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Hanoi, Vietnam
One of the things that kept us from visiting Hanoi for years now would be the fear of getting lost. The Hanoi that we know of now is definitely not the same as the Hanoi that we heard of ten years ago because just like all of us, places grow as well - at their own pace and time.

If I would compare Hanoi from all of our travels, I would say that it definitely has a different commute system for tourists. Because unlike the big cities like Tokyo, Shanghai, Hong Kong, and even Bangkok, Hanoi is pretty much still set back when it comes to the provision of a Metro Rail System that can easily bring tourists around the city. But you know, I think that's where its charm comes out. From the whole week spent in this quaint beauty, we have observed how people just seem to carry on with their daily activities without worrying or getting anxious about traffic, or the heavy volume of motorbikes on the road. People get by, and they get by at their own pace, with much patience and content. A characteristic that I have yet to learn myself as I tend to always pressure myself and keep up with everything around me.
Hanoi - its people, their commute system, and the way they lived from day to day has definitely taught me that things will eventually fall to place. It has taught me about the beauty of going at your own pace and still being able to reach your destination. It's a shame to hear people talk about how they were not able to appreciate Hanoi as much as I did and one of the reasons for this would definitely be the inability to figure out how you can go around on your own without having to spend extra for a paid tour. 

So I wish to share with you some tips if you ever think of visiting the humble yet very charming Hanoi. I also wish to encourage you to try commuting in Hanoi, it's enriching and refreshing. It will definitely teach you more about Hanoian resilience and way of life.

You would definitely need to install an App in advance for this. In case you're not familiar with Grab yet, it's a ride-hailing application that functions like Uber or Lyft. In Hanoi, you can choose your preferred Grab service between the motorbike, taxi, or car at a very affordable price. Our trips using Grab Car usually went around VND 10,000 to VND 60,000 which is roughly around PHP 21- PHP 130.

If this is your first time in Hanoi and if you just wish to visit specific areas in the city, this is the best option for you. If you're a solo traveler, taking the motorbike is definitely the most cost-efficient choice. I also wish to point out how motorbike riding in Hanoi is pretty much common and safe. You may read more about the Hanoian roads and traffic culture in my entry here.

If you are more of the adventure seeker and into hardcore immersing, you can take the public bus - but I honestly did not feel confident in taking it as the routes could get quite confusing and if it is your first time, figuring out your route could consume so much time.

But, if you wish to understand the locals more and see the real deal in commuting around the place, taking the bus would definitely help you see more of that. Do note that you need to carry small bills for this one, the bus that we rode had a collector that went around to get payments and most of them do not speak English so having Google Translate would save you some time playing charades ;) One thing you need to take note of as well would be the bus running schedule, which is between 5:00 AM until 9:00 PM only

You may also download BusMap on your phone - it gives you the bus schedules and routes and provides you with detailed instructions on how you can navigate your way from point A to point B around Hanoi via bus. The app has an offline feature as well just in case you do not have access to mobile data.

I would have to warn you though, be careful and do not ride just any cab especially if you are coming from the airport. Make sure that you take the accredited taxis like Hanoi Taxi or Mai Linh make sure to politely ask for the meter to be turned on as well just in case it is turned off. Again, always carry the address of your destination with you, having a visual aid could also help you communicate with your driver. Just like the bus, make sure...and I would say that it is a MUST to carry small bills.

There are other ways to go around like taking the City Tour Bus or the Cyclos, but again my tips are for those who are opting to go around on their own. You also need to be careful in taking the cyclos as we heard a lot of horror stories about overcharging. I also personally do not like the idea of putting one person to pull me around the place, under the scorching heat of the sun ;(
Another tip to save would be dividing your days in Hanoi into zones. This will save you heaps of cash as you would only need to pay for transportation going to your first destination and going back home tired and full from all the sightseeing and walking! This is how we managed to see a lot of things with a small amount of cash. Trust me when I say that Hanoi is too beautiful that walking would turn out to be a natural act for you regardless of the temperature, just keep a bottle of water with you always as the restaurants do not usually serve service water.

In a time where people rush off daily, get the entitlement to get quick access to so many things, and enjoy all the possible developments that keep coming, Hanoi will definitely give you a different worldview - one that patiently perseveres, one that does not scream off attention yet wait to welcome you with open arms, one that feeds you great yet affordable meals that will help you go through a long day, one that would stop and remind you to sit down in the corner of the streets, people watch and see things pass one at a time.

I still have a lot of things to write about my Hanoi trip and I hope that you'll keep traveling back in time with me!

Happy Heyday!


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