How to cross the road in Hanoi

Be brave, for that’s exactly what you need to be to get to the other side. If you think that traffic will stop for you to cross like it does everywhere else, you’re mistaken. Traffic never stops in Hanoi, it simply avoids you.


I’m not exaggerating- anyone who’s ever been to Hanoi is likely to tell you what a crazy experience it is trying to cross the street. Lorries, buses, rickshaws, cars and bicycles will come at you from every direction, and all at once. You’ve got a truck on your right, a swaying school bus full of children on your left and three motorbikes on the road facing you.

Road rules? The last time I checked, there didn’t seem to be any. Here are my pointers on how to get to the other side:

1- Before you step forward, stand by the roadside and make it clear that you’re about to cross. Do this by looking directly at passing motorists, whether they be in a car, bus or rickshaw. This is important because the irony is that motorists in Hanoi will actually look out for pedestrians who are crossing and will swerve to avoid you. They’ll swerve, but they won’t stop.


2- Look right, left and right again, still making sure you look directly at motorists coming at you. Wait for a lull and get ready to move.

3- Take one step forward, still looking left and right.

4- Walk straight ahead. Do not pause or stop in the middle of the road– the Vietnamese never do this, because if you do, the car or truck nearest to you will brake suddenly and cause those behind to crash into it. I hesitated once while crossing the street and incurred the wrath of a whole group of motorcyclists and it wasn’t pretty. Just walk and trust that they will avoid you.


5- Say “Thank You” and look to the heavens when you reach the other side.

6- Repeat as necessary.



© 2012 – 2014, Anis. All rights reserved.

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5 Responses

  1. che zuls says:

    Totally agree! I’ve been giving the same advice almost to everyone I know 🙂

  2. Anis says:

    Memang! It’s a crazy place but I enjoyed it 🙂

  3. eileen says:

    Just close my eyes and cross, praying that i won’t get hit.
    Miraculously i survived the experience 🙂
    Once i actually hesitated in the middle of the road and was nearly hit by a motorcycle.

  4. adam says:

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  1. February 13, 2013

    […] I left Hanoi in September 2001, I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to come back again. Crossing the road was a feat in itself. The place was a nightmare. I hated the traffic, hated the constant honking of […]