There are several options for getting around, but taxis are generally the safest and most efficient, although a bit more expensive. Taxi scams are not uncommon, but can usually be avoided by riding only with a trusted taxi company—Mai Linh and Hanoi Taxi are two of the capital’s most reputable companies.
Taxis tend to congregate at the northwest corner of Hoan Kiem Lake, on Trieu Viet Vuong Street, and outside most major hotels. You can also call for a cab, as all taxi dispatchers speak English.
Motorbike taxis, known as xe om, are another way to get around the city—if you’re brave. Although the traffic may look a little daunting, drivers know how to navigate the traffic.
If you decide to rent a motorbike yourself and drive around the city, keep in mind that the traffic is busy, loud, and crazy. Although the streets may be less intimidating in Hanoi than in Ho Chi Minh City, the consensus is that drivers are worse. And visitors are paying the price: Vietnam’s number-one cause of injuries and death among foreigners is accidents involving a motorcycle. You can purchase helmets at various outlets for between 200,000d and 1,200,000d. Don’t become a Vietnam traffic statistic—wear one.
That said, most hotels and many tour and travel agencies will find you a bike and throw in a helmet with few questions asked. Prices start at around 150,000d per day. A deposit is usually required, as is a passport or a photocopy, and you usually sign a short-term contract (be sure you’re aware of the stipulated value of the bike in the contract). And speaking of contracts, you would be wise to consult your insurance policy; many companies refuse to cover motorcycle drivers or riders.