Mini guide to Hanoi, Vietnam
A hotel that has been the preferred address of the great and the good in this city for a century, the Sofitel Metropole Hotel has an immaculately restored colonial façade and mahogany-panelled reception rooms. Guest bedrooms in the old wing offer old-world style – the more modern wing of the hotel doesn’t quite have the same character and charm (15 P Ngo Quyen; from £190).
Hanoi has an extensive public bus system – pick up a bus map from Thang Long Bookshop (P Trang Tien). A few cyclo (bicycle rickshaw) drivers frequent Hanoi’s Old Quarter – agree a price before peddling off and be sure to take a map as few drivers speak English.
When to go
Hanoi is at its hottest and rainiest between May and September. Taking place in late January or early February, Tet is the Vietnamese New Year, marked by flower exhibitions and markets, while the CAMA Festival in June features music from Polynesian hip hop to Japanese garage-rock.
How to go
Noi Bai airport is 28 miles north of Hanoi – Vietnam Airlines flies direct from Gatwick (from £800). Thai Airways operates flights from Heathrow to Noi Bai, changing at Bangkok (from £1,050).