Getaway Fact sheets
You are here: ninemsn > Travel > Getaway > Fact sheets


Thursday, March 11, 2010
Hanoi, Vietnam's capital, is busy and bustling by 6am every day. People are exercising and setting up shop for a day of trading. Hanoi is an exciting mix of calmness and chaos, which is to be expected with a population of more than 6 million. And right now it's in the throes of 1000th birthday celebrations.

While Hanoi isn't as hectic as Vietnam's largest city, Ho Chi Minh down south, traffic can be a little unnerving. Cars, motorbikes, bicycles and pedicabs known as cyclos fly along the wide roads in all directions. The best way to cross seems to be just walk — drivers are experts in swerving around pedestrians. If you stand on the curb and wait for them to stop you could be there all day.

There is much evidence in Hanoi of the time when Vietnam was ruled by France. Architecture and broad boulevards are impressive. Even though the French haven't governed Vietnam for more than 50 years, the older generation speaks French and cuisine is a tasty mix of French and Vietnamese.

Natalie Gruzlewski opted for a cycling tour around Hanoi and it began in the city's Old Quarter. For more than 1000 years, Thang Long has been the national commercial centre. Built by the French, it lies between the Lake of the Restored Sword, the Long Bien Bridge and a citadel wall. Once a snake- and alligator-infested swamp, it evolved into a cluster of stilt houses.

It's a place of manufacturing, trading, services and handicraft production. Thirty-six streets and small paths tangle to make up the triangular Old Quarter which was formed in the 13th century. Tubular houses are long and narrow with business carried out at the front and families living at the back.

Each street specialises in producing or selling just one kind of product. There are rows of picture framers, coffin makers, car parts, holiday decorations, silk clothing, herbal medicines — you name it. You will also see antique pagodas, temples and other shrines, joss houses and family churches.

The beauty of touring by bicycle is that you can stop for a closer look and pop into a noodle shop for a feed whenever and wherever you like. They are all over the city and pho, the traditional soup, is a typical breakfast dish, but eaten at lunch and dinner as well. It's very cheap and locals buy it from noodle shops and stalls rather than make it. The Vietnamese people are real coffee lovers and they like it very, very strong!

Lake of the Returned Sword — Hoan Kiem — is the focal point of the city and is a good place to take a break. The Tortoise Tower stands on a small island in the lake and is linked to the legend that large soft-shell turtles were placed there in honour of the emperor. They are spotted occasionally but are critically endangered.

One of the city's many must-do's is a visit to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. Ho led the Viet Minh independence movement and is the greatly revered father of modern Vietnam. Locals visit to pay respect to his great contribution. There is a changing of the guard each hour and you can see his embalmed body if you wish.

When you're through with cycling and sightseeing there's plenty of shopping to do.

The three-storey Dong Xuan Market in the old quarter has hundreds of stalls and thousands of workers selling household goods, fresh produce, paintings, drawings, embroideries and laces, and everything else you can think of. On weekends it becomes a night bazaar and is quite the social gathering place for locals. You do need to beware of pickpockets.

Hang Da Market is smaller than Dong Xuan. It offers imported food, wines, flowers, fabrics, clothing and jewellery.


Hanoi, Vietnam's capital, in the north of the country.


Travel Indochina has a 19-day Cycling Vietnam tour out of Hanoi. All accommodation, most meals, transport, entrance fees and transfers are included. They start at $2795 per person twin share.

Vietnam Airlines has flights to Hanoi.

Fares from:

  • Melbourne $1211
  • Sydney $1230
  • Hobart and Brisbane $1251
  • Canberra $1262
  • Adelaide $1265

Sale and validity dates apply.

Prices correct at March 11, 2010.

For further information

Vietnam Airlines
13/31 Market Street
Sydney 2000
Ph: 1300 888 028

Travel Indochina
Ph: 1300 138 755

Dong Xuan Market
Dong Xuan & Hang Chieu Streets
Hanoi, Vietnam
Ph: +84 4 826 4089

Hang Da Market
1 Pho Hang Da
Hanoi, Vietnam

Visas: Australian passport holders must have a valid passport and a visa is required.

