Vietnamese (English widely spoken)
Vietnam’s bustling capital, Hanoi, is an eclectic mix of tree-lined boulevards, pretty pagodas, colonial villas, honking scooters, French baguettes, noodle soup and Tai Chi fanatics unwinding in slow motion next to scenic lakes. Busy merchants and local farmers do their best to grab your attention, alongside the city’s countless food vendors, serving up bowls of spicy, authentic delights. Wherever you look, layers of fascinating history disclose signs of Chinese and French occupation, backed by the increasingly modern features of this ever-changing city.
Though flashy cars and skateboards are slowly replacing traditional bicycles, western designer labels are opening striking flagship stores, and music and art are evolving constantly, Hanoians remain fiercely proud, and the city continues to cling on to its strong sense of individuality and authenticity. Where else can you find chess players in berets drinking strong Vietnamese coffee?
When you fancy a change of scenery and pace from Hanoi’s bustling and vibrant streets, seek out the stunning lakes for endless space and tranquillity. Set an early alarm and head to the banks of Hoan Kiem Lake at sunrise for a glimpse of timeless Hanoi, where city-dwellers practise the art of Tai Chi amid the mist, as the metropolis starts to stir. An equally beautiful but significantly larger lake, Ho Tay or West Lake is some 15km in circumference and fringed with smart suburbs. You can take a leisurely stroll part way around, or cycle the complete loop, discovering plenty of places to eat and shop along the way.
Hanoi is famous for its street-food culture, boasting a high-spirited gathering of locals and visitors jostling for seats at the top stalls in town. The best way to sample Vietnam’s fragrant and exotic flavours is to book a place on a walking tour with a handful of other foodies; call in at local markets laden with delicacies, watch chefs at work in noisy kitchens and, of course, sample a variety of authentic goodies (such as pork crêpes and flame-grilled meats) in Hanoi’s atmospheric side streets. Finish with a cup of fresh fruit mixed with crushed ice and condensed milk – a sweet treat loved by locals.
Explore Hanoi’s Old Quarter, overflowing with striking colonial architecture, and encounter the friendly traders selling everything from light-hearted souvenirs to noodles. The city’s French Quarter houses impressive government buildings and residences; historical landmarks include the UNESCO-listed Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, the centre of ancient Hanoi for 800 years, and the Temple of Literature - an ancient complex of learning originally dedicated to Chinese scholar, Confucius, featuring gardens, pavilions and shrines. Designed after Lenin’s burial chamber in Moscow, Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum is the final resting place of iconic leader, ‘Uncle Ho’, and a must-visit piece to the jigsaw of Hanoi’s intriguing history.
The dry season, which traditionally runs from October to May, can be divided into three distinct periods: from October to November, it is warm and dry; from December to February, it is considerably cooler with warm bright spells and average temperatures of approximately 20°C. From March to May, it is much warmer and drier.
During the rainy or wet season, which runs from June to September, July and August are ususally the wettest months. Spectacular thunderstorms are common, bringing with them a deluge of rain.
These figures show monthly average maximum temperatures and monthly average rainfall for Hanoi.
Direct flights to Hanoi with Vietnam Airlines from London Heathrow. British Airways from London Heathrow to Bangkok and Hong Kong. Thai Airways from London Heathrow to Bangkok. Virgin Atlantic, Air New Zealand and Cathay Pacific from London Heathrow to Hong Kong. Onward connecting flights to Hanoi with: Thai Airways from Bangkok. Vietnam Airlines from Hong Kong. Hong Kong Dragon Airlines from Hong Kong.
From London Heathrow to Hanoi: 11 hours, 40 minutes. London Heathrow to Bangkok: 11 hours, 40 minutes. London Heathrow to Hong Kong: 11 hours, 55 minutes.
Onward connecting flights from Bangkok and to Hanoi: 1 hour, 50 minutes.
From Hong Kong to Hanoi: 2 hours.
Travelling With Children or Without an Adult
Children travelling without both parents should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country or, in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country. Please contact the relevant Embassy for the county you are travelling to for further information.
Visa and Advance Passenger Information
All passengers must ensure they have a valid, acceptable passport, any required visa and any other documentation for both the final destination and any stop-off points en route. Please make sure that Advance Passenger Information is submitted in advance to travel for all destinations. Failure to hold correct documentation or submitting incorrect details with Advance Passenger Information or Visa applications may result in refusal of carriage or entry into a country. Please check with the relevant Embassy regarding visa requirements well in advance of your travel date. Charges may apply for some visas.
Passengers not travelling on a British Passport are advised to contact their relevant Foreign & Commonwealth office for individual Visa requirements.
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