What to do?
Highlights of Hanoi are strolling around Hoan Kiem Lake, the Old Quarter and to Hochiminh Complex with nearby One Pillar Pagoda. Other famous sites are the Temple of Literature, the Opera House (especially if can catch a live performance) and the Museum of Ethnology. From Hanoi, it is possible to take day trips to nearby handicraft villages such as the Bat Trang pottery village, the Van Phuc silk village or well-known destinations of Tam Coc or the Perfume Pagoda. Hanoi is also a good base for excursions to Ha Long Bay and to Sa Pa as well as the northern mountains where you can sample life in rural Vietnam.
When to go?
The best time to visit is during the autumn months from September to November or the spring (March and April) for their milder temperatures and pleasant weather. The winters in Hanoi can get colder and damper than expected with temperatures reaching 12-15 Degree Celcious. Summer temperatures tend to hover around 30-35 Degree Celcious. Hanoi has high humidity year-round. The rainy season in Hanoi lasts from May to September but the rain is not consistent and does not usually interrupt travel or ruin a visit.
The road condition in Hanoi is dramatically crowded due to thousands of bicycles, motorbikes along the way. Thus, taxi, cyclo and car with Vietnamese driver are the best way to travel around Hanoi. There are reliable taxi companies operating within the city and they are all metered including Airport Taxis, Hanoi Taxi and Mai Linh Taxi. Cyclos often wait outside hotels and restaurants and a fare should be negotiated to your destination before setting off. If you are confident on a motorbike, it is possible to rent them from shops around the Old Quarter. You will need an international driving permit and a helmet. But it is recommended to be slowly and watch out when you are out of the street.