Hanoi’s airport is situated 28 miles from the city center. It is an older facility which operates at a standard level of functionality, in other words, clean but no frills. It leaves an impression of a basic experience for some and an underwhelming experience for others. A brand new terminal is under construction and from the highway it looks very impressive. This modern upgrade will no doubt be a truly wonderful way to enter and exit Vietnam’s capital city by air.
Our personal experience of the airport upon arrival and departure was very positive. We have to admit there was some hesitation about how things would be based on the mixed reviews online. Most people comment that it is functional but everything one needs, while others complain about super long lines, wait times and the lack of comfort, likening it to a bus station.
As regards cleanliness it certainly was in good condition. While there are no red carpets being rolled out, luxury boutiques or foodie destinations on site, it offers plenty of natural light, a bare bones design and appropriate signs to get you where you need to go. Being a smaller airport it is quite easy to go from drop off to check in or arrival to baggage claim etc. There are some basic fast food restaurants, shops and duty free have competitive prices and there are snack shops in the secure area allowing you to buy things before boarding your flight.
For travelers needing visas, some can get one on arrival and others can apply beforehand. Based on the information available online we got ours beforehand in order to avoid any wait time at the airport, although it was a little more expensive. On arrival we saw the visa on arrivals desk, there was absolutely no line and fellow passengers we observed were processed quickly enough that they were out in the same amount of time as us to get their luggage. Border agents going in and out were friendly while at the same time serious, no questions were asked, it was a very easy process of immigration.
Baggage claim took around 15 minutes or so, not too bad of a wait, not the fastest either. Once outside in the public area there are desks for prepaid cabs and an area where hotels and car services wait to pick up guests. We had arranged a taxi pickup through a car service, it was affordable and convenient, on the way out we did not observe at least in the airport itself drivers offering rides, part of what may deter illegal cabs is that all have to pay to access arrivals pickup.
Amenities and Services:
At this time the airport does not offer free or even paid WiFi in its general areas. There is WiFi in the 4th floor restaurant and in the business class lounge. There is a currency exchange and ATM services, but other services like showers, baggage storage and extra seating don’t currently exist in the terminal. The lack of seating can be a problem if waiting for a long time and don’t expect many charging stations. Traffic can sometimes be heavy coming out of Hanoi, so one needs to come to the airport with adequate time, but obviously not too long in advance as there is not a lot of comfort space at the current airport terminal.
Hanoi Airport is currently a pretty basic operation, but that is set to change with the opening of a new terminal. What they have now is fully functional, just a no frills operation.