The Hanoi wedding manual

Brief introduction and important note

Even though I would love to have you guys with me throughout all the ceremonies of a traditional Vietnamese wedding. However, wedding in Vietnam is very tiring. It often lasts weeks, if not, months, the date on the invitation is for the final ceremony on the groom side, which is somewhat similar to a Western wedding. Therefore, the priority is not the wedding, but for you guys to come and have a great time in Vietnam.

A typical evening in the Old Quarter.
  • If you have never been to Hanoi or Asia in general, please prepare all of your senses. Hanoi is an incredibly chaotic city at first, with lots of traffic, noises, personalities and trashes, but after a couple of days you will gradually fall in love with the city.
  • Hanoi is generally a safe city. There aren’t many cases of thieves or pickpockets but anyway be cautious. Traffic is the most dangerous thing in here so be careful while walking around or crossing the street (even while walking on pavement).
  • English is everywhere in Vietnam but the proficiency is rather low. Hence, it is a good idea to have google translate app with Vietnamese language ready in your phone.
  • Learn to bargain and be impolite when need to.

My phone number is +84 975097630

Emergency is at 113 (Police) & 114 (Medical emergency)

  • You should look up roaming option with your sim card or get a Vietnamese prepaid sim card on Amazon and have it delivered before traveling so you can get connected right off the plane. Something like this should be fine (Amazon). In case you cannot get the sim card, let me know and I can prepare one for you guys beforehand, do not pay for the sim card at the airport, they are bloody rip-off.
  • November – February is spring/winter time and probably the best time to be in Hanoi (or North Vietnam in general). Weather is sunny and dry, temperature ranging from 15-26°C (59-78°F). However, the temperature tends to be on the hotter side in the recent years, so pack your summer and autumn clothing mostly.
  • Make sure you already have a flu shot before arriving to Hanoi, since the crowdedness and pollution might be too much for ya.
  • Vietnamese money is Viet Nam Dong (VND). 1 USD is roughly 24k VND (K=1000). Money can be exchange at the airport, but much better exchange rate at Ha Trung street in city center. Debit/credit card is widely accepted but for street food and other street activities, cash is the only option.

Travel to Hanoi or Vietnam

1. The cheapest and easiest way to get to Hanoi, Vietnam is by air travel. The only airport in Hanoi is:

  • Noi Bai international airport

2. If you want to explore the biggest city in Vietnam before visiting the capital, you can also fly to Tan Son Nhat airport in Saigon (now called Ho Chi Minh city) and take the infamous 36 hours train ride or another flight to Hanoi. Or you can also choose Saigon as the final destination in Vietnam and fly out of the country from there.

Thong Nhat is the name of the cross country train in Vietnam.

3. If you are adventurous enough, there are train and coach operated by (from Phnom Penh) Cambodian and (from Beijing) Chinese, that will take you to Vietnamese border, there you can take another train or coach to get to Hanoi. The two destination you need to remember is:

* Please let me know when you will arrive so I can pick you up or arrange a driver.

Travel inside Hanoi

Traffic in Hanoi during rush hour.

There are 4 ways to get around in Hanoi:

  • First option, of course, is walking. If you want to explore the Old Quarter and the old city centre, then walking is great. However, Hanoi is a mega city so if you want to venture out of the old city center you would need some sort of engine.
  • Public transport is very limited and we only have overcrowded buses, no skytrain or metro for a city of almost 10 million people. So my advice is to avoid public transport at all cost.
  • You can rent a motorcycle for 8-20 USD / day. This allows you to fully enjoy the city and integrate into the Vietnamese way of life. However, this requires you to have a motorcycle driving license. Driving in Hanoi is no easy task so I wouldn’t recommend it unless you are an experienced motorcycle driver.
  • Best way of traveling within Hanoi is by using Grab (similar to Uber or Lyft). You should download the app and register your bank card before landing so you don’t need cash when “grabbing” around. Grab is relatively inexpensive and they have lots of promotion, hence you should never pay more than 20 USD for a car ride within city (a trip across the entire city is about 20 USD and it is more than 2 hour driving). For a typical 4-seater Grab car, price should be 2 – 7 USD per trip, with promotion. There is an option for grab bike as well, if you want to ride on the back of a motorcycle to explore the city.
  • Grab car can also be used when traveling to and from the airport. Noi Bai airport is about 30km from the city center and price should not be more than 16 USD(~400k VND) per trip.

