Hanoi is the political capital of Vietnam and historically has a reputation for being a reserved city. Keeping in mind the prevailing conservative customs, be on your best behaviour and dress modestly. The liberated spirit of Ho Chi Minh City may not seem far away, but there is a distinct difference in social mores between Vietnam's two largest cities. When you stroll through Hanoi, make sure to keep your belongings close. Throughout the city, especially in tourist hotspots like the night market in the Old Quarter, pickpockets and professional thieves go to great lengths to unburden you of your possessions. Be mindful of their practiced expertise; do not become an easy target. Although Hanoi is a very safe city by world standards, it pays to keep your radar on.

Most of your destinations in Hanoi are within walking distance, but for further sites or hotter days, hop on the bus, grab a taxi or take a ride on a xe om. If you ride a motorbike, be sure to wear a helmet and keep your bag, purse, backpack and mobile phone close at hand. It may seem like there is a lot to consider and worry about, but don't let practical considerations bog you down; there is little to no violent crime in Hanoi. Keep an alert, open mind and you'll discover a flock of friendly locals willing to assist you at every turn and enough dazzling sights to distract. Be smart, be safe, and most of all, enjoy yourself!

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