Electricity: 220V at 50Hz. Three plugs are used throughout Vietnam: two flat blade; two round pins; two parallel flat pins with ground pin.

Time zone: GMT +7.

Currency: The dong.

International dialling code: +84.

It is recommended travellers to Vietnam see their doctor at least six weeks before departure as there are specific vaccinations recommended. Other health precautions and preventions may also be recommended. For further information, visit

To find out more about the hot deals mentioned on the show, check out Holidays for Sale.

User comments
Nice way to celebrate Vietnam's 1000th birthday with Cambodian music. FYI not all Asian music, people culture are the same. Would have thought a show like yours would know that. What's with the reporter messing with the guides hair? that is just plain rude and disrespectful not to mention childish. He is a professional doing his job, in front of the camera. not her friend or little brother whom she could mess with. Getaway stop being so ignorant, do your homework properly learn the people, the culture and the MUSIC before you do a story next time. no wonder the locals hate foreigners.
Rich Oz has seen the "real"Vietnam-a land which long ago earned it's backpacker nickname,"Vietscam"! As he so eloquently put it,"..Nice country-shame about the people!" Having visited 100 countries in my life, people sometimes ask me,"Is there any place you'd never visit again?" Only one place is like that for me-Vietnam! Living there for 7 months I learned to trust nobody and locals detested me for alerting younger travellers to the many rip offs,scams,cheating techniques etc Vietnam's not worth the effort!
I was ashamed at the way Australian females were represented by your scantily clad travel reporter in the streets of Hanoi. It was patently obvious that her dress code and behavior were in breach of the cultural mores of the local female population. In addition, Asians consider the head to be sacred and the presenter's guide was obviously insulted when she placed a blonde wig on his head. Although Getaway is largely oriented to a young audience does it have to accentuate the Ocker image at the expense of cultural sensibility? Your reporters travel overseas as mini ambassadors of Australia, why not use this opportunity to showcase Australian fashions and inculcate more correct behavior in their target audience. Keep having fun with your shows.
Stay away from the New Century Disco. I had my drink spiked, was taken to a radom hotel and relieved of my gold chain, 1 million dong and $200 USD. Upside - they didn't murder me. Was I drunk or obnoxious? No. I had had three beers total all evening, and am no lightweight when it comes to drinking. Also, had done nothing to provoke the locals as I was only dancing witha a couple of German girls from the hotel before planning and early night for a day trip the next morning. Hanoi certainly had some beautifully preserved French architecture - but you need to watch out for the locals. They despise foreigners, even well behaved and respectful ones such as myself. Other highlights - Friends had money stolen from their backpacks at their hotel. Taxi's will drive around the lake twice to run up the fare. The bootleg book-peddling urchins will curse you if you don't buy one of their limited offerings. In summary - Great place, shame about the locals.
I come from a Vietnamese background and I really enjoy watching Getaway, especially when there is an episode with a visit to Vietnam. But having just seen the episode tonight, I find it quite insensible that the music playing in the background is Cambodian and not Vietnamese. Getaway, please explain...???
I was born in Cambodia and although I'm not fluent in Khmer, I found to my surprise that I understood the song played during the market section of the Hanoi trip. Last I check, Hanoi was in Vietnam so I'm not sure whether the editor of the segment may have got lost in translation when he or she chose a Cambodian song for a Vietnamese trip. I can assure that the languages are very different from each other.
I really enjoyed your Hanoi Vietnam story especially with Cambodian music playing in the background. Although a little confused at why the Cambodian song was playing when the story was pertaining to Vietnam. Maybe a little peice of correct research could have correctly highlighted music differences for both coutnries...Good luck with music peices for future stories....
I have just watched this story on tv & as a Vietnamese i was deeply horrified that they played background music to this story in another language. I am guessing it was Cambodian. Do the producers of this story assume that all asian music sounds the same? Does it also mean that they think all asians are the same. Shame on you Getaway!!!!!!

Related links


Brochure Search

Free electronic brochures with information, resources and holiday ideas for unique getaways.

Select a destination:
Sign up nowTo Receive the free Getaway newsletter