the Old Quarter is Hanoi’s major commercial district and a significant cultural and dining destination. Colonial architecture sits alongside traditional pagodas, and each house modern cafés, bakeries, boutiques and art galleries. Behind the charming façades, curious tourists can often find quiet or secluded courtyards where they can relax and recharge.
- Museum of Ho Chi Minh - Built to celebrate Communist revolutionary Ho Chi Minh’s 100th birthday, the Ho Chi Minh Museum provides a detailed account of the country’s struggle against imperialism. The architecturally unique museum is full of interesting memorabilia and photographs that demonstrate what daily life was like in Communist Vietnam. Personal guides are available to help you understand the significance of each item in the collection.
- Water Puppet Shows – Only an 8-minute drive from the Temple of Literature and right near Hoan Kiem Lake, the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre is a popular attraction for both local and foreign tourists. See this age-old, traditional Vietnamese art in action as you sit, transfixed by the beautiful method of storytelling that is unfolding before you. Shows are performed daily.