Taxis are the best way to travel long distances. Taxi fares are not always consistent, and the rates for each taxi company have not been standardized. For lone travelers, rides on the back of motorbikes (actually low-powered scooters) are popular too (known as "xe om", literally meaning motorbike-hug). Uber and Grab have also launched in Hanoi, and while they has a few districts they operate on, they do offer more consistent pricing than taxis.
We highly recommend you to take taxi from reliable taxi company for convenience and correct taxi fare. Taxi drivers can speak limited English, ask your hotel to write your destination in Vietnamese to show the taxi drivers; also get your hotel’s business card in case you get lost. Note down the ID number of the particular taxi (displayed on a corner of the windshield and the back window) in the event that you are ripped off.
Reliable taxi can be identified through images below:
1) Taxi Group with typical red and blue color
Taxi CP and Taxi Hanoi are two brands of Taxi Group. Hence, they will have the same appearance as the picture below but have different phone numbers.
Taxi Group 024 38 53 53 53
2) Mai Linh Taxi with typical green color
Mai Linh Taxi: 024 38 333 333
There are two kinds of taxi: 4-seater and 7-seater. The price for the latter is slightly higher. It’s also convenient that Taxi Group and Mai Linh Taxi also accept credit card.
Uber can be used in Hanoi. Simply download the app. Expect responsible fares. A 15 minute ride costs about 60,000 dong. However you can also use the app's fare estimate feature. Grab offers a similar service and has more drivers and options: GrabCar (private car), GrabTaxi (metered taxis using the Grab app) and GrabBike (hop on the back of a GrabBike tagged motorbike, helmet provided). Grab users must have a local phone number and Internet access to use this service. The app quotes you a price per ride and is usually cheaper than waving down a metered taxi or negotiating with traditional "xe om" drivers. English is limited, but the drivers are friendly.
Bus in Vietnam is cheap but a bit difficult to comprehend at first, the buses in Hanoi are relatively fast and surprisingly comfortable. Pick up a map with printed bus lines (probably available at the reception of your hotel) and spend a few minutes to identify the more than 60 bus lines, find your bus stop, wait for the bus, get on and off you go. On the bus you pay the 7,000 dong to the conductor who will come to you. If you are unfamiliar with the city, make sure to tell the mostly helpful conductor where you want to get off. Stops are often unannounced and do not have signs with their names on them, although there are now some newer buses with LED displays and lilting voices announcing the next stop. It's best to ask the driver or conductor when to get off.