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Your vital get ready guide to Hanoi, Vietnam

Hanoi, Vietnam

On the banks of the Red River, in the North of Vietnam, lies the beautiful, colourful city of Hanoi. If you’re planning a trip to this old yet lively city, you’re in for the holiday of a lifetime.

We’ve prepared this short get ready guide to help you get ready for your Vietnamese adventure. Read on for all the tips you’ll need to be ready for everything Hanoi has to offer.

Get the right documents

There are new visa rules commencing for British citizens in June 2017. The Vietnamese Embassy currently states that as of 30th June 2017 a visa is required for all visits up to 15 days. Before applying for your visa, do check any changes in policy at the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs website.

Note that applications require a recent passport photo from the last year. Processing fees vary, depending on the length of your stay.

Upon arrival you will be asked to fill out a customs form. This is nothing to worry about. The form simply asks you to declare any electronics, gold, jewellery, or valuable items that you intend to sell or distribute while in the country. Any items for personal use (for example, video cameras) do not need to be declared.

Get into the spirit

Vietnamese is a complex, fascinating language. One syllable can be pronounced with up to six different tones or inflections, for a huge number of different meanings.

For example, pronouncing the word ‘bo’ with a rising pitch, as opposed to a falling pitch, can be the difference between the word for ‘beef’ and the word for ‘father’... very important not to confuse the two!

Fortunately for visitors, many Hanoi residents are able to speak excellent English, so it’s unlikely you’ll need to speak much Vietnamese on your holiday.

However, if you make the effort to learn just a few simple phrases the locals will be very responsive and suitably impressed. Four basic expressions that will come in handy during your visit are:

Hello = Xin chào

Thank you = Cảm ơn

Sorry = Xin lỗi

Goodbye = Tạm biệt

To help you learn the correct pronunciation, watch this quick video so that you can hear the tones for yourself. Most of all, don’t be afraid of making mistakes. Your efforts will be greatly appreciated.

It’s not uncommon for visitors to hire a local guide to show them around Hanoi, help them get their bearings in the city, and act as an interpreter when needed. Daytours Hanoi and Synotrip both offer a range of guides that can be booked online in advance.

In a place as beautiful as Hanoi, you’ll certainly want to be taking lots of pictures. It’s worth being aware that many locals consider it impolite to take somebody’s photograph without permission, so always be sure to ask first.

Get your suitcase packed

Not sure what to wear in Hanoi? It can be tricky to predict the weather, which ranges in the extremes from swelteringly hot summers (June through August) to very wet winters (December to February).

Outside of these seasons, expect a comfortable sunny climate with occasional light rainfall. Depending on the time of your trip, you might want to bring lighter clothes or a rainproof jacket.

Do bear in mind that appropriate dress is expected when visiting Hanoi’s many temples and pagodas. Shorts are forbidden, as are low-cut tops or casual t-shirts. Be sure to bring something more formal to wear if you plan on seeing these sights.

Helpful links

There are lots of really useful online travel tools and Hanoi-related apps available. Some that are sure to come in handy during your visit are:

  • AccuWeather - for up-to-date local weather forecasts, wherever you find yourself.
  • Hanoi Travel Guide - a list of popular landmarks with maps that are available offline.
  • Currency Calculator - for staying on top of exchange rates.
  • Airbnb - stay like a local, with these alternative places to stay.
  • TripAdvisor - reviews of local restaurants and business, written by visitors like you.
  • Google Maps - never get lost again!
  • Instagram and Twitter - check #Hanoi on these these social networks, for a close-up view of the local lifestyle.
  • TNH Hanoi - information about the best shows, concerts, and restaurants in the city

One top Twitter account to follow for regular updates on local happenings is @HanoiGrapevine.

One more thing

If you haven’t already, don’t forget to book your Heathrow airport parking with us at Good To Go. Our Meet & Greet parking service couldn’t be simpler. We park your car for you, so you can get on with catching your flight and starting your holiday sooner.

Now you’re really Good To Go.

Có một chuyến đi tốt! (‘Have a great trip’!)

(Official government advice for British citizens visiting Vietnam is available here.)

*Information valid as of April 2017. Check for recent policy changes.

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