How To Survive Hanoi Traffic

 

Hanoi traffic is truly terrible and terrifying.

 

1. There are the motorcycles – at any given point in time irrespective of whether you are crossing a street or walking on a side walk there are at least ten motorcycles coming at you from all directions.

 

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Not that scary if the they are parked … but how about on the street usually transporting something (10 barrels? a dead donkey? chickens? 3 toddlers?)

 

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You probably thought I was joking, right?

 

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Nope, only the truth my friends. Poor donkey…

 

2. Nobody follows the rules – nobody! In fact, even on the highway it doesn’t really matter if it is supposed to be one way only. Everyone just goes wherever they want – sideways, diagonally, in the opposite direction. I am not sure whether if there were more traffic lights on the streets the traffic would improve because nobody really stops at a red light….or respects the fact that you cannot go this way or that way. They just go.

3. Sidewalks are considered just an extension of the shops or the road. So even when you are not on the road you have to jump over merchandise or watch out for the crazy motorcyclist who seems very keen to kill you.

 

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4. Constant honking – everywhere, all the time. It is as if those motorcycles run on honking, honestly. Oh well, at least you sort of know they are coming…although when everyone is honking all the time it is kind of hard to take it too seriously after a while.

 

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Note that if you have no space to move over honking doesn’t really help – it just stresses you out!

 

So, I hope that with the above information in hand you will understand why it took us about 20 minutes to cross our first street in Hanoi. We kept waiting for the motorcycles to pass us by, for a break in the constant traffic so we could just sprint across the street. it turns out, the trick is to …

 

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Start walking… Yep, with that many cars and motorcycles right in front of us we just had to start walking. The minute you are on the road you HAVE to keep a steady pace. Sharp movements are out of the question because your movements need to be predictable. And just like magic all the motorcycles rearrange and turn and you get to live another day! I personally avoided eye contact with any driver and instead preferred to just stare blankly into the space ahead of me. Other tourists told me that they felt that establishing eye contact is important for your own safety. I don’t know, I sort of prefer to pretend like I am not walking right in front of 10 motorcyclists:)

 

If you are into extreme sports I encourage, no dare you to go for a walk in Hanoi!

 

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