Please consider this as a cheat sheet. You’re welcome.
Perhaps, you have finally decided to tell your friends that you’re planning to travel to Vietnam, specifically Hanoi, which is a great place for a non-stop traveller. Because of its appealing combination of an old and modern architecture. If you wanna see Paris in Asia, this is the place to go. But wait, you’re not willing to spend too much for an international experience to get yourself on the road.
But hey, you don’t need to be rich to travel and experience the handiworks of God. All you need is research to get some ideas and just look into the activities that you want to do in certain countries ahead of time and determine how much things are going to cost to save time and money.
Some of the ideas below might help you that Granny would approve of for being a budget conscious person.
Book tickets from an airline site rather than a travel site
If you want to land a good deal within your budget, booking plane tickets directly from the airline’s website often offers the lowest price for your desired destination. For the record, Vietjet and Jetstar are two common low cost airlines in Vietnam but I prefer Vietjet because they have online check in and self-check in counter available at the airport in Hanoi to bypass the queues. With the self check-in machine, you can print out your boarding pass and go directly to customs, board and enjoy the flight. But if you have a luggage, you can handed over your boarding pass at the Skyboss lane (priority pass lane of Vietjetair) and they will make all the check-in as usual.
Tip: Don’t book a seat when booking online to save from $1 to $3. But do that when checking in online within 48 hours before departure time to choose your desired seat without paying any additional charge.
Orange is the new bus
One of the foolish things I’ve done thus far just to find ways to save money and time coupled with odd experience was to sleep at the airport, get the last minute booking to stay and simply wait the next day to catch this orange bus, which I ended up laughing at myself with circles around my eyes. Dope!
Anyhow, I found myself standing outside the domestic terminal (Terminal 1) with the orange signpost and went on board as early as 6:30am that costs me only 30,000 VND ($1.30) per person.
This orange bus runs frequently from Noi Bai Airport to City Centre and vice versa daily and it takes about 55 minutes depending on where you want to get off and if you’re caught in a traffic jam.
Granted that you’re coming outside Vietnam (from Noi Bai Airport Terminal 2). You can proceed to the stand no 2 outside the terminal, then cross the road and the bus stop is just right there. It is opposite the stand no 02.
Noi Bai airport: 6:18am – 22:58pm; every 25-30 mins
Route: Bus from Hanoi city centre to Noi Bai Airport: Hanoi Railway station – Hoan Kiem Lake – Long Bien bus station – Nhat Tan Bridge – Noi Bai Airport (vice versa)
Tip: Ask help from the assistants inside the bus to drop you off in your desired destination. You don’t have to worry because they can speak English and the tourists can enjoy the free wifi that is available on the bus.
Ditch the hotel and go with the flow
One of the essentials when you’re planning to travel is to know exactly which area and hotel/hostel that’s best for you and hassle-free, really.
The ideal place to stay in Hanoi is the heart of the ‘Old Quarter’ (Hoan Kiem District), particularly in Ma May Street not to mention this is known for cheap hotels and backpacker hostels. But if you want to find the ultimate comfort with top quality beds and linen with bar and lounge. I highly recommend Funky Jungle Hostel which offers good quality service with friendly staff and an easy lot to find the orange bus No 86 back to the airport since you can just simply spot this bus at the back of the hostel, near to the bridge.
Tip: Just pick a hostel/hostel that provides according to your needs or wants without breaking your bank. BTW, you can book online through booking.com, Agoda, hostelworld or go directly through their website.
Cloud Nine foods
You can’t walk far without stumbling on bun cha or pho anywhere, which are very common and easy to find. But if you’re on the go for something different but tasty, you should try “pho tron” at 65 Lan Ong Street, which is known for chicken street. It’s a dry type noodles dish that includes dried beef, pork chops, bean sprouts, dried onion and other raw vegetables and finished it with peanuts and dried herbs served in sour and sweet sauce made from fish sauce, which they keep it as a secret.
And you can stop at Trang Tien Ice cream shop at No 35 Trang Tien Street for the best dessert after your dinner on super delicate and fresh dry noodles. This is just perfect melt on your mouth, not in your hand unless you have two in your both hands.
Tip: Don’t feel awkward when getting two cones of ice cream or a bowl of noodles, when you still want more. HAHAHA. It’s okay ’cause nobody knows you!
Prioritise things that are easy to explore
Hanoi is the home to French inspired architecture, broad boulevards coupled with street foods and markets. But the expansive lakes and Buddhist pagodas are the most visited places in the centre of Hanoi that includes Hoan Kiem Lake and Ngoc Son Temple, which is very scenic and sits on an island on Hoan Kiem Lake.
And staying in the Old Quarter, one must wander around this ultimate maze of shops, restaurants, cafes, bars and simply people watch, which is one of my favourite things to do or you can hit the weekend night market to get cheap souvenirs for your family and friends back home.
Tip: If you are carrying a purse, have it in front of you. Do not carry loads of cash or your passport around with you.
If you think travelling around your country makes you happy but travelling outside your country makes you happier. Then, simply catch the flights to Hanoi to have your first international experience without breaking your bank.