Traveling or planning a trip to Vietnam? We’ll help you get started with these 3 ways of getting from Hanoi Noi Bai Airport (HAN) to the Old Quarter (Hoan Kiem).
Airport pick-up is not included in our 15-day Vietnam/Cambodia trip. Many travelers to Vietnam will arrive at Hanoi Noi Bai Airport. A great number of you will spend at least 1 night in Hanoi’s Old Quarter before exploring the rest of the country. The airport is approximately 15 – 20 miles (25 – 30 kilometers) from Old Town. It takes anywhere from 30 – 60 minutes to get from Hanoi Noi Bai Airport to Old Town depending on traffic and weather conditions. The cost depends on the option you choose.
*Please note that Globe Drifters does not recommend any of the 3 options below over another. It is best to do your own research and weigh the pros and cons of each option to find what is best for you.
To get started, you’ll need to deplane and go through immigration. If you’re on our trip to Vietnam and Cambodia, you should already have your e-visa in hand. Follow everyone off the airplane and the signs that say “Arrival Immigration”.
Then, stand in line at one of the immigration booths that has a green “All Passengers” sign above it. There are usually a lot of people standing in line so be prepared to wait. The lines typically move relatively quickly, but you could be there for a while.
The immigration officer will check your e-visa and passport. After he stamps your passport, you’re free to go collect your luggage at baggage claim. Look for the screen that has your flight on it to know what carousel your luggage is on.
Then, go downstairs to the appropriate luggage carousel and collect your luggage. Once you have your luggage in hand, you need to pass through customs.
Pass Through Customs
Now, you’re ready to catch your transportation and start your adventure in Hanoi!
One way to get from the Hanoi Noi Bai Airport to your hotel in the Old Quarter is to pre-arrange airport pick-up before arrival. This is one of the faster and slightly more expensive options. It will take you approximately 30 – 60 minutes to get to the Old Quarter. The cost will vary depending on the company. You can find transfer companies by doing a search on travel websites such as TripAdvisor.
If you’ve pre-arranged your airport pick-up, you’ll usually find a driver waiting for you after luggage claim in the public arrivals area. He’ll typically have a sign with your name on it. It’s best to ask your transfer company for specific instructions and what/who to look for.
For those on our Vietnam/Cambodia trip, we will put you in touch with one another before the trip starts so you can share flight arrival times and coordinate pre-arranged airport pick-up if you so wish.
It’s important to have WhatsApp downloaded and set up on your phone before you arrive so you can be in touch with the transfer company and/or driver. There is free Wifi at the Hanoi Noi Bai Airport, but if you can’t connect, you can turn on data roaming.
*IMPORTANT: Globe Drifters does not vouch for any transfer companies you may find online. It’s important to do your research, read reviews and contact the company to make sure that it is indeed a trustworthy, legitimate company.
Another option is to take a private transfer when you arrive at Hanoi Noi Bai Airport. When you have collected your luggage and exited baggage claim, turn left through the crowds of people in the arrivals area. There are a few small kiosks that offer money exchange and private transfers from Hanoi Noi Bai Airport to your hotel in the Old Quarter.
Here, you can easily book a private transfer for a flat rate of approximately 500,000 VND (≈ $20 USD) one way. Make sure you have your hotel name and address handy so the driver knows where to go.
*NOTE: If you need cash, you can also exchange currency at one of these kiosks. We do not recommend exchanging a large amount of money at these kiosks as their commission/fees are quite high. Alternatively, if you continue toward the end of the row of kiosks, there are a few ATMs which you can withdraw money from. Please be advised that airport money exchangers and ATMs do not offer very good rates and often charge high fees. As a general rule, it’s best to only exchange or withdraw a small amount of cash at the airport and seek a better deal in town.
Taking a taxi from Noi Bai Airport to the Old Quarter is probably the cheapest option but not by much. By taxi, it will take approximately 30 – 60 minutes to get to the Old Quarter depending on traffic and weather conditions. The cost in a regular 5-seater car is usually anywhere from $10 – $15 USD or more depending on traffic and time of day. Almost all taxis will only accept payment in cash. Taxis are available at Hanoi Noi Bai International Airport 24 hours a day so no matter what time you arrive, you should be able to catch one. *Note that Uber and Lyft do not operate in Vietnam.
Just like many taxis around the world, scams are present in Vietnam. If you choose to take a taxi, be sure to be firm but polite. Let the taxi know that you would like him to use the meter and that you already have a hotel booked.
If you’re going on our Vietnam/Cambodia trip, we will put you in touch with one another before your trip so you can share flight arrival times and make plans to share a taxi if you’d like.
Have your hotel address ready to show to the driver and make sure he turns on the meter. We will provide our travelers with this information in the pre-departure notes a couple of weeks before your trip starts. Then, you’re off to begin your adventure!
To catch a taxi at the Hanoi airport, you’ll exit baggage claim and follow the “Taxi” signs with arrows.
You’ll end up outside the terminal at the taxi line. You will know you’ve arrived when you see a line of taxis and a big digital, neon signboard with taxi brands and fares. As soon as you get near it, you’ll probably be approached by several drivers and/or middlemen.
There are several different taxi brands with various fares. Globe Drifters does not recommend any particular brand so it’s up to you to decide which brand and fare you’d like to choose. Just be sure to have the driver use the meter and show him your hotel name and address. Mai Linh and Taxi Hanoi are a couple of legitimate taxi companies for your reference.
The total fare for a 5-seater will be around 350,000 ~ 400,000 VND (approximately $12 – 16 USD). Be aware that your driver may add the airport exit toll of approximately 20,000 VND to your fare. Pre-arranged pick-ups will usually include this in the fixed rate price.
*Note from the author: Taking a taxi from the Hanoi airport to the Old Quarter can be overwhelming, especially after a tiring, long-haul international flight. When you arrive at the taxi line, you’ll probably have taxi drivers and middlemen swarming around you and insisting that you take a taxi. If you really want to save a few bucks, then a taxi is your best bet.
Tipping is not required. However, if you had heavy luggage or your driver was extra friendly and made your ride a pleasant one, then you are welcome to tip him. An appropriate amount to tip would be about 20,000 – 50,000 VND (approximately $1 – $2 USD) depending on how much luggage you had and how heavy it was.
As mentioned above, taxi scams can happen in Vietnam just as in many countries all over the world. At the most, these scams usually won’t cost you more than $5 – $10 USD so if it occurs, understand that it happens to the most seasoned traveler and there usually isn’t much recourse. Our advice is to let it go and get ready for your grand adventure in Vietnam!
In summary, each option has its own pros and cons and the 3 mentioned above are ones that have worked in the past for our travelers. You may find another option that works better for you. No matter which airport transfer option you choose, you’ll have an amazing experience in Vietnam! Happy travels!