Reputable tour operators based in Hanoi provide detailed itineraries (often tailor-made to individual requirements), visitor information, transportation and hotel bookings, car and bus rentals, guided tours, private tour guides, and visa extensions. These companies can organize everything from an extended itinerary in Northern Vietnam to shorter excursions to nearby highlights such as Ninh Binh, Halong Bay, Mai Chau, and Sapa. Types of tours, meanwhile, range from adventure to luxury and cultural tourism. Within Hanoi itself, these companies as well as a growing number of boutique operators run by local and foreign enthusiasts, can organize specialty excursions such as detailed investigations into the city’s amazing street food culture, its markets, and its architectural heritage.
Buffalo Tours. Started in 1994 by Tran Trong Kien, then a medical student, Buffalo Tours is one of the pioneers of adventure travel in Vietnam. The company puts an emphasis on responsible, low-impact travel and has a reputation for creating imaginative intineraries for clients. It can tailor a trip to all tastes, whether it is luxury or something more rustic. 70–72 Ba Trieu St., Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi, Ha Noi. 24/3926–3425; www.buffalotours.com.
TF Handspan Travel. Whether it is a cultural tour of Vietnam's stunning mountainous far north or a sumptuous couple of days cruising the karsts on a luxury junk, Handspan can arrange a trip to suit. Known for its commitment to responsible tourism, the company also employs some of the most skilled and knowledgable guides in the country. 78 Ma May St., Hoan Kiem District, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi, Ha Noi. 024/3926–2828; www.handspan.com.
Hanoi Street Food Tour. There are now numerous ways to experience the glories of Hanoi's rich street-food culture, but this is one of the most respected food tour companies. Stroll through hidden alleyways and sample the pick of local specialties.Tours start at $20 per person based on a large group of ten people; solo tours cost $40 per person. 76 Hang Bac St., Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi, Ha Noi. 096/696–0188; www.hanoistreetfood.com.
Hidden Hanoi. Although Hanoi is firmly established as a destination on the Southeast Asian tourist map, there remains a wealth to discover. And, as the name suggests, this exemplary operator is the outfit to guide you around them. As well as cooking classes that cover some of the lesser known dishes in the city's culinary ouvre, the company can take guests on walking tours with an emphasis on education. Other highlights include informal Vietnamese lessons, the ideal tool for haggling at a local market or negotiating a taxi fare. 147 Nghi Tam, Tay Ho District, Hanoi, Ha Noi. 091/225–4045; www.hiddenhanoi.com.vn.