Hanoi’s Noi Bai airport is the gateway to North Vietnam, and will likely be one of the first places you tread upon arriving in the country. For those airport trivia buffs out there, it’s also the nation’s second-biggest airport seeing 27 million passengers in 2018.
Originally built in 1978, the airport only took on its modern facade in 2001 with the construction of today’s terminal one. In 2005, the airport became a low-cost carrier hub with cheap airlines offering flights to international destinations. In 2006, the airport further expanded with a second runway and became a hub airport of Vietnam Airlines.
Terminals at HAN
The airport itself is split into two terminals, the first terminal operates domestic flights to other airports throughout Vietnam, and terminal two is the international port of call. As this is a major international airport for the region, you will be spoiled for choice when it comes to choosing airlines to fly on. Likewise, the unrivaled domestic connectivity from the airport means you will likely be traveling back here to quickly move deeper into the country.
You can check out the full list of airlines that operate to the airport, but of note, local carriers Vietnam Airlines, Bamboo Airlines, Jetstar Pacific and VietJet Air use Noi Bai International Airport as a hub.
Both terminals are modern with everything you would expect from a state-of-the-art facility. There is air conditioning throughout, food outlets, duty-free shopping, airline lounges, free WIFI, and even massages. The food and drinks in the terminal are priced much higher than you would expect elsewhere in Vietnam, simply due to the fact that if you can afford to fly you can afford to pay. There are also currency exchange services and ATMs for arriving passengers, which is useful for those new to the country and need money for transport.
Transportation at HAN
The airport itself is located 45 kilometers from the city center, so Hanoi’s Noi Bai Airport requires a bit of travel to get to & from. There are three main options, taxis, minibuses, and the main public bus.
New arrivals better watch out, as the airport is notoriously known for its crafty scammers operating overpriced transport services to Hanoi’s city center. Always make sure that you agree to the price before you get in the car or minibus, and if possible, use the meter inside.
Taxis are the most common form of transport available at the airport and also the fastest way to the city center. Make sure that you take a taxi with a meter and don’t prepay before getting in. It should cost around $15-20 US (or 300,000-400,000 Dong).
The second form of transport from the airport is rather unique and is a nice balance between the speed of taxis but the value offered by buses. They will operate either to the Vietnam Airlines office building in Quang Trung, central Hanoi or to a pre-agreed central location (such as any of the main hotels) for an added fee. The cost is around $2 (32,000 Dong) to go to default destination or double ($4 / 64,000 Dong) to go to a custom destination. The minibus leaves when full.
The last transport option, public buses, will take the longest at around an hour but you are guaranteed to get a very cheap fare. There are two buses:
- Number 7 operates between the airport and Kim Ma bus station.
- Number 17 operates between the airport and Long Bien bus station.
The buses run every 20 minutes from 5:00 AM to 10:00 PM and cost around $0.30 cents (or 5,000 Dong). If you have a lot of baggage, you might not be able to get on the bus if its full.
There are also all the usual car rentals (Budget, Avis, etc) you would expect from a western airport. However, unless you are familiar with the driving style of the locals and the road conditions, we would not recommend a car for first-time visitors (a scooter is far more flexible if you really need wheels and you can get them in Hanoi, but not as airport). Plus, most car rental agencies will not rent to you without a chauffeur, a local Vietnamese guide to drive you around. In the past foreigners could not rent self drive cars, only motorbikes.
Those departing the airport are recommended to arrive three hours before their flight as it can take up to 90 minutes to clear security and arrive at your gate. Bon Voyage!