When we moved to Hanoi we decided not to bring a car with us, instead choosing to use taxis, Uber, and motorbikes to get around. Most of the time we can get around without any issues. Here are the rules we have learned to survive traffic in Hanoi.
- Taxis have different rates of either 5, 6 or 10 thousand
- Make sure the meter is on when you leave and do not be convinced to pay USD instead of VND or to pay more than the meter says
- Uber is most likely cheaper than a taxi and makes it easier to find your exact destination
- When you’re getting out of a taxi, always exit on the side of the sidewalk not the street side, no matter how clear it is. Motorbikes often come out of nowhere and can hit you as you’re exiting.
- Download Google translate so you can troubleshoot if your driver is trying to speak to you about something
The traffic here is unlike anywhere else I’ve lived and vehicles don’t necessarily follow traffic rules consistently. Buses and cars will stop at a traffic light. Motorbikes will stop after the light turns red and start before it turns green. Bicycles kind of do what they want.
The rule for motorbikes and bicycles is drive anywhere there is an opening. Drive between and around cars. Drive on the sidewalk to get around traffic or just because. Drive in the tiniest ally and make people move their seats to get around. Nap on your motorbike in the afternoon because, why not.
The hierarchy of traffic goes: Bus, car, motorbike, bicycle, and pedestrian. This is important to know when crossing the street which has its own set of rules. Some busier streets have crosswalks with indicators but most streets, especially in the Old Quarter will not. The rules for safely crossing the street are:
- Buses won’t stop. Cars probably won’t stop. Motorbikes and bicycles will go around you.
- The flow of traffic is like a river.
- Do NOT cross the street while posting a photo to your Instagram or looking at Google maps because you will not make it to the other side
- Do NOT stop in the middle of the road, you will not make it to the other side
- Do keep moving little by little and look to make sure oncoming traffic sees you
Getting around Hanoi isn’t that hard, but it can be overwhelming when you arrive. Follow these guidelines and you’ll be moving around like a native in no time.