Hanoi is one of Vietnam's largest and most visited cites and there is a multicultural and traveler-friendly atmosphere. Although communicating can sometimes be a bit of a challenge, many people speak English and there are plenty of Western-style hotels, shops and restaurants available for those who want a taste of home.
Customs and etiquette
Although Hanoi was seem quite Westernized on first glance, the people here are still very traditional, especially regarding dress. Travelers should dress conservatively when exploring the city, especially around temples and in the Old Quarter.
Although tipping is not expected in Hanoi it is appreciated as most of the people who work is shops, restaurants and other areas of the service industry receive very low salaries.
The official currency of Vietnam is the dong (VN) and can be used for all purchases. US dollars are also widely accepted and can be used throughout the city, with the current exchange rate being 18000 dong to USD$1. There are a good number of ATMs located around Hanoi and these machines issue dong notes. The main banks that change traveler's checks in US dollars are ANZ Bank, Industrial & Commercial Bank and Vietcom and credit cards are accepted in major hotels and restaurants.
Hanoi experiences four distinct seasons and while temperatures often drop to 15°C in the winter, the summer months are hot and humid and can reach 40°C. Perhaps the best time to visit is during the spring, which lasts from March to April as the weather is cool and dry. The weather is also pleasant from October to December, although Hanoi can get rather crowded at the end of the year and hotel prices rise dramatically.