Guidebook In Hanoi, mad traffic chaos is the norm


In Hanoi, mad traffic chaos is the norm

The best way to handle Hanoi’s “mad dervish of traffic” is to become part of it, recommends Backseat Tourer. How? Hire a capable driver with a reliable bike, don your hard hat and take to the streets -- “at a maximum of 40 km/h through the narrow streets of Hanoi, and a lightening fast 60 km/h outside the city bounds.” Riding pillion, you can catch glimpses of life in Vietnam’s northern capital: “the warren of cramped streets in the old quarter, street vendors selling tasty morsels with unpronounceable names, conical hats bobbing through outdoor markets, stalls brimming with fresh flowers, vegetables, live poultry, fish and the odd frog.”    

“Locals are acclimatised to the chaos,” explains Traveller. But visitors aren’t, so be “wary of hiring a motorbike straight off the plane.” There’s a good rule of thumb: “when you can walk across the street without flinching, only then is it time to contemplate a rental.” And, suggests The New York Times, follow the rules on the “How to cross roads” tip sheet handed to tourists at Hanoi’s Meracus Hotel -- “be relaxed and self-confident … look two ways or make eye contact with drivers … walk slowly with purpose … never step back.”

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