Traffic in Hanoi, Vietnam
Loitering and sight-seeing in the streets of Hanoi
We were in Hanoi for six days. It was the first time we travelled to this city of approximately 2.6 million inhabitants. What amazed us was its crowds and traffic. Walking along its streets is a nightmare. You are caught suddenly in the midst of people and vehicles of all kinds. You will together with women peddling goods in baskets, ranging from fruits to titbits, hung from the two ends of a pole and carried on the shoulder, make up the already unsightly scene.
Hanoi streets are really a mess. There seems to be no proper order for mobility, human or traffic. When you feel it safe to cross a road, there, out of the blue, a motorcycle zoomed out from nowhere in front of you scaring you to death. This has also explains why the annual traffic fatalities in Vietnam is increasing.
Motorcycles are definitely overpopulated. You will only see a few dots of other four-wheelers hemmed in by a sea of motorcycles when traffic lights turn red. Two motorcycles from perpendicular roads at a junction nearly knocked into each other in the middle of the cross surrounded by other vehicles from all directions. How could this happen? Traffic lights were not obeyed, that was how it happened. But beating or jumping traffic lights in such crammed situation is disastrous.
Getting around with taxi
Standard fare to travel from Noi Bai airport to Hanoi (32km) is 315,000 VND (US$15) for a 5-seater taxi and 350,000 VND (US$16) for a 7-seater taxi. By counter or meter it will be around 600,000 VND (US$30). Standard fare is 9,000 VND ($0.45) once you get into a taxi in town.
Taxis are a common transport for tourists. They line the roadside or go scouting for passengers. These are cute little nice looking sedans that beckon you for a ride. And you’ll be tempted by their spick and span outlook.
However, if you board the taxi from your hotel it is advisable to get help from the management to arrange the taxi for you to avoid being fleeced. Getting into a taxi and getting out of it has to be fast. This has nothing to do with the drivers’ patience. It is because taxis are not allowed to pull up at certain designated areas. And there are many such prohibited areas especially in the Old Quarters.
Enforcement is stringent. Once, we were a bit slow in vacating a taxi when a policeman came running towards it. He tried to stop the taxi by pulling at its back door, shouting angrily at the driver. Luckily, the driver was quick enough to dislodge the vehicle from the officer’s grasp and sped off.
Well, these are woes of taxi drivers in Hanoi! We have to sympathize with them.
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