Where to stay in Hanoi

I would be more than happy to host everyone at our house. However, our house will be packed with relatives and small kids and since they are Vietnamese, there would not be any privacy at all. Let me know your itinerary a month or two in advance, so I can arrange an accommodation for you.

In case you love the country so much and plan to settle down here. Hotels and housings can be booked online through the two most popular apps/websites here, and Accommodation in Hanoi and Vietnam in general is very affordable.

AirBnB is also a great place to search for places to stay in Vietnam, but price to quality ratio can be a bit bizarre.

I recommend to stay in Hoan Kiem district, which is the city center with most of the tourist attractions. However, hotels and apartments in Hoan Kiem can be too noisy at time. If you want a quieter area for your stay, Ba Dinh district is a good option.

*A rule of thumb is: a good hotel for 2 usually costs 800k VND (33 USD) per night. Anything above 1500K VND (~60 USD) per night should be at least 4-stars quality. Anything above 2500K VND ( more than 100 USD) per night should be a 5-stars.

Short stay in Hanoi

  • Food tour, food and food, please make sure to you prepare your body/stomach for lots of food intake during your stay in Vietnam
  • Old quarter, Hoan Kiem lake and pedestrian streets during the weekend. This is a great opportunity to explore the old center by foot and visit hidden coffee shops and street/souvernir shopping.
  • Mall and supermarket! Mall and supermarket in Vietnam are of different quality and level.
  • Ho Chi Minh museum and mausoleum. Yeah! the communist party here decided to freeze Ho Chi Minh corpse and put it on show as a tourist attraction for the last 5 decades. A bizarre experience, which helps you understand the Vietnamese propaganda.
  • Visiting railway coffee spot.
Railway coffee has recently become a favourite activity for tourist in Hanoi.
  • Temple of Literature.
  • Hoa Lo prison tour. (have to pre-book in advance)
  • Specialty coffee and tea culture are very strong in Vietnam. If you are interested in the two beverages, it might be worth to spend a day visiting famous coffee and tea shops in Hanoi.
  • For the past 4 years, speakeasy cocktail bars have been the hottest trend in Vietnam. Amazing bars can be found concealed in obscure alleyways, behind bookshelves, and some that even demand a passcode to access.
  • In case you want to dance, meetup with the local hipsters and enjoy techno, Savage night club is the best place in Hanoi.

  • Getting a bespoke suit, your nails done and even your eyes checked for medical glasses…. All of these service are only at a fraction of the price you have to pay in the EU and US, best of all, you can get everything done in just a day without any appointment.
  • If you have load of undeveloped color negatives, bring them all along. Vietnam is probably the cheapest place to have your film developed and scanned. A 120/135 C41 roll developed and scanned will cost you roughly 60k VND (2.5 USD).

Longer stay in Vietnam

  • Ha Long Bay – a UNESCO world heritage. The city of Ha Long is about 2 hour drive from Hanoi and is also the home city of the bride. Going on a day cruise around the bay, eating all the oysters you want and visiting a mineral hot spring are some of the activities you can do in Ha Long. (2 day trip at least)
  • Ninh Binh – known for its vast rice fields. One of the most resourceful city in the Red river delta. If you like hiking, caves, rice fields and goat meat, this is the place to visit. (1-2 day trip)
  • Hue city – the old imperial city of Vietnam, rich in culture, great food and beautiful people. However, it is about 1000km from Hanoi so if you are going to Hue, it is recommended to do a cross country trip, which we would love to join and be the guide if we can arrange the time after the wedding.
  • Finally, Saigon or Ho Chi Minh city – the most populous city in Vietnam, a fast paced city with amazing people and contemporary culture. There will be lots of exhibitions, art spaces, music shows, thrift stores etc…

Finally, the wedding

We already had 2 ceremonies called “ăn hỏi” and “đón dâu” in February 2024. The wedding reception on the bride side will happen in June 2024.

The reception on the 9 Nov 2024 is for the groom family. The location is a convention center near my parents’s house (Google Map). It is about 15 km from the city center. As I mentioned above, this will be the last step in a Vietnamese wedding. You will see around 500 people, most of them are guests of our parents. Hence we will probably have no idea who they are.

A typical Vietnamese wedding reception consists of taking photographs, feasting and drinking. Everything usually happens at an extremely fast pace. Therefore, Ngoc and I decided to prepare a separate private party for our close friends and family members later on in the same evening. We are looking for a good place and will update everyone as soon as possible.

We are really looking forward to welcoming you guys to our wedding and to Vietnam. It would be our utmost pleasure to see everyone in our big day.

In the meantime, here are couple photos of what we were going through earlier this year.