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Getting the bus in Hanoi, Vietnam

By on September 7, 2015 in Vietnam

Google maps kicks arse! There I have sad. I don’t like to say it like that, but when I discovered how I could use Google to help me get around by bus in Hanoi I was blown away. I was actually stunned by what I found.  I just couldn’t believe it would work, and even now I can’t believe it did work!

The problem: I wanted to go to Hồ Hữu Tiệp, ngõ 55 Hoàng Hoa Thám, Quận Ba Đình, Thành Phố Hà Nội, which is also known as the B52 Lake. The reason I wanted to go there is because as a child I can remember seeing it on the news. It was an iconic image. I could find a location on Google maps, but it was too far away to walk in the early afternoon heat of Hanoi, and so far in Vietnam, I hadn’t had much luck with finding taxis. I could find them, but I couldn’t get across where it was I want to go. There was of course always the offer of the “motorbike taxi” on every street corner, however, I’d heard some horror stories of tourists being taken to where they didn’t want to go, and/or being charged a small fortune.

Having found Hồ Hữu Tiệp (B52 Lake), ngõ 55 Hoàng Hoa Thám, Quận Ba Đình, Thành Phố Hà Nội on Google maps I decided, just out of curiosity, to see if it would give me directions. I knew it would work for walking, or driving, but I wondered about public transport. So I pushed the button, and it worked! There on my phone were all the details I needed to get me, by bus, from my hotel to the B52 Lake. Everything I needed was there. The  location of the bus stop, the name and number of the bus, the route it would be taking, the point at which I had to get off, and the cost. Surely it couldn’t be that simple?

By this time of my trip to Hanoi my local SIM card was beginning to play up, and so for the trip, I took the precaution of making sure that I had cached all the maps, and had even taken screenshots and saved them to Evernote before I left the hotel. Better safe than sorry.

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I left the hotel and walked down to the local bus stop, where I stood waiting for my bus to arrive. My presence at the bus stop did seem to cause some interest. Don’t tourist usually take the bus in Hanoi?

I stood there, waited, and after a couple of full starts (it was the wrong bus, but thanks to the information on my phone I didn’t even get on them) the bus I needed came along.

I got on the bus, handed over 7,000 Vietnamese dong (£0.24 GBP; $0.36 USD) to the conductor (the amount Google said it would cost), and showed the conductor the map. He seemed perfectly happy with 7000 Vietnamese dong for where I was going.

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On the bus I watched my little blue dot travel along the bus route, and just before we got to where Google suggested I had to alight I pressed the “stop request” button. The bus stopped, and I got off.

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From the bus stop, I followed Google maps to the lake.

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Seriously, it couldn’t have been easier. I was amazed that it worked, and worked so well.

This could be my top tip the Vietnam, certainly for Hanoi, to get around use Google maps and their directions and get on the bus!

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Nick's continued wanderings can be followed on Twitter: @nickswanderings.
 
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