A cyclo (a "bicycle taxi" pedalled by a rear-seated driver) gives a fun and relaxing way to slowly take in the beauty of the old quarter of Hanoi. The cyclo gives a completely unobstructed view which is perfect for taking photos and watching the locals go about their day-to-day lives. Most cyclo riders normally limit their trips to the old quarter as well as a few of the nearby attractions.
Located in the middle of Hanoi, the old quarter district is filled with narrow streets and alleys that have the ability to nostalgically defy the flow of time. This historic district has 36 tree-shaded streets with several given names that relate to the commodities sold or produced, such as Hang Go (wood), Hang Ma (paper), and Hang Bac (silver).
A visit to the old quarter gives a completely different perspective of the city for the travellers on the Vietnam tour It is a place that is quite modest but with an energetic life and free of the fancy stores and high-rise buildings. Many of Hanoi’s must-see destinations are nearby or within the Old Quarter, such as the Opera House, the Hanoi Citadel, Hoan Kiem Lake and Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum.
The cyclo is great to get an introductory tour of the old quarter and is a useful way to get your bearings of the local area. But it isn’t the most practical option for travellers wishing to stop off here and there and comb through the quiet storefronts and tiny shops or investigate the back alleys.
A standard cyclo tour on the Vietnam holiday packages lasts in the region of one-hour and passes through the old quarter streets. This trip visits most of the popular places such as Hang Ma, Ma May, and Hang Bac. But, for the trip with greater variety it is possible to take the cyclo further and include places the Opera House or around the Hoan Kiem Lake.
In addition to using the cyclo for the sightseeing tours it can also function much like a motorbike or taxi. However, this is only really worthwhile if able to easily combine the extra destinations with the old quarter tour.
Picking up a cyclo is relatively easy on the Vietnam family tour, particularly in areas like the lake and around the old streets. But, if there is a quiet period, there are often several waiting by the Ngoc Son pagoda or the tourist office. Other waiting spots include towards the History Museum or opposite the Hilton Opera Hotel.
A one hour cyclo tour around the old quarter of Hanoi is relatively inexpensive at approx $2.50-$4.50 per person. Prices can increase slightly with two people sharing the cyclo. The expert drivers are great at navigating the back alley passes and narrow streets.
The price can further increase when the drop off point is outside the old quarter. It is practical to negotiate a fair total price at the start of the trip to avoid any confusion later on. Also, most of the cyclo drivers will wait at a tourist spot before completing the return journey to your guesthouse or hotel.