Time is of the essence on a quick stopover in Hanoi, writes online guru Eli Orzessek.
We are flying from Hue to Luang Prabang, Vietnam in October and have a six-hour stopover in Hanoi. Will we be able to leave the airport, and, if so, what could we do for a few hours? We are happy just to wander if there is a market nearby.

Thank you,


Since you'll already have a visa for Vietnam, leaving the airport shouldn't be a problem. I was in Hanoi in May and I can tell you it wouldn't be the most interesting airport in which to spend six hours . The food is quite expensive (well, by Vietnamese standards, that is ...) and not the best quality. I really regret having my last bahn mi in Vietnam at this airport - hardly the greatest example of my favourite sandwich.

Unfortunately, there isn't much to do in the immediate vicinity of the airport and you're looking at around a 40-minute to one-hour taxi ride into the city - so if you consider this, as well as leaving a couple of hours to check in and get through security (which can be busy), you'll only really have around two hours to look around.

Be sure to get a reputable taxi company. Mai Linh is the company usually recommended and you'll find them outside the airport.

If I only had two hours to look around Hanoi, I would head straight to the Old Quarter and check out the interesting stores and markets in the area. Grab a bahn mi and a Vietnamese coffee and have a stroll around Hoan Kiem lake.


While you could check out the Temple of Literature or Ho Chi Minh's mausoleum, I wouldn't think you'd have enough time to see everything properly.

I'd also consider the time of day your stopover falls in - if you need to get back to the airport during rush-hour times, I wouldn't risk it. It might be a boring airport, but boredom is better than missing a flight!

Readers respond:

A few weeks ago, I answered a question about Air Asia's premium lie-flat seats. A reader called Chris wrote in to share his positive experience of flying with the airline.

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