Hanoi’s Noi Bai International Airport is located 45 kilometres from central Hanoi.
Getting from the airport into Hanoi
This trip gets bad press but if you know what’s what and don’t let a random taxi driver persuade you to pay them $20, you should be fine. Here are your options.
First up a word of caution: if you arrive on a late evening flight you’d be advised to book a taxi or hotel pick-up in advance as the buses stop running before the last flights and taxis get very cheeky, refusing to stick to the stated price.
The main rule is — don’t panic! Hanoi airport is actually very small and all of the transport options leave from directly outside the terminal. We’ve heard reports of unhelpful staff at the information desk refusing to explain where the buses go from. Ignore them and walk outside — taxis and private minibuses are usually straight ahead or to the left and airline buses are to the right.
Private minibuses:Confirm the price first — we paid 30,000 VND on our last trip — and expect it to leave as soon as it is full, which usually doesn’t take long. This option is popular with locals and the bus will stop off a few times to drop people off along the way. We can’t guarantee where exactly you’ll be dropped off, but it should be central enough to walk or take a short taxi ride to where you do want to go. Just be prepared to be flexible and don’t expect any English to be spoken.
Airline transfer service:
Jetstar runs a transfer service for 30,000 VND in large, comfortable, bright orange coaches. When we tried them, they dropped us off at the Sofitel Plaza near Truc Bach Lake upon request, but it continues on to their office on Tran Quang Khai to the east of Hoan Kiem lake. For the energetic it’s possible to walk into town from here, but most will prefer to take a short taxi ride. Just be careful — we’ve heard the taxis that pick up from here can be a bit dodgy so keep an eye on the meter
Vietnam Airlines also runs a transfer service for the same price. The disadvantage is that it’s on a crowded minibus, but it has a convenient drop off on Quang Trung Street, just to the southwest of Hoan Kiem Lakeand opposite their main office. With heavy bags you’ll probably want to jump in a taxi from there to your hotel but if you’re staying near St Joseph’s Cathedral it’s walkable. A taxi up to the centre of Old Quarter should only cost about 20,000 VND.
Unfortunately plenty of unscrupulous taxi drivers still prowl at the airport, waiting to pounce and over-charge, so if you are approached by an individual driver, politely say no and make your way outside to the official taxi ranks. A few different companies operate and they have a board up listing prices — it should cost 380,000 VND for a standard four-seater car (not per person!). Don’t pay any more. You buy a ticket at the stand for the posted price and wait in the line. This price should include the toll, so don’t pay extra for it.
A few more tips to avoid getting ripped off:
(a) Write down the address, exact name and phone number of your hotel before you get into the cab. If the driver tells you it’s closed or full, insist on confirming that for yourself, and be sure to check the address when checking the hotel. Be assertive.
(b) Book a taxi in advance with an operator like Hanoi Airport Transfers , which you can call (+84 912 881 885) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org) in advance, or book through their website. Or try Noi Bai Taxis (04 3886 5615).
(c) If you suspect you’re being given a bum steer, don’t get angry. Just keep insisting on being taken where you want to go, and simply refuse to pay more than the agreed-upon price. The scammers rely on tourists being too polite and exhausted to put up a fight.
(f) Almost everyone gets ripped off a little bit when they first arrive in Hanoi. Budget for it, and don’t take it personally!
Most hotels will arrange this for you if you’ve pre-booked a room. They may charge a bit more than the taxis at the airport but the benefit is that there will be someone waiting for you at the airport and you’re almost guaranteed to get taken to the right hotel — but as this is Hanoi, do still be sure to check you’ve been taken to the correct address upon arrival.
We’ve not taken a public bus from the airport into town but this is the cheapest way to do it. The Numbers 7 and 17 both pick up at Arrivals and cost 5,000 VND — the price should be printed on the outside of the bus, by the door. Be warned the driver may not have any change if you only have large notes.
The Number 7 terminates at Kim Ma bus station. Then it’ll cost around 35,000 for a taxi, depending upon size of taxi and where you are heading, or take a motorbike taxi — aim for 20,000 but be prepared to pay 30,000. The Number 17 terminates at Long Bien bus station. This is to the north of Old Quarter and about a 20-minute walk to the hotels on that side of town, or a short taxi ride.
Getting from Hanoi to Noi Bai International Airport
Getting back to the airport of course offers a fairly similar array of options.
Public bus: Again this is the cheapest but slowest option. Allow two hours’ bus time before check-in. No. 7 picks up at Kim Ma bus station and 17 picks up along Tran Quang Khai at the eastern edge of the Old Quarter. Fare is 7,000 VND.
Airport shuttle: Next cheapest and by far the best option is one of the airport shuttles. The Vietnam Airlines shuttle generally starts at 04:30 and knocks off at around 19:00. But be careful, as if they don’t have enough people at the scheduled time they sometimes wait another hour. Make sure you have money for a cab as an emergency back up to make your flight on time. Buses depart from 1 Quang Trung just south of Trang Thi, to the southwest of the lake and you can buy your ticket there, about $2. Jetstar picks up 206 Tran Quang Khai Street, to the east of Old Quarter. It’s a big, more comfortable bus than the Vietnam Airlines option, and costs just 35,000 VND. They advise you arrive at the office two hours and 30 minutes before flight time and you can check in at the office.
Taxi: Taxis should cost around $12 per trip for up to four people if you can fit all your stuff in the cab with you. A seven-passenger car should be about $15-$20 and works out well if you have a lot of stuff or are in a big group.